Directors Ufuk Genc and Michael Popescu have directed one of the best action movies in years, and it’s a shame that not enough people will get a chance to see it, at least not on the big screen. Plan B, which had its North American premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival, is everything a fan of action cinema could want – it’s smart, entertaining, expertly paced, and full of jaw-dropping, fist pumping fight scenes. It moves so fast and rarely slows down, yet it manages to string together a gripping plot, not to mention four (count ’em) charismatic leads that will have audiences rolling in the aisles. Plan B isn’t just an electrifying and insanely frenetic action flick – it’s also the funniest film I’ve seen in years.
As far as plot goes, Plan B follows best friends Can (Can Aydin), Cha (Cha-Lee Yoon), and Phong (Phong Giang), three martial arts experts who are desperately trying to get their big break in a blockbuster action film. Thanks to the help of their friend and self-proclaimed casting agent, U-Gin (Eugene Boateng), the three stuntmen are invited to audition for an upcoming big-budget studio movie. Unfortunately, U-Gin mistakenly gives them the wrong address. and they find themselves caught in the midst of a gangster war between two crime families of the Berlin mob. After Phong is unexpectedly held hostage, the other three friends must follow orders from the gang of hard-hitting criminals and complete a dangerous mission that takes them across the big city in search of the location that holds the deepest secrets of the feared gangster boss, Gabriel (Henry Meyer). To give away more of the plot would be spoiling the film.
From there, Plan B is divided into four chapters, each paying tribute to classics films of the ’80s and ’90’s, with nods to everything from Red Heat to Big Trouble in Little China, to Game of Death and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. In one of the most ridiculous bouts of fisticuffs in movie history, two of the four leads square off against Hollywood’s leading stunt woman (Linda Gegusch) in a bar fight that makes Roddy Piper and Keith David’s back-alley brawl in They Live look like child’s play. The fight lasts about ten minutes and purportedly serves no purpose, but because the directing duo has an especially good understanding of how to choreograph and stage fight scenes, it’s as pure a shot of adrenaline as any martial arts fan could wish for.
The action is raw, rough, and relentless, and blessed with extraordinary camera work – as well as hard hitting action that will knock-your-socks-off. Seriously, watching this lady kick their ass is a marvel to watch (did I mention she actually wins the fight). There’s no rope work used – no C.G.I., no slow motion, no shaky cam purposely distorting the action, and no flashy editing – just one lady kicking ass with nothing but her bare hands and feet! And it’s not even the best fight scene in the film – far from it. If Edgar Wright directed a throwback to martial arts movies of the past and had Yuen Woo-ping choreograph the action, you might get something similar to Plan B. It all starts with a wonderful tribute to John Woo and ends with a Reservoir Dogs-like shootout, soaked under the blazing sun and surrounded by an incredibly talented cast who share such dazzling chemistry that you’re going to be begging for a sequel.
Plan B works as both an action film and a comedy, perfectly blending action and laughs in effective ways that are often missing from contemporary Hollywood films. This film doesn’t rely on cheap gags or toilet humour either. Instead, Plan B is what you expect from a good satire – a lot of laughs, smart writing, and a cast talented enough to deliver the goods. The dialogue is jam-packed with jokes, the script is packed with subtle sight gags, and while it wears its influences on its sleeves, it never resorts to being a carbon copy of the movies it admires. Honestly, this movie is a lot smarter and a lot funnier than it has any right to be. Most impressive, however, is the chemistry between the actors (all reportedly best friends in real life), and the fourth and final chapter, which crosses into the territory of horror/thriller. In short, Plan B is the sharpest, most entertaining action-comedy since Hot Fuzz. It’s so good that even the use of a ballpoint pen is amplified to seem as deadly as the barrel of a shotgun. If you’re a fan of action cinema, you really have an obligation to seek it out and witness what has a legitimate claim of being the best action film of the year.
– Ricky D
FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL • JULY 13 – AUGUST 2, 2017