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  Fifth Commandment, The The Protector
Year: 2008
Director: Jesse V. Johnson
Stars: Rick Yune, Keith David, Bokeem Woodbine, Dania Ramirez, Roger Yuan, Boo Boo Stewart
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Some time back in the nineteen-seventies, an international hitman known as Jazzman (Keith David) was in Bangkok when he was involved in taking down a powerful gang leader. The gangster had been unwittingly crossed by one of the shopkeepers who owed him protection money and as a result he had the unfortunate excecuted in front of his family. Then the family were to be next, but the Jazzman stepped in, with the result that although he didn't save his parents, he was able to save the baby. He took that child under his wing, teaching him in the ways of his craft, until...

...er, until this turned into the sort of movie that there were about fifteen billion of around the eighties. Nothing wrong with a well crafted throwback to earlier successes, of course, but The Fifth Commandment was groaning under the weight of its clich├ęs from the get-go, offering nothing new but some different faces to act out the customary action sequences and relationship scenes that would not be out of place on something like old episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man.

The man to blame for this was its star, Rick Yune, who not only produced (and executive produced too - how does that work, then?) but wrote the script as a vehicle for his two-fisted talents. He was still best known for being the baddie in the Bond movie Die Another Day, but after this he was best known for, um, being the baddie in Die Another Day, as for some reason what he had crafted to showcase himself merely showed up his deficiencies. They were largely in the acting department, as he played Chance as a man without emotion.

Which is a good idea if you're not sure of how you could handle, say, a big love scene, because then you have the action bits and bobs to really let fly with your skills. Or you would if those sequences were not filled with so much fast cutting that it was impossible to tell if you had the fighting ability of Bruce Lee or if the editor was doing all your hard work for you, and actually you have the fighting ability of Jessica Tandy. On a bad day. Not that there is a vast amount of combat here, as much of the plot centres around our hitman hero's angst.

It seems like just another job, but actually it involves killing off not only Angel (Dania Ramirez), a Jennifer Lopez-style R&B singer, but her bodyguard as well. And wouldn't you know it, he happens to be Miles Templeton (Bokeem Woodbine) the long lost childhood friend of Chance, so he gets cold feet and tells his contact there's no way he is carrying this one out. Therefore the tables are turned, and after a shootout at the concert, Chance goes on the run with the petulant Angel and the more understanding Miles with the bad guys on their tail. If I tell you that the singer is to be killed off because her last album underperformed, you get the idea of depth we're dealing with, but to its credit this is no more foolish than the film's influences, so if you're looking for something that doesn't demand much of you except vague attention, then you shouldn't have much problem with it. Music by Paul Haslinger.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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