HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Boss Level
My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To
Edge of the World
PTU
Superdeep
Insignificance
Treasure City
Piccadilly
Parallel
Invasión
Shiva Baby
Flowers of Shanghai
War and Peace
Agony
Merrily We Go to Hell
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)
Amusement Park, The
Lemebel
Hands of Orlac, The
Cats
Death has Blue Eyes
Caveat
Kala Azar
Duplicate
Flashback
Gunda
After Love
Earwig and the Witch
Zebra Girl
Skull: The Mask
Vanquish
Bank Job
Drunk Bus
Homewrecker
State Funeral
Army of the Dead
Initiation
Redoubt
Dinner in America
Death Will Come and Shall Have Your Eyes
   
 
Newest Articles
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
   
 
  12 Cash for Casualties
Year: 2007
Director: Chee Keong Cheung
Stars: Mark Strange, Nathan Lewis, Joey Ansah, Leon Suah, Glenn Salvage, Beau Fowler, Shane Steyn, Liang Yang, Zara Phythian, William Mickleburgh, Scott Houston, Chris Smith, Fidel Nanton, Danny John-Jules, Gary Webster
Genre: Action, Martial ArtsBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Twelve fighters are brought together to compete in an illegal underground tournament for the prize of £500,000, should they survive. The oddball group include a homeless man (Mark Strange), an ex-convict (Nathan Lewis), a triad (Leon Suah) and even a priest (Glenn Salvage), each risking life and limb in a series of brutal bouts that eliminate contenders one by one. Presiding over the tournament is a seemingly impassive organiser (Fidel Nanton) who takes bets from an array of wealthy business types (including Red Dwarf and M.I. High star Danny John-Jules and Minder’s Gary Webster) over who will win or lose. As each fighter is eliminated, his backer is forced to pull out while the stakes get higher.

With martial arts so ingrained in their culture, Chinese movies can weave kung fu bouts into historical epics, thrillers and comedies but western efforts always fall back on the old tournament scenario. This indie action Brit flick harks back to innumerable, direct-to-video bare-knuckle brawl fests from the Eighties and boasts an overused reality TV premise that brings back painful memories of The Condemned (2007), but perhaps wisely sidesteps any attempt at satire. “This isn’t just mindless violence” says the organiser at one point, but to a large extent that is exactly what this is.

Breaking the martial arts film down to its barest essentials, without even the cod-James Bond setup that distinguished Enter the Dragon (1973), 12 (re-titled Underground for the overseas market) is certainly solid on the action front. British born triple-threat Chee Keong Cheung assembles a slick package utilising blistering editing, diverse film stocks and ferocious fight choreography by Dave Forman (who was once Leonardo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)), but the non-stop punch-ups grow repetitive and the corny melodrama fails to engage. The cast are clearly fantastic athletes though noticeably less competent with dialogue. Cheung wisely pares his fighters’ dialogue down to a minimum and relies on cinematic shorthand to convey their emotional states, but as a consequence they emerge less interesting than their sponsors.

Much of the drama centres around besuited character actors glowering at each other across the betting table, though Cheung avoids the trap of painting all rich people as blood-sucking leeches. Some backers withdraw from the tournament in disgust, others are unexpectedly moved by the fighters’ plight and offer their help. The film exhibits a lot more humanity than movies like The Condemned, dwelling on moments of pathos as when the defeated Instructor (William Mickleburgh) is shown sobbing in the shower, or the supposedly misogynistic Model (Joey Ansah) tearfully apologises to the comely Teacher (Zara Phythian) whom he has mangled into a bloody pulp, or the friendship that complicates the crucial bout between the Delinquent (Beau Fowler) and the Foreigner (Liang Yang). The latter initially seems to be the Bruce Lee style, enigmatic wild card but things come down to the two least interesting and similar fighters, though this at least prevents things becoming predictable. Ultimately, 12 comes across as a fight movie made for fighters and fight enthusiasts and pretty much no-one else, especially given how it is in no way critical of the illegal, exploitative tournament even though it costs one man his life. Which leaves it admirable as a piece of indie filmmaking, but one-dimensional and liable to provoke questions. Like how does a homeless guy know how to handle a samurai sword and since the priest is competing to raise money for a homeless shelter, why didn’t he try a bake sale? It’s much safer.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4614 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: