You do not want to mess with this dude. Period.
Marko Zaror is MANDRILL – I don’t know about you, but there had been a serious lack of truly impressive martial arts film made in quite awhile. I don’t mean any of the typical Hollywood hocus-pocus anytime you feel like you want to be entertained. Sure you can rent any old film with monotone themes, and a deluge of choreographed stunts that at any moment, a flash mob could break out and ruin any level of seriousness that scene may have contained. Feel free to pop in any copy of any of the Rush Hour films to see what I mean.
Mandrill is an extraordinarily different kind of action film, and writer/director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza blends fantastic action sequences with fatalistic romance. This Chilean film features Marko Zaror, code name “Mandrill,” who is hell-bent on finding the “Mafioso” casino tycoon “Cyclops,” the man he witnessed murdering his parents when he was a child. Espinoza’s Mandrill won Best Fantastic Feature and actor Marko Zaror won for Best Fantastic Actor at Austin’s Fantastic Film Fest (2009).
Orphaned, Antonio (Zaror) is taken in by his Uncle. As the years progressed, his desire for vengeance grew. As a hired hit-man, he was soon able to track down the man who killed his parents, although he wasn’t an easy man to get close enough to exact his revenge. The easiest way for him to get close is for him to make nice with the mob bosses daughter, Dominique (Celine Reymond). The film would occasionally venture back to the times when he was growing up with his Uncle, teaching him the proper way to romance women. It works because he eventually falls for his target’s daughter. The story revolves around his romancing Dominique and the eventual showdown between her father.
The general theme for revenge films aren’t too dissimilar from another. What is different about this film, is the stunning action sequences executed by martial artist/actor Marko Zaror. The guy is fast and furious and it is almost impossible to put into words just how intense some of the fight scenes are choreographed, which are the key selling points of the film. The acting isn’t award-winning, nor are the long montages where the film goes back to his time as a young man under the tutelage of his Uncle, learning the art of picking up women, any woman, he wishes to. This isn’t a fluffy story by far–it’s just a perfect blend of violence and emotion that sets this film uniquely apart from other revenge-type films.
What director Espinoza successfully features in Mandrill is a flurry of intense martial arts action–from every angle. The film has a mellow vintage look and appeal. The films skilled fighters and Zaror took advantage of every square inch of the screen to bring viewers hard-hitting, action sequences. Slowing down only so you can see precisely how hard Zaror kicks ass. It’s surprising a film like this is practically unheard of in our part of the world. There are no wires, no special effects, no trick photography–what you see is Zaror and his aggressors going at it–hard. Overall, Mandrill is an extraordinary film. It is extremely entertaining, and if you get a chance to check out the features on the DVD, the behind the scenes look at the extreme methods and techniques it took to make the high-powered fight-scenes in the film. A one of a kind action film–with a shot of romance.