Kill And Kill Again
Director: Ivan Hall
Cast: James Ryan, Anneline Kriel, Michael Mayer
hundred reviews currently on this web site, I think it's safe to say
that I am quite an experienced critic, especially when you add the more
than 2400 user comments I have written at the Internet Movie Database
for movies I have watched on my free time. Over the many years I have
spent writing all of those reviews, I feel pretty confident that I have
certainly learned a number of things about various kinds of movies.
I've learned that black and white should not be a deterrent when
considering a movie. Also, I've learned that art dramas can be just as
rewarding as movies where knives are repeatedly stabbed into people.
The most important lesson I've learned is that not all Canadian movies
suck... though the majority do, in large part because most of these
failures are not real movies.
But even with all my years of watching and reviewing movies, there are
a few film-related questions that would make me pause and think long
and hard before answering. One of those questions is: What makes a
movie fail instead of succeed? To me, there is no easy answer to that
question. With every unsuccessful movie, there are different factors
that explain its unique failure. There are some movies that fail
because of a lack of enough funds in its budget, which can bring
pitfalls ranging from bad special effects to inadequate set dressing.
Then there are movies that may have had adequate budgets, but were
helmed by people with not enough experience, leading to a botched
presentation despite the resources that were available. Then there are
movies that may have had enough money and a talented crew, but were
beat down by a schedule that didn't give them enough time to properly
set up various things that were filmed.
As you can see from what I just wrote, there are many
things that can be seen in a movie failure, leading to thousands and
thousands of unique cinematic disaster possibilities. It's impossible
to boil down what makes a movie fail into just a few words or even a
few sentences. To me, what is much easier is to get into what makes a
movie succeed. Of course, there are numerous reasons contributing to
successful movies, but it is much easier to pin it down when you are
dealing with a specific genre. Specifically, a sub genre in a genre.
The action genre, for instance, contains many sub genres, ranging from
westerns to war movies. I would like to talk about one other action sub
genre, and what often makes the successful examples of this sub genre
work. The action sub genre that I am talking about is the martial arts
genre. I've seen more than my share of martial arts movies, and that
has given me a good idea of what makes a successful martial arts movie.
One of the key factors of a good martial arts movie is an appealing
hero (or heroes.) Is the hero likable? Can the actor playing the
protagonist perform better than Lorenzo Lamas? For that matter, a
martial arts movie needs a good antagonist as well. Is he hateful
enough? Can the actor playing the antagonist perform better than
Lorenzo Lamas? Those are all important factors, but the biggest key to
making a martial arts movie work to me consists of the fight sequences.
Are the fight sequences plentiful both in length and number? Are the
fight sequences well choreographed, directed, and edited?
Although I have seen enough martial arts movies in my
lifetime to know what more often that not makes each example of this
genre work or fail, it has come at a price. I have seen so many martial
arts movies that it now takes a lot more to satisfy me than when I
first started to watch examples of the genre. In many
movies I watch today, I see stuff that I have seen many times before.
That's why I keep an eye out for a martial arts movie that has some
kind of fresh angle. When I got my hands on a DVD copy of Kill And Kill Again,
I felt I had managed to find a unique martial arts movie. That's
because the movie (a sequel to a movie called Kill Or Be Killed) was a co-production between the United States and
South Africa. It isn't every day that you come across a South African
martial arts movie. I must admit the movie did give me a little pause
when I realized it was made during the apartheid era of South Africa,
but ultimately my curiosity won out and I sat down to watch it. James
Ryan (The January
plays Steve Chase, a marital arts champion who in South Africa has just
won another tournament. Shortly after picking up his award, he is
approached by a woman named Kandy Kane (Kriel) who requests his help.
Her scientist father, Dr. Horatio Kane (John Ramsbottom), was kidnapped
by evil millionaire Marduk (Michael Mayer) after he accidentally brewed
up a mind control formula while trying to come up with a new natural
fuel source. With Dr. Kane and the formula at his control, Marduk has
managed to take control of a remote mountain village, and threatens to
take over much more. Chase agrees to help, though realizing that he
cannot do it alone, he recruits four of his friends to accompany him,
who each have a special talent ranging from weapons to brute strength.
But it soon becomes clear that even with all their skills put together,
they have their work cut out for them.
