Barring his debut film 1983, which was very much on the feel-good nostalgic track, the other two films from Abrid Shine had this approach to present a story with a very authentic backdrop. Action Hero Biju showed us how things go in a real police station and in Poomaram we were all pretty much in the center of the arts festival. Even the people who had issues with the artificial dialogue delivery of some characters in the movie Poomaram did agree to the fact that the setup looked really real and relatable. I am giving you this lecture prior to the review of Abrid Shine’s new movie The Kung Fu Master because this one is also a movie that’s trying to be authentic. But this time instead of the backdrop, it is trying to be true to the genre.
Rishi Ram and Rithu Ram are siblings and they both are trained in Kung Fu. Both of them are working in different fields and they live in Uttarakhand. Rishi has a wife and a kid and they are expecting a baby. His father also lives with him. Rithu is a college lecturer and she is single. At one point, a psychopath named Louis Antony comes into the life of this family and it leads to a very tragic scenario. The Kung Fu Master is a movie that shows us how the family bounced back and fought against Louis Antony and his gang.
I have not seen too many martial arts films and from my minimal experience with that genre movie what I have found was that those movies were always about basic revenge and visually they majorly focused on providing visceral action set pieces. In The Kung Fu Master, Abrid Shine is actually trying to create a true blue martial arts movie. Just like Poomaram, you have many characters played by nonprofessional actors who are terrible at acting. But luckily for The Kung Fu Master, the roles of such people pretty much end in the first half itself. And then in the second half, the movie steps into the martial arts movie zone where we get to see back to back action set pieces. I wasn’t really expecting quality action from the movie as the trailer bits had so many cuts, but I got totally surprised seeing how refined the action sequences were. Both Neeta Pillai and Jiji Scaria who played the roles of the siblings will make us believe that they can actually take down all those other martial arts trained antagonists. If I am rooting for this movie despite the casting being compromising at some points and the story being very thin, it’s only because of this authentic action movie feel one gets to experience in the second half.
Neeta Pillai who was extremely impressive in Abrid Shine’s Poomaram plays the role of Rithu Ram in this movie. I have to admit that even when I included her in that list of promising talents of 2018, a part of me had a doubt whether that performance was good because it was a character in her comfort zone. But here she is an entirely different character and her ability to do that role with complete conviction is truly fabulous. In the movie, she has done a terrific job in doing those Kung Fu portions and the action you get to see in this movie is better than the action we saw in the movie’s trailer. Jiji Scaria as Rishi Ram is an impressive choice. The debutant fits the part perfectly and he is also fabulous with the action. The psycho villain played by Sanoop Dinesh is also a pretty exciting choice as he was able to create that intimidating vibe whenever he was on screen. A special mention to both Vineeth and Ashwin Kumar who dubbed for Jiji and Sanoop respectively giving a lot of depth to those performances.
You will definitely find a lot of drawbacks in this movie. The plot here is very simplistic (even a John Wick had a very slim plot). And there are those dialogue delivery issues when there are many characters in the story. But Abrid Shine knows how he should tackle all these drawbacks with the help of action and he surprises you with some really nasty action. One criticism modern-day action movies from Hollywood faced in comparison with the Asian action movies was how the editing ruins the flow and space continuity. What was surprisingly good about The Kung Fu Master was that they have strived to create multiple shots where the cuts are really minimal. You can actually see Neeta Pillai getting hit and then hitting back in a single shot without a cut. Kudos to the cinematographer for making it look less chaotic and also to the editor for reducing the slicing. The background score sort of works for the movie’s mood. Action choreography is extremely convincing and it is because of these action sequences the movie works for us as that true blue action movie.
I came out of the movie as a satisfied viewer even though there were multiple areas in the movie that needed to be improved like the drama in dialogues and the lack of drama in certain people’s performances. The fact that we haven’t really seen a pure action movie in a long while other than the so-called unreal mass masala flicks with male superstars makes me want to recommend this movie to you all. The end result of this movie can be compared to Abrid Shine’s last film; you will find numerous minor and major flaws in the movie, but eventually, when you walk out you won’t feel so bad about this movie.
If I am rooting for this movie despite the casting being compromising at some points and the story being very thin, it's only because of this authentic action movie feel one gets to experience.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended