You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto Film Review: ‘Beast’

A young mixed-race boxer tries to make amends for a disastrously fixed Manila fight in the McKeith brothers' debut feature.

Garret Dillahunt, Chad McKinney, Angeli Bayani, Will Jaymes, Whyzel Myo Indonto. (English, Tagalog dialogue)

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4251006/

A mixed-race boxer in Manila tries to undo the wrongs wrought by a fixed fight in “Beast.” Promising debut feature for brothers Tom and Sam McKeith captures that city’s humid, teeming life with atmospheric familiarity, while its not particularly complex character writing and narrative get an additional boost by newcomer Chad McKinney’s lead performance. In nearly every scene, and with relatively little dialogue, he delivers a strong, thoughtful screen presence that lends “Beast” its substance. Beyond New Director-type showcases, commercial exposure will likely skew toward streaming sales.

Pugilist Jaime Grey (McKinney) has his hands full looking after ne’er-do-well American father/manager Rick (Garret Dillahunt). While the family’s Filipina matriarch is apparently working abroad — and, judging from the evidence of her occasional brief phone calls, eager to keep a cautious distance, even psychologically, from her menfolk — the interdependent father and son have a lopsided relationship, as Junior is clearly accustomed to supporting his rather hapless, drink-prone elder, monetarily and otherwise. Still, he abides by dad’s decisions. That proves a bad idea when he agrees to cheat in the ring (where he’s known as “The Beast”) by putting hard plaster inside his glove to ensure a bout win.

The resulting very hard hits hospitalize his opponent, who later dies from the injuries. Stricken with remorse, Jaime leaves his father sleeping off a night’s post-match revelry while he tracks down the victim’s widow, Divina (Angeli Bayani), offering money she refuses to take. Later he learns shady crime boss/fight fixer Danny (Will Jaymes) means to silence the woman (who suspects foul play) permanently, so he drags her and her young son Alvern (Whyzel Myo Indonto) from their slum flat to a hotel room, intending to send them off into the country and presumed safety the next day.

Grieving and furious, Divina is not happy to be stuck with her husband’s semi-accidental killer, refusing to assuage his guilty conscience. Meanwhile Jaime fends off frantic calls from Rick (who’d gladly sacrifice his son’s reluctant charges to save his own skin), eludes Danny’s goons and burns off tension with his own drunken misbehavior.

Though the protagonist’s feelings are seldom articulated (let alone his and dad’s backstory), the brawny but expressive McKinney communicates an innate goodness that has seemingly evolved without much adult guidance. When Jamie makes a climactic sacrifice simply in order to do the right thing, it doesn’t feel contrived because the thesp has already persuaded us that this character’s convictions might lead him that far.

Nevertheless, screenplay could have used a bit more eventfulness and detail. While appreciable as a thriller concept treated in slice-of-life terms, pic ultimately feels more amorphous in narrative terms than strictly beneficial. Still, the McKeith siblings’ observations of street life supply consistent interest in a generally well-tuned package highlighted by Mike Steel’s largely nocturnal widescreen lensing. “Beast’s” immediacy is given a boost by the absence of any original score, with only overheard music surfacing in the ambient sound design.

Toronto Film Review: 'Beast'

Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 14, 2015. Running time: 94 MIN.

Production: (Australia-Philippines) An Arclight Films, Madman, Boulevard Film presentation, in association with EpicMedia Inc. (World sales: Arclight, Sydney.) Produced by Robert Coe, Will Jaymes, Bianca Balbuena. Co-producer, Carla de Menezes Ribeiro. Executive producer, Tim White.

Crew: Directed by Tom McKeith, Sam McKeith. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Mike Steel; editor, Paul Murphy; music supervisor, Helena Czajka; production designer, Ericson Navarro; art director, Noriko Santos; sound, Bryan Dumaguina, Jedd Dumaguina; sound designer/editor, Liam Egan; assistant director, Armi Cacanindin; casting, JC Cantu, Ruby Ruiz.

With: Garret Dillahunt, Chad McKinney, Angeli Bayani, Will Jaymes, Whyzel Myo Indonto. (English, Tagalog dialogue)

More Film

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Leonardo DiCaprio Unveils 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Poster With Brad Pitt

    Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are front and center against the backdrop of a blurred Hollywood sign in the poster for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” DiCaprio revealed the poster with the brief tweet, “Hollywood. 1969. #OnceUponATimeInHollywood.” More Reviews Concert Review: Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets Dishes Up Seminal Pink Floyd Delights [...]

  • Warner Bros. HQ LA

    WarnerMedia Setting Interim Leadership Team After Kevin Tsujihara Ouster (EXCLUSIVE)

    An interim leadership team will take the reins at Warner Bros. Entertainment following the shocking dismissal of CEO Kevin Tsujihara on Monday. The team will likely consist of Warner Bros. motion pictures group chairman Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. television group president and CCO Peter Roth, and at least one other top executive, individuals familiar with [...]

  • Kristin Cotich Spyglass

    Kristin Cotich Named Communications Chief for Spyglass Media

    Veteran executive Kristin Cotich has been hired as executive vice president of worldwide communications for Gary Barber’s newly formed Spyglass Media Group. The announcement was made Monday by Barber, chairman and chief executive officer of Spyglass, to whom Cotich will report. Spyglass said Cotich is responsible for developing and executing worldwide communications strategies and implementing [...]

  • Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield

    Issa Rae, LaKeith Stanfield to Star in Stella Meghie's 'The Photograph'

    Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield will star in Universal’s “The Photograph,” sources tell Variety. Stella Meghie will direct and Will Packer will produce for his eponymous production company. More Reviews Concert Review: Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets Dishes Up Seminal Pink Floyd Delights TV Review: 'Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists' on Freeform The romantic drama [...]

  • Aaron Paul attends the 2019 Sun

    Aaron Paul, Chelsea Handler and Meg Ryan Topline Sun Valley Film Fest

    Aaron Paul is an Idaho boy at heart. The three-time Emmy winning star of “Breaking Bad” and producer and actor on Nickelodeon’s bawdy, subversive animated series “Bojack Horseman” currently makes his home in Los Angeles, but Paul was born in Emmett, a sleepy city about 30 miles outside of Boise, and escapes to the spud [...]

  • Writers Guild Blasts CAA, WME for

    Writers Guild Blasts Talent Agencies CAA, WME for 'Soaring' Profits

    The Writers Guild of America has singled out Hollywood’s largest talent agencies, William Morris Endeavor and Creative Artists Agency, for allegedly soaring profits. The WGA, in an acrimonious negotiation over proposed new rules about how agencies represent writers, issued a report called “agencies for sale” on Monday morning — a few hours before a fifth [...]

  • MGM logo

    MGM Hires Robert Marick to Expand Consumer Products

    Metro Goldwyn Mayer has hired industry veteran Robert Marick as executive VP of global consumer products and experiences. In his new role, Marick is responsible for overseeing the expansion of MGM’s traditional merchandise, interactive and consumer products business. He’s also developing a global strategy with a focus on core consumer products licensing, digital and gaming, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content