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Vengeance

tn_vengeanceIf a revenge movie is just called VENGEANCE, somebody might assume it’s gonna be obvious and unimaginative. In the case of Johnnie To’s VENGEANCE they’d be wrong – it’s elegant and poetically simple is what it is. Like a haiku with exit wounds. At this time I would like to ask that hypothetical somebody to admit that they would’ve been wrong.

In the opening scene a family is gunned down by three hitmen. Only the mother survives, and just barely. Her father, just known as Costello (Johnny Hallyday), comes to the hospital, vows to avenge her and gets minor details about the attackers by having her point at words in a newspaper.

This Costello is amazing. Everybody calls him “the white guy,” but his features are so unusual I didn’t notice at first that his race was out of place in Macau. He looks like a detailed anime drawing of Edward James Olmos. He never smiles, barely talks, his eyes are eerily light, his face covered in valleys and streams, always wearing a tie and a trenchcoat. And at first we know nothing about him. But the implication is that she won’t be surprised he intends to avenge her. Is he a killer? A cop? A soldier? Or just a real spiteful civilian? How does he intend to find these assholes?

mp_vengeanceFirst he finds help in the form of a different three hitman team (Anthony Wong, Lam Suet and Lam Ka-Tung). He hears their silenced bullets going into a gangster’s cheating girl while he’s in the hotel hallway. He stands and stares down the three killers as they leave. He’s so intense they don’t kill him – and this probly earns his respect. The guys he’s after wouldn’t even let little kid witnesses go. These guys let an old white man go (although they regret it by the time they’re in the car).

Through some clever tricks Costello tracks the team down and gives them his money, his watch, and his restaurant. They go to the daughter’s house to examine the scene of the crime, using superhuman hitman insights the way Vin Diesel did his car whispering investigating an accident scene in FAST AND FURIOUS. Then they go looking for the killers.

This is an A+ film of Badass Cinema, with top shelf examples of many of the most important badass elements: stoicism, honor, brotherhood, unspoken respect, grimacing tough guy faces, slow motion strutting, and of course the titular noun. Spoken mostly in English, with a Hong Kong director and French co-producers it has a great sort of international feel, paying tribute to Jean-Pierre Melville and John Woo and John Woo’s tribute to Jean-Pierre Melville, with absolutely gorgeous modern cinematographicism. (Because of the colors and lighting in this movie and the lines on Hallyday’s face I recommend the blu-ray if you have access to it.)

The script is subtly brilliant. Costello’s backstory is pretty simple, but we learn it piece by piece and have to put it all together ourselves. Eventually we understand his odd ritual of taking Polaroids and writing on them with Sharpie, and once we understand that we also understand more about the circumstances around his badass juxtaposition (he’s an excellent chef), and this even tells us something about his relationship with his daughter, since she was also a good cook in the opening scene. (Food is a theme in the movie, actually – the idea of bonding by cooking for someone or eating together, and the idea of rejecting somebody by refusing their food.)

The highlight of the movie is Costello’s bond with these three killers. These guys are all so cool and they speak so few words. Lam Suet as Fat Lok brings some comic relief with his fondness for food, but he’s probly the toughest. They’re cold-blooded killers, they don’t show emotion, but I think they have at least a little compassion for Costello and his situation. There’s a point where they could easily get out of this thing, but they choose to stay loyal to Costello to their own possible doom. It seems to be a matter of professionalism, but I think they also want to seem him win this one.

The violence in the movie is beautiful, taking place in atmospheric locations that feel almost otherworldly: the woods where leaves are always dropping, or the dump where garbage is always blowing around. But honestly the shootouts aren’t the exciting parts in this one. My favorite parts are the stare-downs, like when Costello sees the hitmen leaving the hotel, or especially the scene at the campground where the two groups walk toward each other. In this world killers know killers, they have killdar. And they’d rather warn each other off with facial expressions than upset their kids by shooting in front of them. Nobody ever gets scared or tries to get away or insults each other. It’s more like a poker game. (Not celebrity. Regular.) Everybody knows what’s going on here. Nobody has to say anything.

I know a couple of my readers have a kneejerk hatred of slow motion. VENGEANCE is a good argument for it. It’s not very extreme, usually just a little slowed down. But here’s a movie where the anticipation and the tension is the best quality, so why not give us more bang for our buck? It also gives us better eyesight. We can see every subtlety of their badass staredowns that we’d miss at regular speed. Slo-mo gives us super powers.

