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TADFF 2019: Contracts Review

These D-list Assassins Miss Their Mark

I’ve watched thousands of movies, interviewed countless filmmakers, and been on my share of film sets. And if there is one thing I’ve learned on my journey as a film critic, it’s that movies are hard to make. The process involves so many moving parts – writers, producers, actors, directors, cinematographers, costume designers, studio execs, financers, and caterers, just to name a few – that I consider it a small miracle that coherent movies even exist. So even when a picture misses the mark, I can appreciate the effort that went into realizing the project. Which brings me to Contracts, the new film written and directed by stunt coordinator extraordinaire, Alex Chung.

Simply put, Contracts is a mess. The inconsequential plot makes so little sense that I won’t even describe it in detail. Just know that this movie is about assassins fighting other assassins. And let me tell you, a whole lot of assassinating goes on. Contracts is a series of gruesomely violent fights strung together by a threadbare plot. Way too often, wooden actors stand around speaking piss-poor dialogue in banal scenes.

But Contracts is not devoid of merit. Chung cut his teeth as a fight choreographer, and the movie has some well-executed fights sequences – some of them are better than what you find in big-budget action flicks. The fast-paced and hyper-violent action features some inventive choreography. Combatants punch, kick, shoot, stab, and bite their way through 70 minutes worth of bloody encounters.

Contracts comes across less like a movie than an excuse to string together a series of exciting brawls. And you can’t dismiss the effort and talent that went into the action choreography. But a series of fights doesn’t make a movie, and the end result is something that feels closer to a highlight reel than a film.

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