buddy action

Showdown in Manila (2017)

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An action ensemble cast joins Russian powerhouse Alexander Nevsky for this throwback action film which marked the directorial debut of Mark Dacascos, known to most today as the Chairman of Food Network’s Iron Chef America.

Nick Peyton has attempted numerous times to find the mysterious crime figure known as “The Wraith”. During their latest attempt, Nick is wounded by the Wraith’s top men but ultimately survives, hoping to one day seek retribution. The chance arrives when Matthew Wells is murdered at the hands of the Wraith’s organization and his widow seeks justice by hiring Nick and new partner Charlie Benz to find the Wraith.

On the streets of Manila, Nick and Charlie encounter various clues that may lead them to the location of the Wraith. When Nick finally finds Dorn, one of the Wraith’s cohorts and one of the guys who gunned Nick down, Dorn finally reveals where the Wraith is located. However, learning exactly where he is, Nick knows that he and Charlie will be not be able to capture him alone. Nick puts in a call to some old allies to help him on this dangerous mission. Will Nick get the Wraith and finally seek retribution for both himself and Mrs. Wells?

Alexander Nevsky is truly making his mark known for his low-budgeted action films which, depending on your taste, are either “love them” or “hate them”. After making his directorial debut with Black Rose, he has joined forces with Andrzej Bartkowiak, the director of Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave, and 90’s action hero and current Iron Chef America chairman Mark Dacascos on this film, which takes its inspiration from The Expendables.

This time around Mark Dacascos makes his directorial debut on the film and has a cameo appearance as the ill-fated Matthew Wells, whose death triggers Nevsky’s Nick to not only capture his arch-nemesis and seek retribution for his near-fatal shooting. However, what stands out is that while Dacascos makes the most of the locations and budget, Nevsky, who also served as a producer, helped bring in a slew of 90’s B-movie action stars to the forefront and have them align with himself for its third and final act.

Much of the film focuses on the ongoing investigation of the location with the Wraith, played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, a veteran known for epic villain roles such as Yoshida in Showdown in Little Tokyo, Sangha in Kickboxer 2: The Road Back, and Shang Tsung in the first Mortal Kombat movie. Here, he is the mastermind known simply as “The Wraith” and he spends most of the film hidden. After the film’s opening action sequence, he is sporadically seen until the third act, instead leaving the work to 90’s powerhouse villain actor Matthias Hues to do the dirty work. Tia Carrere, who gained fame for the late 90’s action series Relic Hunter as well as appearing in films like the aforementioned Showdown in Little Tokyo, doesn’t get much action but stands more as the woman who hires our heroes to find out who killed her husband.

As for Nevsky, he has a new partner in Straship Troopers’ Casper Van Dien and the two have chemistry meant for a buddy action comedy. Nevsky’s by-the-book hardcore cop complements Van Dien’s laid back womanizing detective. However, the third act, set in the jungle is where the action really picks up as fans of this throwback era will have the likes of Cynthia Rothrock, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and Olivier Gruner along with Dmitriy Dyuzhev as fellow Russian Victor, all of whom play characters who have worked with Nevsky’s Nick at one point.

In charge of the film’s action sequences are Al Dacascos and Emmanuel Bettancourt with Sonny Sison serving as second unit director. Al Dacascos, the father of our film’s director, is a martial arts legend, finding the style of wun hop kuen do, itself based off Kajukenbo. While many would expect with a cast of 90’s action stars a style similar to what was seen back in the day, with the resources they had to work with, Master Dacascos utilized more realism by providing short and quick fights that sporadically come throughout the film with the finale in the jungle combining both martial arts action and gunfire galore.

If you are a hardcore action film that expects plenty of fisticuffs and love that low-budget feel to it, add to the mix a 90’s B-movie dream cast, then Showdown in Manila is worth taking a look. If you’re expecting something along the lines of a martial arts epic considering the cast, then you will want to avoid this one. This is one instance where as mentioned, you will either “love it”, “like it”, or “hate it”. Nevertheless, this is one team I’d be happy to align myself with.