At first I thought the name “Costello” was an obvious reference, but then I couldn’t figure out who would be Laurel. If his name was Laurel and Lam Suet was called Costello that would make sense. But there really is no fat guy/skinny guy type team in this movie. Therefore I can only make a guess that there is a very small possiblity that it could be a reference to LE SAMOURAI, which also has a stoic French trenchcoat-wearing hitman protagonist named Costello. I don’t know if you’re supposed to read that as just an homage or as a hint that this is the further adventures of Le Samourai. That Jef Costello survived somehow but got hit in the brain so he decided to retire from the game and open a restaurant. Johnnie To even had Alain Delon set to do the role but when he met with him and showed him the outline Delon changed his mind.

That’s okay, Hallyday is even better. It’s like how Warren Beatty was gonna play Bill in KILL BILL. Interesting, but it worked out for the best. Hallyday’s been in some other movies, but it turns out he’s mainly known as the French Elvis Presley. I don’t know, maybe the movie seems silly to French people because of that, but to the rest of us he sure has an interesting face to stare at.

VENGEANCE is a movie that somehow delivers on the catharsis of revenge while completely dismantling the logic of it. Usually a revenge movie has to really rub it in, make us hate the creep that’s gonna get it, make us thirst for his cool refreshing blood. It’s easy to hate these hitmen and their boss based on the crime, but the more you learn the weaker the case against them. The only real difference between the bad guys and the good guys is that the good guys leave witnesses alive sometimes. They’re still hitmen, and so was Costello it turns out, and I figure he probly still would be if he hadn’t been shot in the brain.

The boss who is the main target of vengeance, George Fung (Simon Yam), doesn’t seem all that evil either. He has a debatable “just how evil is he?” scene with his girl at the beginning (debatable because he has a legitimate reason to be angry at her), but the crime that’s being avenged was done to defend himself from someone that planned to turn him in. Bad, but not that bad by industry standards, you gotta admit. It’s a fact of life in the business they work in. It’s not some senseless crime you can’t make sense of, it’s just how it is in this world.

During the conflict Fung behaves professional, even friendly, calling up our hitmen to politely ask if there’s any way to work this out. When they say no he doesn’t threaten them or throw a fit and say “I treated you like a son!” or any of that shit. It’s more like they just put in their 2 weeks notice and he knows it’s probly hopeless but he has to ask because they’re good employees and he wishes he could convince them to stay.

When he sends an army of thugs after them he watches the battle and he can’t stop laughing. To me it seems like it’s because he’s a fan, he can’t help but enjoy watching those three work. Pretty harsh to his current employees, but it’s so much more original and interesting than the usual thing where the boss gets all pissed that his guys are getting mowed down. This boss loves it. He’s a sportsman.

But the best trick in this movie I gotta do a SPOILER to discuss. So here it is. For reasons I won’t get into Costello ends up losing his memory. He doesn’t remember his daughter anymore, he doesn’t remember what happened, doesn’t even remember what “revenge” means. So what purpose does his revenge even have anymore? Usually you can say it won’t bring his loved ones back, here you can say it won’t even get him any satisfaction at all, because he doesn’t remember what happened. But to these people it doesn’t matter. They live by a series of rules. The machine has been turned on, it’s too late to turn it off. They’ve been hired, they made a promise, they’ve turned on their boss, they know what Costello wanted, they’re invested in it. They’re protective of him, they even leave him instructions what to do in case they fail and he has to do it without them. Doesn’t matter if there’s any sense to it. They’re gonna get the vengeance.

And so are you. Everybody go rent VENGEANCE, please.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, February 7th, 2011 at 1:22 am and is filed under Action, Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

50 Responses to “Vengeance”

  1. My favourite part is the set-up at the end. It reminded me of the intricate set-ups you get with Brian De Palma at his best.

  2. VENGEANCE is great. Johnnie To is pretty amazing for the rate he cranks out films without the quality dropping. The food thing is one of his running themes as well. There’s at least one meal scene in everything of his that I’ve seen.

    Also, also far as I am aware, Johnny Hallyday’s full name is French Elvis Johnny Hallyday.

