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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Heroic Bloodshed in the West, 13 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This review contains spoilers!!!!!! It is so refreshing to have a solid shoot em up (the only other movie maker I've watched that loves guns as much as the director is John Woo) with heart and that's what makes the Butcher stand out from other flicks of this genre, it makes it so much more than just an action film. The script has such a good sense of humour, the players all come together, the banter between Eric Roberts, Keith David, Robert Davi and Geoffrey Lewis just oozed cool (ooze used in a positive sense – had that hard boiled noir feel) and there were those little touches like the money launderer putting the pin back in the grenade (commenting that he'd do it when his henchman offers), the horrific nature of fire fights (not everyone dies from a clean wound through the heart at high noon, the panic/ mania / fear, fingers get shot off, shotguns and heads equate to Bolognese). Yes there is a level of overkill, but then we deserve it, its the finale! I enjoyed the soundtrack, nice classical background fare providing that calm from the storm.

The bittersweet ending worked perfectly, so many films about betrayal and redemption can become utterly nihilistic, but the Butcher is not about that, it felt like it was more about learning from mistakes, keep living until you're done and try to do the decent thing in indecent circumstance. That's what heroes should be about, giving hope or making a difference. But then maybe I just love the old school heroic bloodshed movies. If you enjoyed Johnny To's Exiled, then check this out.

The director Jesse V Johnson's style is constantly evolving and he just keeps getting better.

Bring on Charlie Valentine Mr Johnson! TTFN

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Redemption through violence..., 27 September 2005

There is so much to this movie it's difficult to know where to begin. Being a martial arts freak, I had been following this film through its production stages and I was not disappointed with the end result.

The story is a tale of one mans redemption through violence. It is here where the fun begins – the fight scenes are kept to a more real approach opposed to going for the wire work ballet found in a huge back catalogue of hong kong flicks and many recent Hollywood outings. Favouring a more UFC/ K-1 approach, the fights have a gritty edge and the hero played by an enigmatic 'Dominique Vandenberg' who demonstrates a legit martial arts prowess! Vandenberg plays it very cool as Jack Severino/ El Yanqui and Steven Bauer puts in a very respectable performance as his manager and friend. The shoot-outs are wonderfully brutal, special mention to the end blaze of glory which is an almost tongue in cheek effigy to the high grossing action films of the 80s and a few classic samurai flicks.

The tone of the movie is set by a distinct quote.

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." And this is exactly what Director 'Jesse Johnson' does with a great passion for action. On a reported budget of $500,000.00 (aka nowt!) he has deftly crafted a intriguing tale of brotherhood, vendetta and redemption through violence.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
12 minute adrenaline ride of kinetic violence with a moral undertone that plays deftly with the shadow it casts, 29 July 2003

Over the last 20 years, there have been many attempts to satirise the current state of today's de-sensitised generation. Films based around the machinations of a corporate and society driven sickness are usually cast aside with humour that the possibility is too grotesque. Death Row the tournament is a featurette of sorts that re-iterates that we do live in an increasingly de-sensitised environment and breathes a pleasant hollywoodesque formula into the equation. As a short film, its a 12 minute adrenaline ride of kinetic violence with a moral undertone that plays deftly with the shadow it casts. The director's narrative and eye for detail (example - when guns are fired, the violence is re-iterated in the cannon like sound - not seen in much work since John Woo's early days and Ridley Scott's Bladerunner and Black Rain) work at a swift pace that works well with the genre. I look forward to seeing some higher budget longer features from Mr Johnson.

The camera work and editing are slick and are given a reality feel to them which works well with theme. The only drawback is the fact that it is only 12 mins long and the actors do not get a chance to shine. The lead looks to be a potential candidate for a new action hero on his abilities alone.

Please note that this is a short film - which is a shame, cos it has the makings and idea to be a big hit if people saw a longer product (all merits remaining equal).

Best indie short I've seen in a long time!