When there is an outbreak of a virus that turns people into Zombies, a small team of soldiers is sent to look for the scientist who may hold the key on curing it…
What happens if you take a dollop of Neil Marshall’s Doomsday, a sprinkling of Escape From New York and 28 Days Later, an extract of The Raid and a drop of Train To Busan and ? You get a film like Redcon-1.
Now, mentioning the above films, which I love in relation to Redcon-1 may be doing the later a disservice. A lot of films borrow from others to a degree. It’s what you do with the borrowed items that can make or break your film.
In the case of Redcon-1, the writers Chee Keong Cheung (who also directs) Steve Horvath and Mark Strange take these elements and for the most part make their own film. The basic story does have similarities to Marshall’s film, with infected zones, a small team looking for a scientist and possible cure, the limited time mission is from Carpenter’s film, the action does have the vibe of a film like The Raid, as is the idea of not fully introducing the characters before the mission, instead letting them develop more as it progresses. Perhaps more surprising is the nod to Train to Busan and the emotional heart of the film. It’s something I feel films never get right, especially those with a lot of action, but it works very well here.
Where I feel the writers get it wrong, however, is that in their attempt to blend their influences, they try to do too much. The film runs for 115 minutes, but I do think that there’s actually too much going on. As well at the military team, we have another group they battle at times, a camp of survivors are dragged into the story late on in the film as well as scenes of the officer who sent them, Major Smith, that aren’t fully developed. There’s also a moment in the film which is definitely a moment of plot contrivance. I also think the final confrontation in the film doesn’t grip as much as you want it too.
These issues don’t derail the film however, in part as director Cheung keeps the film moving from action set piece to action set piece. He stages the action very well indeed, barely letting the audience relax before the next burst of violent action arrives. The screening didn’t give the film’s (UK) classification, but I would imagine it’ll be an ’18’ here. We get guns, swords, axes and even sledgehamer as the soldiers battle the zombies/infected. However, while the action keeps erupting, Cheung prevents it from becoming repetitive, thanks in part to a story detail of the infected being able to use weapons and work together.
The cast, certainly for me are mostly unknowns but all equip themselves very well indeed. Oris Erhuero plays the lead, Marcus, leader of the soldiers and is very good indeed. There is good support from Carlos Gallardo, Mark Strange, Katarina Leigh Waters, among many. While the character outline may fall into generic traits, the actors are able to bring out those aspects very well indeed. At the end, thanks to Erhuero’s performance and his character’s relationship with the little girl they rescue is touching, which leads to a slightly emotional ending, which is a perhaps surprising, but welcome touch.
The film is budgeted at under $1M dollars. At a Q&A after the screening, the director didn’t give the exact figure, but said it was under $1M. Considering the scale of the film and its ambitions, you have to admire what the production companies have made. It has a scale way above it’s budget and for the most part pulls it off.
I really enjoyed Redcon-1. It may be a patchwork of ideas from other films, but holds together as it’s own thing. It’s brutal at times, very bloody with some good action, and some touching moments.
It may not be truly an original idea or film, but it’s one that is certainly worth taking a look at.
Rating: ***1/2 out of 5