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After watching their respective partners die, a cop, Detective Taylor Kwon (Suang Kang) and hitman Jimmy Bobo (Sylvetser Stallone) form an uneasy alliance to bring down their common enemies.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Even if you weren't aware that the film is based on a graphic novel (they used to be called comics) its origins are accentuated by Sylvester Stallone's screen presence; he's a real caricature of himself these days, overdeveloped muscles, bulging veins, a growly mumble for speaking with and projecting machismo like an alpha male silverback gorilla. He inhabits characters like Jimmy Bobo with consummate ease, revelling in the licence to talk tough. "We'll give them what they want ... then we kill 'em ..."

The basic plot is a simple revenge story buttoned onto an odd couple buddy movie set in crimeland. Those two elements give the movie its premise, but it's the characters that give it propulsion. Director Walter Hill is in his element; he once said every film he made has been a Western, its economical moral setting which puts the characters beyond the norms we take for granted every day.

Peppered with occasional humour, sparked by the contrast in styles and characters of Jimmy and Detective Taylor - Suang Kang, superb - the screenplay starts off being a bit confusing but the action soon clears the head.

Fights are as tough as you want, with the bulky Jason Momoa as Keegan the enemy thug every bit the match for Stallone. Christian Slater makes a brief but effective appearance as a corrupt New Orleans business operator and the rest of the supporting cast provide an eclectic mix of goons and bad guys, including the novelty of a crippled black dude as crime boss Morel, played with smiling menace by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

The compulsory softspot for tough guy Jimmy is a daughter, Lisa (Sarah Shahi) whose druggie mother has been dead 15 years. Through her the story acquires some additional elements that work really well to increase tension, and the brash, pulsing style of the film works to deliver its compelling storyline.

Review by Louise Keller:
The odd couple pairing of a New York cop and a New Orleans hit man forms the framework of this action-filled shoot-em dead revenge crime thriller in which the cop wants to take 'em in and the hit man wants to take 'em out. Adapted from a graphic novel by French author Alexis Nolent (pen name Matz), the plot, involving a housing project development, big bucks, drugs, politics and police corruption is pretty routine fare. The characterisations and humorous dialogue are the film's most entertaining ammunition, alongside the collision between buff, tough Sylvester Stallone and Conan the Barbarian hunk Jason Momoa, whose climactic clash swinging axes as though they were dancing canes delivers a thrilling and hefty dose of testosterone.

Stallone is almost a caricature of himself, spitting out dialogue as though it is channelled through a gravel-grinder in an echo chamber. The deep-voiced mumbling makes some of the dialogue hard to decipher. But no matter. The script squeezes as much juice as it can from the prickly relationship between Stallone's hit man James Bobo and by-the-book technology-crazy cop Taylor Kwon, played by Korean actor Sung Kang, who does a fair job, but does not have the presence to match Stallone. When they agree, the dialogue between them goes something like: 'You had me at f**k you'. Scenes like the one when Stallone enters a bar clutching his bottle of Bullet Bourbon and offering to pay $20 to rent a glass, works a treat.

Triggers are pulled as frequently as handshakes at a meeting, and bullets find their marks relentlessly. There are big explosions, expensive stunts and a tease of female flesh, in scenes such as the elaborate masked party scene at the home of villainous lawyer Marcus Baptiste's (Christian Slater), where shapely female guests wander and tango naked. Sarah Shahi has sex appeal as Bobo's tattoo artist daughter Lisa, whose one year medical training seems to have made her adept at digging out bullets. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays Robert Nkomo Morel, the baddie whose mantra is not to trust anyone who does not care enough about money. I chuckled when he tells his henchman (played by Momoa), 'When I want your opinion, I'll buy you a brain.'

Set in New Orleans and nicely directed by veteran Walter Hill, Bullet to the Head gallops to its conclusion in a tight and well paced 97 minutes, delivering its promise as it guarantees to satisfy its young male target audience.

Published August 1, 2013

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(US, 2012)

CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Sarah Shahi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Sung Kang, Marcus Lyle Brown, Jon Seda

PRODUCER: Joel Silver, Alfred Gough, Alexandra Milchin, Miles Millar, Kevin King Templeton

DIRECTOR: Walter Hill

SCRIPT: Alessandro Camon (graphic novels by Alexis Nolent)


EDITOR: Timothy Alverson

MUSIC: Steve Mazzaro


RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes





DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Icon Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: August 1, 2013

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