September 4, 2023
by Carla Hay
Directed by Ernesto Díaz Espinoza
Spanish with some Chinese in subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in Chile, the action film “Fist of the Condor” has a predominantly Latin cast of characters (with a few white people and Asians) representing the working-class and middle-class.
Culture Clash: A warrior battles several assassins who want a book with ancient secrets of a deadly fight technique called Fist of the Condor.
Culture Audience: “Fist of the Condor” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of martial arts films that have uncomplicated plots and deliver exactly what they advertise.
No one watching “Fist of the Condor” should expect great acting performances. This action flick delivers exactly what its intended audience wants: impressive martial arts and other adrenaline-packed stunts. The movie’s story is mildly entertaining.
Written and directed by Ernesto Díaz Espinoza, “Fist of the Condor” (which takes place in Chile) is divided into nine chapters. The movie has an introductory statement that explains the background story. This introduction is told in a voiceover.
The statement is: “In the 16th century, at the capture of the Atahualapa, there were still tribes that did not surrender to the conquerors. To counter the Spanish firearms, masters of the Rumi Maki tried to spread a deadly technique amongst the Incas: The Fist of the Condor. But the Spanish stole the sacred manual. The few remaining rebels gave their lives rescuing the book, and the only survivor escaped with it, so that it would never get in the wrong hands again.”
The statement continues: “The legend says that he took refuge in a mountain in the southern part of the world. Whoever has an honest heart would inherit the technique. This is how the manual has been passed down from generation to generation. These warriors are called Masters of the Fist of the Condor.”
“Fist of the Condor” has a simple plot it, but it would give away too much to say everything that happens in this plot. It’s enough to say that the hero is named Guerrero (played by Marko Zaror), and he has a twin brother named Gemelo (also played by Zaror), who are rivals to each other. There’s an elder sage named Wook (played by Man Soo Yoon), who trains/mentors Guerrero’s opponents.
Wook tells a nameless alum (played by Jose Manuel), who’s gettng ready to fight Guerrero: “He’s a perfect fighter. … He left his conscience behind. He doesn’t follow doctrines or laws. He’s an animal!”
There’s also another elder sage named Mujer Condor (played by Gina Agaud), who does her own kind of training that is more rooted in mysticism. “The ego,” she says, “is the inner Satan. If you want to kill him, you have to see him first.” Part of her training involves teaching people how to walk on the edge of a wooden basket.
The movie also has an unhinged villain named Kalari (played by Eyal Meyer), who doesn’t have the biggest muscles but he uses his unpredictability as a way to catch his opponents off-guard. Kalari wears a lot of heavy eyeliner and looks like he’s auditioning to be in an emo rock band. Guerrero’s other opponents are completely generic and nameless.
“Fist of the Condor” has almost non-stop action in many well-choregraphed stunts. It’s not a movie for people who are easily offended by on-screen violence that goes beyond the norm. For example, there’s a scene where Guerrero beats up and urinates on an opponent. The movie’s climactic scene is especially bloody.
Since “Fist of the Condor” is a martial arts movie, this isn’t the type of film that’s going to have intellectual dialogue or lots of character development. The outcome of the movie can easily be predicted. However, there’s a fairly interesting story about twin brothers who are pitted against each other in ways where they become more dangerous to each other than any strangers who want to take them down.
Well Go USA released “Fist of the Condor” in select U.S. cinemas on April 4, 2023. Hi-YAH! premiered the movie on April 7, 2023. The movie was released on digital and Blu-ray on May 23, 2023.