"Look I don't want any trouble, I just want to talk to your boss. And by talk I mean beat up."
A short while ago I was approached by Andrew Thatcher, the writer, director, producer, editor and leading star in the Australian independent martial arts movie Charity Hurts to do a review. This was the first time that I had been asked specifically to do a review for something so I was a bit chuffed, and independent movies can be great fun. Having little budget (or in this case NO budget) limited resources and a cast of entirely amateur actors can often result in a bad film, but what Andrew managed to pull off with a Sony Handycam and a few friends is applaudable.
Jason Jones (Andrew Thatcher) is an every day man that is sick of being constantly harassed by door-to-door charity workers all wanting money for the poor, the blind, the deaf and the pandas. When two girls collecting for their school won't take no for an answer, Jason gets mad. Hilarity and mayhem ensue as Jason uses his fists to solve the charity worker menace but he soon discovers that all charities are in league with each-other - in fact they form an organised mob - and so takes it upon himself to end the menace of charity once and for all by taking out the big boss John Scaglioni (John Tsoutis).
This film is a riot. Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect when I put the DVD in but the sheer passion that Andrew and his co-stars display on screen overwhelms any lack of resources or "professionalism" that one comes to expect from traditional cinema. Most of the cast have at least some form of martial arts skills and Andrew himself also lists among his repertoire Fight Choreographer. Some of the punches and kicks are off target and pushing someone against a chain link fence is done slowly so as not to hurt them, but the skills are all there and on display in earnest. When it comes to resources it's obvious that the local school hall and probably Andrew's own house double as set pieces, and abandoned car parks as fighting arenas. I wonder if some of this was guerrilla film-making at work or if the local council gave the go-ahead? Either way it was quite refreshing to see an action movie being so thrifty.
"I'm gonna stop it one way or another. You've seen my one way - want to try for another?"
The acting is very amateur but honestly I didn't care after the first few minutes. Some of the lines are so hilarious I couldn't imagine a veteran actor delivering them any better (well, apart from Bruce Campbell). The action is delivered in a fast and sometimes brutal fashion. All effects are done with basic computer graphics which is pretty funny itself; lots of flames, bullets and blood explode digitally on the screen. The one exception I noticed was one of the bad guys party tricks of breathing fire. It's not all just martial arts either as there's plenty of machine gun shootouts, a rocket launcher accidentally fired backwards and even a flamethrower. I never got bored watching because I was so interested to see how Andrew and co. would manage a car chase or jump out of a ten story building window (the answer to both questions is 'hilariously'). I found the constant techno music grating but it did push the action along a lot. The movie is also only 70 minutes long which is the ideal length for an old school chop-sockey action-comedy with a linear plot.
Where I was really impressed was with the editing. Andrew knows how to cut scenes together well and give the illusion of more than one camera being used (though I'm fairly sure this was a single-camera production). There's a couple of scenes that waffle on a bit and some not-so successful attempts at humour, but on the flip-side there's about a dozen fights and even a sexy dancing number. I hope Andrew gets to follow up with a sequel to Charity Hurts and gets a little bit of money to polish the rough edges a bit. I thought the storyline was a brilliant idea. Imagine how it could turn out with a five or even six figure budget. This movie oozes charm and is just plain fun - something that a lot of DTV action movies can't manage with multi-million dollar budgets and overweight Val Kilmer's.
The DVD is presented in widescreen with a motion menu (a nice touch). The video is sharp when the lighting is right, but as with all handycams, sunlight is detrimental and causes lots of white-wash outs. The sound appears to have been recorded from the inbuilt microphone so at times is a little hard to hear, but generally you can follow along. The thumping techno track is overly loud and got on my nerves. Runtime 70 minutes.
Provided by the film maker for review.