Chilean director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza, best known for his 2012 film "Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman," has helmed an exciting but complicated martial arts melodrama, "Redeemer," with actor and fight choreographer Marko Zaror, who earlier collaborated with Espinoza on both "Mandrill" (2009) and "Mirageman" (2007). Mind you, "Redeemer" is not your ordinary martial arts epic, and Zaror's acrobatic martial arts choreography elevates it above the formulaic standards. For example, the hero is a tortured individual. Pardo (Marko Zaror of "Mandrill") plays one-shot Russian roulette with himself on a daily basis. He loads a solitary bullet with a scorpion embossed on the cartridge casing into a revolver with a cross carved into the grips. Pardo's archenemy, Scorpion (José Luís Mósca of "Solteiros"), who stalks him, lives to undermine Pardo's search for redemption. You see, Pardo shot and killed Scorpion's young adolescent son with a bullet through his head. Written by Espinoza and producer Guillermo Prieto, this dubbed thriller develops an interesting storyline, features an entertaining variety of characters, but clocks in at a nimble 90-minutes. Initially, the protagonist Pardo has stopped killing for the cartel and turned himself into a vigilante. Like "The Equalizer," Pardo helps others who cannot possibly fend for themselves. He dresses himself inconspicuously and conservatively in a tattered jacket with a large hood that shadows his face. Typically, he approaches his adversaries and instruct them to bow and pray for forgiveness. Afterward, he knocks them down as if they were tenpins in a bowling alley. While "Redeemer" surpasses most hackneyed martial arts epics, Zaror distinguishes it with his looming, taciturn presence. The way that he stages close quarters combat sequences is often hypnotic and occasionally stunning. For example, an assailant attacks our hero from behind, and Redeemer slam-dunks the villain's head into a boat propeller blade! Espinoza often dilutes these skillful exercises in violence with slow-motion cinematography that aestheticizes their savagery. Pardo is the kind of guy who isn't afraid of contending with more than one opponent. Although his opponents arm themselves with a variety of weapons, they don't stand a chance against him. When Pardo isn't making life miserable for a happy-go-luck American who has come to Chile to become the equivalent of Scarface, he tangles with a worthy adversary, the Scorpion who has a long-standing complaint with him. Predictably, Scorpion and Redeemer resolve their mutual problem, but the resolution is surprisingly exhilarating!
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