Is there a limit on how many low-budget British scifi martial arts movies the world should have? Judge David johnson doesn't think so.
A Deadly Game of Survival, Combat, Intrigue and Deceit
With no money or resources, some guys from Britain went out and made a pretty bad-ass action movie.
Facts of the Case
Following a convoluted bit of exposition narrated by Ian McKellan (sweet!), we learn that there are aliens running around Earth and a lethal, scruples-free paramilitary hit squad called Core, tracking said aliens down and killing them to death.
Caught in the middle is mild-mannered, but awesome-kicking alien Stel (Mark Strange). He and his alien sister are looking for their father, who was captured by Core, but during one of their missions sis bites the bullet, leaving Stel to fend for himself.
He eventually joins forces with John Marrettie (Malcolm Hankey), a disgraced military man, in an effort to find a secret file that holds the key to Stel's father's whereabouts.
Not bad gentlemen. Not bad at all. At first glance, Displaced had all the signs of being a disposable zero-budget scifi/martial arts knockoff, but by the time this bad boy wrapped, I was impressed.
From the accompanying making-of documentary, I learned that getting Displaced up and running was a miraculous story, considering the filmmakers had almost no money to make it happen. I've heard this sob story before on other DVDs, and most of the time—no matter how earnest and dedicated with the creators were—the dearth of resources shows on-screen, and the finished product was forgettable. Not so with Displaced.
Sure, the environments are bland (hey look another warehouse! and…a golf course!) and there aren't many explosions or visual effects (though the UFO looked surprisingly cool) pointing to the constrained budget, but the accelerator pedal is jammed on the floor throughout this thing, I doubt you'll even notice. I didn't. There's just so much action, so much forward momentum, that the flick pushes you along to the goal line and any observations of the low budget are merely an after-thought.
Now, expectations in check, this isn't the second coming of The Matrix. It is still a small, direct-to-DVD effort, but on its merits Displaced is fun as hell. If you pick this one up not expecting a cornucopia of visual effects and gravity-defying stunt work, I think you'll be pleased. There are some weak points: the narrative throws a ton of exposition and mythology at you at once and tends to leave these threads hanging or lamely explained (to the question of who an alien species is, Stel answers "They're the bad guys") and characters tend to stand around and chat too much. But I think the positives outweigh the drawbacks.
And the positives begin and end with the action. Once the plot and character development takes a breather, what you've got left is a batch of entertaining fight scenes. Mark Strange who plays both Stel and a masked bad-ass named Radius, choreographs all and executes most of the combat and excels at both. The sequences are hard-hitting and furious and not aided by CGI or wire work. Just dudes pounding on each other.
Writer/director Martin Holland adds another check to the "positives" category with his kinetic direction, which immensely helps the fights and gives the overall film a slick, professional feel. Highlight: the nearly 20 minute chase scene at the end where Radius runs down a host of crooked company men in a forest and beats them senseless. Sounds goofy, but it's not. It's dope.
The DVD is, sadly, not quite as cool as the movie it houses. Video quality (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen) is lackluster, bordering on embarrassing. Colors are washed out and the resolution is low, leading to noticeable grain. A 5.1 surround track would have suited this movie perfectly, but instead, it's a stereo mix, which is fine, but shortchanges the mayhem. Extras fare better. The aforementioned making-of is robust and interesting, a shorted behind-the-scenes fleshes out the film's origin story some more and some short deleted scenes and a photo gallery offer nice filler.
Some super action, great production and a fun, if confusing, plot earn Displaced a recommendation.
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Scales of Justice
• Making-of Documentary
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