Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Short Film Review: Magnetic

Rogue Agent “Dark Suit” (Alexander Hashioka-Oatfield) is finally tracked down by Rookie Agent “Light Suit” (Jessie Bayani).  The game appears to be up as “Dark Suit” has his hands up against a wall and is being frisked by “Light Suit.”  “Dark Suit” suddenly gets the drop on his less experienced counterpart, disarming him.  A pitched battle ensues in the tiny space as “Light Suit” struggles to regain the upper hand over his prey.  In the end, only one agent will walk away from this alive.

Magnetic is a single fight scene freed from the albatross of story and character.  It’s not part of a larger whole, and doesn’t really use the fisticuffs to tell a story or make a statement.  Yet, it still makes for compelling viewing.  LBP Stunts Chicago infuses the proceedings with emotion. They also have inventiveness to spare.

A good example of LBP’s ingenuity takes place at the 1:00 mark, were director Emmanuel Manzanares indulges his inner Sergio Leone a bit.  During a brief pause while “Dark Suit” recovers from a low blow, both combatants realize that “Light Suit’s” semi-automatic pistol is lying on the floor just behind him.  The clock ticks as both men inch slowly towards it (though “Light Suit” clearly has the advantage).  In semi-Leone fashion, the scene milks the resulting suspense for all it’s worth.  All that’s missing are the super-extreme close-ups and the Ennio Morricone music.  The brooding track by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross resembles Brad Fiedel’s score for The Terminator films.    

Things take a bloody turn when “Light Suit” brutally gains the upper hand at the 2:25 second mark.  When he delivers the finishing move at the three minute mark, the moment is reminiscent of a similar one from Bloodsport.  Jessie Bayani has an evil grimace on his face similar to that of Bolo Yeung’s villainous character Chong Li.  That little touch adds a bit of ambiguity to the proceedings.  Looking at the names of the characters, one might assume that Emmanuel Manzanares is following the “White Hat/Black Hat” dichotomy found in the American Western.  Bayani might be wearing the proverbial White Hat, but would a good guy relish in finishing off a downed opponent in such a vicious manner?  Magnetic offers no context as to why “Dark Suit” became a rogue agent, so there’s no way to know if he actually deserves the horrible fate that befalls him.

There’s a school of thought that says action is both boring and meaningless when it isn’t driven by story and character.  These little vignettes from LBP Stunts Chicago go a long way in disproving that theory.  They actually make one curious to find out just what transpired between these two to bring them to this point.  Magnetic is yet another spunky little vignette from LBP.  I swear I could watch a feature length DVD compilation of these and never get bored, though an actual story tying them all together would be nice.  

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