WFG RATING: C+

ITN Distribution presents a Hollywood Storm/Czar Pictures production. Director: Mark Dacascos. Producer: Alexander Nevsky. Writer: Craig Hamman; story by Hamman, Alexander Nevsky, and Mark Dacascos. Cinematography: Rudy Harbon. Editing: Stephen Adrianson.

Cast: Alexander Nevsky, Casper Van Dien, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tia Carrere, Matthias Hues, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Olivier Gruner, Dmitriy Dyuzhev, Mark Dacascos, Iza Calzado, Robert Madrid, Polina Butorina.

ITN Distribution will be releasing this film to select theaters on January 19, 2018 followed by a VOD and Digital HD release on January 23, 2018.

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The King’s Case Note (2017)

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2017, CJ Entertainment/Film RAM Productions

Director:
Moon Hyun-Sung
Producer:
Aram Choi
Writers:
Heo Yoon-Mi (comic)
Kang Hyun-Sung (screenplay)

Cast:
Lee Sun-Kyun (King Yejong)
Ahn Jae-Hong (Yoon Yi-Seo)
Kim Hee-Won (Nam Geon-Hee)
Joo Jin-Mo (Jik Je-Hak)
Jang Young-Nam (Soo-Bin)
Kyung Soo-Jin (Seon-Hwa)
Kim Hong-Pa (Prime Minister)
Kim Eung-Soo (1st Vice-Premier)
Jo Yeong-Jin (2nd Vice-Premier)
Jung Hae-In (Black Cloud)

This historical action-comedy has perhaps one of the most smart-alecky kings in the Joseon Dynasty.

Yoon Yi-Seo has been hired to become the new royal chronicler in the Joseon Dynasty. The King, Yejong, is not your normal monarch, but rather he likes to work as a detective. Impressed with Yoon’s memory skills, Yejong hires him as his personal assistant. When one of Yejong’s shadow men suddenly dies at the same time a scarecrow appears with a letter as a threat to take down the kingdom, Yejong and Yoon decide to figure out the case.

With the letter indicating that perhaps Prince Jaseong, who Yejong’s nephew, is attempting to take over the throne has the court in uproar, Yejong suspects there’s more to it than what is rumored. Rumors of a “ghost fish” as a sign of the heavens has been popping up and after a confrontation with the monster, Yejong and Yoon soon learn that there is treachery in the midst on Yejong’s kingdom, but it may not be the teen Prince responsible, but someone far worse. Together, these two unlikely allies must solve the case before it’s too late.

Comic writer Heo Yoon-Mi has come up with a brilliant concept, to take the period piece and mesh it with the buddy comedy with his comic about a king who moonlights as a detective and his smart yet clumsy assistant. With Kang Hyun-Sung writing the script and meshing with Moon Hyun-Sung’s direction, the comic comes to life and it is an action-packed and fun adventure set in the Joseon Dynasty of Korea’s history.

Lee Sun-Kyun is funny to watch as the titular King Yejong, who while ruling the kingdom moonlights as a detective of sorts who takes things in a none too serious approach. As a matter of fact, he is quite the smart-aleck type who takes his role as King in quite a nonchalant manner while taking his other “job” more seriously, especially when his rule is threatened. However, it is that humorous side of Yejong that truly drives the film, notably in his scenes with his clumsy yet intelligent assistant, Yoon Yi-Seo.

Ahn Jae-Hong is the perfect comic foil in the role of chronicler Yoon. Yoon is introduced as a man who because of his new job, finds himself having to be loyal to the King where he makes his announcement to the King like the period films of yore. However, it is when Yejong berates him for using this traditional method that makes one realize that we’re in for a potential buddy comedy element that is the driving force of the film. When the duo work together to solve the case that is the basis of the film, these two have such great chemistry due to their opposing personalities and the reveals do have a bit of a shock that shows perhaps a side of the King that one may think is an over-exaggeration but proves to be as true as how Yejong is the King.

The King’s Case Note is not your typical Korean period piece but a nice meshing of said genre with the buddy action film that is fun to watch thanks to the performances of the two leads as the polar opposites who must stop the threat to the kingdom.

WFG RATING: A


The film was released in South Korea yesterday with the film set to make its U.S. debut tomorrow in Buena Park and Los Angeles followed by a limited release nationwide on May 5. A special Thank You goes to the folks at CJ Entertainment USA for allowing WFG to see this film!

