Revenger (2018)

Posted in Reviews by - June 20, 2020
Revenger (2018)

Martial arts instructor Bruce Khan makes his starring role debut with this barnstorming, slightly bonkers effort. Bruce follows the ‘less is more’ approach to film acting and provides short shrift in terms of character or dialogue, instead letting his fists and feet do the talking. At 51, you might think he has left it too late to star in his own martial arts film, but it quickly becomes apparent that couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s electric in this; from his very first scenes, in which he washes ashore an island prison looking like Hannibal Lector in a hockey mask and straight-jacket before smashing up the locals with only his legs. The film takes great strides in providing the perfect set-up for Bruce to flex his muscle. The action also acts as a neat distraction from the gaping holes in the story. Set in an undetermined time period, the film instantly – cleverly – feels disorientating. The island (which is actually in Indonesia) is inhabited by death row inmates who appear to have run amok, establishing their own social structures and enjoying a spot of ritualistic human-hunting like something out of The Hunger Games, complete with their own primitive, handmade weaponry. The worst of the worst are led by a bandaged baddy known as Kuhn (Park Hee-soon), whose all-over body burns make him look like a mummy from a horror flick. Bruce somehow makes it to the island in order to find Kuhn to avenge the death of his wife and child, befriending a bizarre tribe of marauding bushwhackers in the process. Led by Mr. Bao (Kim In-kwon), they add an idiotic element to the film, along with their possessed, crossdressing ‘grandfather’. Among the tribe is the formidable Maly (Old Boy‘s Yoon Jin-seo), seemingly inspired by Katniss Everdeen – complete with similarly deadly archery skills – and devoted protector of a young daughter. The bulk of the film, thankfully, is fuelled by fisticuffs; grounded, no-gimmicks, with long takes and a genuine visceral quality. It is also refreshing to see South Korea – nominal purveyors of mostly high-brow material – produce such an emphatically crowd-pleasing genre film.

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Hi there. I'm the editor of Kung Fu Movie Guide. Be sure to visit regularly for the latest analysis, interviews, profiles, podcasts and reviews on martial arts movies made around the world.

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