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Kill 'Em All(2012)
No synopsis for Kill 'Em All.
For more about Kill 'Em All and the Kill 'Em All Blu-ray release, see Kill 'Em All Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on November 27, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 1.5 out of 5.
Starring: Johnny Messner, Chia-Hui Liu, Tim Man
Director: Raimund Huber
» See full cast & crew
Kill 'Em All Blu-ray Review
You may want to kill yourself if you have to watch this film.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, November 27, 2012
Kill or be killed has been a staple of films from the earliest days of The Great Train Robbery through to The Most Dangerous Game. But over the past several years, a whole new subgenre has arisen that plops "contestants" down in a locked bunker and then proceeds to whip up a fair amount of violent drama as they whittle each other down to (usually) one "winner". Such iconic (for better or worse) franchises like the Saw films are at least tangentially built around this conceit, but there have been other less well known films that really exploit this premise, such as an often riveting little film I reviewed here several years ago, The Killing Room. Kill "Em All is in fact quite a bit like The Killing Room, and even Saw in its own way, only without even the trace of nuance that even some of the Saw outings provide, and with certainly not one iota of the frankly silly political angle that hobbled The Killing Room. No, this is a film resolutely without any ambitions other than to lurch from set piece to set piece, most of which involve hand to hand combat between various professional assassins who have found themselves locked in an immense building where they're manipulated by an unseen voice who is monitoring their activity on camera (gee, how original). The film devolves from being ludicrous to being actually lamentable by the time it stumbles to its final act, when a supposed "revelation" puts one character's exploits into ostensibly clearer context, but which only adds to the teetering pile of improbabilities that have already been stacked as high as the bunker like setting Kill 'Em All is located in will allow.
Things actually get off to an interesting start in the film, as we get a number of extremely visceral and well staged scenes showing a disparate group of characters, all of whom are involved in some sort of professional hits. Some of these characters use their hands to quickly dispatch their opponents, while others utilize explosives, blowing their nemeses to smithereens. There's absolutely no context given to any of these quick anecdotal sequences, and that actually plays to the opening segments' strengths, as the audience is initially thrown for a loop about what exactly is going on. But at about the ten minute mark, we find the characters all having apparently been drugged, including one hapless guy who was about to commit suicide anyway (and why do these scenes always have to play out with operatic music serving as underscore?). When they all awaken, they find they've been transported to a concrete bunker and are required to fight to the death if even one of them, the supposed victor, ever hopes to see the light of day again.
However, because relatively no context is given to even the three characters who turn out to be the main focus (there's absolutely no context given to the other initial contestants, all of whom could basically be wearing Star Trek red shirts, since their ultimate fates are clear almost from the get go), there's also next to no reason to care about any of these people. We have the great looking female martial arts expert (Ammara Siripong, who also evidently is known as Som Amara), the formerly suicidal explosives expert (Johnny Messner), and another martial arts guru with cool hair (Tim Man). A number of other combatants are there for a while at least, including an elderly gentleman played by none other than Joe Lewis (Jaguar Lives!), the great fighter from the 1960s and 1970s (the Caucasian Joe Lewis, just in case anyone is confused). Lewis passed from cancer shortly after his brief role wrapped, and the film is dedicated to him.
Director Raimund Huber wrote the pretty lamentable Bangkok Adrenaline and then went on to direct the marginally more interesting Freerunner. Huber knows how to stage an action scene, and that element of Kill 'Em All tends to work extremely well. Huber's camera cartwheels around the action, though in the case of Amara (who evidently didn't have much of a martial arts background), we tend to get a lot of quick edits, probably to cover her lack of skills. There are a variety of techniques on display, and a lot of the fighting is just outlandishly vicious, with a surplus of broken bones, strangulations and various other blood spilling devices on tap. But after about thirty minutes of this stuff, let alone the hour and a half or so the film runs, it just becomes numbingly repetitive and uninvolving. Okay, okay, okay: hurry up and snap his neck already.
As shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, the contestants get chopped down to the final three, and of those, two move on to a final showdown with the madman who has been organizing all of the mayhem (played by Chia Hui Liu). The Liu character has only been seen fleetingly, usually in extreme close-up revealing only his mouth, which is busy maniacally cackling into a microphone that broadcasts his insane laughter around the building. But once he's cornered by one of the survivors, he turns out to be yet another martial arts expert, and there's hell to pay. Meanwhile, we get an absolutely hilarious "twist" of sorts where one character reveals their backstory in terms of what they've known all along about the so-called Killing Room and how to make it through the gauntlet. It's one of the most appallingly badly written and haltingly delivered denouements you could possibly imagine, adding nothing to the film, but at least giving a momentary respite of comedy relief before the bone snapping martial arts action kicks in again.
Kill 'Em All Blu-ray, Video Quality
Kill 'Em All is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. There's precious little technical information floating about concerning this outing (which doesn't look like it had an official theatrical release, at least from what can be gleaned online), but this certainly has the look of having been shot on HD video. That smooth, textureless quality that's so redolent of this format is well on display here. The film actually starts out looking pretty spry, with some great shots of Bangkok, good color and contrast and well above average fine detail. But once the bulk of the film settles down to the interior bunker elements, things get pretty drab and lifeless (no pun intended) in a big hurry. Contrast is noticeably poorer in this much longer segment of the film, fine detail tends to evaporate in the murky lighting, and shadow detail is often negligible. Colors may not have been graded especially aggressively, but there's a very curious pallid quality to just about everything in the interior segments of the film, with no bright primary colors of any kind (not even true reds for the blood) to offset the oppressive browns and beiges.
Kill 'Em All Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Kill 'Em All features a very nicely aggressive lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that from a technical standpoint is probably this film's best selling point. Surround activity is surprisingly effective, especially given the fact that so much of the film takes place in relatively small, crowded and confined spaces. Foley effects are very well placed around the soundfield, and once we move on from hand to hand combat to the use of guns, there's a lot of ear shattering LFE on tap as well. Dialogue is clear (though some of these actors are clearly not native English speakers and their accents are rather thick, to say the least). Fidelity is excellent throughout the track and dynamic range is extremely wide.
Kill 'Em All Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Kill 'Em All Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you've ever wanted to spend an hour and a half or so watching a bunch of people beat the living crap out of each other, Kill 'Em All is your go-to film of the year. The fight sequences are undeniably visceral and extremely well staged, but that's about all there is to this outing. You won't care one whit about any of the characters, for the simple fact that you know next to nothing about any of them, and even when they do reveal something (as one character does toward the end of the film), it's so laughably inane that it only makes the film seem even sillier than it was to begin with. Kill 'Em All starts with an overused and now pretty trite premise and then squeezes what little life there was left in it completely out, leaving nothing but a trail of bodies.
Kill 'Em All Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Well Go USA Prize Package - November 28, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Well Go USA are offering three members a chance to win copies of Wu Dang, Kill 'Em All and Doomsday Book. Wu Dang streets on December 4, and Kill 'Em All and Doomsday Book street on December 11.
• Kill 'Em All Blu-ray - October 22, 2012
Well Go USA announced that it will be releasing Kill 'Em All on Blu-ray this holiday season. From director Raimund Huber (Freerunner), the martial arts action film stars Johnny Messner (Tears of the Sun), Chia Hui Liu (Kill Bill) and Joe Lewis (Jaguar Lives!). ...
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