Monday, March 23, 2015



Awaken - 92 min - Not Yet Rated

I had the opportunity to see a sneak peek of Awaken. It's a great action romp with some twists. This movie is a mixture of Lost and El Mariachi. There are some kick-ass fight scenes with a tragic backstory. I really had a good time watching it. Check your brain at the door, stock up on cold beer and sit back and enjoy this green light 70's exploitationesque independent film.

Billie(Nataile Burn) wakes up on a beach, unaware of where she is or how she got there. While trying to get her bearings she finds a woman who is running from soldiers. She gets swept up with a group of castaways who are just like her, stranded on this island for nefarious reasons. The leader of the castaways, Quentin (Robert Davi), tries to keep them clam and together. The Leader of the soldiers, Sarge (Vinnie Jones), works for Rich (Jason London) a merchant of unusual products. Billie works with some of the castaways who don't want to just get by. She struggles to get answers to why her search for her sister has brought her to the island.

This is a total guy’s movie. I don't know what I was expecting when I read the description but it wasn't this. Beautiful women, awesome fight scenes and a huge gun fight. The fist fighting seemed very organic and flowed naturally from block to counter to punch. It also had the right tempo and ferocity of action. They didn't hold back in any of those scenes.

There are some really good flashbacks between Billie and her father played by Benny Urquidez. They show us where Billie got her fighting skills. They also show how Billie gets to be so tough. We see her father choke her out so she can keep her wits about her when someone tries this for real.

There are two story elements that I would have changed. Rich has a business deal with Mao (Daryl Hannah). In one scene, Mao examines Rich’s product from a security monitor. That scene would have been better if Mao did it in the presence of the product. When she is demanding only the best for her daughter, it would really add to the tension of the scene.

Also, one of Billie’s companions is an ex-military man named Stitch (Daz Crawford). He's a big guy and you would think he would be good in a fight but he is not as experienced as Billie. We find out right before the big fight that he isn't who he makes himself out to be. I think this interaction and confession should have come much sooner in the story so the audience has time to make a connection with him and feel more for him. That would make his actions in the final fight so much more impactful.

I was expecting more of a fight between Mao and Billie. With Daryl Hannah's experience in Kill Bill I was ready for a huge fight. That would have been epic. The end fight was more focused on the psychologically damage that Mao was going through. She is a broken crime boss roaming through the battle like a zombie capping Rich's gang. I would have her go through and kill indiscriminately, shooting whoever was in sight. That would have made the final confrontation between Billie and Mao way more suspenseful.

The director/writer Mark Atkins made some choices in the film that I respect. A movie like this typically has a lot of nudity or at least topless scenes. The choice to focus on the film’s strengths and not have any is really great. There are times in the story where this would have been an easy choice they don't even go there. I know, I may have to give up my Man card… heh who am I kidding? I don't have one, I am too much of a feminist. I appreciate the movie making the choices that it did, and showing us a very strong female central character.

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