I’ve been watching martial arts films for a long time. You used to be able to watch them, back in the day, without subtitles or any dubbing. They all came over from Thailand, Hong Kong, wherever and they’d be glorious to watch. Fast action, unreal stunts, moves from another planet. And, most importantly, directed in a way that would show it all off.
Headshot stars Iko Uwais (The Raid (Redemption), Star Wars: The Force Awakens). He arrives in the film, washed up on the beach, with no memory as to who he is or why he’s there. The doctor who nurses him back to health also falls for him but, inevitably, the bad guys they do come-a-calling. And so starts the journey to find out who he is, rescue his girl, as she’s been kidnapped, and have many, many fights along the way.
The film is jointly directed by Kimo Stamboel (Macabre, Killers) and Timo Tjahjanto (V/H/S/ 2, Killers), who also wrote it. The directing almost brought me to tears. They have employed the shaky cam for the action scenes! What on earth? Seriously! This is the final straw. This is a martial arts film, through and through. One of those martials arts films where they throw their guns to one side so they can kick each other’s ass, you know the type.
So why on earth would you adopt the shaky cam? Particularly with Uwais. He’s so quick and everyone he fights seem to have some martial arts ability but no, we can’t see it as we’re too busy being p*ssed around seeing bits of arms or legs flying around, or the ground, or the sky or some cr*p. It’s not close-up shaky cam luckily, but it’s still shaky cam.
Perhaps then the story will save it, because that’s so traditionally the point of savour with these films right? Yeah, anyway. Now we get into the situation whereby people are shot multiple times by AK47’s only to keep going.
We get people not picking up guns that are lying around, knowing their going to be facing more guns. We get Uwais constantly saying “that’s enough” to a woman he’s fighting despite the fact she keeps cutting him and shooting at him. It’s tiresome, it’s Hollywood, it’s ruined what should have been a decent film.
And whilst we’re talking about Uwais. Anyone looking to see him at his best, jumping through hoops, kicking ass etc. Well, you’ll be sorely disappointed. He seems to play some sort of, half-assed martial arts guy in this. He gets his ass handed to him on more than one occasion, yet always seems to rally at the end of the fight to win.
This is something Jackie Chan used to employ in a lot of his films, but they were comedy-action, this isn’t (well, it’s not supposed to be anyway).
I could seriously cry for the obvious influence Hollywood has had on this film. If this is what we’re going to have to look forward to for martial arts films in the future, I may as well pack up and go home.
If it hadn’t been about the fighting so much, if they were trying to make it about the plot, that’s fine, can totally dig that. But then if that’s the case, they’ve failed here too. Uwais has to fight three ‘end-of-level baddies’. Two of them his friends and the third the big boss guy who’s behind it all.
The only good is that it’s a gore fest. Pencils in faces, blades in body parts etc. But what do you expect from the guys that brought you Macabre?
3rd March 2017
THE QUICK SELL
I've been watching martial arts films for a long time. You used to be able to watch them, back in the day, without subtitles or any dubbing.