  3. Don’t know if you were talking about me, but I don’t have a problem with slow motion. I just hate it when it’s used without a feeling for timing and pretty much stops the movie cold, by using it something like 75 times within 90 minutes (a.k.a. “The Zack Snyder syndrome”).

  4. When you wrote “Laurel” as Costello’s partner, did you mean to write “Abbott?” The comedy duos are Laurel and Hardy, and Abbott and Costello. If you were joking then sorry for being dense.

  5. A+ film of badass cinema? Ok, I’m gonna find this sucka and watch its ass off.

  6. I don’t hate slow motion either, but Peter Jackson pretty much ruined KING KONG with that stroby slo-mo he employed every minute or so. It’s like a writer putting a dot-dot-dot after every sentence. After a few of those it loses it’s power to interest us.

  7. Glad to see a Johnnie To write-up – his absence made me think Vern didn’t like him, which did not compute. If you want more, The Mission and Exiled are sort of companion pieces to Vengeance, and it’s kind of a miracle the remake of (the dissimilar) Running Out of Time never happened. To’s high output means he doesn’t bat a thousand, but his contibutions make even the misses worth a look (like Full-Time Killer – I know, shoot me – or Running on Karma, starring Tony Lau in a bad muscle suit as a monk turned Chippendale with psychic powers. Uh-huh.)

  8. I’d also throw in a recommendation for To’s MAD DETECTIVE which, if nothing else, is one of the most unique crime films I’ve ever seen. Also, his two ELECTION films are highly satisfying, cold-blooded mafia movies.

  9. I have to disagree with Inspector Li about To batting a thousand. For me at least. He may not always hit a home run, but he always gets on base. Though I have not yet watched any of his romantic comedies for fear it might not hold true for them.

    I can understand why someone wouldn’t like a movie that’s about Tony Lau in a bad muscle suit as a monk turned Chippendale with psychic powers but I think RUNNING ON KARMA is pretty great myself. For a variety of reasons really, though mainly because it’s about Tony Lau in a bad muscle suit as a monk turned Chippendale with psychic powers.

  10. Wabalicious Monkeynuts

    February 7th, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Amazing film, i loved it. I also liked the bit where George Fung calls them up to see if they can’t all just get along. It was Anthony Wong’s response that i liked so much, something along the lines of “Sorry, you know us, and we know what you’re like too”. Absolutely great film, possibly my favourite Johnnie To film. Fulltime Killer, Running Out of Time and Breaking News (crazy opening scene, which seems to be one very long and detailed camera shot) would be my others.

    Also, i don’t agree that Fung wasn’t such a bad guy, he’s a raving psychopath, and acts like a spoiled child. Simon Yam is only ever absoltely evil, or absolutely saintly in his films, a great actor. Good to see Lam Suet in Vengeance, as in every other Johnnie To film.

  11. I was just watching the trailer for this the other day and thought “man, I gots ta see dis one.” Johnnie To has yet to disappoint me. Loved Exiled, loved the Election movies (Simon Yam at his best). Have yet to see The Mission, though.

    I know I’ve said this before, but I really recommend the Korean film A Bittersweet Life. That’s my number one A+ film of Badass Cinema of the past 5-10 years.

  12. With Bullet in the Head, Naked Killer, this, and a bunch of stuff I haven’t seen, Simon Yam has always provided quality work in some fine badass cinema. Raise a glass to the man.

  13. “killdar” – genius!

  14. Hey Vern,

    In the pic you got up he kinda looks like an Asian Charles Bronson.

    Or maybe I need new glasses.

  15. “I know a couple of my readers have a kneejerk hatred of slow motion.”

    Vern – I don’t think we do in itself, its just unless you’re a Brian DePalma or a John Woo, filmmakers who tend to employ slow motion do it not because there is a damn good filmatic stylish reason, but because they’re supposed to because its like “cool.”

    Case in point: Zach Snyder

    Which is why I can get pissy at times when people defend him. Its one thing to bitch about misuse of slow motion, its another to defend one of the said butchers.

  16. I believe I was thinking of Paul, who didn’t want to watch RED CLIFF because it had slow motion in it, which he found more important than me saying it was a masterpiece. For more on this topic look forward to a future column in CLiNT magazine. (spoiler: it’s pro slow-motion)

  17. How can someone be pro or anti any cinema tool? That’s like idiots on the Internet hating on CGI. Yeah we’ve seen shitty CGI, and over-indulgence of CGI, but we’ve also seen good CGI (obvious and subtle).

