Kino Lorber // 2011 // 105 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 3rd, 2012
Bangkok's most dangerous cop is about to have his word turned upside down.
Weird film. Kino Lorber's Thai import is no simple release to categorize, defying genre conventions as much any film can. The disc case designers would have us believe we're getting our grubby little mitts on an action-packed, gun-toting bonanza. I confess, I was seduced by the cover art, when requesting this one for review. A Thailand production with a dude firing a gun while enveloped in a blood-mist? Sign me up!
Turns out, it's not that simple.
Headshot tells the story of Tul, a top cop who struggles to reconcile his honor-bound duty with the thorny and shifty politics of the police bureaucracy. After a falling-out, Tul is cast out of the department and ends up working for a secret society of assassins that takes it upon itself to dispense justice to the bad guys who think they can't be touched by the law. Tul's rebirth as a hitman is ultimately thrown off the rails, when he suffers a -- you guessed it -- headshot and his vision is turned upside down. Literally. Whatever he looks at is flipped, which will make his violent pursuit of vengeance all that much more difficult.
If I had to classify Headshot, I'd say weirdo noir foreign film. There's almost no action at all, and the suspense is derived from Tul's undulating character arc and external circumstances pressuring him from all angles. These pressures lead him into odd situations, resulting in that vision mixup, which oddly doesn't play that large a role in the storytelling. You'd think it would be the primary hook, but it's more metaphorical than anything else. Which is good, in a way, because I was seriously cringing at extended sequence of an upside-down picture on my television.
Headshot becomes a character study and Tul is about as complicated a dude as you could ask for. His physical transformations alone -- from long-haired grizzled crime-fighter, to intellectual prisoner, to bald-headed Buddhist -- are a roller-coaster. These changes are accompanied by dramatic swings in personality, whether it's getting screwed over by a comely prostitute, buckling under the threat of blackmail, or discovering his inner Batman. Things get trippy at the end, dipping into Buddhist mysticism and ambiguity, but somehow Headshot managed to maintain my interest. It's just really, really different.
That's what it is. What it's not is an actioner or straight crime thriller. There are hardboiled elements woven in, but in all honesty we're looking at something that would be playing at the local art house, and not the local grindhouse.
Super Blu-ray, though, headlined by a top-notch 1.85:1/1080p HD transfer. The picture quality is richly detailed and popping with the sort of sweet resolution mandated by high-end Blu-rays. The eye candy is joined by a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track (original Thai and and English dub) that doesn't have a whole heck of a lot to do, since most of the runtime is dialogue-heavy. Still, it's a clean mix and occasionally punchy when the action picks up. There are no extras.
Not Guilty, but Headshot isn't anything I'd ever come back to.
Review content copyright © 2012 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Kino Lorber
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Thai)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated