In sum, this film has good acting, it's a decent story, and it has a plot steady enough to keep your attention. Perfect for Netflix and chill.
Message from the King (2016)
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In sum, this film has good acting, it's a decent story, and it has a plot steady enough to keep your attention. Perfect for Netflix and chill.
As the film begins, we aren't really given any real introduction to our protagonist. Mysterious, quiet and observant, Jacob King (Chadwick Boseman) arrives in Los Angeles like almost anyone else, looking for something. Yet, unlike the many eager young people searching the streets of Los Angeles for fame and fortune, Jacob is just looking for his younger, beautiful sister Bianca (Sibongile Mlambo), who, in fact, came to Los Angeles for the fame and fortune dream. Unfortunately, Bianca's beauty attracted the wrong crowd of people, and Bianci soon found herself at the tail end of the needle, which lead her buried in the garbage in a nearby dumpster. Jacob, upon arrival, soon learns of Bianca's death at a nearby morgue. Shaken and saddened, and with the help of Bianca's druggie neighbour Trish (Natalie Martinez), Jacob begins a decent of vengeance in the primal criminal underworld of Los Angeles.
Message from the King is an interesting film, in the grand scheme surrounding its star, Chadwick Boseman. Boseman, who was recently cast as the Black Panter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon, is really given a fine opportunity to prove his action chops with this film. Luckily, Boseman doesn't disappoint, even while being able to practice his South African accent, using the same coach he's been using for his upcoming standalone Black Panter film being directed by the supremely young and talented filmmaker Ryan Coogler. Boseman, who adapts more of a brooding Clint Eastwood like hero, the stranger from afar, who comes to a local town to wreck havoc of justice and morality, taking down anything and anyone in his way.
Apart from having a stellar cast with the likes of Teresa Palmer as the unsuspecting helpful neighbour Kelly, to the shady dentist Dr. Wentworth, played excellently by the square-jawwed Luke Evans, to a small role for Tom Felton, playing Bianca and Trish's drug dealer Frankie, to the always impressive Alfred Molina playing the super rich and super sketchy movie producer Preston, Du Welz assembles a cast of very high caliber, delivering an action-thriller piece with many motives, intricate pieces and endless conspiracies.
One of the most exciting elements of the revenge-thriler genre, especially new films placed within this very rich and lasting cannon, is finding out what exactly the protagonist's weapon of choice is going to be. Du Welz along with his screenwriters Stephen Cornwall and Oliver Butcher, decide for Mr.King, nothing other than a bike chain. Yup, you heard me right, a damn bike chain. The same kind of chain that used to dirty your hands when the chain found itself off the gears of your bicycle, Mr.King walks through the front door of all the baddies hideouts with nothing other than a bike chain, while everyone else is armed with knives, guns and clubs, King avenges his sister's death by chaining each and everyone of these generic baddies to a pulp. One of the most memorable baddies in the film, Zico (Lucan Melkonian), who, after a first encounter with Mr.King, goes to Dr.Wentworth for some reconstructive jaw surgery, dawns a clear face mask, which makes Zico's fight sequences with Jacob all the more terrifying, exciting and monster-esque.
While many came out of the World Premiere of Message From the King with a very Blade Runner nostalgic feeling, I couldn't help but see the very unarguable similarities to Refn's Drive, a brooding, atmospheric action piece that is much revenge-thriller, as it is character study. While both protagonists in both these films are given less than expected back-stories, it does become clear that love is the greatest motivation for vengeance.
As King comes to the end of his onslaught of revenge for his sisters death, there is a very skeptical tone in the film, where the audience questions Jacob's keen investigating, combat and sneaking skills, especially when King answers that he is a taxi driver in the opening frames of the film, during the customs interrogation scene. While I won't dear ruin the ending and the comprehension of King's skills, Du Welz does a fantastic job of engaging the audiences in all the triumphs and pitfalls of King's journey, despite some absorbingly disturbing revelations.
