has Shaolin training and an Interpol badge, but the most dangerous thing about
Samuel Lincoln Tharpe, a.k.a. Black Salt, is probably his hardnosed attitude.
He will need every possible edge to save the world from an apocalyptic Yakuza
sect in Ben Ramsey’s Black Salt (trailer
short film intended to launch an ambitious multimedia franchise based on the
comic book characters created by Owen Ratliffe. Genre fans can get a dose of
martial arts and WMD when Black Salt airs
on Cinemax on Demand and MAX GO.
young Tharpe’s mother relocated to China, it ended in tragedy. However, a
rebellious Shaolin monk took the boy in, teaching him the secrets of Shaolin
Kung Fu. Not so surprisingly, many in the monastery were not happy with this
breach of tradition, so they were not sorry to see him leave before completing
course, the very grown Tharpe is a badder customer than just about anyone else
in the West, which makes him quite valuable to Interpol and the allied agencies
they lend him out to. The stakes will be particularly high when Tharpe is sent
on a mission to recover a vaguely defined doomsday device from an evil Yakuza
death cult. However, things seem to go pretty smoothly thanks to intel acquired
Li Jing, his dissident source inside the Yakuza—at least until the sect’s super
villains turn up in an untimely fashion.
though Black Salt is pilot-like
thirty-minute short film, it features two centerpiece-worthy fight scenes, in
which Tharpe first faces off against the icily sadistic Rain and then the
mysterious and stealthy Horse Ripper. Both feature plenty of highly cinematic fight
choreography, co-directed by Ron Yuan (who appears in a non-action role, at
least thus far, as Japanese agent Mamori Shiga).
far, so good. True, Black Salt the
short will totally leave fans hanging, but that is really to be expected, given
the concept-proving, audience-teasing nature of the project. As Tharpe, Kinyumba
Mutakabbir has a suitably steely presence and all kinds of action cred. Sheena
Chou’s Li Jing is an intriguingly vulnerable femme fatale, but we maybe shouldn’t
get too attached to her. The same caution goes for Panuvat Anthony
Nanakornpanom, who tears it up as Rain.
It looks like Ratliff
and Ramsey plan to combine Eastern spirituality with gritty street action, in
much the same way the original Power Man
and Iron Fist comics did, which would be terrific. They clearly understand
the genre and know how to deliver the goods to satisfy aficionados. Based on
the thirty minutes of Black Salt, we
would definitely welcome a full length feature or episodic series. Recommended
for martial arts and comic books fans, Black
Salt will be available on Cinema on Demand starting today (4/28) until May
26th and continues its current availability on MAX GO until June 30th—with
a limited edition DVD coming soon.
Labels: Martial arts cinema, Short Films, Yakuza films