Wednesday, December 4, 2013

In short: Kill 'Em All (2012)

Again, a maniac kidnaps a bunch of people, stuffs them into a decrepit warehouse, and plays games with them. Only this time around, the kidnapper will later turn out to be played by Gordon Liu Chia-Hui, his victims are all successful professional killers with martial arts skills (with Ammara Siripong, Johnny Messner and Tim Man as the central characters), and the only game Gordon likes - apart from gloating - is seeing them fight one-on-one to the death, promising survival to the last one standing.

Some of our killers (maybe the ones whose actors I named!?) are not quite as gullible as poor Gordon Liu may hope, though, and may find the brains to team up and take the fight into more warehouse rooms, and to their captor and his army of stunt people playing crazy dress-up.

If you've got to make a warehouse-bound martial arts/action movie, you can do much worse than decide what Kill 'Em All's Raimund Huber did and take your most basic set-up (sort of) from Saw but replace all semi-sadistic games and stupid plot twists with martial arts fights. Thusly, Kill 'Em All may not exactly win any prizes for originality, but it sure is a film trying to make the most of its miniscule budget and to deliver what its potential audience will probably really come to see - a lot of fights.

While there's nothing spectacular about Tim Man's choreography or Huber's way of shooting it, it's solid and dependable with some bursts of actual energy and - particular in the final fights - a nicely presented sense of brutality that befits a film whose heroes are professional killers. I'm also quite happy to report that Huber shoots the fights straight, with editing rhythms and camera angles meant to show off the actors' (all of whom have more martial arts and/or stunt experience than acting experience) skills, which seems to be a style that slowly replaces the micro-editing and camera-shaking that has marred low budget action movies in the last fifteen years or so again. Generally, martial arts is something I actually like to see in a martial arts movie, so I'm all for it.

There is little else to say about Kill 'Em All. Its level of writing and acting are about where you expect them to be in this kind of production - good enough for what the film is, probably horrifying if you're the sort of person who goes into a film called Kill 'Em All expecting much depth in these regards. The rest is silly bad guy talk, one rather funny joke about ninjas, and a lot of fun scenes of people beating each other up. I call that a highly satisfying evening's entertainment.

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