REVIEW – Kick Ass

FTW*
Review by Vives Anunciacion

Kick Ass
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
R13

TRIVIA: there are two things Filipino in this movie. 1. arnis and 2. balisong — which the actors pronounce as bally-song.

Once in a while, a movie plays to our guiltiest pleasures, the ones that we secretly keep to ourselves. This is the movie your parents don’t want you to see. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. The movie’s title says it all.

Based on the comic book by Mark Millar & John Romita Jr., Kick Ass is a deadly synthesis of profanity and comedy, action and style — stress on all four words and add the following: Tarantino, Woo, Kevin Smith and Takashi Miike. What spawns is one of the most vulgar, sleek, in-your-face superhero comedies to be ever put on screen.

On the surface, Kick Ass is the story of average teen Dave (British newcomer Aaron Johnson) who decides to suit up as green superhero Kick Ass — without superpowers, training, proper reason or motivation other than to do something for the underdogs of the world.

After successfully intervening in a gang war, a video of Kick Ass becomes an internet hit and inspires a wave of vigilante superheroism across New York, notably with Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz, last seen in 500 Days of Summer). This becomes a problem with mobster king Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong, who has appeared as a bad guy in almost all of his movies recently) who is losing his henchmen on the streets very fast. Not surprisingly, everyone comes together in the bloody, bloody end, including Red Mist (played by Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse.)

Referencing other superhero movies in various scenes, including Nick Cage’s Adam West-era-Batman-style Big Daddy, the movie also pays tribute to other movies in its gory genre as played in the soundtrack. Overall, this is a mishmash of a parody of superhero movies, a commentary on our recent cultural propensity to worship superheroes, a sort-of-decent love comedy, and finally just plain old popcorn adult entertainment — emphasis on maturity not on perversion. More on that later.

We can all identify with Dave/ Kick Ass’s frustrations with justice and apathy, especially after Ondoy when all MMDA, DILG, PNP and DND could do was look for nonexistent rubber boats when everyone else was already Tweeting or on FaceBook exchanging numbers where to bring help.

Having said that, the movie is a narrative jumble — one part teenage superhero angst, one part teen love story and one part revenge story. The first two parts are slow. Not bad, the script is actually well-written. It’s just slow.

It’s the last part that is most visually engaging. Featuring the jaw-dropping, superstar-making action performance of 11-year old Chloe Moretz (she’s now 13) Hit Girl is the real Kick Ass in the story — a diminutive version of The Bride in Kill Bill, a non-stop killing machine brainwashed by Big Daddy to slash her way easily through a hundred henchmen with the same weapons and body count as Ninja Assassin and can put any action star twice her size to shame — to shame, Lito Lapid, to shame.

Is this the filmmakers’ ultimate statement? That the passive audience is no more perverse than the people making the video while a minor performs acts that only adults are allowed to do? I’m giving the filmmakers too much credit if it is. Perverse or not, this comedy is for adults. In particular, adults who have no qualms donning a costume, sometimes wishing they were somebody else who mattered.

To the bat cave!

*for the win

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