Director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza reunites with frequent collaborator Marko Zaror for the fourth time in the martial arts flick Fist of the Condor. Upon the empire’s fall to invading conquistadors, the 16th-century Incas quickly concealed a sacred manual containing the secrets behind their deadly fighting technique. But after centuries of careful safeguarding, the manual is again at risk of falling into the wrong hands. This leaves its rightful guardian to battle the world’s greatest assassins to protect the ancient secrets within.
Espinoza’s script introduces us to a quadrant of warriors who all need the manual for their reasons. Our hero El Zaror believes the manual will ensure his survival and give him strength. Mother Condor (Gina Aguad) is the only one who can teach them the martial arts they need to achieve their goals. Also in the mix are El Opponente (Jose Manuel), Kelari (Eyal Meyer), who is looking for a way to restore his lost memory, and Wok (Man Soo Yoon), who wants to use the manual to gain control of the underworld.
Despite its conventions, Fist of the Condor doesn’t break any rules. The film has well-written, well-choreographed fight scenes featuring a well-developed underdog hero, a wise mentor, and a training montage. In his many training sessions, El Guerrero goes from being an inexperienced but skilled fighter to becoming one of the best in the world. His development is represented through montage. This further emphasizes El Guerrero’s transformation, as the audience can see his progress from one training session to the next. The yellow tint also creates an atmosphere of heightened drama and excitement, drawing the audience in with its comic book-style aesthetic.
All of that said, the film’s subtitles may hinder potential mainstream viewers. I’m a fan of martial arts flicks, so I watched regardless. Furthermore, Marko Zaror impressed me in John Wick Chapter 4, so I wanted to see what he could do in a lead role. Fist of the Condor is nothing groundbreaking, but director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza shows some flair and may have a franchise on his hands.
Final Grade: C+
Fist of the Condor opened in limited Alamo Drafthouse Theaters on April 4. It will be available on the Hi-YAH! Streaming Platform on April 7
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