You may remember I mentioned this film when I wrote about Jackie Chan’s impending retirement from the world of ass kicking movies.
Well I finally got round to seeing it and I wasn’t disappointed. Not that much anyway.
This is your fairly typical introduction to a martial arts fighter turned movie star (I realise this is the second movie the pair made together but the first one was obscure even for me).
The bad guys are fairly nondescript and most are dispatched with ease. There’s a bad guy who can kick ass but ultimately succumbs, and a bad, bad guy who talks a lot but doesn’t really fight.
The premise isn’t important really, neither are the majority of the bad guys. In a movie like this what matters is the main star gets to show his moves, and there’s at least one bad guy who can give him a run for his money.
The good news is this movie has all of that. There are some truly stunning moves in this film, the choreography is top-notch and done by main star Iko which bodes well.
There’s no CGI here, not sure if there was wire work, plenty of people get thrown around so possible, but even so, it’s great stuff. One of the best moves comes when he…I won’t spoil it but let me say it involves them ending up lying on the floor, face-to-face, one of them in some pain!
Iko Uwais has perhaps the most unbelievable speed for a fighter, I really hope director, writer and editor Gareth Evans isn’t speeding up the film because it is truly blistering at times.
The downfall of the movie…and oh how I wish I wasn’t writing this…but the downfall of the movie is the directing. Some of it is brilliant, sweeping shots, tracking shots, all good, even the shaky-cam shots (that I hate) are used to good effect.
However, as I said, there are some truly stunning moves and sometimes you just get the feeling you’ve missed something as the camera isn’t quite wide enough or still enough to capture it all.
I’m still not convinced this is the best way to shoot an action film, particularly a fighting action flick. You need to see the punches, the speed, the moves, the blocks, the stances. Seeing a fist up close or an arm block doesn’t show you anything when their hitting each other so quick with legs, arms, knees, everything.
All that said, this is a great movie if you liked things like Ong Bak, early Jackie Chan films etc. Uwais dispatches the bad guys with style. Hopefully he won’t go the same way as Tony Jaa and we’ll get to see much more of him.