Film review – Headshot (Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, 2016)

Indonesian action film Headshot received its UK premiere on Thursday night at Mayhem Film Festival. It may have started late but the action came thick and fast, treating the audience to an experience typical of the directing duo.

The Mo Brothers – Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto – have carved out a unique blend of action-horror in their previous efforts Macabre (2009) and Killers (2014), both of which have received a lot of attention around the world. This film sees them casting Iko Uwais (The Raid) as a man who wakes up in hospital with memory loss and a past that is rapidly threatening to catch up with him.

It is a perhaps more Transporter than Bourne, with scant attention to the finer details of character development and more time spent with Uwais as he kicks, punches and shoots his way through an army of bad guys to get to the chief druglord Lee (Sunny Pang). It’s fun, albeit unrealistic – a fact underlined by the shooting ability of the henchmen (they really need some firing practice).

Headshot

Arguably this film isn’t really a horror, sitting more in the action thriller camp, but many of the scenes are littered with gruesome breaks and gory splats, from which a lot of the entertainment is derived. There were a few unfortunately humorous moments due to the over-zealous subtitles that often simply described what was happening on the screen, which broke up some of the more serious scenes.

It is a shallow film and one that probably won’t have much crossover appeal for people who don’t intentionally seek out non-mainstream Asian cinema. Those that do find it will be treated to a couple of hours of solid entertainment, though may struggle to remember any highlights shortly after the final credits roll.

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Mayhem Film Festival – Preview

I’ll be heading down to the Mayhem Film Festival in Nottingham tonight to catch the first night of action.

First up will be The Duke St. Workshop feat. Laurence R. Harvey. Presented in conjunction with Kinoclubb, the performance will feature an electronic live score accompanying Harvey (star of The Human Centipede 2) as he reads two H. P. lovecraft short stories: ‘From Beyond’ and ‘The Hound’.

Next is the film ‘Raw‘, which received its UK premiere at the BFI London Film Festival last week to rave reviews.

Finally, the UK premiere of Indonesian film ‘Headshot‘ will round off the proceedings. 

Frankenstein Created Woman (Terence Fisher, 1967)

Terence Fisher’s 1967 Hammer Horror film Frankenstein Created Woman was screened as the opening film of the Mayhem Presents The Created Woman weekender at Broadway in Nottingham. It was a perfect way to kick off the festival.

Fisher had spent his career making a name for himself as a director of great Hammer Horror titles, including The Mummy, Dracula and The Hound of the Baskervilles. This film came towards the end of his career (he was 63 at the time), by which point he was clearly a very accomplished and well-established director. Despite this, there is nothing stale about this picture.

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He relied again on Peter Cushing to take the role of Baron Frankenstein, a tried and tested appointment. Yet it isn’t Cushing that takes centre-stage. Playboy centrefold Susan Denberg is absolutely brilliant as the shy and physically scarred Christina, whose body is the subject of Frankenstein’s latest experiment. Fusing her body with the soul of her deceased lover Hans (Robert Morris), she becomes a schizophrenic femme fatale, with a personal vendetta to murder those responsible for his death. Her role has two sides and both are played perfectly, though she is obviously more at ease with the second more sexually-confident character.

The film has a few loose points. It is responsible for one of the worst court scenes in cinematic history, in which Hans is sentenced to death for a crime with no evidence and no witnesses, even though the judge knows he is innocent, essentially because his father was a murderer. It’s in there for necessity and Fisher tries to see it through as quickly as possible. Elsewhere, three men essentially allow themselves to be killed, in reality because if they’d tried to struggle they would have easily overcome their attacker. Apparently it’s much easier to just lie still in shock and take the inevitable.

It’s probably not the best Frankenstein-based story ever told, but with a great performance from Denberg it is one that is worthy of the franchise and I recommend checking it out if you’re a big fan of the series, or indeed of Hammer Horror in general.

Frankenstein Created Woman is available on Blu-ray now.