Sometimes, movie studios in Hollywood remember that the rest of the world exists — and that they even make those moving pictures things that keep them rolling in the dough year-round. Strange as it seems, them studio boys even occasionally realize that they are fully capable of releasing them there foreign flicks to their American audiences as a way of making even more money. Recently, Fox Home Entertainment launched their first assembling of International films for what they have dubbed their “Fox World Cinema” line. These titles include the Bollywood wonder Dum Maaro Dum, the Chinese martial arts epic The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman, and a little crime drama ditty from Italy, Angel of Evil.
Now, as logic would dictate I talk about these movies in the order I introduced them, I figure I’ll start out with the Italian flick first.
· Angel of Evil (originally released as Vallanzasca – Gli Angeli del Male, 2010)
Of the three titles put out to inaugurate the Fox World Cinema lineup, Angel of Evil is the only one that draws its inspiration from the life and legacy of the extremely dangerous but incredibly charming Milanese bank robber, Renato Vallanzasca. Portrayed here by Kim Rossi Stuart, Renato starts out his career in the ‘70s by holding up the tellers of Milan before moving onto other locations in the forthcoming years. While it might sound like just another average crime drama (though one that actually hails from the pages of Vallanzasca’s biography for a change), Angel of Evil emerges as being a taut piece of cinema, one that really satisfies. It’s also the best by far of this Fox World Cinema trio. Michele Placido directs his feature with precision, with Filippo Timi, Moritz Bleibtreu, Francesco Scianna, and the very beautiful Paz Vega turning in admirable supporting roles. The only major disappointment here is that the DVD’s only supplemental material is limited to a behind-the-scenes featurette.
· The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman (originally released as Dao Jiàn Xiào, 2010)
My initial conception that this was going to be a kung-fu variation of Peter Greenaway’s avant-garde classic The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover turned out to be incorrect. Instead, this martial arts fantasy focuses on the three different owners (you can guess what their professions were by taking another look at the English-language title of the film) of a magical mystical and probably mythical weapon: a seemingly-ordinary cleaver. As we move along from one owner of the blade to the next, we discover how the various owners of the item came to possess their object of desire; we also witness the ordeals many others go through in order to procure it. Above all, though, we learn that the director of The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman — a lad credited as Wuershan — seems to have driven most of his stimulation from modern music videos than anything else, to wit the film devotes more energy into its flashy fight sequences rather than its story.
· Dum Maaro Dum (2011)
And finally, we find ourselves taking in the hallucinogenic atmosphere of the Bollywood-made oddity, Dum Maaro Dum. This Hindi hit from filmmaker Rohan Sippy relays the tale of a hard-hitting cop in Goa with a slightly bent assessment on how to do his job without taking the occasional bribe from the bad guys he has sworn to protect the innocent from. His superfluous income doesn’t prevent ACP Vishnu Klamath (Abhishek Bachchan) from going after the evil drug pushers destroying the lives of the young and old alike. Indian beauty Bipasha Basu is on-hand to provide some eye candy, while Prateik Babbar co-stars as a down-on-his-luck lad who gets mixed up in the mess when his dream of attending an American university bottoms out on account of inadequate funds. Like all Bollywood features, Dum Maaro Dum pulls a couple of song and dance routines out of its belt courtesy award-winning composer Pritam Chakraboty. Bonus materials are limited to a behind-the-scenes featurette and a theatrical trailer.