Emer Schlosser: Martial Arts – Movie Mayhem – Not Your Mother’s Chick Flick
Having too much fun at the opening party for the Female Eye Film Festival at the great Cherry Cola’s (more about that on Monday), I neglected to contact Jim Slotek to fill in for the still on assignment Geoff Pevere this week. Coming to our rescue is good friend, writer, and film maker, Emer Schlosser, who you can read all about at the end of this columns she has so graciously written for us at a moment’s notice. What? A woman who gets martial arts action flicks? Is it possible she also might like the Three Stooges? Here’s the talented (and adorable) Emer Schlosser….
I was recently reminded of my fondness for a kick ass fight scene when I was flipping channels and caught a short trailer for something called The Raid: Redemption. I immediately made a mental note to look up the movie and film times in a city near me. Boy, am I glad this was one time my shoddy goldfish-like memory didn’t let me down. A week later I was seated in a theatre packed with enthusiastic co-audience members who “ooh”ed and flinched somewhat synchronistically.
The story is simple: a small select team of police raid an infamous dilapidated apartment building in the slums of Jakarta known for harbouring criminals, to take down a ruthless crime lord. As the police attempt to make their way up floor by floor, they’re hit with wave after wave of attacks from the building’s deadly occupants. Ok, there’s a little more, but only a little, so I won’t spoil it for you. Anyway, the story is secondary to the sensational sequences of kicking, chopping, flipping, punching, and general mayhem.
The soundtrack was present and worked well with the action without distracting from it. Originally scored by Joseph Trapanese (whose worked with Daft Punk and M83), Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda was brought in and the end result was a soundtrack that heightened the intensity and kept pace.
This may seem like an odd thing to say when talking about a film that involves brutal beat downs, but the Indonesian language was rather lovely to listen to. I was struck by this is an early scene, the gang leader announces over the intercom that any resident who kills the cops will be able to live rent-free. And even though the subtitles were telling me this guy is essentially sending every vile thug and murderer out to kill, I couldn’t help thinking how pretty the roundness and rolling “r”s were.
The film stars Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Ray Sahetapy, and Yayan Ruhian as Mad Dog (this dude was seriously crazy…with crazy cool moves) and was directed by Welshman Gareth Evans. I read on wiki that Evans is working on a sequel and planning to turn this into a trilogy. All I can say is amazing! I will be keeping an eye out for these future films!
Before moving on, I must assert that I think this movie should come with a warning: you may leave the theatre feeling feisty with a rambunctious urge to rumble. I bounced boisterously out of the theatre, full of energy, and looking to wrestle. And after recommending this film to friends I’ve polled them and they to were left suppressing violent urges. This must be due to the many high-octane hallway fight sequences, which had the audience audibly reacting. If you like adrenalin-pumping action with wicked martial arts moves and a fast pace, then you must not miss this!
Another recent-ish martial arts film that I was blown away by is Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins, starring Kôji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada and Yûsuke Iseya. Story-wise it’s somewhat similar (in a strong stretch) to The Raid. Set in feudal era Japan, 13 skilled Samurai band together on a suicide mission in order to take down an evil sadistic lord. You’re taken on a journey that builds and builds and culminates in an epic 45-minute mind-blowing battle that will have you quite literally on the edge of your seat. While I’ve seen many a film that claim to pay homage, to acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa, this is the first one I’ve seen that I think can actually deserve that comparison.
What is it about these films? I don’t enjoying witnessing bar fights and just reading about violence in real life churns my stomach, so why do I seek out seeing this on screen? I’d like to think it has a lot to do with the choreography. The athleticism, the quickness, the flexibility, and sometimes even elegance. Films like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon are cinematically beautiful. I can watch again and again and each time, I am struck by the grace of moves that are meant to maim. Perhaps for me it’s more personal. My father ran Carnegie Hall Cinema in New York in the ‘60s and was one of (if not the) first to bring over Japanese cinema. He developed relations with Toho Cinema and even received Christmas cards from Toshirô Mifune. So naturally I grew up watching films by Akira Kurosawa from a very young age. Some children watched Sesame Street, I watched Throne of Blood. He passed on his appreciation for film in general, but also Japanese cinema specifically. So I think I’ll conclude that my love for martial arts films stems from admiration of athletic and aesthetically stunning choreography and keeping a sense of connection with my late father.
Emer fills in for Geoff Pevere this week.
Geoff’s column appears every Friday.
Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emer Schlosser is a Torontonian, cinephile, writer, and lover of food. She began her career in writing at Kontent Group as an intern at FQ and SIR Magazine, before becoming a staff entertainment journalist for Inside Entertainment magazine. Next she added IE online editor as well as entertainment news and celebrity gossip writer for Canadian Press under KP International to her Kontent duties. She went on to be a contributor to Woman.ca with film and book reviews, blog for Cheese Boutique, and content manager for casaGURU.com. Schlosser has since pursued a transition from writing about films and productions to being directly involved with making them. Her first (produced) foray as screenwriter, the short film Black Cadillacs, was screened at the Short Film Corner in Cannes and continues through the festival circuit. She is currently Associate Producer and Script Editor for the independent short With Her, has two feature films in development with Ferro Films, and continues to write and produce independently.