Dir: Ernesto Diaz Espinosa
Review By Tron DeLapp
Ernesto Espinosa has never made a movie I didn’t enjoy. From martial arts superhero fare like KILTRO and MIRAGEMAN to assassin thrillers like MANDRILL and BRING ME THE HEAD OF MACHINE GUN WOMAN to his short segment in ABC’S OF DEATH, Mr. Espinosa totally makes the type of movies I enjoy watching. In turn, he’s also a frequent collaborator of International Action Star Marko Zaror, who also makes the type of movies I enjoy, from UNDISPUTED III and MACHETE KILLS, to the aforementioned MANDRILL (which is Highly Recommended) and MIRAGEMAN. Needless to say, when these guys team up, the film is usually tremendous which is why I look forward to FantasticFest, as they usually have something awesome in the works that they bring to us and FFX was no different. This time, they bring us the action-thriller REDEEMER.
REDEEMER, though far from either man’s best work, is one solid action extravaganza from start to finish. Marko Zaror plays Pardo, a man who has gone through a horrible personal tragedy. In order to atone for his past sins, he becomes a redeemer, a man who attempts to stop criminals by allowing them once chance to repent and forgo their evil ways. Of course, he is rare listened to so Pardo does what he does best – extracts vengeance with whatever happens to be in the area: meat hooks, guns, knives, his fists and feet, anything he can use to put a stop to the illegal activity. When he crosses the path of a fisherman and the kind lady who helps him steal money from a local crime lord, Pardo finds himself caring about a woman for the first time in a long time and sees his redemption close at hand as he battles the crime boss for their freedom.
REDEEMER’s story is not as tight as what you would normally expect from Mr. Espinosa but he totally makes up for it by showers of blood and many, many intense scenes of violence. Ernesto Espinosa has worked with Marko Zaror enough and knows his strengths as an actor and as a martial arts prodigy so he allows the character of Pardo plenty of chances to show he is a man of principal and emotion while also showing Pardo’s ability to kick the living hell out of you if you cross his path wrongly, which is what REDEEMER is really all about. Imagine scene after scene of Marko Zaror flipping around, snap-kicking people in the head, unloading guns in people’s faces, smashing dudes with oars, boards, meat hooks and anything else he can get his hands on. Watching Marko Zaror do his thing is truly magic. He is unbelievable in action scenes, twirling his body in a multitude of spins and flips as he unleashes devastation on anyone or anything around him. In turn, Ernesto Espinosa can take the barest of plots and not only deliver an amazing action extravaganza but they way he constructs his characters adds a level of realism to the proceedings that you often don’t get in big-budget action-thrillers (I’m looking at you, ESCAPE PLAN). Plus, Ernesto Espinosa is as big a fan of Marko Zaror as I am and he gives Marko plenty of room to shine, both as an action star and as an emotive actor that will end up elevating both men quicker than even they imagine.
REDEEMER is a solid film that any fan of martial arts action will truly appreciate, despite it not being as clever as MANDRILL or as in-your-face as BRING ME THE HEAD OF MACHINE GUN WOMAN. Tons of great fights and a tremendous body count will keep you glued to the screen and seeing Marko Zaror take great strides as a character actor will warm your heart, right before Marko rips it out and shoots you in the face. Anything Ernesto Espinosa and Marko Zaror do I am a huge fan of and I am anticipating their next return to FantasticFest with yet another mind-blowing action-thriller.