Starring Fabien Garcia, Laurent Buson, Didier Buson, Jess Allen, Dave Vescio, Xin Sarith Wuku, Gray Michael Sallies, Davis Chong, Jose Rosete
Fight Choreography by Fabien Garcia, Laurent and Didier Buson
Directed by Fabien Garcia
I’ve long been a fan of Laurent “Lohan’ Buson ever since I saw him take on Iko Uwais in Merantau, and hoped he would get into more films. Now, after a few years, he and his group Zteam took it upon themselves to put out their own small budget feature film…
…and it is absolutely badass.
The film combines martial arts with the found footage genre to tell the story of ZTeam, made up of Fabien, Lohan, Didier, and Jess (everyone basically playing themselves to an extent) who have come to Hollywood to make it big as action stars, and find themselves at the whim of a mysterious psychopath named The Filmmaker, who sends them by cell phone on increasingly more dangerous jobs, using security cameras everywhere they go to record the fights they get into, all so The Filmmaker can direct his martial arts masterpiece. He holds the wives of two Zteam members hostage in exchange for cooperation. Can the four future stars survive long enough to find out who The Filmmaker is and stop him?
The story here is actually really good, and is meant to appeal to…well, folks like me and if you are a fan of this website, you. As demented as The Filmmaker is, in many ways he’s actually us. He tags on so many staples of martial arts films and gets it right. Fight a room full of black belts? Sure. Take on a group of thugs…only using drunken boxing? Why not? Shootouts with gangsters like something out of a John Woo or Ringo Lam film? Yep. Each time I found myself going “Yes!” every time The Filmmaker would announce his next challenge to the crew, even though I knew he was a rat bastard of a bad guy who needed to get his just desserts. Much of the story of the film rests on whether or not you buy who The Filmmaker actually is, so tastes may vary on how much you like the plot twist. I thought it was well done. There is even some humor, and there is one moment that had me laughing hard involving the takedown of a gentleman named Neutron, Bloodsport style.
The Zteam do a pretty good acting job, but there were moments where the accents were a bit tough to decipher, and so I’d have to rewind and see it again to catch what was being said. Nothing that took away any enjoyment of the film. Between this and John Wick its refreshing to see action scenes that are not a chaotic mess, and show that Fabien Garcia, who also plays Fabien, knows exactly how to properly shoot a fight scene. No quick-cut edits, lots of wide shots for the kicks, and you always know the space everyone is existing in. If you think that’s not important, watch any Michael Bay film and tell me where everyone is in relation to everything else in an action scene. I was curious how the found footage look would work, but it turned out looking fine, and didn’t hinder the action one bit.
As for that action, this film hearkens back to the Hong Kong action films of the 80’s. Sammo Hung and Freddie Chan would shed a tear if they could see how well done it is. The action is fast and furious, and I wound up rewatching each fight several times, marveling at the execution of the movements. The fight Fabien vs the black belts is awesome, and the final fight featuring Laurent Buson is worth every penny, and he is badass awesome, as is a super kicker that could give Ken Lo and Ron Smoorenborg a run for their money, but my favorite fight has to be between Didier and Chan (Xin Sarith Wuku), Didier being the smallest of the group, but never the weakest, and their fight contains one of the best uses of slow motion during a fight scene that I’ve ever seen. Even though I mention these fights, don’t get me wrong, EVERY fight in this film is great, and there are so many…
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 10
Folks, this film contains more badassery than you can watch in one sitting, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! If you are able to watch this film, you’re watching a future cult classic! I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next film from ZTeam Films!