Review: ‘The Purifiers’

Nosedive of Olympic proportions after his impressive debut, "16 Years of Alcohol," writer-director Richard Jobson's Scottish martial artser, "The Purifiers," hits the mat soon after the credits and stays there. Cuss-free, almost bloodless pic is headlocked by lame scripting, amateur perfs and, worst of all, lackluster, repetitive action.

A nosedive of Olympic proportions after his impressive debut, “16 Years of Alcohol,” writer-director Richard Jobson’s Scottish martial artser, “The Purifiers,” hits the mat soon after the credits and stays there. Reportedly targeting teenagers, but likely to send tykes over 8 scurrying for their PlayStations, this cuss-free, almost bloodless pic is headlocked by lame scripting, amateur perfs and, worst of all, lackluster, repetitive action. A dozen producers signed off on this HD-lensed lowbudgeter.

Near-future urban storyline, mirroring that of Walter Hill’s “The Warriors,” has a sextet of young martial artists, aka the Purifiers, trapped from home turf in the Central Zone, commanded by Moses (Kevin McKidd), a psycho-in-a-business-suit with political ambitions. After setting other rival gangs against our heroes, Moses lures the Purifiers’ leader, John (Gordon Alexander), into a warehouse face-off. Characterization is minimal, the script peppered with dime-novel philosophy (“the moon’s like a bullet — silver, smiling, beautiful, violent”), and direction by Jobson — a self-professed fan of Asian chopsockies — lacks the slightest sense of menace or threat. McKidd (from “Alcohol”) has a ball as the villain; Alexander, also credited as fight choreographer, is bland.

The Purifiers

U.K.

Production

A WT² release of a Bill Kenwright Films, First Choice Films, Scottish Screen presentation, in association with Park Entertainment, of a Vestry Films production. (International sales: Park Entertainment, London.) Produced by Bill Kenwright, Chris Atkins, Richard Jobson. Executive producers, Su Lim, Natascha Wharton, Claire Chapman, Steve McIntyre, Jim Howell, Simon Barnes, Don A. Starr, Dan J.B. Taylor. Directed, written by Richard Jobson.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, DV-to-35mm), John Rhodes; editor, Yannis Sakaridis; music, Steven Severin; production designer, Erik Rehl; art director, Jamie MacWilliams; costume designer, Francesca Dodi. Reviewed at Edinburgh Film Festival (British Galas), Aug. 21, 2004. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Kevin McKidd, Gordon Alexander, Dominic Monaghan, Amber Sainsbury, Rachel Grant, Fraser James, Robyn Kerr, Jamie Cho, Chloe Bruce, Ashley Beck, Stuart Sinclair Blythe.

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