American Kickboxer 2 (1993)

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1993, Davian International

Director:
Jeno Hodi
Producer:
David Hunt
Writers:
Jeno Hodi
Greg Lewis
Paul Wolansky
Cinematography:
Blain Brown
Editing:
Lawrence A. Maddox
Tim Spring
Paul Wolansky

Cast:
Dale “Apollo” Cook (Mike Clark)
Evan Lurie (David)
Kathy Shower (Lillian Hansen)
David Graf (Howard Hansen)
Ted Markland (Xavier)
Jeffrey R. Iorio (Hammer)
Jessica Springal (Susie)
Greg Lewis (Uncle Francis)
Jeno Hodi (Attila)

Two rivals must unite to rescue a kidnapped girl in this in-name “sequel” to the 1991 kickboxing film.

Lillian Hansen married Howard, the CEO of her father’s company, after the birth of her seven-year daughter Susie. However, she is still an heir apparent to the fortune. Xavier, a top criminal, decides to kidnap Susie for a ransom of one million dollars. When he succeeds in the kidnapping, Lillian attempts to get the money from her uncle Francis, who is the current relative who has access to the funds. However, when he decides to think about helping Lillian out, Lillian decides to go another route.

She hires her ex-husband Mike Clark, a volatile police officer who likes to do things his way without any help. However, when Howard is not too thrilled about Lillian calling Mike due to their destroyed marriage, Lillian does find a possible alternate. David, a local martial arts teacher, who had an affair with Lillian while her marriage with Mike was failing, is hired by Lillian. However, Mike has gotten the call as well as now, these two rivals have no other choice but to join forces for the sake of Susie’s life, even if one of them is actually the father of the girl.

The first time this film was reviewed, it was given as very bad and terrible. However, the time came to give this film a second chance and the major issue is that the film is being seen as a sequel to a 1991 kickboxing film called American Kickboxer. Under a different title, this would have better sense, and who knows why the Filipino-based Davian International got the rights to the name to make this a sequel but overall, it’s not a completely bad B-movie that takes the classic “rivals must team up” gig all for the sake of a “mission”.

Kickboxing legend Dale “Apollo” Cook, who graces the film’s poster, plays the very volatile Mike, a cop who is all about action and lets his fists do the talking. His introductory scene has him taking on a group of thugs using some of his martial arts skills. However, when it comes to martial arts, the film’s true star is Evan Lurie, who gets his biggest role to date as David, a playboy martial arts teacher. Their connection is Lillian, played by former Playmate turned B-movie star Kathy Shower. Shower, a staple for erotic thriller films, gets her most mainstream role yet as the troubled former wife of Mike and former lover of David, who is conflicted not only with her daughter being kidnapped, but struggles with who is in fact the father of the girl.

Cook and Lurie actually are quite an interesting duo as when they are not fighting and shooting at the bad guys, they are fighting each other. Their first meeting in the film shows a volatile Cook and a defensive Lurie at each other’s throats when a bystander arrives and threatens to call the cops. Cook gets the upper hand in most of the scuffles between the two but they either end it quick or find themselves being threatened by other goons. One of the four confrontations is forced as they are forced to entertain a crowd in an abandoned warehouse.

Police Academy’s Tackleberry, the late David Graf, plays Howard as someone who is more business-minded and not the action nut his iconic character is, yet he makes the most of his role in the film. Ted Markland is truly a mastermind as Xavier while he has the likes of Jeffrey Iorio, Ned Hourani, and Kris Aguilar as some of his goons. The final act shows Lurie doing all of the fighting while Cook protects Shower and her daughter by shooting. This allows Lurie to get the spotlight and he definitely has the skills to boot.

Despite the title, American Kickboxer 2 should not be seen as a sequel as the 1993 Cannon FilmTo the Death is the real sequel. However, this is actually a decent B-movie buddy film that could have a chance to have given Dale Cook a better chance to show his skills while Evan Lurie does get to show his skills. Overall, the film is a middle of the road B-action film.

