Jan 21, 2019
This is the first of two reviews this week from our friend Garrett Wright of the Two Views Movies Podcast. I’m actually kinda jealous he took this one, because I’m definitely going to watch it. For a few other violent action films, check out “Brawl in Cell Block 99” (Episode #003), “Manhunt” (Episode #133), “Deadpool 2” (Episode #141), and my favorite action film from last year, “The Night Comes For Us” (Episode #295).
Actually, you know what? I’m going to review it, and there’s nothing that Garrett can do to stop me, especially from my island base. So, today’s movie is... just a minute, who’s that? Oh, hey. Look Garrett, I’m doing the review and there’s nothing...
What is up, everybody?
My name is Garrett Wright and I co-host Two Views Movies podcast along with my friend Carson Graff. We are a spoiler-filled podcast by two guys who love watching movies almost as much as we love arguing about them. Our weekly podcast features reviews of new releases, retro reviews of older favorites, obscure top 5 lists, and our two views of all things movies. You can find our podcast on all major platforms and at TwoViewsMovies.com where you can also find spoiler-free written reviews of the movies we watch. I’m excited to be back on the One Movie Punch podcast, this time as a regular contributor. You can follow me on Twitter at @TwoViewsGarrett and the podcast as well on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at the username @TwoViewsMovies.
Today’s movie is “Revenger” (2018), the South Korean martial arts action film written by Bruce Khan and directed by Lee Seung-won. “Revenger” (2018) follows Kim Yool (Bruce Khan), a former detective who is hell-bent on avenging the murder of his family and infiltrates a remote island that serves as a prison for vicious death row criminals.
All spoilers have been sent off to a remote island prison, so keep on listening...
The trailer for “Revenger”wastes no time associating itself with Gareth Evans’ “The Raid”franchise — and for obvious reasons. “The Raid”films are some of the most respected action films of the 21st century and are widely considered the best filmed and choreographed martial arts movies of all time. The mere mention of “Revenger”having ties to “The Raid”is enough to pique the interest of action movie fans to the point of clicking play in Netflix. But once you click play, it doesn’t take long to realize that the comparisons are barely more than smart marketing.
“Revenger” eschews the current martial arts action film trend of minimal plot and heavy action. Instead, its narrative structure and story pull straight from 90’s action movies. Gone are the fast-paced, non-stop action sequences and in their place is an unnecessary focus on story and side characters. The film’s mood is consistently upended by misplaced silly comedy and odd transitions from Korean to broken English. Worse, there are several long stretches during which the action is overly generic or non-existent. If you remember renting a Van Damme or Seagal movie back in the day and then being disappointed when there was hardly any fighting and action, “Revenger”will feel very familiar. Favoring plot and character development over action is not a death knell in and of itself. But the story put forth in this film is sparse, cobbled together, and riddled with so many questions that it’s hard to believe it got more focus than the fighting.
All is not lost though. Bruce Khan’s transition from stuntman to recognizable martial arts star is underway. “Revenger”, at the very least, was a showcase for his physique and abilities. As the writer of this film, it’s understandable that Khan would want to make himself the hero. However, his performance in this film was much more suited for a brutish, path-of-destruction-type villain. Had he partnered with a more competent director and starred opposite an existing star like Iko Uwais or Donnie Yen, we could be viewing “Revenger”as a true breakout role for Khan.
If Timo Tjahjanto’s 2018 Netflix actioner “The Night Comes For Us”was at least in the same ballpark as “The Raid”, then I’m not sure “Revenger”is even playing the same sport. It lacks both the quantity and quality of action from the aforementioned films and despite some blood and broken bones, the visceral nature that defines the current run of successful action films is completely missing. What should have been a high-paced bone-crunching film instead feels like a boring mash-up of 90’s plot and early 00’s action. But if a 2002 remake of Ray Liotta’s No Escape starring Jet Li sounds like something that interests you, then perhaps “Revenger”is worth clicking the play button for.
Rotten Tomatoes: NR
One Movie Punch: 3.8/10
“Revenger” (2018) is rated R and is available to stream on Netflix.
Thanks for listening to my review here at One Movie Punch. If you like what you heard – or didn’t – reach out to me on Twitter at @TwoViewsGarrett and let me know. I’ll be back soon with more reviews on One Movie Punch, but you can always find me on the Two Views Movies podcast.
I will catch you next time.