AKA: Fist 2 Fist 2
Director: Jino Kang, Tony Urgo
Writer: Jino Kang, Tony Urgo
Cast: Jino Kang, Douglas Olsson, Katherine Celio, Artem Mishin, Kelly Lou Dennis, Don Williams, John Carney, Steven Menasche, Robert D. Parham, William Armando
Running Time: 103 min.
By Jeff Bona
If you’re willing to take a break from all the mundane action movies playing in theaters, look no further than Jino Kang’s latest revenge thriller, Weapon of Choice. Also known as Fist 2 Fist 2 (a sequel by name only to 2011′s Fist 2 Fist), Weapon of Choice follows a retired assassin named Jack Lee (Jino Kang) who must rescue his “daughter” (Kelly Lou Dennis) from a notorious crime boss (Douglas Olsson) and his crew of gangster hitmen. With a little help from a lovely rogue cop (Katherine Celio), Jack becomes a one-man kill squad who is determined to get his daughter back by any means necessary…
Master Jino Kang – the film’s star, co-director, writer and producer – reminds me of Hong Kong film legend Michael Chan Wai Man (Handcuff, Five Element Ninjas). Not only are the two built alike, they both have that hard-edged, stone-like facial structure. Like Chan Wai Man, I see Kang more as a heartless villain than a typical good guy. In Weapon of Choice, he essentially plays both – a contract killer at first, then a man who tries to pursue a normal life – which makes the character of Jack Lee a fitting role for him.
Despite its low budget, Weapon of Choice is a classy little flick. It shows off fancy cars, attractive women, sharp wardrobe attire and some magnificent aerial shots of San Francisco. It’s apparent the most was made out of a limited budget by utilizing the backdrop of a beautiful city, as well as being resourceful with the flashy toys and props. But enough with the pretty visuals…
It’s during its finale that Weapon of Choice truly shines. To put it simply, Kang annihilates about 25+ men in a brutal 15-minute action sequence. It’s a nonstop segment filled with kicking, punching, choking, breaking, slicing, slashing, stabbing and even some shooting. It’s here that Kang delivers the goods to martial arts film junkies. Be on the look out for homages to both Fist of Fury and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This should give you an example of the film’s subtle humor throughout, even during its violent moments.
The film’s action choreography – which showcases Wushu, Sanshou, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Hapkido and various MMA techniques – is tight, authentic and handled with grace and style; which shouldn’t be a surprise, since Kang, who is also the film’s fight choreographer, holds a black belt in Hapkido, Tae Kwon Do, Kyokoshin-Kai Karate and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Unfortunately, they’re plagued with quick cuts/editing, which tarnishes their flow. Let’s put it this way: As long as you’re not expecting the awe-inspiring Ong-Bak, Ip Man or The Raid-type choreography – not to mention camera work – you’ll be pleased with the way Kang presents his action sequences.
My main gripe with Weapon of Choice is that it has a good share of scenes that felt like they could have been edited more tightly (particularly its non-action, dialogue based moments). There’s also a brief love scene that comes out of nowhere, which is a common pet peeve of mine. There have only been a few times, in the history of action films, where I felt a scene like this was necessary. To give Weapon of Choice some credit, it was at least done tastefully. Also, I don’t care for CGI-blood, which is also becoming more and more common, even in big budget Hollywood movies (i.e. The Expendables, Machete Kills); it basically spells out l-a-z-y.
The bottom line: In the context of being a small, straight-to-video action flick, Weapon of Choice delivers.
Jeff Bona‘s Rating: 6/10