After going back and forth, I finally decided to see Rocky Handsome opening night. It was good! Well, it was okay. It was confused, is what it was. It was a really good East Asian style action movie, but with a couple of songs grafted onto it. And John Abraham. And Shruti Haasan who, thankfully, only had one line of dialogue.
So far as I can tell from looking at the stills (I haven’t actually seen it), this was almost a shot for shot remake of the Korean original. It felt like a Korean film too. Or at least, a Korean-Hong Kong-Thai film. I’ve seen a total of two Korean movies, and two Thai movies, and a couple dozen Hong Kong. What seems unique about them, to me, is that they have only the briefest sketches of plots. A whole relationship will be conveyed in a glance or one line of dialogue. It’s not that they lack depth or dimension, it’s that they excel in conveying all kinds of things without saying or showing them explicitly.
(Okay, it’s not exactly the same. In Korea, the window frame is black)
And often these brief sketches of plots serve to support awesome action sequences. Which this movie has in spades! I was actually really impressed with John Abraham in this. I’d seen him in plenty of fight scenes before, but more kind of throwing chairs around sort of over the top Indian style fights. But this was tight complicated hand to hand combat. It was fast and precise with minimal movements, and he did it really really well! Of course, my cynical friend pointed out that post-production was probably used to smooth things out and speed things up. But still!
If the fights are the highlight of East Asian films, of course the songs are the highlights of Indian films. I was kind of surprised how well they managed to integrate the songs into this kind of gritty plot. The only one that really stood out was the first one, the one with Shruti Haasan. And, brilliantly, it is introduced by her only line of dialogue in the whole film. Well, two lines. John Abraham flashes back to her standing on the balcony in the rain. He goes up (in the flashback) and asks “What are you doing?” She says “Enjoying the rain.” “How filmi!” and then, as the song starts up in the background, she says “It’s about to get really filmi, I’m going to start singing!” And, Song!
The one saving grace for this song, besides the spot on meta dialogue introducing it, is that it takes place in the first five minutes of the film. They definitely just wanted to do it and get it over with. And then be all realistic almost real time for the rest of the film.
Setting aside the one stupid song, I think I would actually recommend this movie. Not necessarily as an Indian movie. But more as an overall good action movie. Well-shot, good fight scenes, clear plot. Not as good as John Wick or Hard-Boiled or Ong-Bak (well, what is?), but still pretty good! And definitely different for Indian film.