A man whose body is adorned with tattoos raises a gun to his head. A single bullet is in the chamber. He’s playing his own personal game of Russian roulette. He pulls the trigger and nothing happens. He prays to God for forgiveness and then goes out to kill some bad guys. He is the Redeemer. Directed by Chilean filmmaker Ernesto Diaz Espinoza (The ABCs of Death) and starring Marko Zaror (Mandrill, Mirageman), Redeemer follows ex-hitman Nick Pardo, a stoic but violent vigilante who does anything he can to protect the innocent, while murdering anyone dumb enough that thinks they can stop him from doing that.
As an action move, Redeemer’s story is thin, but serviceable. Zaror’s character is a man trying to make up for his past sins and transgressions. He does this by brutally breaking the bones, necks and faces of those unwise enough to think they can actually take him in a fight. Thankfully, most of the people he ends fighting are Neo-Nazis, rapists and other assorted ne’er-do-wells. When you see you a scumbag get a hook through the jaw or another being impaled in the back, it’s satisfying in the best kind of way.
As a character, Zaror’s Redeemer feels like a hybrid of several very recognizable pop culture figures. Though he surrounds himself with enough crosses and Christian iconography that would make a priest blush, his character is eerily reminiscent of Batman, with him constantly obsessing over his never ending mission of stopping crime by any means necessary. One could also argue that he has the personality of the Punisher, feeling little to no remorse for the criminals he kills. Throw in the look of Ezio Auditore from the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and you have the Redeemer in a nutshell.
When the plot does make its way through the bloodied and broken bodies that the Redeemer leaves behind, we learn that he is being hunted by a mysterious man named the Scorpion, a violent killer whose origin is fleshed out through flashbacks scattered throughout the film. No, it’s not the most original way to introduce a hero or a villain, but it works, and it provides enough of a reason to care when the two fighters finally come across one another.
However, the main reason to watch this film is for the fights, and Zaror manages to deliver enough brutal battles that keeps everything moving from one action set-piece to the next at a steady pace. Those concerned that the film might devolve into the shaky-cam monstrosities we often get with many American-action movies need not worry. With Zaror acting as the film’s fight coordinator and Espinoza filming most of the action scenes with steady-medium shots, the fights are all easy to watch and understand.
Later, as Zaror starts to battle combatants that aren’t your everyday gangsters and street thugs, the fights start to change a bit, focusing on different styles of martial-arts. Probably the best fight in the film has Zaror incorporating elements of judo and MMA-styled grapples. The film’s insistence on featuring different styles of fighting keeps each action scene fresh and unique, and avoids the pitfalls of becoming boring and repetitive.
In the end, you’ll know whether this is the kind of movie you want to watch after the first ten minutes. Though the story is hardly anything special, Redeemer manages to introduce a cool action hero and some well-choreographed fight scenes that any die-hard action junkie would approve of. It also doesn’t hurt that the main character is a crazy/religious mixed-martial artist. You can never go wrong with that.
Redeemer is now in select theatres and available on VOD.