It is a little surprising that a movie that has quite a few novelties has released as quietly as The Kung Fu Master did. A full length martial arts film, a woman fighter as one of the leads – these are not features you come across in a Malayalam film very often, or at all. Yet for some reason director Abrid Shine did not make a lot of noise about his well-prepared cast or the release of a Kung Fu film in Malayalam. Perhaps he didn’t want to after the much delayed release of his last film Poomaram despite early promos and song releases.
The Kung Fu Master, a revenge action film, coming a day after another revenge drama Shylock, is of an entirely different genre. As far as fight sequences go, the movie has plenty of them (right, that’s obvious from the title) and it is no amateur training that the main actors have gone through. Baring the few read-from-a-textbook-like dialogue deliveries at the beginning, the film is engaging, paced, but perhaps lacks effort in its scripting. Abrid appears to have dedicated most of the scripting to the fights and then let the rest of the story take care of itself. He builds a backdrop, a familiar picture of a happy family, and you sense danger from years of movie watching experience. Happy families have a habit of popping off. Will these guys do that too?
Neeta Pillai, seen in Abrid’s last film Poomaram, is one of the few known faces. She more than proves herself in the film, and not just by performing her stunts so convincingly. She is one of the few who says her lines like an actual person. The others recite them. Another main character – Rishi played by Jiji Scaria – has his voice dubbed by actor Vineeth (ironic that he is now doing this so much since many of his earlier films had Krishnachandran dub for him).
Rishi plays a Kung Fu master and has also trained his sister Rithu who has just got a job in Missouri. The family lives in Uttarakhand – brother, sister, father, brother’s wife and son – in one of those fairytale-like cottages in a cold place. After Neeta, the next best performer is the brother’s 10-year-old son. But to be fair it is mostly newcomers.
To add to the happy family, the brother brings a proposal for the sister. Sooraj S Kurup, musician and occasional actor, combs his hair and beard and stands awkwardly next to Neeta, explaining each other’s awkwardness. One of the better scenes, Abrid was just warming up. But then there wasn’t time to dwell too much into the pleasantries. The villain was waiting.
He is introduced in the very first scene – Louis Antony (Sanoop Dinesh), who is leading a gang of men trained in martial arts and committing a whole lot of crimes, and is also heavily under the influence of drugs. Kind of a 1990s villain who appears to have walked out from the sets of Johnnie Walker. His lines too, when he speaks them, are just as bad. But the action deserves merit.
The revenge is also not a one-man fight against all in the climax. It is step by step, it is planned, prepared, executed without drama, and hardly a single line spoken. Very appreciable, especially since the movie has already proved dialogue delivery was not its strong point.
It is also packed well, not dragging anything out too much. The movie ends in a little more than two hours and without a lot of noise. Almost as quietly as it released.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.