Room 236 (Unlawful Justice) Directed By Wilfredo Torres & Armin Alic
Plot : When a cop who’s willing to sink to the criminals’ level in order to take them on crosses path with a rogue mob boss his misdeeds eventually come home to roost. He breaks the law to, in his mind, bring some semblance of order to a chaotic world.
Thoughts From The Popcorn Gallery:
If that plot sounds familiar it should it resembles the plot of any 80’s movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell or Jean-Claude Van Damme or more recently the TV show (The Shield). It’s been a while since I’ve seen an indie film that left left me wanting to see what they could have done with a real budget and a tighter story. Now I sat down with the filmmakers before the premiere and spoke to them about this project. This journey has been a long one for them as this film has been in production for 3 years. What started out as a concept trailer turned into a full blown feature; one that had no script nor structure and one that they basically learned as they went. Now, I’m one to say “ARE YOU CRAZY” this will be a disaster but, as it turns out it wasn’t a disaster. Is the film perfect? No not by any means, however, there is enough there that left me saying these guys pulled it off. Now the version I saw in the premiere was 3:30 hours, way too long for an action film which should be a quick 1:30 or so, but the filmmakers assured me this version was only for all those who helped out, so they could see themselves on screen. As much as I think that was nice of them, it’s never good business to show a film to investor nor media thats not 100% the version your gonna release. Mainly because once you recut the film and add the proper music and reshoot certain scenes, you will end up with a different film.
Now lets start with the review, the film opens up with our hero cop, played by Wilfredo Torres, driving like a mad man with his partner in tow, played by Luis Antonio, racing to a 911 call. Now why would a police captain be driving to a 911 call is never explained, but the scene plays out really well and funny to boot. I give a lot of props to the co-director and editor of the film, Armin Alic, for his nice work here and throughout the film, he shows promise, and also to Wilfredo for taking on both Acting and Directing a tough job to do. After this scene, which is intercut with the mayor talking to the head of the police dept. about needing to clean up this town, we are introduced to the bad guy mob boss, played by Russell Clifford. Now he and his gang of thugs apparently are into everything from robbery to drugs, however, his motivation to do what he does throughout the film is never truly explained. Anyways, The Boss, as he is called, sends his thugs to rob a bar in which they do while our hero cop just happens to be there when the robbery goes down. Now the thugs are under orders not to kill anyone, but of course they do and things go down hill from there. Now this scene is an example when they were winging it with no script as the tension isn’t really there, and the chaos on the screen looks more like no one knows what to do. It does have a cool violent kill scene with a character I thought they shouldn’t have killed, played by Sher Shearey. I could have seen her more in the film as the troublemaker who causes chaos and danger for our lead character. There are a few other characters that I liked though out the film, the two main thugs, played by Kory Kay and Kerly Meus, plus a kick ass fight between Quan Ngo and Anthony Giovanni Ellias. There are a lot of good little scenes throughout the film that get laughs and applauses from the audience. Actor Wade Williams pops in the middle of the film and gets a few laughs from the audience, but his strong performance can’t help the fact that his character feels like an afterthought, no real reason for it to be there. Unfortunately, the lack of a script and story structure hurts all the hard work the filmmakers put into this film.
There are too many characters running around, not moving the plot along. There are too many plot in one film that makes characters do things that don’t make sense and that cause huge holes in the story. There are jump cuts with characters and scenes that leaves you scratching your head and wondering how in the hell does that intercut. We have a great fight scene with Quan and Anthony only to go nowhere as his character vanishes and never used again. There is a real good bad guy that pops up in the middle of the film that kills a cop and then does a massacre that leaves the film open for a sequel, I only wished he was introduced better and used as a true antagonist.
Technically the audio and sound effects needs work as I couldn’t hear the dialogue a few times and the sound effects were to loud, The acting was a hit and miss mostly because the lack of a script or story structure though out the film. But if they fix all their mistakes you got yourself one pretty good film as your first film.
Over all the filmmakers get a A for the effort but a C- for the film. Now if its recut and fixed, it could be a B-. Congratulation Guys Great Job!