FIST OF THE CONDOR Review: You Will Believe This Man Can Fly

Marko Zaror, Eyal Meyer, Gina Aguad, Fernanda Urrejola, and Man Soo Yoon star in a martial arts movie from Chile, directed by Ernesto Diaz Espinoza.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
FIST OF THE CONDOR Review: You Will Believe This Man Can Fly

The guardian of a sacred manual flies high against mighty assassins.

Fist of the Condor (aka El Puño del Cóndor
Opens Tuesday, April 4, exclusively in select Alamo Drafthouse locations, prior to its debut as a Hi-YAH! Original on April 7. Visit the official Well Go USA site for more information.

Fists, feets, legs and arms frequently fly in the newest collaboration between Marko Zaror and Ernesto Diaz Espinoza.

Their first three films together -- Kiltro (2006), Mirageman (2007), Mandrill (2009) -- redefined what to expect from Chile, a nation not necessarily known for its action pictures. Those three films outlined different interpretations of traditional action storytelling, and laid the groundwork for an exciting variety of pictures to come.

Writer/director Espinoza showed his further facility with the nasty and scorching action movie Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman (2012). The actor and director reteamed for Redeemer (2014), while the director dipped into action-comedy with Santiago Violenta (also 2014) and then the straight comedy Fuerzas Especialies 2: Cabos Sueltos (2015). Since then, Zaror has been seen in all kinds of movies and TV shows, but nearly all, I believe, in supporting roles. To be frank, I've lost close track of both of them over the past few years.

Recently, Marko Zaror popped up in John Wick: Chapter 4, and now here comes another reteaming of actor and filmmaker in a movie that's unlike their previous team-ups. By which I mean that Fist of the Condor is an action picture that is a Chilean take on classic martial arts movies from the 1970s and 80s, as well as the semi-classic idea of an actor playing identical twin brothers.

We are introduced to "a sacred manual of deadly fighting techniques" that has been guarded closely for centuries on a certain mountain in Chile. By reputation, the manual holds great power, and the owner will become more powerful than any opponents. Of course, everyone wants it, but few even know where to look.

Twin brothers, both played by Marko Zaror, have sworn to share the secrets of the manual with each other at the completion of the training, in the event that only one of them is selected to receive the training to protect the sacred manual. That is indeed, what happens, with one staying and the other leaving, but things do not go as they originally planned, leading to fight upon fight upon fight.

Choosing to present the action and training sequences in the style of classic martial arts movies gives Fist of the Condor a familiar framework, which is freshened up with location shooting and fresh angles on the action. Clocking in at less than 90 minutes, it's remarkable how much is achieved, and all the ground that is covered.

Marko Zaror remains an amazing performer who dazzles with his physical dexterity. I've never seen some of the training exercises that are presented, which look to my old eyes as beyond the scope of human ability to perform, yet there they are, shot with wide framing, as if to modestly say, "Yes, that's me. Don't try this at home."

Beyond the dynamic martial arts sequences, which are reason enough to watch the movie, the story is solid, and the two old masters, one in the mountains (Gina Aguad) and one at sea level (Man Soo Yoon), provide good balance for the continuing battle between the twin brothers, and the impassioned followers of "the bad brother." More, please.

Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest Presents will host two special Live Q&A screenings of Fist of the Condor with Marko Zaror in attendance on Tuesday, April 4 at Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan and on Wednesday, April 5 at Alamo Drafthouse Staten Island.

El Puo del Cndor

Director(s)
  • Ernesto Díaz Espinoza
Writer(s)
  • Ernesto Díaz Espinoza
Cast
  • Marko Zaror
  • Eyal Meyer
  • Gina Aguad
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ChileErnesto Diaz EspinozaEyal MeyerFernanda UrrejolaGina AguadMan Soo Yoon. ChileMarko ZarorWell Go USAErnesto Díaz EspinozaAction

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