Thursday, June 1, 2023

Sakara (2023) in theaters and VOD now, on DVD and Blu-ray June 13

Donnie Yen’s SAKRA is the latest version of the novel Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils to hit the big screen. It is, for most of its running time, one of the most amazing and the best films that I have seen in 2023. It’s a high octane martial arts thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The plot of the film has a martial arts master and leader of the Beggar Clan being framed for murder and going off to find out who is actually behind it.

This is the first film that Donnie Yen has put his name on as a director in a decade and it’s pretty much an action masterpiece. I am in awe of this film which, for the most part does everything right. Yen’s camera work is incredible creating magnificent spaces for the action to take place in. His framing of the action sequences is such that we can follow and be amazed at the fights. There is no quick cutting but fantastic tracking shots. Yen has created a world that feels real.

Yen has also give us one of the great characters in his body of work. Qiao Feng is like many of Yen’s other character’s a man of absolute honor and righteousness. He is a man of his word and is willing to die for that.  The emotion this creates, particularly in the battle that ends the first half of the film is honest and earned.

Yen’s direction is as good as good as it gets and I can only compare it to S S Rajamouli‘s work on RRR. Yen has made a film that for most of it’s running time is one of the greatest action films I’ve ever seen.

Okay there are two things to know before you see this film. One is something that may effect your personal preferences and the other is a problem with the script.

First it is full of crazy ass wire work and jaw dropping special effects. The masters have super powers and they use them to great effect. Additionally everyone is bouncing off wall and ceilings in some of the most spectacular action sequences you’ve ever seen. If you don’t like that sort of thing, even when well done, stay away.

The other problem with the film is that just as the film gets into the final half hour or 40 minutes the plot explodes into “WTF” nonsense. Blame the efforts of trying to shoehorn the source novel into two and a quarter hours. All of these plot threads, several of which were never or barely mentioned  come crashing in as minor characters in the film become major ones (way too many characters are hiding in the wings the result of focusing on only one character from the novel). A couple of plot turns seem to be out of left field. As the final fights were happening I was wondering if they had changed films midstream because I felt very very lost. And the film doesn’t end, it stops as long sequences in the end credits fill in details, give us new characters and sets up a sequel(the source is part of a series). The final half hour made this go from one the greatest films of all time in my eyes, to a really good action film that still blew me away.

Reservations aside, I absolutely love this film. It is one of the most amazing films I’ve seen this year and highly recommended.

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