May 07 02:16 2019

By: Kai Curry


The Hong Kong movie, VIXEN, a DarkCoast film, seems like a romp between friends. Producer and screenwriter, Bey Logan, is cast in the film, the villain is named after himself (Bendza, a real-life champion martial arts fighter), and the first running joke is about Mr. Nan — the same last name as another of the producers — with whom the head of security is upset and keeps calling “Mr. Shite.” (The second part of the joke is that the Chinese assistant doesn’t understand that this is a joke, that “shite” is a Scottish curse word, and continues earnestly calling the offending personage Mr. Shite, thinking it is a translation from the Chinese).

There are a lot of clever jokes in the movie, although the delivery is sometimes strange – for a movie. The pacing of the movie is reminiscent of an adult animated martial arts television show. In which case, the timing of the dialogue and the action is spot on. There are slight pauses throughout that in animation would perfectly align with slices of scene change from one still image to another, and which are often used for effect in animated productions. There are the jarringly aggressive Caucasian characters, particularly the American, Mr. Cassidy, with his over-the-top cowboy accent; the sheepish and abused Asian characters, such as the techie member of Bendza’s team, Oswald; and the half-witted minions, especially Kyle, who practically drools on the heroine, Sunny, played by Li Ran, in his efforts to humiliate and defeat her in combat.

The movie revolves around a strong female character, the “vixen” of the title, who has managed to be at large during the hostage-taking of the rest of the members of a tech security convention for which she is a delegate. She is called “vixen” because her cleverness in eluding pursuit – and categorization – frustrates the men in the film, and their terrorist designs. Sunny strikes a blow for gender and race equality everywhere when, in the beginning of the film, she confronts Mr. Cassidy and his hawkish take on global security by saying, “That’s just the male perspective. In fact, that’s the white male perspective. While most of the world is not white. And not male.”

Touché, Sunny. Sunny’s romantic interest in the film is Ah Ming, an ex-boyfriend with whom she is dissatisfied due to his lack of motivation in life, but who proves himself during the action to be more than she originally thought. Raised by her father, whom we are told wanted a boy, Sunny is accustomed to the stoic type of male role model with whom she grew up, but as the film progresses, she gains appreciation for Ah Ming’s devotion – and his computer skills.

Even though he is dead, Sunny’s father, a former head of PLA special forces, plays a big enough role in Sunny’s heart and mind, to be his own character. It is he who trained Sunny in martial arts and gave her the will and general bad-assery to be able to perform first aid on herself like Rambo, and be a real threat to a trained terrorist team. It is her intense desire to please her father, still after his death, that drives Sunny to accomplish what she does in the movie – and that won’t let her just leave when she has the chance, but rather demands that she defend the others. 

Action director, Bruce Chang, and cinematographer Ross W. Clarkson, no doubt put their mark on the fight scenes in VIXEN which, while they are not as fluid as other Chinese martial arts films, have a raw appeal. Real-life fights have got to be awkward at times, don’t they? They are not pretty. Every move is not perfectly coordinated. In VIXEN, Sunny and her opponents really rumble. There are kicks in the face, rolling on the floor and body tosses that come off as realistic.

The movie is a tribute to the Die Hard franchise and there are several enjoyable references therein. The racism and sexism in the film, though we’ve heard them before, have a new relevance, when such attitudes have again taken a front seat around the world, even in the political arena. When Cassidy hears that Sunny remains at large, and says, mockingly, “You mean it’s Sunny? Oh please. She’s probably hiding in a cupboard somewhere. Trust me. Anyone’s gonna get us out of here, it’s gonna be an American Special forces unit. Not some broken little China doll,” it is offensive. One wants to say it’s an exaggerated, outdated way of talking, when in fact, it’s not.

VIXEN is worth watching for the conversation it’s having about the representation of race and gender conflict in film, and in real life, and because, for a change, the woman talks back. — Review from Kai Curry.

DarkCoast has released VIXEN onto various digital streaming platforms (Amazon, DirecTV, AT&T, FlixFling, Vudu, Vimeo on Demand, XBOX, Sony, Google Play, FANDANGO + Sling/Dish). For press inquiries and exclusive interviews, please contact [email protected] Watch the trailer for VIXEN here:

Starring former stuntwoman, Li Ran (‘Sunny’), who shows off top-notch fight sequences and explosive action skills, VIXEN stars 13-time winning actor, Bryan Larkin (Dead End, Outlander, Chasing the Dragon), two-time winner for ‘Best Supporting Actor’, Julian Gaertner (Dead End, Chasing the Dragon, Ghost in the Shell), Jai Day (Transformers, Pacific Rim: Uprising, The Expendables 2), Max Repossi (Vengeance 2), Jared Robinsen (Baywatch, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Condemned). The supporting players include actor Ryan Logan (The Dark Soul, Attrition), comedian Mr. Waka Waka, Collin Parker and martial arts stuntman, Yang Yang.

VIXEN (2018, 90 min.) Directed by: Ross W. Clarkson. Writer: Bey Logan. Producers: Bey Logan, James Nan, Elizabeth Yang, Cathy Du, He Zhi. Editor: Bey Logan. Cinematographer: Ross W. Clarkson. China, Mandarin with English subtitles. Southern Lights Entertainment, DarkCoast.

Production Company: Southern Lights Entertainment.

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