While Message From The King isn't a perfect film, audiences can be sure to understand that each and every one of the characters presented surely have all their own agendas planned. Some of them, in pursuit of wealth, others, in pursuit of power, while Jacob and Kelly are only after what's deserving of the people who showed Bianca an early funeral and an overall better life and peace amongst themselves.
Those who imagine the Los Angeles metropolis to be idealistically beautiful, they should adjust that view after watching "Message from the King". The less beautiful part of Los Angeles is used here. An impoverished neighborhood where the vast majority of residents live in poverty and where crime and drugs are an obvious part of society. Ash gray ghettos full of human suffering. And that's being emphasized by drizzly weather. The crowded mortuary is a reflection of these fading slums. A collection of nobodies who died because of an overdose, madness (drowned in a bathtub as an imaginary fish) and gang violence.
This is what Jacob King (Chadwick Boseman) faces when he arrives in L.A. The reason why he's staying in the city of angels is the sudden disappearance of his younger sister Bianca (Sibongile Mlambo). Soon he discovers the sore situation his sister got herself into and what it did to her : she earned a spot in the mortuary with a name tag on her big toe. The search for the murderers of his younger sister brings him in touch with all kind of figures. Trish (Natalie Martinez) the loyal neighbor points him in the right direction after which he meets a violent gang of Balkan criminals run by a certain Zico (Lucan Melkonian). Then there's the rich dentist Wentworth (Luke Evans) and the wealthy movie producer Preston (Alfred Molina). And let me tell you. Some of them are getting to know the bicycle chain he just bought, in a less pleasant way.
For Jacob, these L.A. neighborhoods probably still look like charming neighborhoods compared to where he comes from. His sister Bianca, his deceased brother Isaac and Jacob himself, lived the largest part of their life in South Africa in the Cape Flat townships, a sandy area south of Cape Town and better known as "Apartheid's dumping ground". A dilapidated community where gangs rule. Both in the slums and in prison. Such as "The Number Gangs". Isaac was a member of this notorious gang, until his death. Reason enough for Bianca to turn her back on her home country and to seek salvation in the United States.
You could say this movie is a cheaper version of "The Equalizer" with Boseman having an equal personality as Denzel Washington. A cold-blooded but alert person who has control over his violent eruptions and who accurately follows the traces to solve the criminal puzzle in the end. However, the ultimate motive remains quite mysterious. Perhaps the only minus I could find in this hard-core, ultra-dark movie. In fact, it's an ordinary revenge film that differs slightly from others because of its quirky atmosphere and tone. And afterwards I discovered the film was directed by a fellow countryman : Fabrice du Welz. Maybe that's why this movie displays a kind of willfulness.
Even though this action-flick is soaked by cliché elements (corrupt policemen, a cunning politician and a prostitute (Teresa "Lights Out" Palmer) who plays the Good Samaritan), you can speak of a stylish end product. No explicit violence scenes (the result is usually more explicit than the action itself) and a few star-like interpretations like that of Teresa Palmer. But especially Chadwick Boseman impressed. A man with few words, but hard negotiating techniques. From the very first instance, I was fascinated by him. In my opinion, this is yet again a rough diamond that simmers on Netflix undiscovered. Don't let anybody stop you from watching this when you bump into it somewhere, because this will surely surprise you.
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For the ones you who are going to watch this on Netflix at home, be shocked for the ending.
It was the acting that was pretty decent, though, as well as the portrait of the city as a corrupt place that feeds on hope and takes it all away. The "message from the king" is that you may have a lot of money and live in a big rich place and still be just as rotten as the most crime ridden places in Africa.
Bottom line: a linear and predictable story that only highlighted the good acting and subtle message on the background.
I enjoyed this cracker. I knew, where the story was going and then the story takes a side step. Which leaves you like mmmm OK and then your back to where you thought the story was going.
Now my issues, the accent was too strong or low. Which stopped certain scenes from connecting. Also I'm not going to lie a car chase scene and some one liners would have made it Fire. And the action needed more multi angles (point of view shots). But this would add 1000s to budget and editing time. Modern film making is control by numbers, like most products today. So, I am not disappointed and I cant wait for this teams next project.
