Marko Zaror may well be the next action hero if The Fist of the Condor is any sign. He exudes the intensity of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and when considering he’s done some of this wrestler’s stunts during his early career in Hollywood, I can see him going far on his own. This actor also knows taekwondo, judo, aikido, and shotokan karate. His skills as a mixed martial artist are perfectly highlighted in this Chilean film, and yes, I’m begging for more! Although the home video release’s behind the scenes feature doesn’t add to what’s planned to the future, what’s spotlighted is a nice look at the effort put to make this work more of a cinematic experience than anything else.
Some of the exotic locations are very basic, but as for lighting it, it’s nice to see that the team wanted to use as much natural resouces to light many shots instead of camera equipment. Thankfully the Asian flavour is not lost because the lead trained under many mentors from various countries.
The only difference is that we have a different type of mountainscape and world Guerrero (Zaror) calls home. Both he and his identical twin brother Gemelo (also played by this actor) wanted to become skilled in the ways of martial arts, as developed by the Incas. While The Condor Woman (Gina Aguad) agrees to teach them, all the standard story tropes are followed. One is impatient and wants to earn his wings right away, and the other the opposite. There’s no surprise that those who exercise patience will find their calling.
And he has two challenges ahead of him. One is his evil twin, and the other is a Kalari warrior (Eyal Meyer). He hails from India and also wants the fabled Book of the Condor. It shows how one can kill with certain deathly strokes. The way Meyer plays this Krugen-like character is intense, and I’m sure while in character, he can give the Klingon Gowron, son of M’Rel from the Star Trek TNG/DS9 series a run for his money. It’s those eyes that say it all, and even I’d be running the other way if I ever saw him in a dark alley!
In what The Fist of the Condor does best is to bring back a much-needed mysticism that modern martial arts films sometimes lack. The way of the Condor is just as spiritual as other meditations, and I loved how it brings to mind the classic teachings from Chinese Kung Fu. Also, the lessons also include how to focus it to improve one’s well-being. The lead sacrificed a lot to master this art, and that also included what looked like abandoning his wife and child. Although this subplot isn’t entirely explored, enough is said to develop where his turmoil continues to test him until that last challenge.
Thankfully, this film doesn’t waste any time to get to the fights. There’s his classical training montages with the world of Chile as the backdrop, and also the various challenges he must face Kung Fu (1972-75) style; I even chuckled at the meta moments because writer/director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza is clearly inspired by it. After watching this film, I definitely want to explore his back catalogue of works since I mostly remember him as one of the many directors who contributed to the horror anthology, The ABC’s of Death, than to know him for his action works.
4 Stars out of 5