Toku Review #4 – Kick-Ass

In place of our regular Tokusatsu Tuesday feature, let’s make way for two micro reviews of some recently released Western tokusatsu films: Clash of the Titans and Kick-Ass.

Toku Review #4 – Kick-Ass

First things first, I have yet to read the comic upon which this film is based. Therefore, my views on this film are as a common movie goer and casual comics fan.

Now that that is out of the way, I really enjoyed Kick-Ass. Spider-Man or Watchmen it’s not, but Kick-Ass seems to take from both films elements that made them great films and appropriately becomes a potentially great film itself. I say potentially because this a film that will do one of two things for you: 1) cause you to laugh and have a good time watching a potty mouth 12 year old murder guys (and girls) in a purple wig, or 2) cause you to question what is and isn’t allowed in society today while watching a potty mouth 12 year old murder guys (and girls) in a purple wig.

If the second case scenario happens to be your reaction to Kick-Ass, you may have missed the point, even though you were immediately struck by it. You recognized it and lost it in horror. If the first scenario applies to you, you might have just simply missed the point altogether or you actually got it – the point that is. Well, what is this “point?” What was Watchmen about? It’s basically the same thing.

The idea of real people taking on the fantasy role of superhero is an interesting one. Obviously, without any kind of superpowers, an individual would have to know some serious combat maneuvers and have an arsenal to back it up if they were to be serious about it with the hope to survive long enough to make any kind of difference. Otherwise, the poor sap would be just another psycho in the streets. Or would they?

This movie tackles questions like these and confronts the “bystander effect” head on. The brutality throughout the movie is always aware of how over-the-top it is, yet most of the violence is certainly humanly possible, unlike much of our dance derived fight choreography these days. These fights are still choreographed and are still unlikely and basically impossible, but the sense of the improbable hangs underneath it all like we want it all to be as real as it certainly could be. Of course, if any of this were real, the fact that much of this film’s violence is exacted by a little girl is all the more disturbing. The gritty and morbid truth of human killing is enough to make many vomit if encountered for real. What if this were real?

The fact that Kick-Ass himself is not trained to be a superhero is what grounds the movie that happens around him to us mortals. His first failed attempt at being a hero is at once hilarious and gut-wrenching (pun not intended, see the film and you’ll get it). His second attempt goes better, but he still sucks at it. Wouldn’t any punk who just decided to wear a mask and fight crime suck his first time out? Assuming he lived to learn from it, how would this person cope with it?

It seems like I’m not reviewing the movie, but analyzing it. I am, but in both (review and analysis) I can’t escape the questions the film puts forth nor can I escape the humor that hides it all. This film is in many ways too smart and too dumb and doing too much. The acting is superb – not in an Oscar kind of way though; Nick Cage, as spotty as his resume is, brought it hard on this one. The action is cool. The humor is nice – often predictable, could be seen as cliche, but still effective. As I’ve covered, there are real meaty questions explored. And there  are lots of bright colors…

Spider-Man and Watchmen covered all the same ground between the two, so as I said, Kick-Ass is an edgy hybrid of the two – a mere comic movie that aspires to be a satire of the superhero genre but becomes a commentary on it. 4.0 out of 5.0 – the film is not perfect: there are some parts that left me confused, and I don’t think a jetpack was necessary, but I don’t write these things. The movie is pretty much what the trailers said it was going to be. I can’t hate or level any fanboy judgment. The movie works, just like I thought it would. The philosophical undertones are clever, which certainly made me enjoy the bloodshed all the more.

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I'm an otaku, avid gamer, and electronic "musician." I'm forever indulging in the amazingness that is Japanese tokusatsu.

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One comment on “Toku Review #4 – Kick-Ass
  1. Lyons says:

    Pretty good review. I thought the movie was good, but couldn’t appreciate it because it felt like it lost the flavor of the comics. The comics took a more gritty realistic edge to it (no jetpack for instance), and was a lot more violent in terms of the characters (hit girl gets bludgeoned in the face with a meat tenderizer and kick ass has his nuts fried with a car battery). To me the movie took too much of an optimistic tone in terms of their lives. As a grittier super hero movie, it’s definitely a good movie (jetpack aside), but as an adaptation of kick-ass it felt like it lost something.

    Still, overall a good movie and I definitely recommend that you read the comics 😀

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