February 23, 2016 – 5:01 am

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Given the state of the world, there is always a need for a hero - be it Deadpool or  The Assassin. Happy cinema going, says Critic After Dark Noel Vera.

Dobby droog! Here be the next step in comic-book evolution: the wisecracking antihero and his bezoomny adventures, the apotheosis of what Spider-Man started in the ’60s, that titles like Blade and Kick Ass continued in the ’90s and ’00s by kicking the ultraviolence and old in-out in-out up a notch.

The movie’s true pee and em though would be Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken, which not only landed a tolchok on our yarbles but did so with sarky metacommentary and pop-culture references. As boxoffice and pop culture phenomenon the sinny caught most established film bratchnies by surprise and I’ll be honest; me too (does it count that I wasn’t smotting? Or didn’t much care?).

It’s funny for maybe 20 minutes, when the main chelloveck is being introduced; I’m guessing I enjoyed it more than a knowing geek would because I come to it like a fresh devotchka instead of starry sooka, and if I were to describe the experience in his own parlance I’d put it thusly: “like being rammed up the yahma from both ends with a nuclear-powered cheesegrater-tipped Roto-rooter, doused in pureed habanero.”

But one can smeck only so much at the merzky nazziness of it all before it starts getting old. The premise is that fagged and shagged raskazz about how “he did me wrong now I’m going to razrez his gorlo.” Once we become familiar with the nazz there’s really no other direction to go, and when the hound-and-horny effects start coming the gags (which are the only veshches worth staying for) start osooshing up.

A word on the bitvas: I like a bit of dratting as much as the next but director Tim Miller seems to have suffered a nasty klop up the gulliver (much like our humble hero several times) and can’t seem to focus on more than an odin shot for more than an odin second - he has to cut his footage real skorry and shake his camera as if to clear his mozg, the result being our poor glazzies unable to make up their rasoodocks what the sod is going on!

So what’s a poor ded to do? We can’t just sit on our grazhny asses pulling our collective panhandles; we need something to pull for and I don’t mean anything digital (there’s always Morena Baccarin a fine devotchka with sweet groodie)… but towards the end Miller has her locked up in a glass tube with all her clothes on while our humble hero is too busy shiving digital cal to entertain us and that’s our interest in the whole veshch snuffing it right there.

O I suppose actor Ryan Reynolds is right in saying the sinny is a game changer; it’s made piles of pretty polly for everyone involved and you hear of millions of malchicks begging to see this despite the ‘Hard R’ rating - when you see so many pees and ems giving in to their crarkers despite all the krovvy on tap onscreen then you know something’s happening.

But is it really such a choodessny thing that we get more of the same, only louder and more expensive? When we can have a horrorshow time with better strack - Michael Haneke’s home-invasion comedies, say, or Yorgos Lanthimos’ bedtime fables about children? The orangutan enjoys creeching with his merzky rot but it’s like a nadmenny child using bolshy big words to sound starry and all, you want to slap his gloopy litso and paddle his oozhassny ass; that might knock a malenky bit of sense - or the fear of Bog - into him.

As always

Your Humble Narrator

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And then there is… Hou Hsiao Hsien’s The Assassin (2015). Hou Hsiao Hsien’s first-ever wuxia isn’t grand opera like Zhang Yimou’s Hero, isn’t blandly tasteful like Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (aka Introduction to Chop-Sockey 101). Hou’s wuxia (which he dreamed of making even before becoming a director) is far more perverse: a sword-fighting film that’s also unapologetically a Hou Hsiao Hsien film.

Not that it doesn’t have its genre pleasures - the occasional fight sequences are quick and brutal (much like real fights), and breathtaking only if you’re sharp enough to suss out the choreography (at one point the eponymous killer Nie Yinniang - Shu Qi - disarms a swordsman with an extra pirouette and the twist of her limbs (you might want to replay the moment several times to really appreciate the move)). But Hou above all is about mood and tone and character study: the extraordinary intimacy for example between Governor Tian Ji’an (Chang Chen) and his concubine Huji (Hsieh Hsin-Ying); the wordless stance Yinniang assumes before her masters - her posture defiant without saying a word. Wonderful new work from one of the greatest of Chinese filmmakers.

Note: You can also email Noel Vera here.

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