2016, Ratti Entertainment/Ramcity Productions
Philip Daay (screenplay)
Owen Ratliff (original comic “Black Salt: The Last Heroes Left”)
Kinyumba Mutakabbir (Samuel Lincoln Tharpe)
Michelle Lee (Horse Ripper)
Sheena Chou (Li Jing)
James Lew (Abbot Xiao)
Wang Xiaojun (Monk Sing)
Ron Yuan (Mamori Shiga)
Panuvat Anthony Nanakornpanom (Rain)
Chris Jai Alex (Tombs)
Based on a comic, this 30-minute short film is a pretty good attempt to potentially start a franchise if done just like we see here.
As a kid, Samuel Lincoln Tharpe was abandoned by his father. When his mother takes him to China, a tragic incident leads Samuel to learn martial arts from a Shaolin Temple monk. However, because of the fact he is a foreigner, he wasn’t allowed entry to the temple. Nevertheless, Samuel has used the skills he achieved to become one of Interpol’s top agents. He always gets the job done.
When he learns that in four days, global genocide is set to happen courtesy of a device called the Exterminatus, it is Tharpe’s mission to retrieve the device. This is not going to be an easy task as the Yakuza have control of the device and in order for Tharpe to succeed, he must get help from the Abbot of Shaolin Temple, who still is unhappy about Tharpe training all those years ago. Nevertheless, the Yakuza will only be the least of Tharpe’s problems as he must face two very deadly assassins, Rain and Horse Ripper.
Based on a comic book by producer Owen Ratliff, director Ben Ramsey (Blood and Bone) directed a really good action premise that is getting hopes of perhaps starting a franchise. If the potential feature film is anything like we see in this short film, then we are going to be in for a treat.
Kinyumba Mutakabbir brings it as our hero Tharpe. He plays it straight laced as someone who does his job and puts his skills to good use when needed. Hollywood veteran James Lew is quite great to watch as the Shaolin Temple abbot who disapproves of Tharpe even learning, but accepts it to a limit and Wang Xiaojun makes the most of his screen time as monk Sing, who even has a nice little exchange with Tharpe. Ron Yuan, usually known for his action roles, gives a good non-action performance as Mamoru Shiga, a Japanese Interpol agent who informs Tharpe of the mission at hand. Sheena Chou also makes the most of her screen time as Li Jing, a Yakuza member who betrays her team to give Tharpe intel on the device.
In the action department, in which Ron Yuan served as head fight choreographer, it may seem like we may not get enough action to satisfy even the most avid fan. However, the action here is nice and sporadic here with some nice firepower mixed in with martial arts. Of course, the best fight scenes involve Tharpe taking on the deadly Rain, played by Panuvat Anthony Nanakornpanom; and the finale in which he faces female assassin Horse Ripper, played by Michelle Lee. Yuan and his team did an impressive job using slow motion at the right moments and editing it just right with not much of the major issue that can plague a fight scene (extreme close-up and quick cutting). Ramsey knows what intrigues the audience in terms of action and here, he delivers.
Black Salt could be the start of what could be a pretty good franchise. The short film here just gives us a taste of what we will see in terms of a new action actor and that actor is Kinyumba Mutakabbir.
WFG RATING: A
The film is available on DVD, which can be ordered at http://blacksaltstorefront.com/