    But whatever, this brings up a new question: How come this current generation of filmmakers are so anti-dissolve? Is it considered old fashion, or just a device left forgotten because it wasn’t passed on down? *shrugs*

  18. Correction: *Andy* Lau. Inspector Li regrets the error.

    Dan P and Knox H, thanks for reminding about the Election movies; I thought the second one was especially good. Some other ones to put on the radar: The minimal PTU features some hall of fame Simon Yam badassery, and To’s uncharacteristic superhero film The Heroic Trio features Maggie Cheung. And Michelle Yeoh and Anita Mui and Anthony Wong, so it ain’t too shabby. Plus … Maggie Cheung.

    Wabalicious, is Running Out of Time 2 worth a second chance?

  19. this movie is slow-burn as in arthouse slow-burn. kinda like george clooney’s The American–went in expecting an action movie and got an arthouse character study of a killer. Pui !

    Hate the sharpie pens with Polaroids schtick. reminds me too much of Momento.

    Vengenace is a meh movie for me. Johnnie Toh has a good body of work in the late ’90s. But lately he’s just been churning out too much medicore work.

  20. I’m afraid you need glasses, mac. The guy’s French.

  21. I’d endorse RUNNING OUT OF TIME 2. Not quite as good as the first and either the plot or the translating makes not a whole lot of sense, but there’s a great bicycle chase in it.

  22. after reading this review, i wonder if i was too harsh on mine. if you haven’t seen it, the mission is absolutely my favorite of his. to me this one stands somewhere above fulltime killer and running out of time but not quite as great as the mission, mostly because of the third act and the memory loss stuff that just shows up as a plot device near the end. but he is definitely the most interesting hong kong director today. even wong kar-wai has been going downhill. there probably wouldn’t be infernal affair/departed without to.

    as far as jackie chan’s pre-90s stuff, police story is a must. i like the operation condor/armour of god stuff but a lot of people find them too goofy.

  23. While Running Out Of Time isn’t as satisfying as the first movie – the story just kind of peters out – it is
    a lot funnier.

    I also highly recommend Barefoot Kid – Aaron Kwok, Ti Lung and Maggie Chung.

    Also good – movies produced by Johnny To: Eye in the Sky, Overheard and Accident.

  24. If we’re talking about some Chinese movies, and some Jonnie To movies, then I think y’all need to see a little film called EXILED, with both Simon Yam AND Anthony Wong, and all the Johnnie To regulars, AND it’s awesome.

    Every Johnnie To movie I’ve ever seen has ridiculous violence in it, except Eye in the Sky, which for a moment is the most Chinese movie ever, but then suddenly it’s not.

    Sleeplss Town. 80’s style noir taken to it’s most distant extreme. (Before some brainiac says it’s not an ’80’s movie, yes I know that.)

    Infernal Affairs 2 is the best of the trilogy.

    The Protege has an amazing violence set-piece that you will never forget.

    Ever notice how Andy Lau is always dying? As soon as you see him cough you know what’s up.

  25. I love all the usual Johnnie To movies like Running Out of Time, The Mission, PTU, Election etc (not Exiled though, couldn’t get on with that) but one of his weirder ones that I’m fond of and never seems to get much love is Throwdown with Louis Koo.

    This is the odd judo movie that he made as a homage to Kurosawa’s Sanshiro Sugata movies and in fact has a character in the film who sings the theme tune to Sanshiro Sugata while others fight around him. It’s the usual daft plot, but something about it appeals to me although it’s quite different to his other action films. Plus it has a use of good slow motion when everyone in a nightclub suddenly starts doing judo on each other.

  26. Johnnie To quickly rose to the top percentage of directors worth seeking films from when I saw Exiled. I was lucky to see Vengeance in the cinema thanks to a large Chinese population in Brisbane, enough that some cinemas will still show first-run Chinese films. I quite enjoyed it, but felt perhaps that some of the staging of the shoot-outs bordered on being a bit too over the top. Didn’t stop me from buying it onDVD when it came out though. Highly recommend it as well as previous;y mentioned films like Exiled, The Election movies and Breaking News.

  27. Yeah, i thought Running Out of Time 2 was good, but a bit of a retread of the first one. Still well worth a go though. I used to get all my HK stuff dirt cheap from dddhouse.com, but since my multi-region dvd player went tits up, i haven’t really got anything from there.

