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by Jay Seaver

"Another entertaining hour and a half of broken bones and faces."
3 stars

SCREENED AT FANTASTIC FEST 2014: Marko Zaror and Ernesto Diaz Espinoza hadn't made a movie together in five years before re-teaming for "Redeemer", and it's kind of nice to see that the formula hasn't really changed: Zaror plays a character that is not just an almost unstoppable force, but colorful besides, and the scenes between him dismantling waves of villains are generally more entertaining and stylish that you might expect from this sort of basic martial-arts action movie coming from an unusual spot like Chile. There's not much rust.

This time around, Zaror plays "The Redeemer" - a man once left for dead and who now wanders the country, listening for prayers for justice in the churches and depositing the weapons of the men he kills on their altars. In Pichidangui, though, he's more proactive, coming to the rescue of fisherman Agustin (Mauricio Diocares) when he sees drug smugglers attacking him. This is not going to stop the men working for Piedra (Smirnow Boris) or his American contact Bradock (Noah Segan), but they aren't the worst of it, for wherever The Redeemer goes, the equally-deadly Scorpion (Jose Luis Mosca) follows.

As stories go, it's not much, a western pulp adventure transplanted into the present day, but that's fine; the idea is to put the title character into situations where he's called upon to dispatch a great many people, primarily by his bare hands. On that count, it succeeds, from a bunch of neo-Nazis being taken out at the start to the last one-on-one, and if the material in between seems perfunctory, it's at least making a stab and enjoyable melodrama and a little humor.

Most of the latter comes from Noah Segan as Bradock; as a laid-back would-be drug lord, he takes some goofy material and runs with it, playing a fun alternative to the usual fierce, growling villain, incidentally getting to be part of one of the funnier editorializing translator bits they've done. Zaror is playing it grim, but he is still able to hold the screen, and has a good pair of folks to work off in Mauricio Diocares and Loreto Aravena. Smirnow Boris, Jose Luis Mosca, and Nunez Nelson check in as villains with a bit of personality who can mix it up with their fists.

That's where Redeemer earns its money; Zaror is a terrific screen fighter and choreographer, while Espinoza shoots these scenes in clear, exciting fashion, going to slow motion when his star is moving too fast to see clearly. The pair built a cottage industry around their first movie, and as a result Zaror can now go back and forth with a number of opponents for long enough to give an impression of different styles and skill levels, even if the results are fairly inevitable.

Not that the ultimate outcome of a movie like this is ever really in doubt. It's the getting there that's worth it, and "Redeemer" is a fairly strong selection of fights, filled out a bit better than some other movies of its type.

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originally posted: 09/21/14 00:16:06
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  DVD: 01-Sep-2015



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