Apart from that very good watch. Casting and performances were strong. If you like films like taken with a touch of born identity. Then this is the Netflix title for you. One the best crime action dramas on Netflix today.
Message From The King is a very personal take on the revenge film genre, kind of similar to Taken, but less Hollywood. The message, to be clear, is pain.
Chadwick Boseman plays King, a black man from South Africa who shows up in the US to visit his sister, who is apparently living there.
You can immediately understand that while the two siblings were close, they must have had some family issues that have now prevented from keeping close still. This is done without words, just by Acting(tm).
King finds his sister's roommate, and we immediately understand that something bad has happened, she must have fallen in with the wrong crowd.
King, who seems to be a young man of little means, proves himself to be a spectacular investigator and soon finds out what has happened and who needs some punishment. And he does bring on the bad people a great good deal of punishment, but not in a Hollywood "fire and brimstone" kind of way, but rather closer to the way you had that fight in highschool and nothing went as planned but in the end you won and the other guy lost.
THIS is how you do grief. THIS is how you do real in a film. Boseman puts in some real effort and the result is tangible, helped by the fantastic direction and camera-work that frame the emotions rather than the script.
Message From the King is a bit limited in scope, true. Guy goes on revenge. OK, but what is remarkable is that it uses good filmmaking and acting techniques to advance the story, instead of "good guy dodges bullets, bad guy's car explodes", which is, in my opinion, the reason why the rating is so low.
Watch this film. If you don't like it, you'll know exactly what type of movie-goer you are.
My vote: a solid 7.5/10 and hopefully we'll see more of Boseman.
Chadwick Boseman plays Jacob King, a man traveling back from South Africa to search for his sister Bianca had gone missing and goes on a chase through those she knew personally for answers of her whereabouts and even resulting in violent acts in the process. Chadwick himself does fine in the role, as most of the time he is spent stoic and a man of few words. Luke Evans makes a surprise role connected to the antagonists, and while his cool persona helps the role, his character gets really annoying fast as a dentist where literally no character doesn't talk about their teeth while their around him. "You can really learn about a man when you see his teeth." That is a real line. In a movie that's supposed to be a action thriller.
Another big issue is the pacing of this movie. Even at a 103 minute runtime, it takes entirely too long for any engaging action to occur (there's only 2 action scenes in the whole movie), and the plot and writing isn't engaging enough to warrant it's slow burn storytelling. But the film really flies off the rails in the third act with the main antagonist and you find out about his shady business involving someone young, it felt disgusting and really out of place for what the films main motivation.
Message from the King was one I had hope for, but I found out halfway, this wouldn't leave a good impact. The direction and writing is choppy, despite some decent performances from Chadwick and Luke. I just feel King deserved better and I'm hoping I'm right in February.
Unfortunately (on my opinion) the final result suffers the destiny of many TV movies: a plot doomed by annoying logical holes, an unkempt sequence of events and an (even more disturbing) insufficient development of key characters
Too many good actors for a missed opportunity.
I had really high hopes for this film based on the trailers. Possibly too high. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had none.
This movie left me with a lot of questions, but before we get to that I want to say some of the things I enjoyed.
- A story with black characters not based on traditional stereotypes! That I know of anyway. I'm not South African.
- The siblings tattoo idea. I like the symbolism (intended or not) of how each sibling ends up seeing, hearing, or speaking evil.
- Great cast overall. Would not change the chemistry.
- The use of a bike chain as a weapon.
- The good guy didn't really win, and probably made certain characters lives worse. I'm a bit torn though as well because we're still seeing more whites 'win' than black in movies...so as much as I like the end, it was bittersweet.
- Armand. For some reason he turned into my favorite character even though he had no lines.
That being said...
The story did not seem to know how it wanted to tell itself. There were several . I don't know if this was writer or director error, or if it was intentional, but the lack of certain realism pulled me from the movie and kept me from my usual suspension of reality.
