European and World Karate champion Seydina Baldé makes quite a lead role debut with this action packed film that takes him to the haunting world of North Korea.
Baldé is Gabriel, a bounty hunter whose troubles has caused him doing special assignments for Interpol. After nabbing a pedophile who had escaped from Thailand to Hong Kong, Gabriel is arrested for causing a fight and his superior has bailed him out. When Gabriel is given a rescue assignment, he is given a chance at his freedom if he succeeds. However, there is one catch.
Gabriel’s latest mission is to find Witaker, a British soldier who was gathering intel in North Korea and has been missing for ten days. Gabriel heads to North Korea where he begins his mission. However, he finds himself kidnapped by the North Korean forces, led by the very stern Jinseyun Kim. When Gabriel eventually makes his escape, he learns that not only has Witaker been found alive, but there are many women who have also become prisoners of the regime. Using his skills, Gabriel must find a way to get the prisoners to safety, one fight at a time.
Written and directed by Mathieu Wechsler, originally with the title The Borderlands, the film is meant to unleash a new action hero to the world. The man is France’s Seydina Baldé, five-time world karate champion and multiple time European karate champion. As a lead actor, Baldé handles himself quite well in both the acting and action department. He plays bounty hunter Gabriel as a troubled soul who only wants to return to his girlfriend but constantly finds himself at odds with Interpol agents who make him a deal.
Kirt Kishita does quite well as the villainous General Jinseyun Kim, a powerful soldier who follows orders and stays loyal to his leader, whose picture appears numerous times throughout the film. While Muriel Hofmann does well as a victim of the regime, the only annoyance of the film comes in the form of soldier Park. Park is played by Jason Tobin, who appeared in YELLOW and THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT. Tobin starts out well, but then goes over the top in the second half of the film, as some maniac who only wants some action.
The film’s fight choreographer is Guo Sifu with Wushu and Fist of the Dragon director Antony Szeto serving as stunt coordinator. The film shows Baldé using his martial arts skills sporadically throughout the film. Some of the highlights include his opening fight against members of a Hong Kong street gang and another where he takes on a legion of soldiers in their bunkers single-handedly. A nicely done fight scene has Baldé having a fight in the rain on a world map against a North Korean soldier. Look out for Szeto himself as a North Korean soldier with a line about “sacred rice”. Overall, the film’s fight scenes are pretty well done and serve as a doorway to a promising film career for the former karate champion.
Covert Operation could act as a stepping stone for a promising career for karate champion Seydina Baldé, who makes a pretty good lead role debut. Despite some over the top acting by Jason Tobin, Baldé may just have a chance to be one of the next “action heroes” as he does fight scenes really well and proves he can somewhat act. Definitely worth a rental and see for yourself.
WFG RATING: B
An Aeternalis Films production. Director: Mathieu Weschler. Producers: Bey Logan and Seydina Baldé. Writer: Mathieu Weschler. Cinematography: Vincent Viellard-Baron. Editing: Tuong Vi Nguyen-Long.
Cast: Seydina Baldé, James Gerard, Kirt Kishita, Jason Tobin, Ken Tran, Simon Yin, Muriel Hofmann, Michael Chan, Jared Robinsen, Antony Szeto.