Unarmed and Dangerous

Directed by Xavier Leret

Film review by Sebastien Gahan 8/12/2010

Did I enjoy watching Unarmed and Dangerous? I'd be lying if I said I did, which is not strictly a bad indictment of the movie itself, but merely a statement of the fact that movies such as this are probably not meant to be enjoyed.

Showing as part of DaDaFest, the themes of the film are unappetising in the extreme, as are some of the visuals of the movie. It's a story of revenge, and apparently a martial arts film too. The latter happens on a frequency so rare that one forgets that the tag line attached to the press material is "one of the most controversial martial arts movies ever", and one would be tempted to suggest that this is because the tag is somewhat misleading.

Sure, Mat Fraser's blood-covered lead does some kicking around of the bad guys on occasion (that's how said blood manages to soak him!), and sometimes the seemingly barely choreographed fights are entertaining in their short and not-so-sweet realism. But as every bouncer could tell you, fighting gets boring after a while and this becomes the case here. The fact he has little use of his arms is of course one notable aspect that is curiously never explored beyond derogatory references to it.

As the film goes on, more veins are severed and blood pours forth until it's almost uncomfortable to watch the picture. The torture scenes at the end are particularly difficult to watch, with the lingering feeling that you want it to end soon. Doubtless, there are elements of the sheer brutality of reality in this film, but the execution of much of the action is off putting in the extreme, and despite this I still valued the experience of seeing it even if I felt slightly uncomfortable at times.

The ending of the film - a happy one where the family concerned are reunited - is a welcome relief from the relentless bloodletting and although the topic of disability could have been explored more effectively, I would say the film still has some value.

However, I don't plan to watch again soon.

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