Bullet Points: Mandrill
Before he was out for vengeance in Redeemer, Marko Zaror was seeking revenge in 2009’s Mandrill.
Mandrill was the third collaboration between Director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza and Zaror. The two had previously worked together in Kiltro and Mirageman.
- Extreme Where’s Waldo?: The movie begins with our first look at some of the things our hero (and professional bounty hunter) Antonio Espinoza aka Mandrill is capable of as he is on the hunt for a man named Waldo. From his sneak attack on a bathing beauty in a swimming pool, to the amazing windmill kick he uses to take out two thugs in one fell swoop, to bargaining with Waldo to get an additional $20 million (on top of the $9 million he was already being paid to take Waldo out) and then killing Waldo via electrocution. The abilities of Mandrill are quickly established in the first few minutes of the film, but who the hell is Mandrill?
- Flashbacks: Mandrill’s backstory is told via flashbacks. First we see a very young Antonio Espinoza hiding in the closet while a ruthless drug lord kills his parents. From there we see the young boy now living with his uncle Chone (Alejandro Castillo) and asking his uncle what his father did for a living. Tio Chone tells Antonio that his father was a man of mystery, like the Jame Bond like movie character John Colt. That proves to be a life altering moment for Antonio, who now begins to pattern his entire life around the character John Colt. He copies John Colt’s fashion sense, he begins studying the martial arts, he learns how to handle and shoot a gun, and last but not least, he learns how to pick up women. All of these things help transform Antonio Espinoza into Mandrill.
- His Next Assignment: After successfully eliminating Waldo, Mandrill’s next assignment is to take out a ruthless drug lord nicknamed Cyclops. It isn’t long before Mandrill realizes this is the assignment he has obsessed over most of his life… Cyclops is the very man who killed his parents! Finally he will be able to get his revenge! But Cyclops has not been seen since 2003, so Mandrill targets Cyclops’ daughter, Dominik (Celine Raymond). He finds out where she is staying (a swanky hotel/casino in Lima and checks in under his birth name. His objective get as close to Dominik as possible to find out where Cyclops is hiding. But Antonio soon finds out that romancing this woman is easier said than done. Growing up with a blood thirsty criminal for a father has given her some serious daddy issues. And you have to wonder how far the apple fell from that tree. But Antonio turns up the charm and eventually closes the deal with Dominik (if you know what I mean) and then gets his revenge on Cyclops. But revenge is a vicious circle and the last act of the movie has the hunter becoming the hunted!
Mandrill was my second look at Chilean action star Marko Zaror and again I was wowed by the man’s fighting skills. Zaror’s fighting style is poetry in motion. I also liked that in Mandrill more of Marko’s personality was on display. Zaror really is the total action hero package and the action movie world needs more Marko Zaror movies.
The movie itself had a Tarantino like vibe to it. And there was plenty of action jammed into the 90 minute run time.
I loved the fact that Antonio’s biggest influence growing up was the fictional John Colt. As cool as Antonio/Mandrill is, the fact that he worships a movie character bring him down to earth and makes him real. How many of us don’t look up to some of the fictional characters we’ve grown up with?
And the super campy John Colt movie scenes that were intertwined in this movie added an element of fun you don’t often get in movies where your main character is looking to kill the man who murdered his parents. So the Colt segments were a definite bonus and speaking of bonuses, let’s wrap this review up with some bonus Bullet Points…
- Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: Given the fact that the John Colt character (and indirectly the Mandrill character) was obviously inspired by the James Bond character, I loved that the movie gave special thanks to all the actors (as of 2009) that had portrayed James Bond.
- Tagline: Cooler than Shaft, Hotter than Bond, Faster than Lee
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Marko Zaror do a commercial for a Schick razor, then this is the movie for you.
- Bust a Move: While it wasn’t at Van Damme Kickboxer levels, Zaror proves he can get jiggy with it in Mandrill.
- Shout Out: The Mandrill character gets a shout out in another Ernesto Diaz Espinoza directed film, Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman.