Thursday, 26 June 2014

Honour


HONOUR (2014)

Written & Directed by: Shan Khan
Starring: Aiysha Hart, Paddy Considine, Faraz Ayub, Shubham Saraf, Nikesh Patel & Harvey Virdi

This dark of sometimes brutal British film takes the theme of honour killings and frames a tense thriller around it allowing the viewer a glimpse into the darker side of a certain culture. Devout Muslim and mother of three (Viridi) is ashamed of her only daughter, Mona (Hart), who has not only let some of her faith traditions slide but strikes up a romance with a young Punjabi man and threatens to run away with him. The Mother sees the only way to rectify this “problem” is to honour kill her daughter to restore the good name to her family and her dead husband’s legacy. Roping in a hard-bitten and one time Aryan brother bounty hunter (Considine) to find Mona, the Mother soon realizes that the task of killing her daughter will fall to her and her eldest son when said gun-for-hire’s conscious catches up with him and he sees a way out for both him and Mona.

From the quietly and incredibly intense opening scenes featuring the Mother (the character is only ever referred to as the mother) putting her plan into action to the non-linear approach the filmmakers employ to tell the story from all the main character’s perspectives, Honour is a dark thriller that grips throughout and spins a story that actually keeps you guessing for once (not least due in part to the sucker punch opening scenes!). The non-linear approach, meaning we the viewer jump back and forward in time to see the events from different perspectives, may be off putting to some but works quite well both in heightening the thriller element and into gaining how the clashing of cultures and beliefs affects each of the different protagonists. Sectioning the film into non-linear segments helps us to see how obsessed the Mother has become in the pursuit of the honour killing (and how her beliefs have become warped in order to achieve her goal); how Mona is at odds with the faith she has been brought up with; and how Considine hunter’s one time hatred for those who aren’t like him has now subsided and that he may be the saviour Mona is looking for. It’s an interesting approach, to what is essentially a thriller, but gives the film more meat as themes of wanting to escape a certain life and how faith can become an obsession rather than a calling elevate the film above the simpler girl-attempts-to-flee-her-crazed-family angle. 


Honour is a thriller first and foremost (and most certainly not an action film so don’t go expecting Taken style action shenanigans) and those looking for a straight up drama about the horrendous nature of honour killings may be a little disappointed that the film resorts to more traditional thriller elements come the final third (chases, violent confrontations). However, this is not a detriment to the film as, save for one final unnecessary scene, Shan Khan’s film is a fine thriller that grips and entertains in equal measure and is stunningly shot and excellently acted by the entire main cast. Considine continues to impress balancing both menace and calm well. He actually takes somewhat of a backseat to the rest of the cast (though his part is vital) allowing the younger cast to really shine. Likewise, Harvey Virdi as the callous and quite frightening mother is impressive, spewing forth manipulative speeches with venom.
Honour is, despite being a little plodding on occasion, a taught thriller and while it looks at the dark side of faith it does not criticize the faith as a whole but rather looks at how certain aspects are at odds with the modern world (and human decency) and how those who can become obsessed with upholding their beliefs can ultimately become corrupted by them.



Monday, 16 June 2014

The Guillotines


Check out my new review of The Guillotines over at Far East Films.

The Resistance


Check out my new review of The Resistance over at Far East Films.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Evasive Action


EVASIVE ACTION (1998)

Directed by: Jerry P. Jacobs
Screenplay:  Tripp Reed, Sean McGinly & Brian Rudnick
Starring: Dorian Harewood, Roy  Scheider, Delane Matthews, Clint Howard, Don Swayze, Ed O’Ross, Blake Gibbons, Keith Coogan & Ray Wise

This Royal Oaks Entertainment (Crash Dive, Counter Measures, Fugitive Mind) action cheapie is a whole lot of low rent fun mainly due to its impressive cast of one time A-Listers and B-movie action stalwarts.  The ever great Roy (Jaws, The French Connection) Scheider chews the scenery and has fun doing so as a onetime mafia kingpin (!) hell bent on busting out of jail when he and his other prison buddies are transported cross country on a train. Yep, it’s Con Air on a budget as Scheider and his cronies cause trouble and mayhem for out-to-stop-them-local sheriff Ray (Robocop) Wise along with the help all round solid character actor and familiar face Dorian Harewood (Full Metal Jacket, Sudden Death). Shoot-outs, locomotive action and just general outright looniness (mainly courtesy of Clint Howard!) ensue in this rollicking low rent action absurdness.

Actually, proceedings kick off in a rather serious manner as Harewood is framed for the murder of his wife (all shown through some nifty POV shots and dramatic slow motion), is wrongfully sent to prison and just wants to do his time and get out. However, after a prison yard scrap (with Sam “Flash Gordon” Jones no less: this flick certainly packs in the quality B-move cast!) earns him the trust of Scheider, he’s forced to take part in the daring escape whether he wants to or not. However, after several shoout-outs, confrontations and a feisty bar maid tagging along (Matthews), Harewood is forced to take up the hero role and make sure Scheider doesn't complete his escape.

This all leads to much B-movie action craziness (Howard bizarrely only quoting lines from famous films!) and an awesome cast of “Hey, it’s that one guy...!” who buoy this frantic flick making it a lot more fun than it should have been. To be fair the cast are all pretty good (well, Howard seems completely out of place and like he has walked in from another set altogether: but seems to be having a hoot!) with Scheider oozing evil charm, Wise providing good support as the would be hero sheriff and Harewood making for a refreshingly normal and unexpected leading man/action hero.

It’s all pretty well shot, the momentum is kept up nicely and for a Royal Oaks Entertainment production, stock footage (from bigger budget films inserted to pad out the action sequences) is only used for the big crash come the end (it being footage from the Pryor/Wilder flick, Silver Streak). There are a good amount of fist fights and shoot-outs though the flick does have a habit of cutting away from the action just as it’s getting good as presumably they couldn’t afford to show it: see, a bomb going off not being shown and Harewood’s daring jump from a motorcycle onto the moving  train which is, yep, not shown!

Awesome cast make this a solid B-move action quickie which is best enjoyed late at night with a whiskey in your hand: which is exactly how I watched and enjoyed it!

(aka Steel Train). 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear


Check out my new review of Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear over at Far East Films.