Reviewed by Erik W. Van Der Wolf
Starring Nate Jensen, Marcio Catalano
Written and Directed by Jay Cynik
A Punch Brand Films Production
Ever since Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse, filmmakers have tried to exploit and capitalize on the renewed interest in low budget, exploitive fare which, traditionally, offers plenty of sex, blood, and violence but little in story and substance. Sometimes that’s good, but most often it’s not, and video store shelves are littered with examples of the latter.
In the categories of sex, blood, and violence, Punch is no different, offering all three in spades and with all the force of a Mack truck crashing through a church filled with nuns. But, where Punch is different, is that it actually strives for a compelling narrative, which is not only refreshing, but actually interesting.
Told in a manner that can best be described as Cinematic Punk Rock Poetry, Punch tells the stories of “Brand” (played by Nate Jensen), who runs a motorcycle gang known as The Teenage MOD Murder Squad, and “Punch” (played by Marcio Catalano), who runs a rival gang known as The Four Barrel Felons. When a mysterious prophet comes to town, he puts their lives on a collision course, indicating the world’s fate just may ride on the outcome. As the story unfolds, we learn that Brand's and Punch’s lives have crossed in the past and this final battle was inevitable, if not a necessary exercise which occurs time and again, constantly testing the fate of man.
Punch definitely looks and feels like a low budget film, but first-time writer/director Jay Cynik makes the best use of the tools available to him, defies budget constraints, and delivers a very watchable movie, which is no small feat. And while he certainly directs with an amazing amount of confidence for a rookie, there are moments he tries a bit too hard with the script; while the poetic aspects of the narrative play very well for the most part, the uber hip dialogue does become a tad tiring. And while some of it induces eye rolling at times, it’s not enough to ruin the overall viewing experience as the story itself is cogent enough to keep you watching.
Performances are uneven, which is expected for a low budget movie, but both leads (Jensen and Catalano) are appropriately the best of the bunch and I would expect to see more of these two in the future.
All in all this is a very solid first outing for Cynik. He should be proud of what he’s delivered and gets major points for striving for something not just different, but also substantive. Kudos.
3 1/2 out of 5
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