Fist of the Condor (2023): Film Review
Fist of the Condor, while not the most transgressive martial arts action movie, is able to provide a unique, original spin on the genre.
Fist of the Condor is a movie unlike any other this year. It combines action and drama with surprising depth of character as well as a deeper mythology and message. The editing tells the story of progress and resilience, with the performances resonating beyond the screen. It truly is the type of movie that needs to be seen to be believed.
In the sixteenth century, the Inca were conquered by the Spanish conquistadors. However, their greatest martial arts secrets and training were hidden away inside an ancient book. From across the world, four warriors seek out the book in order to become the greatest martial artist in the world and revive the technique for a new time. The protagonist El Guerrero (Marko Zaror) seeks it to survive and get stronger, while he confronts El Oponente (Jose Manuel), Kelari (Eyal Meyer), and Wook (Man Soo Yoon) who each have their own personal reasons for obtaining the Only Mother Condor (Gina Aguad), holds the knowledge and patience to train these warriors in the mystic arts.
In real life, the Incans were conquered and lost most of their culture to the conquistadors. A culture which built the strongest empire in the Americas and advanced to the level of Europe despite no formal alphabet was devastated, with many of their secrets lost to time. There is even an actual martial art called Rumi Maki, believed to have started with the Incas, which is having a revival today. Thus, Fist of the Condor can be read as a revenge against an unjust history. The most prominent fighting technique of the once-great people can now be brought into the modern day by the one most worthy of doing so. With El Guerrero seeking to use the power of the ancient art to not only pass it on, but become a better person as a result.
Fist of the Condor plays into the conventions of its genre without breaking them. It has an underdog hero, wise mentor, training montage, and well-directed and choreographed fight scene at the climax. El Guerrero’s development is shown through the use of montage, with him going from a skilled but inexperienced fighter to a great one across his many training sessions. The whole movie is also shot with a special yellow tint reminiscent of a spaghetti western. This stylistic choice gives the movie a more pulpy, comic book-esque feel and delivers it from the realm of reality to fantasy.
Director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza is able to create his ideal action movie with a unique set up and flashy aesthetics. Fist of the Condor is able to stand out due to its unique setting and development of a distinct mythology. The promise of what other secrets arts the Inca may have hidden is perfect setup for a sequel, and El Guerrero’s story feels like it has only just begun. So the movie creates a satisfying experience with possibilities for new adventures along the way. This fresh, stylized action movie, along with shared star Marko Zaror, make it a perfect double feature with John Wick 4, in theaters at the same time as this.
Fist of the Condor will be released in Select Alamo Drafthouse Theaters on April 4 and streaming Exclusively on Hi-YAH! from April 7, 2023.