Don't feel bad if you haven't heard of him, but Marko Zaror
is carving out a niche for himself as a Chilean ubermensch. He's a towering, handsome badass and a Fantastic Fest
staple. Two years ago he and his film making partners screened the decent action flick "Kiltro"
and the superlative "Mirageman"
. In "Mandrill"
plays Antonio Espinoza
, who as a child watched his parents get gunned down by a sleazy crime lord. Taking a cue from a South American James Bond/Serpico
knock off, Antonio
centers his entire life around this aviator wearing cheeseball, all in the hopes he can emulate his skills and use them to have his revenge.
I admit, I have a little mancrush on Marko
, especially after at the awards ceremony he did a standing crazy kick flip thing on stage. He's an incredible martial artist and athlete but also has that 'everyman'
quality to him, not the Bruce Willis
in 'Die Hard'
kind but the kind of 'sweet until you piss him off'
thing going for him that The Rock
once had, before he made his devil's bargain with Disney and became Dwayne Johnson
. Here, much like in his much ballyhooed (if you were at Fantastic Fest
2 years ago) "Mirageman"
he mixes genuinely clever and funny comedy with stunning action to make the sort of highly entertaining action films we haven't seen since before Jackie Chan
decided he wanted to make all his movies in America.
Much of the violence here feels so ground level and genuine and most of that is fueled by the fact that Marko
can actually do this stuff. No wire work. No stunt doubles. Just this guy kicking ass and doing it with style. Like the previous films, "Mandrill"
is charming, and effortlessly endears the characters to you. It does it quickly and without spending an exorbitant amount of time. You'll also note the candy coated colors of many of the shots, where everything is a lush hue that doesn't quite exist in nature. It's not cloying, but it is eye-catching. My only gripe with "Mandrill"
is that it's the same damned film as "Mirageman"
. It's the same film with a different skin - a boy seeking revenge for the death of his parents patterns his life on some ridiculous ideal. In "Mirageman"
, it was the costumed vigilante. In "Mandrill"
, it's a hard nosed, supercop circa 1973. Still, it's one of the better films at Fantastic Fest
this year. Had the ending not unraveled, I'd give it a full price, but as it is, I'll stick with MATINEE
I didn't mind the ending but I do wish they'd stop making Marko
cry in every other scene. What is that about anyway? Must be a Chilean thing. I don't think I'd agree that "Mandrill"
is the same thing as "Mirageman"
, but it does start in a similar place. I can't imagine not having fun with "Mandrill"
even if you never fancied yourself much of a martial arts fan before. All the proceedings are as fun as they get with lots of style and a sense of humor that is completely its own. "Mandrill"
is a FULL PRICE
For years now, I've said that the 'old gods'
were dead. John Carpenter
hasn't made anything worth watching in 15 years. Wes Craven
is shortly behind him. Tobe Hooper
has been putting out straight-to-dvd flicks that border on embarrassing. George Romero
, However, has fared slightly better. Slightly. He's been sticking with what he knows for the past few years, churning out different iterations in the '...of the Dead'
series. This latest, "Survival of the Dead"
, spins off and tells the story of a very minor character from "Diary of the Dead"
. 'Nicotine' Crockett
and his cadre of rogue soldiers have become embroiled in a struggle between two clannish families on an East Coast island, fighting over what to do with their walking dead.
Which makes the motivations of the scientists in "Day of the Dead"
look reasonable and well-contemplated by comparison. But then again, these aren't just any
stupid people. These are MOVIE stupid people doing things that even people on COPS wouldn't think of. Almost every scene in "Survival"
features a character presented to us as not having severe brain damage doing something so self-life-threatening that it could only happen in a movie like this by sloppy screenwriters who just want to move the plot along.
I wouldn't say sloppy. It just didn't take itself very seriously. This is, by far, the least scary and dire of the dead series. In fact, it's down right silly in some spots. It's almost as though Romero
isn't trying to sneak the satire in between scenes of gut-munching and gore. He knows we're sly to his methods and just runs with it full bore. That said, while the satire here is quite present, it's not terribly pointed. As with so many creative works, you can apply it to many different things, but this is far too general to say anything with punch. It lacks the firm message of 'Dawn'
or any of the scares of 'Night'
. Those shortcomings keep it from being important (as his first 3 'Dead'
films certainly are), but it's still a fun flick with somewhat complicated ethical dilemma. MATINEE
The only ethical dilemma of "Survival of the Dead"
is whether or not to see it just out of blind loyalty to George Romero
for all he once did for the genre. Take that away and this is SOME OL' BULLSHIT