As you could probably determine from that plot
description that I wrote in the above paragraph, Kill And Kill Again
not only has a good excuse for martial arts action, it also has a good
excuse for other kinds of action, like gunplay for instance. Though the
movie had a green light for a variety of action, it wouldn't matter if
the action wasn't very good. Since your biggest question about Kill And Kill Again
probably is how good the action is, I'll examine that aspect of the
movie first. The first thing that I feel I should mention that if you
sit down to watch this movie with the expectation that you'll also get
to see non-martial art action, you will be out of luck. There is
virtually no action in the movie that isn't martial art related. Still,
I think the majority of action movie fans won't mind this fact as long
as the martial arts in the movie are plentiful and well made. And as it
turns out, there are not only plenty of martial arts in the movie,
these scenes are for the most part well done. There may be some martial
art fans that initially are a little dismayed by what is displayed
onscreen, namely the fact that the participants move significantly
slower and that the choreography isn't as spectacular than what is
found in your typical modern day Hong Kong martial arts film. But I
think eventually these particular fans will be won over. The martial
arts in Kill And
do come across as more plausible; you can believe that many of these
kicks and punches would be what a martial artist in real life would
pull off in a similar situation in real life. As a result, a genuine
feeling of excitement is built as we sense a genuine struggle. I feel I
should also add that not everything about these fights is done with
deadly seriousness; there is occasionally a quick moment of comedy
relief, like in the movie's opening bout where our hero in the middle
of his fight picks up a hotel ashcan and jumps over his opponent while
conking him on the head with the ashcan.
Obviously with moments like those, the movie is not
supposed to be taken completely serious, and the occasional injected
comedy relief does make sure the fight sequences don't become
monotonous. Another reason the fights remain interesting is because of
the character who performs many of them, Steve Chase. Actor James Ryan
does bring in a lot to these fights. He injects a great feeling of
brute strength in many of his blows, and he certainly looks the part of
a wild warrior with his muscular build and his long shaggy hair.
However, when it comes to the parts of the movie when he actually has
to act, he is much less convincing. When Ryan has to speak dialogue,
his South African accent sometimes makes his words sound somewhat
mushy. It doesn't help that the tone of his voice also makes him sound
like he's utterly bored no matter the situation. Still, in large part
due to his instant charisma, he remains a hero that the audience will
be on his side. And he comes across a lot better than some of the other
characters in the movie. While you think that the character of Dr.
Horatio Kane would play a big of the movie, that's simply not the case.
Kane only appears once in the movie's first sixty minutes, and as a
result it's hard to feel anything about someone who is hardly there.
Equally disappointing is the movie's principle bad guy, Marduk.
Although he is (among other things) a kidnapper, a brainwasher, and a
megalomaniac, surprisingly he doesn't come across as that
bad. He is calm and soft with his words and actions for the most part.
As a result, he comes across as not much of a threat; even an
over-the-top performance would have been much better than what is
displayed here. It doesn't help that this role forces actor Michael
Mayer to wear one of the most unconvincing fake beards ever displayed
in the history of motion pictures.
And Kill Again
does somewhat compensate for this weak villain by pairing him up with a
lively and amusing henchwoman (played by Marloe Scott Wilson) who keeps
calling him pet names like "pumpkin pie" and "chuckles". She is not the
only character who brings some funny comic relief to the movie. The
four men that Steve Chase recruits for the mission all bring some
amusement in various parts of the movie, like "The Fly" (played by Stan
Schmidt), a martial artist who has the ability to levitate. Strangely,
this ability is not once used in the mission, maybe because it's
visible in one such moment that machinery is being used to lift the
actor. There are some other moments that look like some cost-cutting
was used, like the flimsy looking barroom set. But for the most part,
the movie has acceptable production values. Director Ivan Hall shoots
on practical locations for most of the movie, which gives an air of
authenticity to the movie, and occasionally adds some flair of his own,
like one scene where we see around one hundred martial arts students
practicing in the same shot. About the only objection that I have with
his direction is the pacing for the first third of the movie. While he
does manage to set up the situation quickly - by the six minute mark,
as a matter of fact - we have to spend over thirty minutes devoted to
Steve Chase recruiting his team. It would have been a lot better for
Hall to cut down this section before he filmed it. Despite this
problem, and the others I earlier discussed, Kill And Kill Again
in the end is a fun martial arts movie. However, I feel that it really
should have had another title. (SPOILERS AHEAD.) Despite what the title
promises, there is only one
person who definitely gets killed in the movie's one hundred minute
running time. But plenty of people do get beat up along the way, so
that shouldn't be too much of a problem for most viewers.
(Posted August 3, 2018)
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See also: King Of The
Kickboxers, Martial Outlaw, Survivor