In 2011 a Welsh director took the unusual step of taking a foreign language martial arts blend action film into mainstream cinema. That incredible film in question was The Raid : Redemption. Now Gareth Evans brings back the fighting discipline pencak silat and the Indonesian setting of Jakarta for the sequel.
It’s only a year since compelling, gritty Nordic Noir hit Easy Money beached up on our shores, but the sequel – set three years after events in the first movie – is here already. It’s an even more lugubrious affair, but the signature intertwining stories, radical inter-cutting between story strands, multi-cultural characters and down beat tone are all very much in evidence.
Everyone likes The Muppets, right? They’re communists after all (according to Fox News anyway): how can you not doff your cap to dead puppets on leave? Perhaps to reflect the manic and tortured history of international socialism, with all its intrigues, agent provocateurs and tyrannies
Salvo (Grassadonia) is a killing machine, a solitary, cold and ruthless killer for the Sicilian mafia. When he breaks into a house to eliminate someone who has organized a hit on Salvo’s boss, he comes across Rita (Serraiocco), a young blind girl.
The most suitable choice of vehicle for reviewing this bubblegum pop of a movie would be a shiny, suped-up, twin-exhaust, bandwagon. The makers are clearly jumping on a couple of them by bringing this videogame adaptation to the big screen; with Fast and Furious making an annual dent in the worldwide box office receipts
Shot on 35 mm film in arduous conditions – much of the film was shot in real snow – this Japanese remake of the Clint Eastwood classic presents the story as a bleak reminder of the price of violence, minimizing the more redemptive aspects of the original. The film has received the Eastwood seal of approval.
Ultra-cool hitman Charlie (Marvin) goes looking for answers – and one million dollars in heist money – after killing ex-racing driver Johnny North (Cassavetes). Charlie and his hairspray obsessed associate Lee (Gulager) track down Johnny's associates one by one and uncover – in flashbacks – a complex web of crime and deceit
Machete travels to San Antonio to meet his handler, beauty pageant queen Blanca (Heard) and is soon across the border again. But there’s a face-changing hitperson on his trail (played by several well-known actors) and in the background an eccentric billionaire arms dealer (Gibson) who sees the future of humanity as an off-planet affair and is prepared to destroy Earth to make it happen.
Early images confirmed Kinnaman looked more man in a black body armour than cyborg. Despite Samuel L. Jackson's (Pat Novak) ranting cameos in various promos, it was also clear that the black humour and brutal dissection of American society was to be thrown out in favour of a more straight-down-the-line interpretation (less gore, more dumb action).
This celebrated precursor of the French New Wave is best seen as an ‘anti-noir’ thriller, with an ironic perspective on the protagonists’ escapades and some sincere exploration of social issues replacing the moody tension you might expect from a film noir. It’s not quite ‘effortlessly cool’ – despite the improvised Miles Davis score as well as iconic shots of Jeanne Moreau – but it’s well worth a watch.