Mortal Enemies

| February 18, 2014

Tradition meets cliché in this generic kung fu revenge flick.  When Ver (Verdy Bhawanta) witnesses his older brother’s murder, he’s sent to an orphanage, where he meets a young Sunny (Robin Shou; Mortal Kombat).  The two become like brothers themselves until Ver is adopted by a rich family.  Years later, after his adopted father’s death, Ver is the head of his family’s company and set to marry his beautiful girlfriend when she’s kidnapped by a group of terrorists; led by none other than his former friend, Sunny.

So, Ver is off on a mission to save his loved ones and figure out where things went so wrong for Sunny, and this is nothing you haven’t seen in a hundred other kung fu movies.  The filmmakers keep trying to do something unique with the structure, but it only results in a series of red herrings and misdirects that are painfully obvious.  For example, of the six characters in this movie, you can probably guess who’s going to turn out to be behind the whole plot to abduct Ver and his girlfriend.  If you think about it.

It was interesting to see Robin Shou show up in a movie again.  I actually didn’t recognize him because he’s completely changed since playing Lou Kang in Mortal Kombat, and yet he has aged amazingly.  His performance here is by far the best too as our troubled anti-hero, who’s gotten in over his head and doesn’t see a way out of his criminal life.  He doesn’t have a lot to work with here, but he tries to bring some level of complexity to his character, which is completely void from his costars.

I will also say that the fight choreography is very impressive.  That’s the one good thing about making so many of these kung fu movies; the choreography gets to be a more and more complicated art form.  It’s fun to watch, even though if you think about it, the actors are pretty much reacting faster than humanly possible (due to repeated rehearsal).  It’s also a criticism of the film that all of the characters are so good at fighting.  Especially Ver, who we never see learning to take care of himself.  His brother’s a good fighter (again, for no good reason) and then old Ver is a fantastic fighter.  It feels like this film was made by Americans who wanted to make a movie about kick ass Asians and when someone asked how all of these guys are such good fighters, they responded, “Uh… because they’re Asian?”  It just feels a bit forced.

Special features include a trailer gallery, subtitles, and a digital copy of the movie.

Available on DVD from Lionsgate on February 18.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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