Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Fifth Commandment


Directed by: Jesse Johnson
Written by: Rick Yune
Starring: Rick Yune, Dania Ramirez, Bokeem Woodbine, Roger Yuan & Keith David

The hitman with a heart genre strikes again in this vehicle for would be action star Rick Yune. Having popped up in the big budget fare like Die Another Day, The Fast and the Furious and Ninja Assassin, Yune turns his hand to producing, writing and starring in his own action vehicle. It’s all a case of déjà vu really, The Fifth Commandment something action fans have seen a millions times before. Yune plays Chance a young orphan taken in by hitman Max “Coolbreeze” Templeton (a very cool Keith David). Chance is trained in the art of the kill, grows up to be the top assassin and then has a change of heart when his latest mission involves someone close to his heart. Cue: mucho gritty fighting and gunplay.

In terms of story and character, The Fifth Commandment is a little ho hum. The film certainly tries to flesh out the characters somewhat and its cool seeing how Yune’s character became the assassin is today. However, the story is predictable, Yune’s character not the most engaging or sympathetic leading man, and the great Keith David isn’t in it enough. Though his character does liven up any scene he is in. However, The Fifth Commandment is saved from being just another run-of-the-mill assassin decides to quit the business actioner by its slick photography, visually pleasing setting and a great bad guy in Roger Yuan. Director Jesse Johnson (presumably onboard here as a director for hire) works with what appears to be his biggest budget, the film looking slick and like it had some money spent on it. The Bangkok locations and camerawork are used to good effect giving the film a glossy, sweltering look, locations utilized to maximum effect. Roger Yuan (Shanghai Noon) is particularly memorable as the shoot first, ask no questions bad guy who will kill absolutely anyone in his way. He tears through the picture causing destruction as part of a murderous husband and wife team called Collateral and Damage (one of the unique and fun aspects of the screenplay).

In addition, the action hits hard and the viewer is never far away from the next bullet riddled showdown. There is a good mixture of gunplay, fist fights, car chases and explosions, Johnson and co assumingly trying to cram in as much varied action as they can. There is a brutal showdown in a rain soaked market, the final fight is satisfyingly punchy and technique heavy and there is a particularly explosive shootout in a police station a la The Terminator.

The film has a distinct 80s action vibe going on: high gloss action, that moves from point A to point B with little complication. Heck, there’s even a slo-mo scream in the rain when somebody dies. The Fifth Commandment is definitely geared around Rick Yune’s star wattage but is made watchable and entertaining thanks to Johnson’s slick direction and know how when it comes to the action department. If you are in the mood for some straightforward action thrills, The Fifth Commandment will do nicely.

1 comment:

Don said...

I couldn’t agree more with your excellent review! I didn’t really know what to expect from when I started this film, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Dani Ramirez. Heroes was the first time that I seen her in a role, and I like when an actor/actress is able to land gigs on TV and on the big screen. One of my co-workers at Dish recommended I watch The Fifth Commandment because of the fighting sequences. Since I just started my training, I’ve been trying to watch as many Martial Arts movies as I can by filling my Blockbuster @Home list with dozens of titles. There is an unbelievable number of titles that I’ve been able to find there, but from them all, The Fifth Commandment definitely stands out as being action-packed from start to finish.