  28. This movie kicks serious ass.

  29. VEGEANCE is a really mediocre film for To – the inventive final shootout notwithstanding. The garbage cubes scene in particular is ridiculously bad and a reminder how over-the-top To can be when he’s off his game.

    THE MISSION, on the other hand, is one if the best action movies of all time and everybody here who hasn’t seen it should do it the first chance they get. It’s kinda similar to Christopher McQuarrie’s WAY OF THE GUN in its general austere minimalism and the way the shootouts are constructed. The music is absolutely fantastic, too.

    FULLTIME KILLER is an awesome post-modern action movie (probably To’s second or third-best) and personally I’d love to see Vern’s review of it – for DIE HARD 1-2 references alone, if for nothing else!

  30. Oh, and MAD DETECTIVE is a silly little tearjerker of a cop movie, but it’s got the single greatest “how fucked up the poor bastard is” final shot since maybe Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION.

  31. Man, I was excited to see this review since I have been on a Johnny To binge recently (actually it is a HK action film binge that has featured a good amount of To’s work). In the past five days I have watched FULLTIME KILLER, VENGEANCE, and EXILED. I really enjoyed them all, and would have a hard time picking a favorite. FULLTIME KILLER is the most pure action film of the three and moves at a much more uptempo pace then the other two, but I really liked them all for different reasons.

    A few things I noticed and/or thought of watching the films were as Caoimhín pointed out eating is a big part of To’s films. More specifically eating with a group of comrades and/or friends and family. For example I like how in VENGEANCE Costello makes food for his new found hitmen friends. It is for them to eat together like it was a chance for them to bond, but later they are offered food by the men who killed his family and he refuses to eat it. Also, I have to agree with Vern on how badass the scene in VENGEANCE is where the two groups of killers meet in the park. I got chills from that slow mo shot of Costello and his boys stepping out of the shadows and approaching the men who killed his family.

    roachboy, I also was reminded of WAY OF THE GUN during my mini To marathon.

    Also for those interested VENGEANCE, ELECTION, TRIAD ELECTION, EXILED, and MAD DETECTIVE are all available streaming on Netflix and most of them (VENGEANCE & EXILED included) are available in HD.

  32. Didn’t realize FULLTIME KILLER was a To movie. Saw it blind as a screener years ago and was blown away. It’s fantastic, full of neat little quirks and awesome setpieces. Now I’ll have to see the rest of the To films, I suppose.

  33. I think both ELECTION films are pretty much masterpieces, although the second one is actually even better than the first. I also think THROWDOWN is terrific; it’s a movie that has grown in my mind since I first watched it, with certain moments sticking in my memory. It’s badass, funny and actually quite touching. BREAKING NEWS, on the other hand, demonstrates that To can also handle hard-hitting, visceral action, as opposed to the more elegant style seen in VENGEANCE, with equal aplomb. THE MISSION is a classic, but does anyone know if there is a DVD out there that is actually of decent quality? The HK disc I got from Netflix is watchable but actually has a logo burned into the middle of the damn picture.

    And yes, Knox Harrington, A BITTERSWEET LIFE is indeed a very badass film. If you weren’t exactly blown away by Lee Byung-hun in GI JOE, check this movie out. The guy is a hell of an actor.

    On the subject of Asian action cinema, I just saw MERANTAU on Netflix streaming and it is one of the very best martial arts movies I’ve seen in years.

  34. Great to see so much affection for Mr. To round these parts. He deserves it. As for your query Joe, the French DVD of THE MISSION sports a gorgeous transfer but, alas, no English subs.

  35. Joe – There is an all-region HK Mei Ah DVD for The Mission that’s got no burnt-in logo. It’s not anamorphic, and I don’t see that it’s at dddhouse.com anymore … you might want to try some of the larger American dvd importers, see if they’ve got old stock on hand.

  36. There’s an anamorphic DVD9 Retail DVD of The Mission with English subs. Don’t know if it still in print, though.

    Rather than bothering with the importers and stuff, you can download it from any major Asian movies torrent tracker.

  37. Have you seen I Saw the Devil? Awesome revenge flick.

  38. Joe, that is good to hear about MERANTAU. I have it in my que as well, and have heard good things. I can’t wait to check it out.

