>Event review – Launch of Maximum Choppage: Round 2

>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/

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3 thoughts on “>Event review – Launch of Maximum Choppage: Round 2

  1. Bill Giang 30/09/2008 / 9:51 am

    >Hi Tseen, I don’t know if you remember me or not (since I didn’t formally introduce myself), I was the guy who arrived pretty early and was running around Fairfield a couple of hours before the screening started. I believe you were the person who was waiting ever so patiently outside the center. It’s great to see academics giving support to such a talented group. I myself am a tutor at the University of Queensland who teaches digital video production so this was clearly something I was really interested in… enough to fly interstate just to be involved in it (just as you did). I’ve also written my own blog posts detailing my experiences down in Sydney. I am inviting you to read the blog so you get a better idea of what RP as a production company means to me and how I’ve been involved. http://brisbanerumble.blogspot.com/It is in reverse order based on time of posts so you’ll need to scroll down and read the right posts. I’m really interested to see what Melbourne thinks of MC2! I’ll keep your blogsite bookmarked in wait for your Melbourne review.- Bill

  2. tseen 30/09/2008 / 10:51 pm

    >Hi Bill Thanks for the heads-up about your blog – will definitely check it out soon. Will add you to the blogroll, too.Yes, I was the one perched outside the venue for a while! A friend and I were meant to meet up early to catch up before the screening – she got ambushed by Sydney traffic and was a bit late. ;)I didn’t realise there was a Brisbane Rumble! Very cool. If you’d like me to publicise it to my Qld contacts (through the network), just drop me a line (tseen @ yahoo.com) – would be happy to. There are folks within the network who have quite extensive Qld creative/cultural links.

  3. Bill Giang 01/10/2008 / 4:26 am

    >Hi Tseen, We’ve only just got started actually. Maria had been urging me to take a look at what she was involved in for a couple of years now… eventually I did (a few weeks ago when they were shooting “Downtown Rumble”) which is where it all started really. I’ve detailed all the major events on my blog since then. Thanks for the support! I will definitely utilise your networks the best I can. – Bill

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