Kill ‘Em All (2012)
Director: Raimund Huber
Writers: Ken Miller
Starring: Gordon Liu, Joe Lewis, Johnny Messner, Som Amara, Tim Man

The Plot: Kill ‘Em All focuses on a group of international assassins who are captured by a mysterious stranger known as Snakehead (played by Gordon Liu). After waking up, this group of hired assassins find themselves in a damp and dark room with no provisions. The booming voice of Snakehead soon clues them into the rules of his game. Numbers will be drawn and the two lowest (or highest) numbers will take the center of the room and battle it out until one of the two fighters are dead. The winner of each round of combat earns a chance to visit a nearby room where they can pick one weapon to help them in this contest. As the bodies start to collectively grow in the corner of the darkly lit room, it seems obvious that Snakehead is going to have little interest in actually allowing the winner to leave. Soon, the contestants find themselves having a choose between uniting against their shared enemy – or becoming another body stacked in the corner.

The Review
Believe it or not, despite this movie featuring the title Kill ‘Em All, this isn’t a documentary focusing on the early days of the bay area thrash band Metallica. Although such a documentary does sound pretty interesting, in the context of this martial arts film, “Kill ‘Em All” is being used in the most literal sense possible. Kill ‘Em All is a martial arts film that attempts to bring to life several very different genres under the guise of a martial arts tournament movie. No, this is not another Enter the Dragon ripoff, but it is a movie that looks to bring together various martial artists from very different backgrounds. Featuring an interesting cast of characters, a location somewhere within Bangkok, and a very Thai feel to it due to the director and some supporting cast members, this turns out to be an eye raising, if ultimately flawed, creation.

The first thing that should probably come up in any review for Kill ‘Em All would have to be the cast. Featuring two very well known stars from the martial arts world, these two names stand out as the prime reason most people will search the film out. The first name to mention, which is also the name that is most loudly proclaimed on the cover of the Bluray, is that of Gordon Liu. Indeed, the master from 36th Chamber of Shaolin does make an appearance here. Although his role is mostly an audible one, as he doesn’t actually make a physical appearance until the final third of the movie, I still count his role as more than just a cameo. If you pick this up in order to see Gordon Liu, I would say that most will walk away happy. Liu (who, it should be noted, has had some health trouble as of recent, and all of his fans are hoping for a speedy recovery) has a very excellent fight sequence towards the end of the movie. His actual acting performance is something to see as well, because it is gloriously over-the-top. That other big name from the cast would be the one and only Joe Lewis, the legendary kickboxing champion who once beat Chuck Norris in competition. Lewis looks a bit older and isn’t in the shape he once was, but when you consider the fact that he was 68 years old while filming this… he actually looks pretty spectacular! Unfortunately, Lewis passed away this August, so Kill ‘Em All stands out as his final feature film appearance. Yet, he leaves behind a great legacy, and his work in this final film is very solid. Although he isn’t a traditional actor by trade, he manages to exude character while onscreen. He might seem at odds with all of the buff young studs at the start of this movie, but his addition makes this into a very eclectic cast. His character comes off as slightly trailer-trash, but this somehow compliments everyone else.

If there is one member of the cast that the movie is supposed to be a vehicle for, it is Zom Ammara Siripong, sometimes referred to as Som Amara Siripong, Zom Ammara, and other variations. This young and stunning actress, who is in fit shape and sports a half-sleeve tattoo design, is treated as the next-big-thing. Her actual acting performance comes off as a bit stiff, but this is somewhat expected as she is speaking English, which is a second language for her. Siripong has only appeared in the amazing Chocolate previous to this film, but it is easy to see her being a star within future productions. With a pop music career and a reputation for these tough roles, she could go quite far within the industry. She may not be the athlete that her former-costar JeeJa Yanin is, but she does commit to the action quite well. And although the plot becomes utterly ridiculous by the final third of the movie, she and the rest of her castmates remain committed to the sincerity of this project. They do this even when fighting off swarms of ninjas and hordes of “freaks.” Indeed, the final act is totally ludicrous, but it manages to work because it isn’t treated like a punchline. Although this is a cheap martial arts title with very little plot to speak of, it doesn’t try and play itself up as a “grindhouse” title or try and glamorize how silly it is. Instead, it plays the ninjas and the freaks as completely legitimate, and I did like this facet of the movie.

Choreography is a big part of any martial arts title. Although Kill ‘Em All won’t forever change the genre, the action is certainly well done. The fight choreography is handled by one of the main cast members, the Swedish born Tim Man, who has worked as a stunt performer previously and who has worked within Thailand on director Raimund Huber’s previous film, Bangkok Adrenaline. The fight scenes are plentiful and most of the actors are capable within their roles. Yet, the plentiful fight scenes do occasionally feel as if they are holding together a shoestring plot. As the movie continues, there is some intrigue that is meant to come across as witty during the final act, but overall this stands out as a pure action title with very little other purpose. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it stops the movie from being anything overtly special.

The Conclusion
Despite the obvious low budget (most of the movie obviously takes place in one room), Kill ‘Em All was a lot more fun than I expected. Westernized martial arts films have never been my cup of tea, but this is a movie that shows some commitment to the genre. Overall, it gets a three out of five. Very solid and fun stuff, but nothing that will blow a potential viewers mind.

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