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One Percenter (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000225168
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 24/3/2024 18:51
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    Review for One Percenter

    7 / 10


    I had to double-take when Third Window Films announced One Percenter. They’re certainly eclectic when it comes to the films that they release, but they tend to go for the cult, the classic, and the quirky. To what my mind seemed like a straight up action flick seemed out of their wheelhouse; there are plenty of other boutique labels specialising in that genre. Then the film started, and I realised that it’s one of those films about making films, which is something I’ve come to expect from Third Window Films, so normal service was resumed, or rather never interrupted.

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    However, I wasn’t immediately enthused by One Percenter. It is after all, a Tak Sakaguchi vehicle. I first encountered Tak Sakaguchi in Deadball and Yakuza Weapon, both gory and goofy cult action comedies, and quite a bit of fun. A few years after that, I viewed Re:Born, where the actor had Prince style renamed himself as Tak ⸫, and invented his own shoulder-hunched, slap-happy close quarters fighting style, and it seemed to me that he wanted to be the Japanese John Wick, but instead came across as more a late career Steven Seagal instead. So I’m not in the right place to watch One Percenter...

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    Toshiro Takuma is an action movie actor whose glory days are past, with his one hit movie, Birth, ten years behind him. He’s also got a difficult reputation, stemming from him championing realism in action as opposed to the effects driven wire-fu that passes for action in modern films. After one more debacle on the set of a chanbara flick, two of his action team quit, leaving apprentice Akira alone to support his mentor. But that’s the nudge that Toshiro needs to go it alone, and finally make the movie that he dreams of. All he needs is a producer and a decent location. An abandoned zinc factory on an empty island would be ideal, only that unscrupulous producer has double-booked it with another production. But all bets are off when a gang of ruthless yakuza show up, looking for a few tonnes of cocaine. Yet Toshiro sees a chance to put all those lessons about realistic action he’s been teaching his apprentice to use.

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    One Percenter gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Japanese track and optional English subtitles. The film wears its digital nature on its sleeve, with occasional softness and contrast not too hot in darker scenes. It is clear and sharp though, but sharing that John Wick aesthetic once more, of muted colours, and grading to within an inch of monochrome in certain scenes. The audio is fine, nice and immersive and bringing the action across well, and driving the film with some appropriate music. The subtitles are timed accurately and are free of typos.

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    The disc boots to an animated menu, and you’ll find the following extras.

    Making Of (25:23)
    Trailer Reel (3:23)
    Audio Commentary with Arne Venema & Mike Leeder

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    An action movie actor having to step up for real... I was getting JCVD vibes from One Percenter, even if Tak Sakaguchi isn’t playing a version of himself (or is he?). But there is an element of self-deprecation that made me warm to One Percenter more than I did with Re:Born. Of course the film lost me with its central proposition, that realistic action is better than choreographed and stylised action. I’ve grown up watching the kind of films that the main character berates here, and I rarely appreciate the gritty realistic style of movie fighting. It is hard to get right, to make it look good on screen. The close quarters combat of the Bourne Identity, with a hint of shaky-cam looked good; they somehow lost the knack in the Bourne sequels. Basically, I need to see the story of a fight to get into it, and modern action movies tend to lose that in favour of spectacle.

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    The set-up for One Percenter is interesting, the characters are introduced and developed in an engaging way, and I was getting into the film until we get to the island, and the yakuza appeared. Compared to Re:Born, there isn’t an overdose of characters here, and the few notable antagonists are developed well. But then the action hits, one man against the mob in the abandoned factory, and once more we get Tak Sakaguchi’s trademark fighting style which I find eminently uninteresting, visually speaking. He’s dodging bullets and mowing his way through countless masked minions (to re-use stunt performers) in that shoulder-hunched slap-happy way, and for all the realism demanded by the character, I can’t take it seriously. Re:Born was a Commando clone that had me popping the Commando disc in straight after. Last night I was longing to watch Die Hard instead.

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    Once the villains realise that they have a martial arts fly in their ointment, they take to calling him Jackie (the way Gruber calls McClane ‘John Wayne’ in Die Hard’), and one of the end-bosses is a Jeet Kune Do practitioner. Now I would pay good money to see a Jackie Chan versus Bruce Lee confrontation. This isn’t it. I was ready to dismiss this film, but it manages to pull something out of the hat with its conclusion... which I’m not going to spoil here. Suffice it to say that it is the kind of twist that will have you “rewinding” the disc and watching the whole movie over again, there and then, to see the story in a new light. Thankfully at 85 minutes, that is a realistic prospect, and the characteristically enthusiastic audio commentary from Arne Venema and Mike Leeder will get you watching it once more. Set 4½ hours aside for this disc.

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    Structurally, and in terms of story, One Percenter is a film worthy of your time. It’s just that I’m not a fan of this particular style of action, which would normally defeat the purpose for me. It’s just that twist... One Percenter is available direct from Arrow Video, from Terracotta, and from most mainstream retailers.

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