• Commando: A One Man Army



    Released by: Reliance Entertainment
    Released on: Summer 2013.
    Director: Dilip Ghosh
    Cast: Vidyut Jamwal, Jaideep Ahlawat, Pooja Chopra, Sohrab Handa
    Year: 2013
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Dilip Ghosh earlier in 2013, Commando (or Commando: A One Man Army) begins when an Indian commando named Karan (Vidyut Jamwal) is captured by Chinese forces when his helicopter crashes near the border. Though he insists he was only on a routine mission they accuse of him spying. He’s locked up and tortured but manages to escape when they transport him out of their facility and he makes his way through the woods back across the border.

    Once in India, he heads to a small town where he meets a woman named Simrit (Pooja Chopra). It’s been arranged that she marry a thug named AK 74 (Jaideep Ahlawat), a man whose eyes have no pupils and who holds the town and its officials in his grip. He’s got a penchant for murdering anyone who prevents him from getting what he wants, and marking each execution with a bad joke. Of course, Karan shows up just as Simrit tries to escape AK 74’s lecherous clutches. Being a noble man, he can’t help but defend a lady in danger and so he basically beats the snot out of all of AK 74’s thugs and, at Simrit’s insistence, hops on a bus with her to get out of town.

    Of course, AK 74 isn’t going to let Karan and Simrit just run off without giving chase, and so he gets in his jeep (which boats a ‘POWER STEERING’ decal in big bold letters across the top of the windshield) with a bunch of guys and a bunch of guns and proceeds to hunt them down with the intention of bringing them back to his town where he can finally marry Simrit after he executes Karan in the middle of the town square!

    The story here is pretty basic and more than a little derivative but there are two very compelling reasons to want to check this movie out, the first of which is leading man Vidyut Jamwal who shows some seriously impressive martial arts skills here. While at first it would appear that the movie is simply going to focus on his looks (the cover art plays up his physique) the guy has some serious moves and at times you get the same sort of ‘wow factor’ in the fight scenes that might take you back to watching Ong Bak for the first time. The fight choreography doesn’t quite maximize his abilities as well as it can, preferring to have him repeat a lot of the same flips and spins a few different times rather than to put him in more unique situations, but when the action scenes fire on all cylinders Jamwal kicks a whole lot of ass.

    The other stand out characteristic that the movie uses really well is Jaideep Ahlawat in the role of AK 74 (his name, we’re told, is taken from his initials and the year of his birth). This guy is definitely having a good time in the role, telling completely horrible jokes (many of which seem to get lost in translation and don’t really make any sense at all) and leering at Pooja Chopra’s character. He plays up his tough guy persona in a big way but still has a strange, creepy look to him, what with his unusually weathered face and his lack of pupils. He’s sadistic and malicious and any time he wants to hammer home a point, he whips off his big goofy sunglasses to stare at you with his creepy eyes. He completely overdoes it to the point of unintentional comedy but damn if Ahlawat isn’t a whole lot fun to watch.

    Pooja Chopra’s character is on hand for two reasons: eye candy and comic relief. She does well as eye candy but the comic relief is simply corny. This has more to do with the script than with her performance but her character is pretty unremarkable. On top of that, the movie tends to get the camera in too close during some of the fight scenes and it’s a little hyper-edited at times to put style over substance. Aside from those issues and the fact that the story is really a retread of First Blood with a smart talking lady sidekick thrown in, this is a solid action film. It’s well paced, very nicely shot and makes great use of some exotic locations. In a perfect world it would have gone somewhere with the Chinese capture elements of the story, these are simply tossed aside for more conventional tactics, but the movie delivers plenty of quality action set pieces and it does so without CGI or wires. Put Vidyut Jamwal in a movie with a bit more substance than this and there no reason he wouldn’t step up to the next level and find success outside of his native India and turn into one of the next ‘international action star’ types.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Commando: A One Man Army arrives on DVD framed at 2.35.1 and, for the most part, looking very good. There’s definitely some noticeable shimmer and a bit of aliasing here, which is a little irritating, but outside of that this is a clean and detailed image that offers excellent color reproduction and good black levels. The movie was shot digitally so there are no issues with print damage and any compression artifacts that pop up are minor. This is a pretty colorful film and it looks good on this disc.

    The Hindi language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix is a strong one. Note that the levels are pretty high here so you’ll want to go in with your volume lower than normal and adjust things on your receiver accordingly. Once you do that, the audio is strong. There’s plenty of surround activity and the rear channels are used pretty effectively during the action scenes. The four songs that are used throughout the movie sound great and show really strong bass while dialogue remains crisp and clear. The optional English subtitles have a few moments where the translation gets a little awkward but otherwise they’re fine.

    The only extra on the disc is a making of featurette but there are no English subtitles provided for it. We do get a look behind the scenes and some decent stunt footage here though.

    The Final Word:

    Commando: A One Man Army might be ridiculously derivative in many ways but it’s still a lot of fun. The action scenes are what make this work, the stunts are fantastic and the fight scenes consistently impressive. The movie is well paced and features a great bad guy, a few fun songs and some nice production values. Vidyut Jamwal’s got the potential to be the ‘next big thing’ in action movies, this film proves he’s got what it takes.