Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Shoot My Darlin (1997)

This is one you're going to have to make an effort to track down. I picked it up in a Chinatown dump bin for dollar on VCD. I only recently found out its on DVD from Hong Kong and I've gone and replaced my VCD with a DVD.

(And speaking of the DVD. I'm kind of in a quandary. I posted this review based upon my viewing the film as a VCD, which I now find was subtitled differently than the DVD. What I'm going to do is leave you with my initial thoughts on the VCD and follow this up with my thoughts with having seen the DVD)

Odds are you've never seen such a polyglot action film. It appears to have been made by a Japanese filmmaker in the Philippines; with a multinational cast; in English, Japanese, Tagalog and a few other languages; With opening and closing credits in English and a high quotient of violence and meaningful silences. I'm guessing the multi language problem, the film bounces from language to language with in conversations is the reason this film has faded from view.

The plot has a hit man sent to the to rescue a kidnapped girl. He does so , but she doesn't trust him (and she's carrying a load of drugs). She tries to flee with a taxi driver, who it turns out is part of the gang who kidnapped the girl. Rescued by the hit-man the pair then are chased across country.

Its a grimy dark action film full of clichés (which it manages to transcend) of the sort of film that would have felt at home in the grind houses of the late 1970's or early 1980's. Its bleak film that seems to have been influenced by the Euro-action films from the early 80's with its sense of nihilism. It's a film with a sweaty dirty feel that drips off the screen in an almost physical way. You'll want to take a bath after watching it because you feel dirty.

It's a film that many action film lovers will like and others will not since its in no way a slick film (its the exact opposite). I liked the movie a great deal. It's a dark little tale that doesn't really seem like most other films out there (even with the clichés). Frankly I liked that the film messed with my expectations some times doing exactly what I thought it would and then turning around and going in another direction. There is a hip coolness and an in your face style that's refreshing. The film just picks up and goes for it. Its not trying to be anything, it simply is and its so much better for it.

If there is any real flaw it's the fact that the film is in so many different languages, which while keeping the film feeling real (these are the languages the characters speak and the fact that it's multi lingual is referenced), it also makes things a bit confusing since there are times when it isn't clear whats going on, either because of speaking different languages or because of heavy accents. I'm suspecting that the multi-languages is the reason this film isn't better known since its would be difficult to know what to subtitle and dub in order to keep the film feeling real. Short of just releasing the film as is no distributor would probably want to take a shot at putting a sub or dub version.

Trouble with the language aside I really liked this film a great deal. I liked that it did what it did in its own way and created something greater than its parts. Its the sort of film that keeps you guessing and remains entertaining through out.

Worth a look if you can find it.

(And now my very rambling thoughts on seeing this on DVD mere moments ago)

Having just watched this with all the dialog subtitled and without a break to switch discs I'm kind of at a loss to explain this film.

Its a very odd, jumbled mess of a film about a hit man hired to be a bodyguard who ultimately finds he's been set up. The story drifts through time, has wild shoot outs, foul language and bizarre behavior. Much of the dialog seems to be uncomfortably spoken by a cast of varying nationalities.

I have no idea what I was thinking about when I said cliche, since nothing in this film is cliched, never mind coherent.

Is it a good film? I have no idea, probably not. I think its borderline bad, but at the same time it has this weird road accident quality that makes you not look away. You want to keep watching it. It demands that you keep watching it because you really don't know what or how or where this is going or doing.

It's a uniquely one of a kind experience.

In a weird way I still like the movie. I mean I have to give the film points for being so incredibly different as to be exactly the sort of film that I wanted to showcase when I started this blog. This is not a film you are likely to hear anyone talking about, except by fans of female lead Vivian Wu who was pretty much making her starring debut here (or so I've been told) and is the sole reason the film is still in circulation.

If you want to see the weird places some action films go, this is the place to look.

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