Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Movie Review: MFKZ

MFKZ ** ½ / *****
Directed by: Shôjirô Nishimi and Guillaume 'Run' Renard.
Written by: Guillaume 'Run' Renard and Baljeet Rai (English adaptation) 
Starring: Kenn Michael (Angelino), Vince Staples (Vinz), Dino Andrade (Willy), Michael Chiklis (Crocodile), Giancarlo Esposito (Mr. K), Jorge R. Gutiérrez (El Tigre), Dascha Polanco (Luna), RZA (Shakespeare), Danny Trejo (Bruce), Antonio Alvarez (El Diablo).
MFKZ – aka Mutafukaz – is an ultraviolent Japanese/French animated coproduction, that traffics in stereotypes and revels in bloodlust, and yet, is also somewhat clever and fun – at least in short bursts. It is a film that has so many different plot threads, which is interesting since the film doesn’t seem to care about any of them. It’s much interested in looking cool and spilling blood, which it does pretty well. The plot itself really doesn’t go anywhere and kind of plods along at a snail’s pace, just really there to get us to the next violent shootout or chase sequence. Taken on its own its term, the film can be kind of fun – and I probably would like it a lot more if I were a 15-year-old boy, who could fool himself into thinking the film was in some way subversive or daring. It really isn’t – but it’s still kind of cool, if it’s your thing – and you can convince yourself that the stereotypes in the film aren’t really that harmful.
The plot, such as it is, centers on Angelino who may best be described as looking like Marvin the Martian would look without his helmet – a giant, round all black head, witch huge white eyes. He lives in DMC – Dead Meat City – in a Cockroach infested apartment with his best friend Vinz, who is a skull, without a bottom jaw (who can still talk) and flames coming out of the top of his head – and yet is somehow not very threatening. Their only other friend is Willy – a profane, hyperactive cat with braces who is constantly either throwing up or having diarrhea. The plot seems to be set in motion when Angelino gets run over on his scooter while at his pizza delivery job – distracted when he sees a beautiful woman walking down the street. Soon after the Men in Black and the cops are after Angelino – for reasons that will only gradually become clear – and they aren’t out to arrest him – they want to kill him. There will be many car chases – including one in an ice cream truck – and many shootouts, including one in Palm Hills – City of Bangers – which is probably filled with the most egregious stereotypes in a film full of them – including a banger who quotes Shakespeare.
If you want to turn off your brain, and just see the animation – which does look distinctive at least, and is done with style and skill, and the bloody action sequences – which do have an impressive range to them (the film doesn’t repeat its action beats too much) – that MFKZ can be a fun film. But it’s also a film that wears you down a little as you watch it – it’s all just too much, and turned up to 11 from the get go, and never really slows down. It wants to fill every frame with so many eye popping things, every line with a joke. The film is so aggressive and in your face from the word go, that it’s pretty much impossible to sit back and enjoy the film. It’s even less so when you think of all the racial stereotypes on display – made worse by the fact that none of the characters are all the interesting – and certainly none of the stereotypically drawn characters are (I didn’t even mention the Mexican wrestlers yet).
I can see the audience for the film – the comic that inspired it. It’s for teenage boys who want to feel edgy and smart, and see a lot of blood and gross out humor. Its tailor made for them – and they will love the film, if they see it. For the rest of though, it’s more of a curiosity piece at best.

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