The Hollywood film The Hard Way (1991) starred Michael J. Fox as an actor who follows tough cop James Woods to prepare for a role as a cop in an upcoming film. This Bollywood remake of that very film kicks it up a notch due to the presence of one of India’s biggest action stars, martial artist Akshay Kumar in the Woods role.
Kumar plays police inspector Karan Joglekar, who has learned his brother and mentor, Arjun, has been brutally murdered at the hands of big shot crime lord Goli. As Karan searches for clues to find Goli, he gets himself in hot water when he is asked to confront a local movie producer who has kidnapped a woman in order to force her to appear in his films. At the scene as well is Deepak Kumar, an actor known for his roles in romantic comedies who is looking to go against type but is constantly met with disapproval from the unscrupulous producer.
When Karan confronts the producer, he is forced to fight the producer and his security guards using his martial arts skills. Kumar, who holds black belts in karate and tae kwon do as well as being a muay thai practicioner does some great moves for Bollywood cinema. Under the supervisor of action coordinator Akbar Bakshi, Kumar was able to perform his own stunts in the film, even jumping over the hood of a car to kick one of the goons he fights.
Impressed by what he has seen, Deepak is determined to make Karan take him along for the ride in order to study the role of a police officer. Meanwhile, Goli’s girlfriend Mona has been killed by the crime lord because of her betrayal by ratting him out to Arjun, Karan’s brother, before he was killed. However, when Karan decides to find a look-alike to infiltrate Goli, he meets Basanti, and soon she begins her infiltration yet she falls for the hard-nosed cop at the same time.
At first, Deepak and Karan don’t get along due to Deepak’s constant interference with Karan’s mission. However, Karan soon realizes that he cannot figure the whole mystery out himself and it takes the sometimes annoying Deepak to show Karan the meaning of not only working with a partner, but even showing the meaning of friendship.
This film is the second in Akshay Kumar’s breakout Khiladi series of films. As with a Bollywood action film, this is a nicely blended mix of action, comedy, and the mandatory musical sequences that make Bollywood what it is today. Kumar seems to be the best fighter of the entire movie and it shows. Some call him the “Jean-Claude Van Damme” of Bollywood and it may be true in terms of showcasing his skills on screen. Saif Ali Khan provides the perfect comic counterpart to Kumar’s hard-nosed police officer as a very popular actor who just wants a change. The fact that these two learn from each other not only with work, but eventually in life, works out nicely in terms of the plot.
The only disappointment of the film comes in the climax of the film. Most film villains tend to have a top number one henchman that can pose a real threat for the hero, sometimes even more than the actual villain himself. This seems to be the case with the Goli’s henchman. Seeing the film, a fight scene between the henchman and Karan would have been necessary. Sadly, their confrontation is way too short and it doesn’t help that it doesn’t consist of any fighting between the two.
With the exception of a disappointing finale, Main Khiladi Tu Anari is a fun action-comedy in which the credit goes to the unlikely team of Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan with Kumar’s thrashing of the movie producer and his goons as the highlight of the film.
WFG RATING: B-
A United Sevens Combines/Venus Records and Tapes Production. Director: Sameer Malkan. Producer: Champak Jain. Writers: Kader Khan; story by Sachin Bhomwick. Cinematography: Akram Khan. Editing: Suresh Chaturvedi.
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Rageshwari, Shakti Kapoor, Johnny Lever, Mukesh Khanna, Beena Banerjee, Goga Kapoor, Shiva Rindani.