Savage is a film that interested me when I first heard about it. One of the reasons was that it appeared as if it was promising its viewers some decent action. It was also showcasing a world that exists in extreme cold and heavy snow. While I’m no fan of those types of conditions in real life, an action movie taking place in those elements sound like it has the chance to be exciting.
Buried by the conditions at the top of Mt. Baekdu, an honorable cop (Chang Chen) is forced to wait for his transfer to come through before escaping the harsh weather. While he waits, he stumbles across a group of thieves in search of a large stash of gold that’s hidden in the mountains. Once the two sides come face-to-face, it’s not just about braving the elements, it’s also about surviving each other.
Savage takes a while to get started up and moving at a good pace. It moves as slow as it does early because they go out of there way to set everything up. From a storytelling perspective, I can respect that, but there’s also a lack of edge here. During this time, Savage also lags in the suspense category.
For me, this makes the movie drag a little bit too much, since I generally prefer it when films get into the main plot and the action as fast as possible. In Savage, the first act focuses on showing us who a few of the characters are as we will need to know them later on. Because of the way they handle this portion of it, Savage kind of feels like two separate movies.
Once things begin to move, you can feel the shift in tone significantly. At this point, there isn’t a burst of action, but you can tell things are ramping up and heading in the right direction. This feel and tone is partially because they’re still building but they’re focusing on the events that will carry us through the rest of the film rather than introducing us to the key characters.
When we do get action, it’s not usually fast-paced. You’ll find that whenever it comes onscreen, it remains pretty consistent and even throughout the film. In fact, it kind of fits in with the rest of the movie. It’s rarely ever too showy or sensational, but it does get brutal enough to satisfy a bloodthirsty audience.
I do wish we would have gotten a little bit more action along the way, but the level of betrayal at the center of a lot of what’s going on helps make up for that. As the events in Savage begin to unfold, the twists and turns start to become more prominent and raises the stakes as it grabs your attention. Some of this stuff is easy to see coming, but those can improve the experience of viewers since it gives us something concrete to latch onto.
Although it was a bit slow for my taste early, Savage has enough moments to make you happy that you gave it a chance. It’s weird because while I was hoping for one thing, what I got was different but not disappointing. In the end, I felt as if this was a true attempt at filmmaking that combined some familiar features with fresh things. Together, this works to make a movie that will be watchable to most.
Rating: No Rating
Director: Cui Siwei
Film Length: 112 minutes
Distributor: Well Go USA
Release Date: May 3rd, 2019 (U.S.)
- Score - 7/107/10