14 May, 2010

A Fighting Writer's Review of KICK-ASS

This was a movie I thought did a great many things right, and only a few wrong, in presenting belivable and engaging violence on-screen. I'll discuss it in terms of Characterization, Fight Techniques, and at the end, Call Shenanigans.


Kick-Ass himself has a perfectly believable set of non-super superpowers: due to significant injuries he has a lot of metal-reinforced bones, and can't feel a lot of pain. His fighting skills are minimal. However he's in decent shape, completely ruthless (I mean, the boy carries two truncheons), and his powers enable him to keep fighting even after his more skilled opponents beat him down.

Hit Girl is close to cliche (as I discussed last post) what with her mastery of weapons and screen-ninja marital arts abilities. However, he background as presented in the film makes this somewhat plausible. She is, essentially, a child-soldier no less deadly than the kids who shoot each other up in wars all over the developing world (and in many cities of the 'developed' world). Lethal violence is a game to her, and it's clear that she's had an upbringing that focuses exclusively on that.

Big Daddy is an ex-cop with good weapons skills and heavy body armor. His hand-to-hand skills are good, but not as good as Hit Girl's -- which is appropriate, since he had something of a normal childhood.

The Fights: What I Liked

Kick-ass gets his ass kicked by better-skilled fighters in every single scene. He keeps getting up, like a Rocky outclassed by an Apollo Creed, and 'goes the distance' so we root for him even though he's a loser. Actually he's such a noble and believable loser he wins. Kick-ass's techniques are appropriate for the character's skills. He doesn't swing a truncheon or a fist the way a trained fighter does--he's wild, with big wide actions that his opponents usually dodge. He doesn't have an effective defense, and they score a lot of hits on him. Every fight he's in is perfectly consistent with his character ideas.

Hit Girl is also mostly believable. I can buy that a kid taught nothing but martial arts from an early age can execute the crazy maneuvers she pulls off. Appropriately, she is not knocking out 200-pound men with her size 2 boots. When she takes a man out, it's with a knife, a gun, or (aweseomely) a sort of double-ended naginata. When she goes unarmed against a large man with martial arts training inferior to hers, she has a lot of trouble with him. WHICH IS RIGHT. She can hit him ten times to his one, but she can't really hurt him. His strikes hurt, and he also has a reach advantage which the fight director made apparent. There are a couple times when he delivers a kick while she is still out of range and setting up her attack. Great use of DISTANCE (the tactical kind) throughout her fights to tell the story.

Big Daddy is mostly in shootouts, so little comments here other than I liked that the bad guys could actually hit him at close range with their handguns. (that is, they did not train at the Imperial Stormtroopers School of Marksmanship) He's wearing body armor heavy enough for us to beleive he can shrug off those shots.

What I Didn't Like

Not much! I found it a little annoying that every time Hit Girl emptied one of her pistols she had to turn the whole thing and look at it (exactly like a character in a first-person shooter videogame) to verify it's empty. She should be able to tell her pistols are empty from her ordinary view over the gunsight because the slide locks back on the last shot. There is one scene where we see her take down a bunch of goons from her POV, and this works as an homage to FPS games... but elsewhere it's annoying.

I Call Shenanigans!

But only once. Hit Girl is in a shootout and empties both of her pistols simultaneously. She ejects the magazines, pulls two new ones from her belt, THROWS THEM IN THE AIR and somehow they land in the pistols with enough force to seat themselves in the mechanism so she can chamber the next rounds. Even if her mad ninja skillz allow her to catch two spinning magazines in the grips of her two pistols, I think there just isn't enough kinetic energy to seat them in the pistols after a fall of only about a meter. So, shenanigans... however it was awesome to watch and a very creative reload.

Overall: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and added to my list of Great Fight Movies.


  1. I've been wanting to see this. Thanks for the great review!

  2. hee heee this sounds like fun! thanks for the great review!!