Anyone who has followed my reviews know that I have a large amount of action films and martial arts movies. I am not saying that I know all that is needed for such a film to work, but I do know what to look for. A competent story always counts for a lot since the action set pieces need to be glued onto something, emotional content and the stakes have to be defined for suspense and intensity to be injected into the fights and lastly, if an action film is intended to showcase the fight choreography as part of its main devices, they need to be well done to the point that it should be as hard-hitting as possible; the viewer needs to feel each parry, punch or kick.
Agree with me or not, those are the things I usually look for. They don’t necessarily need to be complete in one film, but having two of the three would make for a great action movie. Director Raimund Huber’s “Kill ‘Em All” has some pretty interesting things going for it, but the issue is that all three of the things I look for never did make it to their fullest potential. The screenplay is about a group of men and one woman put in a room together called “The Killing Chamber”, where assassins of different style, personalities and caliber all try to fight one another hand-to-hand to entertain the needs of a mysterious voice over a microphone (Gordon Liu).
The film begins with three assassins going about their respective missions and this also helps establishes that they may be the main protagonists in the film. A man who will known as the “Kid” (Tim Man, who also choreographs the action) mows down a bunch of guys to get to whatever objective. A sexy female assassin called Som (Ammara Siripong) also gets her job done with minimal effort while Gabriel (Johnny Messner), an explosives expert completes a mission that later on leads him into a scene where he wishes to commit suicide. After all the quick introductions that also includes an assassin-monk called “Scorpion” (Ice Chongko) and an older hitman (played by former American kick-boxing champ Joe Lewis), the film slows down to a crawl as the viewer is put into a position in waiting just who fights and who would win. The screenplay seems to be all over the place, and even when the direction does manage to generate mild tension, the pacing of the film suffers a little since the dialogue also felt quite perfunctory.
Yes, the film has plenty of fights. While the majority are decent especially with Tim Man taking most of the fights burden, the film does take a little too much time taking off. I do have to admit, that once Gabriel, the Kid and Som begin to get going, the action began to pick up, but it was barely able to stay aloft. Messner said it well in the movie, “it is like a good video game”. The devices of the film actually did remind me of the “Tekken” video game with its mano-mano fights and its ‘survival mode’, as our lead players try to fight their way to the end boss. It just felt a little repetitive and despite the fact that I did not know how things would end, the fights felt rather repetitive and there was no doubt in my mind that they would pull through each struggle. I guess it was because the opponents really seemed like mere fodder, and none of them really had the charisma or had the build up to generate some suspense. The way that Huber shot also felt too much of a B-movie, and lacked the action finesse in camerawork most of the time.
Now this is not the kind of film that has been made for some deep characterization or even made to display acting chops, but the screenplay does try to put in a few surprises to its otherwise simple plot. Som and “The Kid” were the closest thing that you could get to a hero, and the script does try to keep things under wraps when it came to their motivation. Not sure, in doing so, the film loses a lot of its sense of drive, it started out so simple and then it tries to introduce a motive that felt like it came from left field. Gordon Liu was also limited to voice-acting, head shots until the last act of the film as the final end boss; just when the movie is about to end and we learn the links between Som and this leader of the Cabal, which leads up to the anti-climactic showdown.
Not really sure how something so simple can feel so messy. The film just failed to stick with the basics and lacked focus on its strongest points. Really, the film could’ve benefited if it was a lot shorter, since several areas of the screenplay needed some smoothing over to keep things from becoming a little too superfluous. Yes, “Kill “Em All” lacked the things that can make a great action flick, but for action junkies, it may prove to be a fun action romp, and a diversion with all the mayhem seen on-screen. Rental [2 Out of 5 Stars]
It’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy watching some mindless fisticuffs. As a matter of fact, Eastern countries have quite a magnanimous track record in producing some of the best high-kicking action, so it’s especially permissible – if not admirable – to take some measure of pleasure in seeing so many kicks, chops, and leg sweeps. When done well, there’s a visceral excitement that draws the audience in. Plot becomes secondary … … more