Michael Scott

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Rendel: Dark Vengeance

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Movie: :2.5stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :1star:
Final Score: :3stars:



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Movie

The superhero genre has become such an ENORMOUS money maker in the last 17 years, or so, that the international market has been slowly trying their own hand at the genre. Last year’s Guardians was a hilariously fun Russian film that mimicked The Avengers in all but name (and had a gatling gun mounted to a giant were-bear, how could you go wrong?), and a few others have trickled in. Now Finland decided that they were going to cash in on the phenomenon and have adopted a new superhero that is reminiscent of The Punisher, The Crow and little bits of Batman as well. All in all, it’s a solid effort from writer/director/actor Jesse Haaja, but Rendel: Dark Vengeance (it was initially just Rendel for the international market, but they added Dark Vengeance to the title for American audiences. Because, as we all know, if you add “Dark” or “Vengeance” to the title it becomes 1,000 times cooler. Especially when you add BOTH words), is a turgid affair whose main fault is being incredibly generic.

We’re introduced to the world if Rendel with our masked vigilante growling into the microphone about how he’s going to be tearing up the criminal underworld like it’s a bad term paper. Cut forward to some flashbacks (it doesn’t take much to figure that out) where we see a diminutive guy named Ramo (Kristofer Gummerus) getting fired from his job after promising his lovely wife and daughter the world (uh oh, I think we know where this is going). The evil criminal organization VALA messes around with some vaccines (choking out supply so they can make bank), and we are introduced to the villains of the movie. Mainly the mob boss’s son, Rotikka (Rami Rusinen), who looks like he just got out of a ZZ Top concert. Rotikka and his thugs run into trouble when Rendel comes careening out of the night sky and starts destroying his business.

Doing the only logical thing he can do, Rotikka and his father hire a squad of insane assassins (there’s a simply hilarious scene where the main assassin, Radek, is assembling his goons from inside of a prison that almost has to be seen to be believed) to hunt down and take care of the problem. Only thing is, Rendel is a wrecking ball of violence. Tearing through the assassin, he makes a beeline for Rotikka and his father, destroying everything in his path to do so. There’s a small sub plot about the obligatory reporter (cute blonde of course) trying to put together a dossier on Rotikka and the VALA organization, but that is mainly thrown in there to mark off a check box, as she pretty much is only there to patch Rendel up for the final battle between himself and Rotikka.
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For all the jokes and chuckles I’m getting from the film, Rendel: Dark Vengeance is surprisingly fun for a low budget film that almost feels like it was a fan film of some sort. The hyper violence and silent brutality of the hero is refreshing midst a plethora of spandex wearing, monologue spouting superheros from traditional films of the same genre. He’s quick, brutal, and just tears through bad guys like paper mache dolls with gusto. But……...at the end of the day the film is just a remake of countless other origin stories. There are elements of The Crow and The Punisher thrown in (well, any dark vigilante story, as it’s the traditional “oh, my family was killed and now I’m off and dressing up in black leather as I kill everyone who murdered my family!), with our hero’s identity being blatantly obvious from the first few minutes of the film. Even though it seems to WANT to hide that fact from us, Jesse Haaja doesn’t cover his tracks up at all, as we’re already clued into the fact that Ramo is Rendel (which means “Order” in Hungarian) from the minute we see the black motorcycle jacket he receives at the beginning of the film on Rendel when he slaughters all the bad guys. The same can be said for his ethereal partner, who looks exactly like his wife with some extra make-up on. However, that’s not exactly a bad thing. It allows us to accept who Rendel is from the get go, and allows us to just revel in the fact that he’s messing up some very bad people.

Haaja honestly tries his hardest (he even plays the bartender in the film as a cameo), but the dialog and the directing are very generic. He copies the origins path that EVERY major superhero starts with, and the entire movie is so predictable that even I started to get a bit frustrated. Personally, I felt that the movie would have been better served by having Rendel skip the origins story and just get down to business. We really have zero need to see Ramo morph into the killer, as it’s much more engaging to just watch act as an unstoppable force of nature. His pyschotic issues with the ethereal little “muse” of his was really neat, but at the end of the day this was a low budget foreign knockoff of already established super heroes, complete with the opening monologue and standing on top of a giant building overlooking the city at the end.




Rating:

Not Rated by the MPAA




Video: :3.5stars:
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There’s very little information on the interwebs about what type of cameras were used and what resolution it was finished at, but from what I can see it was mainly using Red EPIC cameras and on set locations for the whole film (there’s almost ZERO shots outside of tightly closed rooms and warehouses). The movie is definitely shot on a shoestring budget, and the movie has a very desaturated and washed out look to it as it is combining low light shoots without a lot of touchup. Faces look failry natural, and up close shots of Grendel’s mask are detailed enough, but the filming style of Haaja just isn’t conducive to a pretty looking film. Shout Factory’s encode is more than capable, with only minimal banding as the digital artifact that shows up now and again. Again, as I said, not something I would complain about with Shout, but rather the movie just isn’t a film that is going to be eye candy due to budget from the filmmakers.





Audio: :4stars:
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The film comes with the standard duo of both 5.1 DTS-HD MA and 2.0 DTS-HD MA track for us to enjoy, and due to the foreign nature of the film we get these options in BOTH Finnish and English. Comparing the mixes it sounds pretty much identical, except for the obvious post dubbing for the English track. A track that uses some hilariously bad voice choices for some of the main characters, so once again I will choose the original Finnish track as my choice to listen to. Dialog is clean and clear, and bass hits hard when the action starts. There’s a lot going on with rain pouring down around our super hero, and bullets blasting all around in big warehouses. it’s not an incredibly NUANCED sound track, but it handles the action well and everything comes through clean and clear.






Extras: :1star:
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• Behind the Scene Featurette with an interview with Writer/Director Jesse Haaja









Final Score: :3stars:


Rendel had potential, and Haaja really did give it his all, but I just couldn’t muster up enough enthusiasm to match his with all of the generic story telling tropes and low budget acting/effects/costuming going on. The film sets itself up for a sequel, so I’m actually hoping that the first time director can get past the standard “origins” cliches and morph his violent super hero into something a bit more interesting the second go around. Shout Factory’s Blu-ray is well done, albeit there is only one special feature on the whole disc (which has witer/director Jesse Haaja excitedly explaining his vision to us). An interesting, if not flawed, flick that makes for an interesting rental for those interested in how people outside the U.S.A. deal with superheros. Rental for sure.





Technical Specifications:

Starring: Bianca Bradey, Alina Tomnikov, Jesse Haaja
Directed by: Jesse Haaja
Written by: Jesse Haaja, Rekka Lehtosaari
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0, Finnish DTS-HD MA 5.1, Finnish DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Shout Factory
Rated: NR
Runtime: 108 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 30th, 2018







Recommendation: Rental

 
Last edited:

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. Per your suggestion, I will rent this one. :)
 

Todd Anderson

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Can't do this one... I have a sneaking suspicion that I'd hit stop halfway through the flick.
 
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