“Kai Jin, a young Chinatown chef in present day San Francisco, becomes entangled with the Chinese Triad’s pursuit of deadly ancient powers known as the “Wu Xing.”

Director: Roel Reiné
Writers: Cameron Litvack, Yalun Tu
Staring: Iko Uwais, Lewis Tan, Lawrence Tao, Pearl Thusi, Francesca Corney
Release Date: February 17, 2022

If you have Iko Uwais amongst your cast in an action movie, it has a 99.9% of delivering something that is entertaining if not efficiently well made. Fistful Of Vengeance is the 0.01%. It is the outlier. Fistful Of Vengeance is a Kung-Fu action movie that includes elements of magic and fantasy. What is does not include are competent actors, a fully thought-out screenplay and a moniker of entertainment value. Fistful Of Vengeance is not worth watching. I would say it is not even worth watching the trailer of.

Kai Jin (Iko Uwais) is a magical assassin and the head man of a vengeful trio that also includes Lu Xin Lee (Lewis Tan) and Tommy Wah (Lawrence Kao). The three man act as family, and they are on the hunt of a deadly killer that slayed Wah’s sister, Jen. Their journey into the underworld of crime and corruption takes them to Bangkok where they come head-to-head with a syndicate that is hellbent on taking over the world. The way they get to that level of god-like power is by taking the Chi from Kai Jin.

So there you have it. What begins as an adventure to avenge a family member turns into a saga of magical Kung-Fu earth saving mumbo jumbo.

So the plot is absurd. That is okay. It is a martial arts movie and they tend to get a little wacky. The zaniness and suspension of disbelieve in the story is usually made up for with high value entertainment and great action. Fistful Of Vengeance doesn’t even deliver a pinch of either. Most damning is how poor the action is. Director Roel Reiné does not have a ton of experience, and his effort in trying to make the action passable is commendable. It’s commendable, but it is not satisfactory. It honestly feels like Uwais’ talents were wasted in this movie. There are so many cuts in the action scenes, alerting heady audience members that the fluidity of the fights during filming was not A-number-one.

Not helping Uwais cause is his supporting cast. The acting of Pearl Thusi is…how do I put this kindly…terrible. Her attempts at kicking ass is more rigid than a old-style church pew. There is nothing connective about her moves. Then we have Lewis Tan, who looks the part of badass, but comes off in this movie as remarkably boring. In Mortal Kombat (2021) he was in an environment where he could succeed because so much was happening around him. I would be willing to bet money that Tan is going to have a future in the movie business for a long time, but he has to become more of charismatic figure on screen in he wants to lead anything on his own.

I’ll point out one more aspect of the story that I truly despised. What the fuck was the love relationship between Wah and Preeya? The leadup to their first kiss is Netflix is worthy of the terrible rom-coms Netflix was keen on putting out. Then there is the betrayal of the Preeya; the classic give background to character that makes them likable only to have the rug pulled out from the audience when they betray the good guys. Oh, they will magically reconvene with everyone and a happy kumbaya to the never-doubted winners.

Is Fistful Of Vengeance trying to base itself off of The Fast And The Furious franchise? All the talk of family had me thinking. Then there is the soundtrack. Was the entire budget of Fistful Of Vengeance spend on getting music rights? They through in techno beats whenever they could. With how poor the story itself in creating emotion, it is like the editors used the music as an instrument to tell the audience to get excited. It was bonkers how often there is a musical beat drop.

Avoid Fistful Of Vengeance. Do not click play on Netflix. Look up The Raid: Redemption (2011) or The Raid 2 (2014). Hell Mile 22 (2018) and Snake Eyes (2021) have more entertainment value. When the writing, acting, story and action are bad, then you are in for a bad time.

STANKO RATING: F+ (1.0/5 Stars)


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