HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Beyond Redemption
HTS Overall Score:60
I’m a lifelong fan of martial arts films. I’ve watched everything from Jackie Chan to Jean Claude Van Damme, to Benny the Jet and countless other ones that I can barely remember. To say that most martial arts films are poorly done on writing, but high in kick butt entertainment is an understatement. I’m a HUGE fan of horrible action films, so much so that Cynthia Rothrick’s “Undefeatable” is one of my go to action films when I’m hosting a bad movie night with friends. It’s hysterically bad, and “Beyond Redemption” shares that same laughable nature. Unfortunately, it’s just plain bad and not amusingly bad. Instead of tossing back a few beers and laughing at the ineptness, you’re just left with the knowledge that this could have been so much better. My only consolation is that BruceFontaine has a nostalgic bent to his direction that makes this feel like a 90s-action movie with influences from Tony Scott’s filming styles.
“Beyond Redemption” has a bit of a muddled script. It’s ridiculously simple, yet incredibly dense at the same time. Billy (Brian Ho) is an undercover cop working his way into a Chinese gang led by the infamous Yuan (Don Lew). However, we’re really not sure he’s a cop until about 1/3rd of the way into the film when we see him meet with his pregnant wife. While Billy is working with the Asian Crimes task force to bring down Yuan, he gets sucked into one of Yuan’s big schemes. It seems that the gang leader has some beef with the head of a Triad organization (played by Anthony Towe) who is masquerading as a tech millionaire. Soooooooooo, Yuan has Billy and the rest of the gang kidnap the triad’s daughter for ransom in order to get something from the gangster (which is only revealed near the end of the film, even though you can see it coming from a mile away).
Well, who cares about the plot. We came here to see some butt kicking and high flying martial arts, right? Well, while we do get a lot of fight scenes, none of them are really that well-choregraphed or done. I was hoping that the lack of a script meant that Bruce Fontaine had put his best stunt men and choreographers at work to give us the bone crunching action that forgive a multitude of scripting sins. While the choreography is not that good, I do have to give credit to Fontaine for using some really good stunt men. The only downside to this is that he gave them all speaking roles, and before this film most of them had never had a speaking role in their lives. This translates into hilariously bad dialog between the main characters (and many of the side ones as well) making their stilted fight scenes even more chuckle worthy.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=90594[/img]I have to give props to Fontaine and his men for giving “Beyond Redemption” all they could. Fontaine is famous for being a Canadian stuntman and martial artist back in the 90s up to now, who moved to Hong Kong to be a big part of that burgeoning scene. He’s not been involved in any feature films as an actor for some time (outside of stunt work), and this is actually the first time he’s been behind the director’s chair. His greenness is pretty obvious and “Beyond Redemption” is about as indie a film as you can get (pretty much a Canadian production with Hong Kong ties), but you can tell these guys are OBVIOUSLY trying their very best. It’s just that their very best doesn’t do a whole lot when you’ve not got a lot of production talent on your side. Fontaine excels at stunts and flips and all sorts of visual moves, but the lousy script they got combined with poor production values makes this a wince worthy experience for viewers.
You can tell that Bruce Fontaine has taken some queues from the late Tony Scott in his filming style. The film employs a very “drunk and quick moving” style of editing that reminds me of Ridley’s younger brother, and uses the highly stylized and animated subtitles for the Chinese dialog that is reminiscent of “Man on Fire” (and “John Wick” to some extent). While I have to give credit, I just CAN’T muster up enough enjoyment of “Beyond Redemption” to give it even a guilty thumbs up. The bad acting, poor script writing and weak choreography make the film so bad that it’s just BAD, and not hilariously fun (like the before mentioned “Undefeatable”).
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=90602[/img]The low budget nature of Fontaine’s film creates a rather mediocre Blu-ray presentation to say the least. I’ve seen a lot of Canadian DTV flicks and this one fits the bill, if we were making a film in the late 90s. The digital shoot is extremely noisy at times and the heavily desaturated color grading gives the film a sallow and grey look. Pale faces that almost look tan in color are quite common and there are very few primaries to liven up the flat looking picture. Scenes where the characters are in sunlight tend to look better, with decent clarity, but most of the time the image is overly smooth and the intrusion of digital noise in the indoor shots keeps this film from looking anything other than “eh, it’s ok”. Blacks are the weakest part of the movie even though most of the shots are indoors in dim lighting. Washed out blacks and dulled shadow details are the defining characteristic of “Beyond Redemption”. Some banding does occur in the low light shots that are framing a light source, but most of these issues seem source related vs. something gone wrong on Well Go USA’s end.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=90610[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track in English (which makes sense considering this was a Canadian production) is just as mediocre as the video quality is. Dialog is usually pretty solid, and the sound stage is fairly expansive with the score and sounds of fisticuffs, but there is some intermittent his that comes and goes in the background, as well as sounding a bit thin and tinny at times. One of the funniest aspect of the mix was that there was some REALLY poor use of sound effects. So much so that you could actually see blows impacting and the punch and kick noises not even REMOTELY lining up with them at times. Made it feel like I was watching an old Shaw Brothers film on the WB! Overall, it’s an acceptable track, but most of the problems, once again, seem to be source related and not anything that Well Go USA did.
• Yuan vs. Billy
• Mauler Opening Fight
I hate to give this film a negative score as I tend to be really soft on martial arts movies. But the weak end result has me give this one a solid two thumbs down. It’s nowhere as near as bad as “The Protector 2” or “Dragon Wolf”, but it’s REALLY close. I do give mad props to Fontaine for bringing a bunch of Asian talent overseas to make a North American martial arts film, but sadly that’s about the only props I can give the production. It’s unfortunately not even worth a decent rental unless you’re as massive a martial arts fan as I am and can’t help yourself. Audio and video were also a weak spot, with definite low budget ties that made it look very cheaply made. Just skip it.
Starring: Nickolas Baric, Raymond Chan, Peter Chao
Directed by: Bruce Fontaine
Written by: Derek Lowe, Tong Lung
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DD 2.0
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 89 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Buy Beyond Redemption On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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