Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Netflix’s Fistful of Vengeance is a supernatural action thriller flick that focuses on an ancient clan called the Wu Assassins who head to Bangkok to avenge the death of one of their own. Their quest leads them to discover a deadly foe who is an ancient threat, empowered with otherworldly abilities. The film is a sequel to the television series, Wu Assassins.
Fistful of Vengeance kicks off in Bangkok and touches upon a series of events since the ending of Wu Assassins season 1. The plot unveils that Tommy’s (Lawrence Kao) sister Jenny (Li Jun Li) is dead and the hunt for the killer has brought him, Kai (Iko Uwais), and Lu Xin (Lewis Tan), to Bangkok.
They track a half broken ancient talisman — which was found on Jenny’s body — to a club in Bangkok where they clash with Chi vampires and make easy work of them. The trio is then contacted by biotech billionaire, Dr. William Pan (Jason Tobin), who reveals the tale of the evil God Pangu, who shaped the universe.
According to his tale, Pangu got so drunk in power that the Dao — a realm away from time — created the first Wu Assassin as a counter measure to the malevolent entity.
After their battle, Pangu was split into two parts known as chaos and order with William being the current embodiment of the latter. He also reveals that his twin gangster sister, Ku An Qi (Rhatha Phongam), is the host of chaos.
He requests Tommy, Kai, and Lu Xin to abduct Ku and bring her in so that order can be restored to the world. However, after a failed attempt to do so, the trio is shocked to find out that William and Ku are actually working together to reform as Pangu and need Kai’s — who is the last Wu Assassin — essence to complete the process.
Lawrence Kao, Iko Uwais and Lewis Tan are a delight to watch and their banter is reminiscent of their chemistry in Wu Assassins. Uwais is the focus of the narrative and does well to step up to the action. He is matched in every step by Tan’s screen presence and Kay’s charm.
However, since the attention is more on the action, the characters aren’t really allowed to dive much deeper into their emotions. Kai’s character feels like he has a single stern expression throughout the duration of the film.
Jason Tobin as William Pan and Rhatha Phongam as Ku An Qi are admirable foes to the leading trio and emit a menacing energy that is fun to witness.
The supporting cast including Francesca Corney, JuJu Chan, Katrina Grey, Simon Kuke, Pearl Thusi put their best foot forward with what the narrative allows them to along with the limited screen time.
Fistful of vengeance delivers highly on what it promises and that is the action. The fight sequences are brilliantly choreographed and are extremely brutal. The hand to hand combats are heavily stylised and are a great source of eye candy for action lovers.
The chemistry between the leading trio is also sublime. The turbulent relationship they share really keeps you invested in everything they go through together for the most part.
The visual effects and sound design are added additions to the positives of the film and enhance the immersive viewing experience.
Unfortunately, the film suffers from an extremely rushed pacing. Mix that with some sub-par writing and it just catches you off-guard. You would want to be consistently invested in the plot but it doesn’t allow you to do so.
The breakneck editing and direction choices also don’t make it easy to sometimes follow what’s going on in the story.
The runtime is probably what ruins the flow for Fistful of Vengeance. Transferring the story from a television series to a film that runs for just 95 minutes hurts the source material — which is actually full of potential, unlike this film.
It lacks most of what made the series so successful. The baddy, Pangu, has a massively threatening backstory but his impact on the present is lukewarm at most.
Among the cheesy one liners and immensely stylised battles, Fistful of Vengeance is void of a soul that the audience would have expected it to have.
Fistful of Vengeance may not be everybody’s cup of tea and may disappoint true fans of the Wu Assassins series. However if you’re looking for a quick action binge this may be the film for you.