Jawan (2023)

Posted in Reviews by - December 27, 2023
Jawan (2023)

Hindi-language Indian action epic which crosses generations, hairstyles, and musical genres. Bollywood legend Shah Rukh Khan – aged 56 – defies the laws of aging (and gravity) playing two characters in the same film; a father and son ex-soldier vigilante duo who use extreme methods to make political statements and inspire social change in modern India. He holds up a metro train in order to con a rich scoundrel into donating his wealth to help India’s poverty-stricken farming community. He kidnaps the health minister to prove how much the state hospitals are lacking in basic provisions and vital equipment. In his final flourish, he tries to overturn a criminal conspiracy to rig an upcoming election, urging the public to go out and vote in a rousing speech which makes you wonder whether this is actually just a dress rehearsal for when SRK decides to run for office himself. “What a man,” the public exclaim, swooning at his impeccable physique and the way the wind gently billows at his hair during every repeated, slow-motion close-up. One minute he’s serenading a young woman with his dulcet singing voice and dance moves, the next minute he’s firing bullets in midair while leaping off a motorbike. He’s in charge of a women’s prison, which looks more like a wellness retreat than a jail. Given all the madness that’s going on, it’s strange that this is probably the most unrealistic part of the film. The prisoners seem to be living their best lives under his faithful watch, stopping only to back him in his terrorist plots and to perform as his backing dancers. First-time director Atlee leans on several stylistic tropes which quickly become repetitive, but for a film clocking-in at nearly three hours, the pace is maintained and never lets up, moving from horrific scenes of children dying in a hospital to incredibly acrobatic, John Wickinspired combat scenes to musical numbers which really add to the film’s full-on sensory overload.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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