  39. Hmm, I’ve just watched A BITTERSWEET LIFE and while not as awesomely good as THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD by the same director it still was a pretty damn decent action movie.

    Need to find I SAW THE DEVIL, like, right now.

  40. roachboy, I am glad to see you give THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD some love. It was one of the best movies I saw last year. I hope Vern reviews it.

    I don’t know if I SAW THE DEVIL has a DVD release yet. It just screened at Fantastic Feast here in Austin in October, and I could be wrong but I thought the screening was the North American premier. It still may be scheduled for a limited art house release here in the states like THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD got. Either way I really want to see it as well.

  41. Hell, Charles, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD is the best movie of the fucking decade!

    There are seem to be the Blu-Ray rips of I SAW THE DEVIL floating around, so…

  42. roachboy, you may be right. I would have to give it some serious thought but it would be up there for me. I can’t think of another movie from the past decade that sucked me in and had me captivated like THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD. I think or 10 or 15 minutes into the movie I was like, “Holey shit this is going to be good.” Really I can not think of a movie I would recommend more to an action film fan. It is the best action adventure movie since RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.

  43. Charles: Might want to lower your expectations for MERANTAU just a shade. It’s only okay, nothing special. Certainly not the second coming of Tony Jaa some people have been making it out to be.

  44. Wow, I SAW THE DEVIL is a pretty good film. But one can’t help but compare it to the much superior SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE and LADY VENGEANCE movies… The guy from OLDBOY is even playing the exact same character as in LADY VENGEANCE (even though nowadays he’s fat as fuck).

    I guess DEVIL is more action-oriented – can imagine an American remake with Mr. Steven Seagal as the lead and Mr. Rutger Hauer as the baddy.

  45. Jareth – with Merantau, the talent is behind the camera as much as in front. Iko Uwais is a good martial artist
    and actor, but he isn’t as flamboyant nor have the screen presence of Tony Jaa – yet. However, I feel director Gareth Evans is a star, and really knows how to put together a proper martial arts movie, with nice long takes showcasing well-choreographed action.

  46. Thanks alot for the replies regarding THE MISSION on DVD.

    The thing about MERANTAU is that I really was expecting the second coming of Tony Jaa based on the reviews I skimmed through. I was certain my viewing experience would mirror the ones I had with ONG BAK and TOM YUM GOONG/THE PROTECTOR; I figured I would be amazed by the action scenes and amused by the silliness and unintentional humor of nearly everything in between them. Instead, I watched a much better overall movie than Jaa’s pictures – with the exception of ONG BAK 2, which I thought was a great lead forward for Jaa, despite the hash reviews. Perhaps the sentimentality is laid on a bit thick in MERANTAU, but I have to admit I was emotionally invested in the story by the end. The way this movie introduces its main villain is one example that demonstrates why I think MERANTAU rises above some of Jaa’s work; it still might be a bit over-the-top and goofy, but the sense of menace and power of the character is expressed well.

  47. MikeOutWest: I agree completely about Gareth Evans; he’s got a commendable grasp on technique. You really cringe from the way he stages some of those hits in MERANTAU. But for the love of god someone get the guy a decent script.

    Joe: I didn’t for a moment see anything on Iko Uwais’ face that came near to Jaa’s intensity. Jaa totally sells me on his the ridiculousness of his stuff; Uwais just seemed along for the ride. Maybe that isn’t a deal-breaker for you like it is for me, which is fair enough.

    But I agree that Uwais’ has got some cool moves.

  48. The original song, by the Spanish band “Los Bravos”. Perfect for the Kill Bill Sountrack http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVWNZPOUhO8

  49. I finally watched MERANTAU, and I really liked it. As many of the posts here already state it was very skillfully directed and I also enjoyed the the simplicity and physicality of how the fight seances are staged. The focus is on the martial arts and combat instead of drowning it in unnecessary camera movement and quick cuts.

  50. I’m currently participating in a thing, where a bunch of German bloggers put their personal 100 best movies of the 21st century together*, which gave me in the last few days (and the next few) a good excuse to catch up on some that I haven’t seen yet.

    This here was one of them and let’s just say that it will 100% definitely without any chance of getting removed be on my list.

    *Normally I’m against this kind of stuff, but I love to make lists and talk about movies, so what can I do?

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