Close this search box.

The Invisible Fight Film Review

A monk flies in the film The Invisible Fight

Rainer Sarnet’s The Invisible Fight’s mix of kung-fu and black metal results in some brilliant action scenes, but its story is significantly less interesting.

Honestly, once I learnt of its premise, The Invisible Fight didn’t need to do anything else to win me over. Simply put, it’s a film that mixes kung-fu with black metal, and that is a combination guaranteed to win me over. Classic kung-fu films hold a special place in my heart, so to see any kind of homage to that genre, let alone one as wacky as this, warms my cold, cynical heart. Unfortunately though, a good premise isn’t everything. See, when it’s committing to its one-of-a-kind central idea, there is something magical about The Invisible Fight, but ultimately, there’s not enough of that brilliant core ingredient to truly satisfy. I can’t not recommend it, but at the same time, I’m left here wanting more, desperately wishing that it was all just a bit more fine-tuned.

The Invisible Fight gets off to a strong enough start. Set in 1973, we’re introduced to a young soldier (Ursel Tilk) who finds himself on the receiving end of an incredibly stylish kung-fu attack. Enamoured by his assailants, he vows to learn their ways, embarking on a personal quest to become a martial arts master. These early action scenes were what immediately drew me to the film, each one a kung-fu fever dream which felt like they were dreamt up by someone who saw The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) under the influence. It’s in these moments where The Invisible Fight feels at its most alive and engaging. Every move of the leg is funnier than the last, every bizarre strategy they employ is stranger than the last. It’s simply enthralling to behold.

Unfortunately, outside of these fleeting flashes of brilliance, I can’t say I was too impressed by The Invisible Fight. Its story feels like it’s constantly in search of its next beat, lacking any kind of coherent, engaging structure to maintain the audience’s interest. Yes, there’s always the consistently entertaining action scenes for it to fall back on, but those don’t last forever, and when they’re done, the film starts to falter again. Part of me feels like the problem may be to do with the lack of escalation. From the start, this feels like a film destined to dive head-first into a whole new dimension of crazy, but once it’s firmly established itself, it never feels like it’s trying to reach new heights.

An action scene in the film The Invisible Fight
The Invisible Fight (Kino Lorber)

Don’t get me wrong, the action is never dull, but the story itself feels like it can never quite compete. Every narrative beat ultimately is just a dull moment, time spent waiting for the next great fight scene. It feels like The Invisible Fight is trying to say something about religion and faith given just how much of its runtime is dedicated to that theme, but the actual message never quite comes across. Is it a satire? I think so, but I only think that because of the campy, absurdist tone, not because of what the movie’s actually saying. It doesn’t help that the 115 minute runtime ends up feeling far too long, as it’s far too meandering and freeform to keep itself interesting for that amount of time.

Ultimately, I’m torn, because I really wanted to like The Invisible Fight a lot more than I did. The premise is absurdly brilliant, the action is the perfect kind of chaotic and the opening is incredibly strong, but by the end, I was just worn out. Look, if the phrase “black metal kung-fu” interests you, I would still recommend this. Yes, the narrative may be a mess and it may lose a lot of steam as it goes, but those kung-fu scenes are genuinely pretty genius, and redeems a lot of The Invisible Fight’s weaker elements. At the end of the day, when I think of this film 10 years from now, I know that I’ll remember the exciting, creative moments of brilliance, not the incoherent, drawn-out narrative. It delivers on that “black metal kung-fu” premise, and because of that, I can’t not like it.

The Invisible Fight will be released in US theaters on February 23, 2024.

The Invisible Fight: Trailer (Kino Lorber)
Thank you for reading us! If you’d like to help us continue to bring you our coverage of films and TV and keep the site completely free for everyone, please consider a donation.