Violent Night (2022)

Posted in Reviews by - December 28, 2022
Violent Night (2022)

87North take their winning formula from films like Nobody and Bullet Train – depressed middle-aged man finds new meaning and purpose in life through violence – and apply it to the Santa Claus story, reimagining a drunk, overweight – and divorced? – Kris Kringle in a mad mix of Home Alone meets Die Hard, with added hammer blows to the face. John Wick fight choreographer Jonathan Eusebio delivers the punishing pugilism, with jolly old Saint Nick played by a boozy, cranky, overweight David Harbour (excellent). Santa is recast as an immortal Viking warrior – an origin story we really need to see – delivering presents to children on his flying sleigh, driven by reindeer. “It’s Christmas magic,” Santa retorts in a bid to stop anyone questioning the logic of this nonsense action comedy, before he evaporates down the chimney. The story concerns the vapid millionaire family, the Lightstones, whose mansion is raided by crooks, led by ‘Mr. Scrooge’ (John Leguizamo), who wants his hands on the family loot. They hold the family hostage on Christmas Eve, but don’t bank on Santa dropping by to deliver presents to the young Trudy Lightstone, who has been an especially good girl this year despite having to deal with the breakup of her parents. He winds up stalking the grounds, picking off the baddies in increasingly bloodthirsty ways. This is essentially a one-joke movie – Die Hard with Santa – but, through some Christmas miracle, the charm sustains the course thanks to a number of key elements. The script works, and there is great joy and comedy in seeing the terrorists having to confront the “real” Santa, as he lays waste to baddies with eye-gouging, tinsel-strangling, nut-cracking aplomb. Harbour has delicious fun in the lead – tonally perfect and committed to the role – even if some of the more sentimental moments feel a bit creaky. It won’t be replacing It’s a Wonderful Life as your go-to Christmas staple (and it’s certainly not suitable for the whole family), but for some inconsequential festive fisticuffs, this is a hoot.

This post was written by
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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