There are no kilts in Kiltro. Judge David Johnson was not impressed.
The next martial arts movie spectacular(?)
Since the success of Ong Bak, one has to keep a lookout for the Next Big Thing in martial arts. Is a dude from Chile named Marko Zaror it?
Facts of the Case
Zaror plays the role of Zamir, a punk with a heart of gold and amazingly huge pants. He's been nursing a hopeless crush on a young Korean girl, but having little success in securing her affections. Add to that her overbearing martial arts master of a father has little use for his undisciplined fighting antics.
So Kiltro sulks on various rooftops, complaining to his friends and generally wasting away as a nameless street urchin. But he'll get his big chance to show everyone what he's capable of, for an evil martial arts master has returned to settle a score with the Koreans and he leaves in his wake a trail of broken bones and dead bodies.
And you can probably take it from here: Kiltro gets his clock cleaned by the main bad guy, then heads off into the wilderness to learn how to fight from a short man and returns as an unstoppable kicking machine.
Let's talk about Marko Zaror. He's got an awesome name. Sounds like he should be an animated wizard. He's got a great physique, too, ripped from head to toe and much bigger than the average martial artist (Jet Li and Tony Jaa, for all their lethality, almost look they belong behind the glass of a Skill Crane). He's not afraid to wear a mullet, which he does for the majority of the film, and it's gloriously awful. But, most importantly, this cat has moves.
According to the disc jacket synopsis, he was "Stuntman of the Year," and though I've never heard of such an award, my guess is it's a spirited competition featuring lots of hard dudes who make a living taking punches and doing back-flips off of hydraulic-powered springboards, and anyone who can emerge victorious with the hardware deserves to be taken seriously. And after watching what Zaror can do, the award was well-earned. On screen, he's fast and powerful, and the frenetic choreography is well-tuned to his fighting style, which features spine-snapping flying kicks and powerful punches.
Unfortunately, it's not until the final 20 minutes that Zaror gets to really shine, and this insufferable delay in the action proves to be mortal wound to the film. After a few brief bouts, highlighted by a one-on-dojo's-worth-of-scrubs, the action takes an extended breather, giving Zamir time to go through his training montages and the main bad guy to snarl a lot and make idle threats against his captive girlfriend. And intermixed with these random battles is some supremely cheesy pseudo-teen angst, long, emotional walks on the night streets and a score that would be better-suited for an '80s children's show with puppets.
Thankfully, his big battle scene at the end, where, again he takes on a band of fighters, is cool. With blades attached to his shoes, Zamir spins around dealing massive amounts of death, manifested as CGI arterial sprays. Then it's off to the requisite one-on-one with the big bad, which sends the film off on a high note.
But I don't think it's enough to earn Kiltro a recommendation to those of you looking for the next foreign fighting gem. The upshot is, I think Zaror's got the skills to pay the bills, and I'd be willing to see what he's got up his sleeve next. Just lose the parachute pants, brother.
The tech specs: a solid 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a dubbed 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. The extras: behind-the-scenes featurettes on the fight training, and storyboarding, a short making-of documentary, bloopers and less than two minutes worth of deleted scenes.
Kiltro has its moments of super punching awesomeness, but not enough to compensate for some laughable cornball storytelling and severe downtime.
Zamir, do yourself a favor and invest in a pan flute.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
• Fight Training
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