Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Scorpion

Title: The Scorpion
Director: Julien Seri
Released: 2007
Staring: Clovis Cornillac, Francis Renaud, Karole Rocher, Caroline Proust, Jérôme Le Banner, Olivier Marchal, Philippe Bas

Rating: 4 / 5

Plot: Angelo ( Cornillac ) is a kickboxer with a short fuse which costs him his chance at a title shot. After accidently killing his rival in a street fight, he is sent to prison for six years, where upon leaving he is a washed up shell of his former self. When he is approached by a shady club owner Marcus ( Renaud ), who wants Angelo to fight for him in highly illegal underground fights, which Angelo agrees to finally seeing a chance at redemption.

Review: The Scorpion was released in the UK with a minimal amount of fanfare, receiving a few lines in an assortment of publications at best, including a mention as part of Kim Newman’s “DVD Dungeon” and it’s kind of a shame as it really is quite an underrated film. True it might not be anything particularly new in either it’s style or substance, but it certainly makes for an enjoyable viewing.
In the simplest of terms it would be easy to write “The Scorpion” off as the French Rocky especially seeing how similar both storylines are, really only changing the sport which the film centres around, with both featuring a down and out fighter, finding salvation and purpose in the one thing which they know how to do and that is fight.
When we first meet Angelo he is a arrogant, loud mouth bully, who knows that he has the talent to be the best, yet unwilling to admit that his anger issues hold him back, while at the same time we are bearing witness to just how dedicated he is to his fighting, which is his sole devotion in life and something that is made all the more clear when we see, after six years in prison he now nothing but a shadow of his former self, dishevelled and nothing more than a stumbling drunk around his home town, as he tries to find a reason to keep going, having had the one thing he truly loved torn from him, which is somthing Cornillac manages to show extremely well, as he takes the character of Angelo from one extreme to the other, before bringing the focused Angelo back once more, as he starts his career as an underground fighter, which is cue for some Rocky style training montages, as we see Angelo turning himself into the fighting machine known as “The Scorpion”, as Angelo is basically doing the one thing that he knows how to do and that is fight.

Director Julien Seri manages to keep a steady pace throughout the film, inserting moments of actual emotion, as Angelo becomes involved with Virgine ( Karole Rocher ) a club bartender / Prostitute trying to support herself and her young son. These scenes could be used merely as filler between fight scenes, but instead Seri manages to make the audience care about, the interactions between these two characters, as Angelo continues in his attempts to woo her, which often verge on stalking, as he sits outside her house for hours on end, despite her frequently expressing her disgust for what he is, seeing him as nothing more than another paid thug. We also have the subplot involving an investigative reporter, who is writing a story on Angelo’s boss Marcus, which does ask the question, as to why he is having a reporter follow him around, especially when he’s involved in these highly illegal fights.

The fight sequences are all shot in a blood and snot style, which not might make them look like ballet, but instead aims for impactful viewing and is kind of a welcome relief to the typical fight sequences which are currently being churned out by Hollywood, which are more likely to be consisting of quick MTV Style cuts and wire work, it’s kind of refreshing to watch the brutal style in which Director Seri has chosen instead to shoot them, as each fight feels realistic in it’s execution and with the locations of each fight changing, including an imaginative brawl taking place on a club dance floor, it helps to keep each fight interesting and unique. It is also worth noting how when Angelo first enters the world of underground fighting that, he doesn’t instantly knock his opponent out, instead we see him spending most of the fight struggling to adapt to his opponents fighting style and it’s this idea that Angelo isn’t some super fighter, that’s carried through the other fight scenes, that continues to add realise to each fight, which in turn only helps to make them more gripping much like the bouts in Rocky, while also mixing things up slightly with each one, so you never know what to expect, especially with Angelo suffering from the obvious exclusion of a trademark move, which again only further helps ground the film in brutal reality.

The Scorpion might not be bringing anything new, in regards to foreign cinema or even to the genre it belongs, but it still provides enough to make it an enjoyable viewing, even if it will be over looked by many who are either afraid of having to sit through a film with subtitles or purely because they require something alittle more subtle when it comes to their foreign films, but for fans of fight movies there is plenty to enjoy, as the fights are brutal and plot fast paced enough to keep things interesting, as well as having a decent sting in it’s tail

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