Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good Girls Gone Bad: Colombiana and Black Angel

Hollywood tends to like its anti-heroes male, and neither too old nor too young. Little girls are, however another matter. Whether in the hillside slums of Bogota, or the high rises of Tokyo, the lore of the "little angel" - basically and incorruptibly regardless of the circumstances - persists. Two films, one currently in first run in Jamiacan cinemas, the other part of a Japanese franchise, explore this phenomenon in similar yet contrasting styles.

Zoe Saldana is sexy as hell- with or without a gun.
But in the battle for our affections, she can't hold a candle to the angel-faced beauty who plays her character as a child and who lights up the film's riveting and frenetic opening sequence.

But little angel is forced into violent life from early, and after stabbing her father's nemesis in the hand and dodging killers through the city's streets and sewers, she ends up as part of some CIA Covert Ops program me and thereafter the film goes downhill into the standard assassin-with issues. Saldana tries her best to infuse some emotional substance into her character but director Oliver Megaton (last name adopted in honor of the Hiroshima atomic bomb) handles the action in such a leaden manner that you just want the pace to pick up again, which it does briefly, before once again imploding.

If you love fierce action, and can get over the sloppy subtitling and atrocious dubbing, then the bloody, raunchy Japanese import Black Angel may be just the ticket. Here again, a little girl witnesses the horrific murders of her parents before being spirited away to safety by a mysterious assassin, in whose footsteps she eventually. In stark contrast to the strictures of Hollywood, the Tokyo set have little if any hang-ups about nudity or blood-soaked shootouts and raw, hand-to-hand fighting. Again, the storyline is pretty much standard, but Black Angel is way more engaging for much of it's run than Colombiana, mainly because it abandons wasteful pretensions on which it cannot deliver. When the girl-killer and her gay(?) male sidekick pull a disco dance sequence in a cheap motel, having just ruthlessly dispatched some Yakuza a few scenes earlier, you know this is a creative team that could care less about convention.

And so they shouldn't. Both movies are messy, but Colombiana carries a load of guilt over it's mess, while Black Angel gleefully gives the finger to those who demand a clean-up.

Be good, bad girls!

If you can get over the grinding combination of sloppy sub-titling and atrocious dubbing, the raunchy, bloody Japanese action import, Black Angel, is just your ticket.

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