Dir: Alejo Mo-Sun
Starring: Wes Bentley, Julian Sands, Jessica Szohr, Angus Macfadyen
I really knew nothing about Hirokin before watching the film, I had seen a brief trailer and that was about it. From the trailer the film looked as if it was well made, it certainly looked nice visually; I just had no idea on the story. As I watched it unfold, it reminded me of a lot of other films while still doing its own thing. This is a pretty solid effort and entry into the sci-fi/fantasy genre, it stands out with the good performances from its well-known cast.
The story here is quite extensive, there is a lot to explain going in. There is text at the beginning to explain the background (I had to read it a few times to actually grasp the concept), and rather than go into that I’ll try keep this simple in describing the plot. Hirokin is set on a planet where humans are now scavengers; the place looks like a wasteland, a post-apocalyptic one. It is ruled by an evil viceroy named Griffin (Julian Sands), with fight to the death matches held out in public. There is a rebellion led by Moss (Angus Macfadyen), and their group gains strength with the lone warrior Hirokin (Wes Bentley) who joins them. Out for revenge Hirokin hones in his skills with the sword, to eventually take on Griffin and his men and free the people.
That is the best and most spoiler free way possible I can describe this film; it perhaps is a little too convoluted but this tends to happen with the genre because a back-story needs to be established. In this case I do commend Alejo Mo-Sun the writer and director for not over doing it, and there is enough there to get the idea but not over load things. The plot itself is simple and it has been done before, it is always a fun story to tell. It takes its inspirations from everything from Star Wars to Dune, with as I said its own flavour. There is a lot to like about it, but there are also elements that don’t entirely work. The pacing is a big factor, it is all over the place, and at times it moves so slowly and then picks up at a crazy pace. With that being so uneven, it played with my interest levels a little too much which brought the experience down. Perhaps tighter pacing and the loss of a few non-important scenes may have been beneficial.
The performances here are really solid, Wes Bentley was quite good as our main character. This was a vast improvement over other efforts like Rites Of Passage, and he definitely seems to be on his way back up again with a memorable performance in this years The Hunger Games and Terrance Malick films in his near future. I was surprised at how toned down Julian Sands was for his villain role, and it worked pretty well too. He can sometimes over do it and really ‘chew the scenery’ but he was grounded and enjoyable. Angus Macfayden is great as the mentor type and rebellion leader. He’s a really cool actor and he played it nicely here.
At the end of the day this is a mixed bag, story elements and pacing issues bring it down but other things lift it up. For a low budget film of this sort it looks fantastic, that budget was stretched a long way. The CG was exceptional and it was nicely shot and lit, and rather vibrant as well. This was a solid effort for Alejo Mo-Sun, it stands out above other similar films, something not easy to accomplish.
The Australian DVD:
The DVD I reviewed was a screener, so I am unable to comment on Picture/Audio quality.
DVD details here.
Thanks to Bill, care of Eagle Entertainment for the copy.