Breaking the bad movie commandment
By G. Michael Dobbs
Two wildly different films are in this week's DVD review column.
The Fifth Commandment
Rick Yune is an interesting guy. A business school graduate, taekwondo expert and actor, he has appeared an a handful of movies including the James Bond opus "Die Another Day."
Yune has written and produced his first starring vehicle, the action film "The Fifth Commandment," and I would like to write that the film is very good. I can't because it is really a very routine martial arts and shoot-'em-up outing.
The reason I have regrets even trashing the film slightly is that Yune comes across in the making-of extras as a nice guy who realized how difficult it is to make a movie.
"The Fifth Commandment" stars Yune as Chance, an assassin for hire who has been trained by his adoptive father Jazz Man (played by Keith David), an ice cold hit man himself. Miles, Jazz Man's biological son, rejects his father's life and leaves the family.
Years later, Chance has the assignment to murder a popular singer and discovers his brother is her bodyguard. He passes on the assignment, which is taken up by another hit man, and protects the singer and helps his brother.
Yune looks good in action scenes, but the script is full of clich s - do we have to have another moment in a film when the hero holds his fallen comrade and screams into the air? Characters come and go in the film with little regard to logic. And why are there so many Americans on the Bangkok police force?
If you aren't too demanding of your action fare, then "The Fifth Commandment" might be a good way to waste away 90 minutes.
Audience of One
What if God spoke to you and asked you to make a movie? Not just any movie, but a religious film that could be both a testimony to faith and a popular success?
That is the position in which Pastor Richard Gazowsky, a San Francisco-based Pentecostal preacher found himself in 1999. Because God asked him to make a film, he became determined that he and his congregation do so. After experimenting making several short films, Gazowsky launched efforts for a feature film in 2004.
His goal was to transform the Old Testament story of Joseph into a science fiction film and do it in an original way. He even decided to shoot the film in the wide-screen format of 65mm.
Using his congregation as the production staff and as actors, Gazowsky assumed the role of director, a position for which he admitted his inadequacy.
After raising enough funds to travel to Italy for a week to shoot, Gazowsky then tried to raise more funds his goal was $200 million to finish the film.
This documentary by Michael Jacobs followed Gazowsky and his quest over the course of several years. Released in 2007, it is now on DVD and Gazowsky has yet to finish his first effort. All that has been completed is two scenes that were successfully filmed in Italy without sound. They are among the extras on the disc.
Some have seen this film as a comedy of sorts, poking fun of Gazowsky's faith and his ill-advised efforts to fulfill God's wish. I didn't laugh at all. Instead what I saw was a man of faith who honestly believes that God is part of the minutia of his life trying to do what his creator has asked. Gazowsky seems to be a likable sincere guy. His faith is so strong that he never seems to falter even in the face of what would appear to be failure.
The film certainly makes you question the issue of faith and I liked it a lot although I thought the end left the audience hanging a bit much.
I hope Gazowsky actually finishes his cinematic vision one day. I'd watch it. In the meantime, I'm recommending this fascinating film.