I just watched an independent film released in a small amount of theaters called Acts of Violence. Chinese creator Il Lim wrote, directed and starred as the central character who is on a mission of revenge. Flyn is a seemingly ordinary doctor by day, unbeknownst to his wife, he is a cold-blooded killer at night. Seeking revenge on those that assaulted his wife months earlier, Flyn tries to regain normalcy for his family while brutally torturing and murdering those responsible for his crimes against his wife.
This is an independent film and it feels like it. The cinematography, writing, and direction feels amateurish at times to the point where it feels awkward for the viewer. It’s understandable when newcomer is calling all the shots. Impressive that first time film maker got this thing to screen but the inexperience shows at every level. What’s even more a miracle is that recognizable actors are in this like Leelee Sobieski and Ron Perlman. There are some glimmers of interesting direction but it’s mostly clunky and clumsy. There are also plot problems and continuity oversights which make you have to suspend too much belief.
The main problem with Acts of Violence (besides its unoriginal title) is that it doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be. From martial arts, to horror, to family drama, ‘Acts’ goes in all sorts of direction and if you are a fan of any of those genres you will probably be disappointed. It’s most comfortable in the martial arts sequences that Il Lim seems to show proficiency. In the right setting, Lim could have some formative screen presence as a villain or hero. While quite physically talented, he’s also more brooding then Jet Li and more tormented than Jackie Chan.
The one redeeming quality is that there is a twist at the end that helps to explain and somewhat justify the fragmented and awkward parts of the story. At least left feeling better about my $9.50 spent on this gamble. I have a hard time recommending this one but I look forward to what actor/writer/director Il Lim creates next. I hope he learns from this experience.