Fascinating but flawed
J. B Kraft | Palestine, TX United States | 10/19/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The cinematography is classic and extremely stylish (if self-indulgent) film noir. The plot provides excellent opportunities to intrigue us. The narrative of the unnamed protagonist-assassin is overblown in the extreme -- at times lending structure to the plot and at other times ranging from enigmatic to incomprehensible.
The assassin without a name (who is part samarai, part kick boxer, and part masochist) loves a beautiful woman he was raised with -- why? There are so many questions about why somebody wants to kill someone else? Interesting characters who seem significant drop in for a few minutes until they are killed without clear motives. Ultimately, he must kill or be killed by the man who raise him or the woman he loves, but can never possess, will be killed.
The plot is more Russian than anything else, and the movie untimately inhabits that uneasy space between action movie and film noire. While the acting and directing is very solid, the movie is overall far too pretentious, and its self-indulgence ultimately spoils an otherwise satisfactory ending. The sound track was also indecipherable at times.
That said, the actors all give fine performances in this ultimately unsatisfying movie, and the locations and cinematography make this a worthy view.
Perfection and imperfection
Steve Kuehl | Ben Lomond, CA | 06/14/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had ordered this because of Patrick Bauchau (in two great movies of late - Gray Man and Chrysalis) but I was actually surprised in not having heard about this film otherwise. It is a solid film in the noir category, but also manages to cover some other themes with tragedy and narrated over-indulgence. The cover art puts this as a Goodfellas meets Chinatown, which yes there are gangsters, tragic bloodlines, fate and love lost, but this has to stand alone in its own little category of a freshman tragedy film like no other. The director, writer and main star are all first timers (I don't count their short film from 10 years ago) and I think they made a watchable film.
The story follows our main character as he seeks retribution, revenge and paternal knowledge to his existence, as all he has known is pain, mobsters and more pain. The first 25 minutes of the film are a long narration about his birth into a crime family and painful adolescence. Lots of flashbacks, lots of angst, and lots of violence. If you can keep track of the genealogy thrown at you for this long, then the constant beatings and killings this character partakes in later, can be a welcome change.
The filming is well done, the narration and writing are heavy, but they manage to get some self-aware moments in there that make you laugh, and at the same time make you realize they aren't taking themselves too seriously. The sound can be either 5.1 or 2.0, and a small picture gallery is included. Would have preferred for there to be supplements and a cleaner picture, but it is still a recommendation. The humorous supporting cast make for a well-rounded noir that I think most supporters of this genre will like (the doctor describing to his victims how they are dying as he kills them, the vigilante cop that kicks a perp down the city hall steps, the philosophical physician that works better after shooting up, etc.)
This film did not get the best reviews, but I think it is worth a shot."
Nathan P. Shopay | seattle,wa usa | 06/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I wish this had been in theaters instead of all the horrible studio movies that get put in there. Lot of fun!!!!"