Revenger (2018) – Review

Park Hee-soon (left) and Bruce Khan (right)

With the South Korean martial arts movie Revenger, Netflix adds to its growing catalog of hyper-violent action movies. But, is it able to match the standards (for better or worse) set by the other acclaimed movies – the two Raid films, the other two Iko Uwais starrer Headshot and The Night Comes For Us, and Keanu Reeves’ neon-drenched ballistic ballet John Wick – available on Netflix?

Bruce Khan, who plays the protagonist, doubles up as the screenwriter for the movie, which is directed by Lee Seung-wan III in his debut. As you may have guessed by the title, the movie tells the story of a man seeking revenge on a ruthless criminal who murdered his family. That’s right, the staple of the revenge genre (my condolences, there, to the fictional families who have died so that we could enjoy the sweet nectar of revenge exacted by punching the wrongdoer to a pulp).

So, what’s new? This time the “revenger” must infiltrate a prison island, fight off hordes of criminals, make a bunch of allies, dispatch a few more along the way, and then punch the villain to a pulp. So, yeah, it’s a generic revenge movie caged in a poor man’s Hunger Games, which itself is a poor man’s Battle Royale.

But I am sure the people (including me) who would watch this movie wouldn’t want the movie to be burdened needlessly with a plot for the sake of it. Too many plot lines, characters, and convoluted storytelling seem forced and take away the impact of the action. The good news is there is none of that to worry about, and the movie delivers on the action promised in the trailers. The bad news is, apart from the action, there is nothing to worry about. None of the characters are fleshed out and the plot only exists as a breather in between the seemingly relentless fight scenes.

Bruce Khan, who has worked in the South Korean movie industry as a stunt performer, brings all the years’ experience to the screen. And the result is some really great hand to hand combat sequences. In fact, the action is the only redeeming factor about the movie, and Bruce Khan the only custodian of the winning combination of punches and kicks, for the script allows no one else to shine like Bruce does, which is easy to see why when the credits roll.

I would definitely like to watch Bruce Khan in the future, but only if he lets someone else write the screenplay.

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