Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #134
Number of Views: Two
Release Date: October 12, 2012 (Sitges Film Festival), April 27, 2013 (Dead by Dawn Horror Film Festival)
Sub-Genre: Short Film
Country of Origin: Spain
Running Time: 15 minutes
Directors: Adrián Cardona, David Muñoz
Producers: Adrián Cardona, David Muñoz, Paco Ferrari, Mónica Murguia, Marc Velasco
Special Effects: Adrián Cardona
Visual Effects: Adrián Cardona
Cinematography: Paco Ferrari
Score: J. Oskura Nájera
Editing: Adrián Cardona, David Muñoz
Studio: Eskoria Films
Stars: Marc Velasco, Noé Blancafort, Salvador Llós, Victoria Roldán, Roger Sotera, José María Angorrilla
Suggested Audio Candy:
One Minute Silence Holy Man
If there’s one thing that folk can’t get enough of then that would be religion. Take the holy bible for example, hardly what you would call a light read, yet according to statistics it is the best-selling book of all time with sales of well over five billion and still rising. Even J. R. R. Tolkien can’t make that kind of claim. That’s right, for as much as the majority of us swear blind that it doesn’t interest us, the numbers don’t lie. Granted, it had a pretty significant head start on the competition, but that’s still an impressive tally. If ever a novel was crying out for a sequel, then the bible would be it.
It doesn’t stop at literature either. Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of The Christ may have polarized critics and religious groups alike, but over $600m in box-office receipts speaks for itself. Indeed, Jesus has appeared in numerous cinematic guises over the years with the likes of Max von Sydow, Robert Powell, Willem Dafoe, and James Caviezel (not to mention Graham Chapman) all doing their utmost to showcase the divinity of the sandaled savior and with varying levels of success (it’s Brian by a nose for me, no pun intended).
That said, never before have we been provided with any disclosure of the true meat in this prophet’s pie. He nonchalantly shuffles towards his harsh fate, bearing the heavy burden of his crucifix on his bloody shoulders, without ever once voicing his disparagement and, while this alone corroborates his endurance, it offers precious little insight into how he would fare in a brawl. So how would the special one shape up mano-a-mano anyhoots? Are those bare feet capable of distributing a sound butt-whooping when called into action? Apologies if this all sounds a little blasphemous but, when you consider we are here to discuss a film by the name of Fist of Jesus, it should hardly come as a great surprise.
Don’t shoot the messenger. If you’re looking for someone to point the finger at, then how about Adrián Cardona and David Muñoz? You see, the clue is very much in the title. Action Jackson was clearly not going to be a ponderous courtroom drama, while anybody that watched I Spit on Your Grave expecting a fluffy rom-com can only have themselves to blame. Fist of Jesus pretty much sums this up perfectly and, for fifteen brief but eventful minutes, does precisely what it says on the tin. That is not to say that our holy crusader is a one trick pony. Indeed, he displays his aptitude as an unscrupulous scam artist, before tooling himself up for the skirmish ahead armed with two fishes that multiply like mogwai in a monsoon.
So let’s start with the Old Testament shall we? You see, Jesus (Marc Velasco) is in the process of delivering a sermon when informed that Lázaro (Roger Sotera) has expired. Given his well documented gift for rejuvenation, he decides to put this to good use by bringing his good friend back to life and this works a treat as, within no time, Lázaro is back in the land of the living….kind of. While the crowd are awestruck by this “miracle”, it hasn’t been quite the resounding success it first appeared as Lázaro has spent his time out cold developing a taste for human flesh and wastes no time snacking on whoever he can sink his teeth into first. Worse still, it’s catching, and this fast-growing horde of ravenous zombies are unlikely to be satisfied with five loaves of bread. It’s damage limitation time.
While there is a smorgasbord of rotting cadavers looking to challenge his imperviousness, the good shepherd isn’t unaided and assistance comes from the most unexpected of places. Judas has been provided with many titles over the years but loyal sidekick isn’t ordinarily one of them. It appears the scripture may have been a tad hasty in its damnation of this alleged turncoat as Judas (Noé Blancafort) provides a staunch ally as the pair defend the realm against the legion of the dead and never once requests thirty pieces of silver as payment.
J. Oskura Nájera Fist of Jesus
As for the devil’s disciples, they are fully aware of their place and purpose, that being to supply the token fodder and donate their organs for a superabundance of quick-fire dispatches. That’s right, Fist of Jesus features an absolute shit storm of splatter and it rains down from every conceivable angle as they chow down upon the condemned townsfolk like an all-you-can-eat buffet and are swiftly made to pay. We’re talking a tidal wave of deep red, with Jesus riding the whitecap, and pound-for-pound there are few movies as magnanimous with regards to gushing grue. Meanwhile, the production values are surprisingly lofty for a film of its brevity; with ample show of authenticity persuading us of the credentials of Cardona & Muñoz.
Ultimately it’s a one-joke affair and well suited to its fleeting running time as it would struggle to sustain itself over any longer a period. It can be particularly troublesome judging a short film conclusively as the luxury of time is not on its side and any impact must be made with swift gusto. That said, it can also work in its favor, as outstaying its welcome needn’t ever be a concern. For me it boils down to this: should I have a quick “fifteen-on-the-fly” then would I choose to peruse the Old Testament or a pamphlet on green issues? Regrettably, Jason Eisener’s Treevenge beats Matthew, Mark, Luke and John hands down and, while Fist of Jesus packs it in like thanksgiving turkey stuffing, it still ends up carrying the crucifix. However, I will say this, if Gandhi Does New Delhi ever surfaces, I will clear aside a quarter of an hour rapturously.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 5/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: Cardona is also responsible for the FX and, while the carnage is occasionally rather crude, it’s so relentless that there’s barely a split second to reflect. Indeed, the ratio of bloodshed to duration gives Peter Jackson’s Braindead a fair old run for its money and that is no small feat. Heads are compacted beneath sandals, limbs plucked from their sockets then used as bludgeoning weapons, centurions impaled, multiple blood geysers facilitated, and we are gifted perhaps the most munificent free-for-all involving fish ever committed to celluloid.
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Revised Edition 2016)