Friday, April 24, 2015
Shortfilm Review: BROKEN ANGELS (2014)
Pure grit and controversy don't run short in director Tony Clomax's latest short film, Broken Angels. It's still getting film festival runs following its premiere late last year at the Urban Action Showcase and Expo, and I've since had the opportunity to screen it for myself this week. It's got it's flaws, but it does sing a few conceptual high notes.
Broken Angels centers on Jeremy Sample who plays Bobby Cheeks, an independent hitman caught in a dangerous love affair with Maia Caligula, the wife of racist mafia boss, Dominic. Maia's marriage to Dominic hasn't been all rose petals and picket fences, and with Cheeks as her only way out, he feels the pressure and knows he has to make a move. Unfortunately, Caligula's men, joined by seasoned hitwoman, Francesca, catch him just before Cheeks makes a run for it, but with two lives on the line, his only choice is to seek the help of an old friend with a grudge to settle. When all is said and done, the bullets fly, the smoke clears and true motives are revealed.
We don't often see guys like actors Sample and in films taking leads in action projects, guys who are generally hefty and bulky. Point in fact, we seldom see it for the industry's general preference toward performers who are lean and fit, whether or not they train in martial arts or stunts. That said, a project like Broken Angels is definitely something that lends an eyeful to see the screenfighting talent at hand, on top of the acting, and the same can be said for co-star and fight choreographer R Marcos Taylor whose own appearance can be especially deceiving to the unengaged.
The dialogue has its fair share of mildly humorous comical bits, but is marinated with all sorts of envelope-pushing language that would no less further drive the rift between the likes Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee if they were watching this, and you'll know what I mean if you've seen the headlines in the last few years. Conversations on race are prevalent from time to time, and considering the way some of the characters are written, it's hard to avoid and unless you're desentized to it, you're likely to cringe. Accordingly, subtlety is left weakened and much of the script feels like excess, and the same can be said for the acting, although Sample, Taylor, actresses Lian Toni Amado, Teniece Divya Johnson and Helen Koya, and actor Daniel O'Shea all have their respective high points.
Ultimately though, the film's principles, Sample and Taylor, are the driving force of this tale, and for this, Broken Angels makes for a great short-duration sampler of a workable story with some good acting, led by two performers who can act, as well as screenfight. The action does suffer a bit here and there with camerawork, but the execution is pretty clean, and especially from Johnson and O'Shea who manage to get a few hits in themselves.
All in all, Broken Angels packages its delivery with a pretty darkly-lit and bittersweet finish. It's got some twists and turns, especially toward the end, and the tone of the script is truly one that's as in-your-face as much of the fists and feet that come to boot. It's relatively drama-heavy too, presenting a window into an idea that gives talented stunt performers and actors an otherwise decent playing field to do what they believe they are capable of. In that respect, I wouldn't pass this up for viewing, but do view it with an open mind.
The next stop for this one is The People's Film Festival in Harlem, New York City which kicks off in May. Follow the project on its official Facebook page for more info and details, and perhaps maybe this one might see its way to a feature investment.