The Fifth Commandment

The Fifth Commandment


Reviewed by: James Benefield

The Fifth Commandment is not only self-indulgent, boring and vacuous but it is a hair's breadth away from being a vanity project. Written, produced and starring Rick Yune (of Die Another Day fame), it’s got a split personality - one minute embracing the worst of American action cinema (obnoxious, misogynistic, totally witless) and the next showcasing the worst of Asian action cinema (sadistic, distant and overly melodramatic).

Yune plays Chance Templeton, a hired assassin who plies his trade on the mean streets of Bangkok. Chance was brought up by infamous killer Max Templeton (Keith David) after beingn saved from burning to death in a blazing building, in which his parents were brutally killed. We join Chance’s story as he takes on one of his toughest jobs ever, and one which involves him targeting someone very close to home indeed.

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It’s clear the movie is influenced by John Woo’s seminal Hong Kong action flicks, and also by the recent Infernal Affairs trilogy. In fact, the film’s central relationship between Chance and his adopted brother comes from the first Infernal Affairs movie. Although director Johnson doesn’t go the whole hog and feature slow motion shots of pigeons flying out of the frame a la John Woo, Chance owes more than a little to the assassin Ah Jong from Woo’s The Killer.

It’s a depressingly juvenile film. Women come across as either sex objects, lipstick lesbians or mother figures, there’s a few completely gratuitous ‘shocks’ (such as a geisha with a gun in one sequence) and the soundtrack is generic, chugging R’n’B, which, curiously, has most of the swearing taken out of it (despite the bloodshed and bullets which riddle the movie, clearly targeting it at the older teen market).

The central performance by Yune leaves much to be desired. We saw him display a dead-eyed icy indifference and cruelty in Die Another Day, and here it becomes clear this is perhaps the only thing he can do. He’s not just wooden, he’s a charisma vacuum.

Probably the best thing I can say is that the film isn’t excessively long, and the scenes are short and sharp, without being headache inducing. It remains, however, a film best avoided.

Reviewed on: 13 Mar 2009
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An assassin-for-hire finds his latest job cuts close to home.
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Director: Jesse V Johnson

Writer: Rick Yune

Starring: Rick Yune, Keith David, Bokeem Woodbine

Year: 2008

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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If you like this, try:

Infernal Affairs
The Killer