WFG RATING: C

DVD

Black Cobra 3: Manila Connection (1990)

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Chicago Robert Malone takes his last case and heads back to the Philippines in this final installment of the Black Cobra trilogy.

Charlie Hopkins, a CIA agent, is on the hunt for a cache of weapons that have been stolen somewhere in Manila. In his attempt to find the weapons, he is shot down by a mysterious assailant and upon his return home, dies. The CIA are now in a bind and need some outside help. In charge of the case is agent Greg Duncan. Duncan knows there is only one man who can help him retrieve the weapons: Chicago detective Robert Malone.

Back in Chi-town, Malone is at the supermarket where he experiences three robbers. Malone confronts them his way with a threat that the police have arrived but uses his fighting skills to dispatch of them. He gets the call from Greg, who just happens to know Robert because Robert was Greg’s father’s best friend. When Robert is denied a vacation from Captain Marton, the CIA personally calls the governor, who calls Marton to grant Robert his vacation.

Upon arrival, he runs into a young woman, Jane Rogers, who turns out to be a fellow CIA agent. The trio begin to search for clues to track the ones responsible down. As Jane stays behind to do intel, Robert and Greg attempt to get clues on where the shipment could be. As they head to a warehouse to confront a foreman about the shipment, Robert and Greg face off against some of the workers and succeed. When they are just about to get an answer from the foreman, the foreman is shot by a fellow CIA agent, Jackson. However, despite the setback, Robert and Greg, now along with Jane, find out who is responsible and when they find out where the shipment is held, they launch an assault on the criminals.

Now this poses quite an interesting question. Could it be extremely possible that Black Cobra 2 and Black Cobra 3 were shot, say, back-to-back? This is highly likely due to mainly the same crew and certain cast members returning to the fold but in different roles. Which brings the next question. Is Ned Hourani truly the “guy who has to die in the beginning” or “that guy who dies” in virtually every movie he is in? In Black Cobra 2, he gets killed mid-way as terrorist member Mustapha and here, he plays Charlie, who is killed in the opening scene much like his fate in both Bloodfist and Bloodfist II.

Back to Black Cobra 3, Fred Williamson returns as Robert Malone, who once again is going to Manila but not before getting chewed out again by Captain Marton. Now, this is the fun part. Edward Santana, who plays Captain Marton, seems to have been influenced by Gil Hill’s Inspector Todd of the Beverly Hills Cop films because the way he goes off on Malone is virtually the same way Todd goes off on Axel Foley. That is pretty much the comic relief of the film.

Where Malone had one partner in Black Cobra 2, he now has not one, but two allies in this final installment. Here he teams up with TV actor Forry Smith, who plays CIA agent Duncan and Debra Ward, who plays CIA intel Jane. Thankfully, the producers realized the big flaw of having a female protagonist who made virtually no impact in the previous films and made Jane a smart, brash, and action loving female who joins the guys for some firepower action in the final action set piece of the film. Meanwhile, from the moment you see David Light’s Jackson, you know something is completely off and well, if you know this genre of film, you will know how this ends up in terms of his character.

Now, it must be noted that in 1991, L’Imaggine, the Italian production company behind the trilogy did in fact release a Black Cobra 4, which was subtitled Detective Malone. However, this was an atrocious cheap cash-in film which was made up of splicing footage from the first two Black Cobra films. The reason is simple. Fred Williamson didn’t want to do another Black Cobra film so the producers decided to make a “sequel” in this manner, which is not even a real Black Cobra film.

Thus, it is safe to say that Black Cobra 3: Manila Connection is the last official sequel and installment of the films. This one is almost more on the level of #2 in terms of villains and action but the producers finally have a female who can blow away bad guys with “The Hammer” himself.

WFG RATING: C+

A L’Immagine, s.r.l. production. Director: Edoardo Margherti. Producer: Luciano Appignani. Writer: Gaetano Russo. Cinematography: Guglielmo Mancori. Editing: Alessandro Lucidi.

Cast: Fred Williamson, Forry Smith, Debra Ward, David Light, Ned Hourani, Buddy Norton, Mike Monty, Edward Santana, Maria Isabel Lopez.

