“A Violent Man”
Stream it on Tubi.
An upside-down, just blurry image of a man viciously stabbing a body lying on the ground opens Irish writer-director Ross McCall’s bloody prison crime film. Although it takes time to learn the victim’s name, the brutal assailant, a prisoner named Steve (Craig Fairbrass), is our unlikely protagonist. For the other inmates, Steve’s wild flights are notorious. To him, they never feel real as he often faints in the midst of his heinous acts.
After Steve has spent 20 years in prison, his daughter (Rosie Sheehy) wants to visit him for reasons he doesn’t understand. At the same time, a new inmate, Marcus (Stephen Odubola), has been assigned to his cell. Is Steve able to change? McCall’s screenplay not only answers this question, through Steve’s meditative monologues, it seeks to interrogate the shortcomings of prison as a space for rehabilitation. Between these plaintive contemplations, bursts of ferocity occur: the nose of a man is almost sawn off and a horde of prisoners reduces a possible informant to a pulp. These ruptures keep testing an inadequate system in a film with more than carnage in mind.
John le Carré-inspired subterfuge and a scale close to “Olympus Has Fallen” guide this thrilling spy flick from director Aku Louhimies.
In the complex plot, Max Tanner (Jasper Paakkonen) is a spy called into action when a group of terrorists take Finland’s president and government leaders hostage by invading the presidential palace. Among those trapped inside is Tanner’s colleague and recurring lover, Sylvia Madsen (Nanna Blondell). Can Max save her?
While the image, adapted from the novel ‘Omerta 6/12’ by Ilkka Remes, leverages strong dramatic tension to answer this question, it also inspects the two-sided moralism of government through the eyes of the one of the mercenaries, Vasa Jankovic (Sverrir Gudnason), a man driven to unthinkable actions to save his father and protect himself against bankruptcy.
Cinematographers Mika Orasmaa and Rauno Ronkainen rely on the momentum of the camera to sweep the leads during the film’s two explosive infiltration scenes (the first takes place in the palace. The second, at the end, takes place in a snowy fortress similar to John Moore’s “Behind Enemy. Lines”) for a politically compelling and complex adventure.
Initially, this film by French director Cédric Jimenez inspires comparisons to Ladj Ly’s “Les Misérables” when a trio of suspicious police officers are assigned to a Marseille ghetto plagued by drugs and gangs. Similar to Ly’s film, the police often get into open skirmishes with local criminals. An impressive setting takes place in a skyscraper, in which a whole district of people wearing masks pursue the officers. It moves with the kind of chaotic energy that lets you know the ethically fragile ground that the authorities stand on.
This terrain changes even more rapidly when Greg (Gilles Lellouche), Antoine (François Civil) and Yass (Karim Leklou) – the detectives of the specialized anti-crime squad – start stealing narcotics from suspects as bargaining chips for their informant. (Kenza Fortas). When the cops are arrested, this film, based on a true story, turns from action to personal melodrama. Their ordeal is exploited by Jimenez to criticize the corruption within the police force and the difficult power dynamics exercised against marginalized people. By the final dark scenes, you realize how broken the system is.
“Green Ghost and the Stone Masters”
Rent or buy on most major platforms.
There’s something endearing about a movie that knowingly embraces B-movie schlock, especially when it comes from the heart. Director Michael D. Olmos’ action flick turns supernatural myths into a superhero origin story.
By night, Charlie (Charlie Clark), a daytime car dealer, participates in underground Lucha Libre fights as a character known as “Green Ghost” (a gringo pun). He accidentally becomes part of an endless fight between ancient Mayan gods and demons for control of a magical green stone that promises unimaginable power. Charlie turns to his family for help, who, in turn, send him to train with masters from another world (one is played by Danny Trejo).
Olmos infuses this fun concept with demanding MMA fight choreography, precise editing and robust effects to compose thrilling fights that involve characters shooting glowing fireballs from their hands. The film’s family and place-finding themes are all the more apparent as everyone’s commitment is fully felt in the action-packed tone of this low-budget adventure.
‘Award Fighter: The Life of Jem Belcher’
Post it on Amazon.
Usually, the biopic form doesn’t lend itself well to the flair of the action. But an exception occurs when the subject is an overlooked sports personality who must work their way to the top in order to triumph. Director Daniel Graham’s “Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher,” about an 18th-century bare-knuckle boxer crowned champion of England, is such a film.
Matt Hookings stars as the titular man in the salt of the earth, with an innate ability to brawl and a desire to avoid the same booze trap his pugilist grandfather Jack Slack (Russell Crowe) fell into. . The first half of this biopic is bolstered by a clever and self-aware performance from Crowe; while the second half is pure blood sport as Belcher’s fights are braided with his fall from grace. The fights are shot with diffuse lens, as if the audience has just been punched in the eye. Graham’s solid control of movement, providing an immersive experience, will delight any boxing purist.