First: The border security...like what? He got let into the country after not answering any questions? He got moved to an interrogation room and wasn't finger printed? They would have known he was a detective. I don't understand his need to lie about this. There is no motive. Did he pay someone off to fake his identity? "I am here to visit my sister. I will be staying with her and using the money for food and bus fare. In a week, I will return home." or even "I wanted to see if busking in your country would garner the same results as your young Americans do in my country." would have made more sense.
Second: Hinting a little at why he calls himself The King would have been nice. It was a great line and wish it had been explored more.
Third: How did he not get arrested when he beat up Frankie? The sirens were close. The drugs were mostly used up. I'm sure since it was outside no one else would have been an issue even if they were high because of lack of possession.
Third p2: How on Earth were the cops who arrested him worth 50 grand? They were so bad at their side job. Cops not on the books are violent against blacks in the States. And why the political connection in the story at all? The governor didn't seem to have anything to do with the recording and the dentist was rich enough.
Fourth: If you suspect your business partner in crime is stealing from you...WHY ARE YOU NOT INVESTIGATING? Would it not make more sense to have him followed? And have someone do an independent audit? If he's done it before WHY ARE YOU STILL PARTNERS? And what rings other than drugs were they even in? It seemed like there was only one child molesting (+worse) incident and the rest were prostitutes. Were they trying to break into the underage ring? I don't get it.
Fifth: What was it about the video and Armand that condemned King's sister to death? Why was she tortured instead of just executed? How was she a threat? To whom was she a threat? They hired professionals for this, why?
I felt like sentences were being cut out of a book and pasted together with good inventions. It was not a bad movie by far, but it had a lot missing for me to say I loved it. The potential was there...it just didn't quite make it for me.
Boseman was good, I imagine he used this role to prepare for Black Panther. The accent and everything.
The story's obvious and the ending predictable, but that still doesn't mean it's not worth watching. Mostly revenge flicks are poorly made. Not the case here.
LA as a monster city might be hell on earth by any North American definition, but I imagine Cape Town (especially Cape Flats) to be actual hell. Now that would've been an interesting movie. One about where King's actually from. Where HE lives (or survives) each day.
Actually pretty good flick. Most Netflix movies aren't worth a mention, but every now and then there's one where they actually get it right. 6.8/10
I would have liked to have seen more of King in Cape Town.
"Message from the King" may have a good plot, but I have to say that my enjoyment of the film is hindered by the strong accent of the lead character. There are times when I hardly can understand him, and I have to guess what he is saying. Other than that, his calm composure, quick reaction time and being street smart make him a memorable character. I wish the film more explicitly tells exactly who he is back in South Africa. Though there is a hint at the end, I am left hoping for more information on the background story.
Now you can imagine that he won't just find them the minute he comes over. What he does find is some friends and quite some trouble. With an interesting choice in "weapon" he goes on to find out what happened. Now if you are a pacifist, you may not like how he approaches certain individuals or how he revolves arguments or how he achieves getting information from certain individuals. But this is a movie and a certain motivation plus determination will lead to a violent resolution. Question is: how well is it made? I'd say more than decent enough. It doesn't add anything really new to the genre, but it is well executed (if you'll excuse the pun) ...
The characters are a large part of what make this film so good. Both the hero and the main villain are well created characters and well cast also. Chadwick Boseman in particular impressed me. He brought a terrific intensity to the film and definitely had you rooting for him and caring about the fate of his character. On that note, this is a very dark film. I can't remember one single piece of comedic relief in the entire run time. It's not a film I can see anyone being blown away by, but it's also a film I couldn't imagine anyone not enjoying.
First of all this movie is made for people that enjoy a nice action movie and don't really care about the plot. At the same time though, it's made for those that love strong emotions, even when they're not romantic ones XD. But be aware, this movie isn't always violent, but when it is, it's pretty gross, which - in my opinion - is the beauty of it, but you may think differently.
All in all I think this movie is a good one, although the side characters and antagonists are all one-dimensional, but then again, if that's not what you're looking for, you're pretty well served.