 

Black Cobra 2 (1988)

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Fred Williamson returns as the hard-boiled Robert Malone in the second installment of the Black Cobra trilogy and he has an ally in a former web-slinger. That’s right, Nicholas Hammond, who played Spider-Man in the short-lived 1970’s series, joins the Hammer in this film.

Det. Robert Malone has found himself in hot water again after taking down a group of thugs using his own methods. The new captain, Marton, is unbelievably ticked off and as part of an “exchange program” with Interpol, sends Malone to the Philippines, where he must learn how Interpol does their police activity.

Arriving at the airport, Malone meets an enigmatic man known as the Colonel. A professional pickpocket, Malone is the Colonel’s latest victim. When Malone attempts to find the Colonel, he disappears. On the upside, Malone meets his contact in Manila, Interpol agent Kevin McCall, who unlike his colleague, is a by-the-book agent. When McCall learns what had happened at the airport, he helps Malone by going to the Colonel’s home. There, they find the Colonel…dead.

The duo find that the Colonel has a daughter, Peggy, who is a lounge singer. They inform her of her father’s death and she is not surprised at all. The trio soon learn that the Colonel was involved in a deadly conspiracy with a local Arabic businessman, Asad Cabuli, who is actually the leader of a terrorist faction. When Peggy is kidnapped, McCall and Malone, once at odds over their tactics realize they do work better together, team up to catch the kidnappers but it is too late as Peggy dies. When McCall’s son is kidnapped and held hostage along with his classmates by the faction, the duo now must unite again to put an end to the faction once and for all.

The first Black Cobra was quite a pretty interesting rip-off of the similarly-titled Cobra. Here, in an attempt to perhaps save some budget money and to cash in on Fred Williamson’s action hero status, this sequel takes our hero to Manila of all places. The film soon becomes a buddy action film with the once “lone wolf” Malone now having a partner and one who, in this formulaic genre, the opposite of his character. And who would have thought that his new partner would be played by the former Fredrich Von Trapp, or better yet, Peter Parker?

To make the buddy action film work, the two partners have to have a sense of chemistry that works despite playing opposite characters and here, even for its B-movie status, this one works quite well. While Fred Williamson plays the unorthodox, lone wolf-style Malone, Nicholas Hammond does really well as the by-the-book agent Kevin McCall. The two sometimes bicker like an old married couple due to their difference in handling matters. However, once they realize how dangerous this game is, the two learn a thing or two from each other and have to rely on each other to get the job done and it works here.

The only flaws in the film are that once again, the female protagonist is relegated to doing virtually nothing to make an impact and is even killed midway through the film and the lead villain of the film is more forgettable than the first installment’s villain. Here, the character of Asad is more of a mastermind who lets his goons do more of the physical work in the film. Unlike Bruno Bilotta’s tough as nails gang leader in the original, Najid Jadali just doesn’t give as much toughness in the film but rather resorts to screaming and planning out the attacks.

Even the action seems at times to be subpar. Williamson, who is a martial artist, fights mainly Filipino stuntmen who just take the fall. Seeing him in the film Hell Up in Harlem, he had a nice jumping roundhouse kick. However, his roundhouse kicks here just don’t seem to match up well as they look sort of bad. Perhaps it is because of the outfit he sports during the fights, who knows. In addition, while he kicked a guy through a window in the original with a flying side kick, in this film, he does a front kick to a guy through a stash of boxes on the docks. The final action piece is mainly some fights mixed in with firepower as the usually suit-wearing Hammond, for one reason or another, goes in like Rambo on his part with Williamson in his usual tough action gear.

Black Cobra 2 suffers from a forgettable villain and again, a forgettable female protagonist. However, it’s redemption comes in the form of the buddy action chemistry between “The Hammer” and the former “Spider-Man”.

WFG RATING: B-

A L’Immagine, s.r.l. production. Director: Edoardo Margherti. Producer: Luciano Appignani. Writer: Gaetano Russo. Cinematography: Guglielmo Mancori. Editing: Alessandro Lucidi.

Cast: Fred Williamson, Nicholas Hammond, Emma Hoagland, Najid Jadali, Ned Hourani, Edward Santana, Kristine Erlandson, Oscar Daniels.

