>I’ll declare up front that I’ve been in regular contact with Rumble Pictures (RP) producer Maria Tran in the lead-up to the launch on the night of 25 September. From the first time I’d heard about Rumble Pictures – I think it was when PR was circulating about WestXpress 2 – I’ve been interested and excited about the work they do.
The launch of Maximum Choppage: Round 2 took place at the Fairfield School of Arts in Sydney. The buzz around the event was well sustained, and I loved the idea of the ninja flashmob taking public transport. The swelling crowd that night was loud and happy about the film’s debut and, after four years of diligence, hard yards and creativity in production, who could blame them? It was fabulous to meet Maria in person after all our email correspondence, and my only regret for the night was not meeting Timothy Ly (writer/director/actor for MC2) as well.
Khoa Do (local boy made good!) officially launched the film, then we were set for 70 minutes of homegrown, sharply fought, deftly textured work. As the very snazzy film trailer declares with gusto, MC2 was made with no budget, and it would be dishonest to say that this doesn’t show. Turning their ‘guerilla filmmaking’ into a marketing tool works well. What outstrips the occasionally rough production values, however, is the talent that’s involved in the film. Here are a few of the things I liked best about it:
- The opening titles – Slicker than slick! I know some people think this is a trivial thing, but I’m an opening-titles-fetishist from way back. They’re the way a show introduces itself. They set the attitude, the beat, the anticipation, and I thought MC2’s were fantastic.
- The fight scenes – Sharp and interesting; fun or menacing when they had to be. For a film that trades on a tag-line such as “Australia’s first urban martial arts action adventure”, the fight scenes are the heartbeat of the project, and they were going to be the sections on which the movie lived or died. Choreographed by Tim (has this man not slept for four years?), they were tightly done and clever. I’m not the biggest fan of long fight scenes, mostly because I get bored and everything starts looking the same. For me, the long, roving fight between Tim, Sister and Lil Brother worked because, while maintaining the action quotient, the mood of the fight moved from serious damage to slapstick.
- The emotional narrative shifts – One of the hardest things for action flicks to do is retain any kind of integrity with their emotional narrative. I’m a narrative ho, so this was something I was prepared to be disappointed about. I was pleasantly surprised, though, with the film’s ability to draw on rom-com and action elements in ways that were usually effective. The over-the-top sequences still worked within the ‘suburban verite’ mode in which the movie often operated, and being able to empathise with the lead was so important.
- The soundtrack – Even though I freely admit I’m a musical philistine and awfully un-hip about new music/bands, I know when a soundtrack works. MC2’s track worked. Man, did it work. The sound overall was a bit erratic (especially when it came to hearing some of the dialogue), but the music was fab.
Overall, MC2 was feisty fun, and showcases the creative and technical talents of the RP crew very well. This is what they can do with no money. I hope it spells the beginning of RP attracting some serious production dough because I’d love to see what would happen if they were let loose.
In some ways, the production and shooting of MC2 has been as much the story as the film itself. Southwest Sydney hasn’t been known for its filmmaking potential or star quality and, starting with Khoa Do’s rise, this was slowly changing. RP’s sourcing of support, locations and crew from this area forged new and stronger with their various communities. With grants from bodies such as Fairfield City Council and Information Cultural Exchange, MC2 really is a product of local strengths and vision. Seeing the enthusiasm (and youth!) of the RP crew as they skipped up to the front, post-screening, brought home the incredible potential of this group.
I’m looking forward to the Melbourne screening of MC2 (details posted below), and hearing more about the film and its production from Maria and Tim. Chances are, nothing can beat the home-ground advantage of launching the film in its creative heartland, but I hope MC2’s travels across contexts will serve it well.
As part of ASIA WEEK 2008 at the University of Melbourne, MC2 is being screened, with producer Maria Tran and director Timothy Ly appearing in an accompanying panel.
Thursday 23 October 2008, 4-6pm
Sidney Myer Asia Centre, Cnr Swanston Street and Monash Road, University of Melbourne
AASRN is co-sponsoring (with the Asia Institute) the Melbourne launch of Rumble Pictures’ Maximum Choppage II and the discussion panel. For the full listing of Asia Week events, visit http://www.asiainstitute.unimelb.edu.au/