By Tom Morton.
A film crew making a zombie film in an abandoned tower block find that the next block over is being used for a different kind of shooting; the gangsters realise they have witnesses, and take action. But the film crew have a martial arts expert, and the gangsters don’t want to risk using their guns in a building rigged for demolition, which levels the odds a little.
There’s a clear influence from The Raid here, but with the action spliced with a large amount of very funny, extremely British humour, some Living in Oblivion-style meta stuff about low-budget filmmaking and a surprising amount of heart. There are interesting characters in both groups of people and the humour helps make the film crew extremely likable – all of which pays off in bucketloads once they start getting hurt. I actually felt properly shocked and upset when one of the characters got killed, which is a tricky mood for a film to hit, especially when it’s largely a broad comedy full of lo-fi martial arts and makeshift explosives!
The fight scenes are also a revelation here; the budgetary restrictions and close quarters may not allow for as many clever shots as some top-end martial arts films but having action this inventive and well-choreographed in a low-budget film is an absolute revelation; these fights are close-up, brutal and fast paced, with moments that I would hold up to literally anything in the genre.
It’s not a perfect film by any means – there’s a definite suspension-of-disbelief barrier to the actual setting, which is somehow both in the middle of a large, developed area but also completely isolated, and there’s a slight frustration in the way that the filmmakers cleverly find a way to take mobile phones out of the equation for the film crew but still have to rely on lack of reception for the bad guys. The sweary dialogue also feels slightly dated at times, although the sheer number of killer lines mostly balance that out. This is the kind of film where the flaws are easy to excuse though, because it’s just so much fun.
I think I always run the risk of over- or underrating films that I see at festivals due to the massive difference in watching a film at home and watching one with a large and appreciative audience. I’m not sure this would be a five-star film if I’d caught it at home, but I can’t resist splashing out all those stars for the sheer joy of experiencing this with a few hundred other people who winced, cheered and at one point burst into a round of spontaneous applause at one of the most incredible moments in what is an astonishingly crowd-pleasing film and a wonderful example of low-budget filmmaking at its finest.
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