Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Short Attention Span Review: Headshot (2016)

Short Attention Span Review: Headshot (2016)

Given the talent involved and the picture's Indonesian roots, it is only fair to compare Headshot to The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2, and that is a bit unfortunate.  While it never reaches the heights that star Iko Uwais and director Gareth Evans soared to with those martial arts epics, the so-called "Mo Brothers" (Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto) have put together one hell of an action picture.  Given their horror background, it should come as no surprise that this is a gory affair, but Headshot delivers on that promise in excess.  Seriously, the level of gore contained in this movie is more in line with Peter Jackson's early work than either The Raid: Redemption or The Raid 2--and those were some pretty damn bloody flicks in their own right.  Headshot is almost a bit cartoonish in its gleeful depiction of limbs being shattered and bodies being dismantled, but the gritty tone and the escalating tension are somehow able to keep the movie from becoming a parody of sorts.  As a horror junkie and a martial arts devotee, I thought it was awesome, and I have to give the Mo Brothers some serious props.  This film could have become redundant, but somehow they kept upping the ante.  The latter third of the movie sees Uwais graduate from manhandling various thugs to squaring off with better opponents in a series of insane duels that kept raising the bar.  Most importantly, this gruesome carnage was brought to life by a dynamic combination of spectacular choreography and wicked cinematography.  The plot is basic, yes, and there are no surprises in the mix, but that's typically the best course for a martial arts picture.  In this case, there was just enough of a story in play to give all the balls-to-the-wall beatdowns unfolding on the screen some resonance.  Ultimately, Headshot isn't a great film, but it is totally gnarly, and if his work with Gareth Evans hadn't already made this clear, it is now apparent that Iko Uwais is the best thing going in martial arts cinema today.  If you like punches and kicks or copious amounts of gore, you owe it to yourself to check out Headshot.

Final Grade: B-

While it is inferior to both The Raid and its sequel despite the presence of Iko Uwais in the lead role, Headshot does provide viewers with a wealth of bone-crunching action to enjoy--and it cements Uwais as the baddest martial artist working in movies today.

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