At one of the after parties for Fantasia a few of us we’re discussing the Chilean film Mandrill and how its star Marko Zaror should play the evil boss’s henchmen in the next Bond film. This was not just some random thought as just like Daniel Craig in the new Bond films Zaror has the suaveness and screen presence to play Bond but the physical stature to be the next Jaws. While I am sure that he will be noticed and is destined for a big hollywood career I am also happy to say that I would be content to watch him in Chilean films if Mandrill is the standard.
Mandrill is a top notch hit man who has been trying to track down a mob boss called Cyclops. When Mandrill was a child he witnessed Cyclops kill his parents and has been wanting vengeance since. His quest is finally looks like it is coming to an end as he now has Cyclops in his sights. It looks like the easiest way for him to get to his enemy is through Cyclops’ daughter played by Celine Reymond. The basic story revolves around his hunt, the romance and then the showdown between Mandrill and his enemies. There are a few aspecects to the film which set it apart from similar revenge movies.
First and foremost, you have to see Zaror move to be able to believe it. I am guessing that he is somewhere around 6 foot 5 inches and he is able to flip and kick as if he was only 5 foot 5 inches. The way he moves is just stunning and what is even better is that the director, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza films the fights with very little speed ramping and no wire work. There is only one scene which uses CGI. If you are convinced that the only good martial arts or fight movies come out of Asia you are completely wrong. The fight scenes in Mandrill are stunning for the display of skill, raw strength and physicality.
Unlike many of the more physical actors, it is clearly evident to see that Zaror cares about his craft. After watching several Asian martial arts movies with lower budgets one gets used to just accepting that the acting in fight films is never a strong point. This really isn’t the case. Sure the acting isn’t Oscar worthy but it is well done and there is no denying the his on screen charisma. When Mandrill meets women their willingness to become involved with him even while risking their life is believable in a tongue in cheek sort of way. What also make this aspect of the Mandrill character more compelling is we get to watch through flash backs Mandrill’s growth into a lady’s man under the tutelage of his uncle.
This was my first film from Espinoza and Zaror and while I have heard that this is the biggest and most glossy of his films I can’t wait to dig in and check out Mirage Man and Killtro if I am given the chance. Mandrill just explodes through the screen with amazing action, a wicked sense of humor and a non stop pace that had me smiling and enjoying myself. While my time at Fantasia was rather limited I did watch several movies and Mandrill in one of the high points for the festival this year.