 

Enemy Territory (1987)

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When a gang takes over a housing project in New York City, who you gonna call? Yeah, this film is an attempt to make Ray Parker Jr. an action hero in this 80’s urban action film.

Barry was once a successful insurance agent who has recently hit a major slump. However, his boss has faith in his and gives him an assignment that could make or break him. He is asked to go to a rundown housing project to meet a kind elderly woman named Elva, who has recently put out a life insurance policy to support her granddaughter. When Barry arrives at the building, he makes the simple mistake of tapping a young man on the shoulder because this young man belongs to a deadly gang called the Vampires.

Despite that, Barry has a successful meeting with Elva but his life is about to change as he leaves her apartment. The Vampires show up, led by The Count, and they proceed to kill the building’s security guard but not before phone company worker Will shows up and saves Barry. Will and Barry soon learn the Vampires run the building and they are not a threat. With help from Elva’s granddaughter Toni, the duo soon learn of a Vietnam War vet in the building named Parker, someone the Vampires do not want to cross. Will Barry and Will be able to escape the building or will the Vampires get to them?

This 80’s urban action thriller may seem like a run-of-the-mill film and that it is, but its interesting twist is that the lead actor in the film is far from the action hero type and instead relies on a famous pop singer to take charge in the action department, something that is a little familiar when musicians attempt to work on the big screen. However, it ultimately works well and may be seen as a precursor to future buddy action films.

Gary Frank’s Barry is a man with a constant struggle. First, his slump at work has caused him to turn to alcoholism and thus, not only gives him problems at work but with his family. However, when he makes a simple mistake of tapping the wrong shoulder, one can only see that this is one character who will put himself in an even worse situation. However, one would think this is one character who will learn to fight back and play the vigilante but in a surprising move, that is not the case.

That honor goes to pop star Ray Parker Jr., the one responsible for the theme song of some movie called Ghostbusters. As phone company worker Will, who is in the building to see his girlfriend, he knows the situation and ends up helping our lowly insurance agent. For an 80’s B-movie, Parker Jr. could have made for an action star based on his performance here. Jan-Michael Vincent makes the most of his role as Parker, a Vietnam veteran who attempts to help our unlikely heroes take on the Vampires. As for the leader of the Vampires, appropriately named The Count, it is clear why Tony Todd is meant to play villain roles, including his 90’s iconic role of horror villain Candyman and that of Bludworth in the Final Destination films. The film also has appearances from a pre-fame Clueless star Stacey Dash and a pre-fame Different World and Drive star Kadeem Hardison in supporting roles, one major and one minor.

Enemy Territory is a typical 80’s B-movie action film set in an urban area and makes good use of an unlikely pair of heroes and a great performance from Tony Todd as the lead villain with the theme of “fighting back”.

WFG RATING: B-

A Taryn Productions/Empire Pictures production. Director: Peter Manoogian. Producers: Cynthia De Paula and Tim Kincaid. Writers: Stuart Kaminski and Bobby Liddell. Cinematography: Ernest Dickerson. Editing: Peter Teschner.

Cast: Gary Frank, Ray Parker Jr., Tony Todd, Jan-Michael Vincent, Frances Foster, Stacey Dash, Deon Richmond, Tiger Haynes, Kadeem Hardison.

REVIEW: Elaan (2005)

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2005, Venus Films

Director:
Vikram Bhatt
Producers:
Ganesh Jain
Ratan Jain
Writers:
Robin Bhatt
Vikram Bhatt
Cinematography:
Pravin Bhatt
Editing:
Kuldip K. Mehan

Cast:
Mithun Chakraborty (Baba Sikander)
Rahul Khanna (Karah Shah)
Arjun Rampal (Arjun Srivastav)
Amisha Patel (Priya)
John Abraham (Abhimanyu)
Lara Dutta (Sonia)
Chunky Pandey (Salim)
Madan Joshi (Kantilal Shah)
Miling Gunaji (Aftab Sikander)
Prithvi Zutshi (Sameer Sikander)
Ritu Shivpuri (Anjali Shah)

Five unlikely heroes form an unexpected alliance against the terror of one criminal mastermind in this 2005 revenge thriller from Vikram Bhatt.

