Mandrill (2009)

Posted in Reviews by - December 10, 2023
Mandrill (2009)

Chilean writer, director and editor Ernesto Díaz Espinoza and martial arts star Marko Zaror spoof James Bond movies for their third Spanish language indie actioner. The references are well-worn, with composer Rocco doing good work in adapting the John Barry style, and Zaror sprucing up nicely to play smooth-talking, ass-kicking super spy Antonia Espinoza, aka Mandrill. He’s the kind of guy who seduces a woman in a swimming pool before blowing someone’s brains out. As a kid, he witnesses the death of his mother and father at the hands of a drug baron known as ‘Cyclops’, subsequently crafting his Lothario persona after repeated viewings of a fictional 1970s cop show called “John Colt”, accurately rendered in all its dated glory in various skits throughout the film. Its familiar ground, but good-natured and spirited throughout, shifting tone into something altogether more three-dimensional when Mandrill falls for the daughter of his nemesis. This is when Zaror demonstrates his edge over many of his action contemporaries; an ability to take dramatic risks and show a more vulnerable, romantic side – whether he’s charming the socks off femme fatale Celine Reymond as they flirt through the streets of Lima, or shamelessly dad-dancing to Spanish disco in a Peruvian nightclub. You certainly wouldn’t catch Roger Moore doing that. Of course, there is also plenty of space for Zaror to show off his kicking and punching abilities, plus the skills of his ‘Kiltro’ stunt team, particularly during a flying-limbs, three-on-one brawl towards the end of the film. However, it would be an overstatement to describe this as a martial arts film. Its more Ian Fleming than Bruce Lee, but still another enjoyable instalment in the Espinoza-Zaror canon.

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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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