Baba Sikander is a criminal mastermind who has held the elite of India hostage. Along with his two brothers and right hand man Salim, he forces rich businessmen to give them ransoms or they will kill them for non-payment. One well-known businessman, Kantilal Shah, is the latest to feel Sikander’s threat and it is his adopted son, Karan, who convinces his father not to pay the ransom. When Kantilal agrees, he and four bodyguards are later gunned down and Baba escapes to Italy, where he goes into hiding.

Vowing revenge by bringing Baba to justice, Karan knows Italy has no extradition law to India. Instead, he decides to form a team to bring the crime lord back to India. He brings in a suspended police officer, Arjun Srivastav, and Abhimanyu, a former associate of Baba who is serving time in prison after Baba framed him. Upon arrival in Venice, Abhimanyu reconnects with his girlfriend Sonia with the intention of getting out of the whole deal. However, after he and Sonia are kidnapped by Baba’s men, Arjun and Karan rescue both of them and Abhimanyu, realizing his mistake, decides to join them as does Sonia. Add reporter Priya, who has been getting a story on Karan’s crusade, and the five form a team who will do anything to ensure Baba Sikander is brought to justice.

Bollywood cinema is truly one of the hottest genres in cinema today. They may be known in general form for its musical numbers as well as sometimes very long running times. This 158-minute film is mainly an action thriller that can slowly becomes a buddy action film with five unlikely heroes who must stop a dangerous criminal mastermind who doesn’t necessarily do more than order his men around. However, what better way for the five to bond in this film than with the usually required musical and dance number and that’s exactly what happens. However, including this, there are only four musical numbers and they are interspersed from the first to the second hour with the “bonding sequence” to wrap the musical numbers up.

The band of heroes are well played by the ensemble cast. Rahul Khanna’s revenge seeking Karan is not looking to kill the mastermind Baba, but rather bring him back to India for justice. One would expect Karan to kill Baba for killing his father in the name of revenge in the usual action movie. However, Karan is a respectable businessman with morals and refuses to take the vigilante route. He truly wants justice for the death of his father.

Arjun Rampal, coming off his role in the James Bond-ish Asambhav, once again shows his chops in the action department as suspended cop Arjun, who is a single dad who despite having a hot temper, has a heart when it comes to his daughter. John Abraham, who a year prior, starred as the villain of the first Dhoom film, plays Abhimanyu as an anti-hero who started his career working for Baba only to want revenge for his now former boss’s betrayal. Ultimately, a pivotal moment forces him to change his tune to full hero status.

Amisha Patel’s Priya starts out as an annoying reporter who actually highlights the first musical number that eventually leads to her becoming a member of the team and Karan’s eventual love interest. Lara Dutta rounds out the heroes as Sonia, Abhimanyu’s long-suffering girlfriend who at first is reluctant to reunite with him as she has become a famous performer. However, out of respect for him, joins him on the mission leading to a reconciliation between the two.

Mithun Chakraborty truly is evil in the role of the villainous Baba Sikander, who pretty much has the elitist part of India under his iron fist through his ultimatum: pay or die. He doesn’t have much in the action department until the end and delegates his organization, including his brothers, to do the dirty work for him. Even his introduction in the film, which starts before the opening credits, instills the fear his character conveys in the film, telling the viewer that he has India hostage and will not let it go anytime soon.

Abbas Ali Moghul designed some pretty exciting action sequences that involves lots of firepower and in the case of Abraham, some nicely shot fistacuffs. Granted, they are not in the vein of the flashy style we are used to in various martial arts films, but they still hold up quite well. The firepower and chase scenes are reminiscent of something seen in a James Bond or even, an 80’s action thriller, which take away the musical numbers and it has the feel of an 80’s Cannon movie feel to an effect.

Elaan makes good use of its cast with some pretty nifty set pieces. The sporadic musical numbers that make up the first to second hour might be a notable annoyance but we are talking Bollywood cinema here, so in this case, it’s perfectly acceptable.

WFG RATING: B

DVD

Venus Movies, the production company behind the film, has also set up the movie to view for free on YouTube. Click here for the YouTube version, which has English subtitles.