Fist Of The Condor Poster

The Fist of the Condor (2023) Review

When I got the offer of a screener for the new martial arts film The Fist of the Condor, (El Puño del Cóndor), I was surprised to see that it was from Chile. Since that isn’t a country noted for its contributions to the genre you can imagine my further surprise when I found out that its star Marko Zaror and director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza had done several films together including Redeemer and Mirageman between 2006 and 2014.

Zaror eventually left Chile for Hollywood and roles in everything from Invincible and Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone to Undisputed 3: Redemption and Machete Kills before reuniting with his old friend. And it’s a good thing he did, rumour has it that it was the first trailer for Fist of the Condor that got him his role in John Wick 4.

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After a brief introduction telling us about Rumi Maki, the martial art used by the Incas, and its sacred manual, The Fist of the Condor, kept hidden from outsiders the film moves to a fight on a beach as Geurrero (Marko Zaror) faces off against an opponent (Jose Manuel, The Man from Kathmandu Vol. 1, Dispatched) who believes he is the book’s guardian. After defeating him Zaror tells him it’s his twin brother Gemelo (also Zaror) that holds the manual. And he wants to kill him.

The feeling is mutual as Gemelo sends Kalari (Eyal Meyer, Downhill, Too Late to Die Young) to kill his brother and retrieve the copy of the book he believes him to be carrying. When he asks why Gemelo doesn’t kill him himself, he’s told, “If he can’t defeat you, he doesn’t deserve to fight me”.

Most of The Fist of the Condor’s plot is set in flashbacks to our hero training under Mother Condor (Gina Aguad, Mirageman) and the events that led to the brothers’ estrangement. It’s a fairly familiar story and anyone who has seen more than a few classic martial arts films, or even an anime like Fist of the North Star, will recognize it.

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Mixed into this are, of course, several fight scenes. Some are connected to the film’s plot, others are as random as someone walking into a bar full of bikers who don’t like strangers. The fights were choreographed by Wernher Schurmann (The Green Inferno, Aftershock) and feature plenty of high-flying and acrobatic action. The duels between Kalari and Master Wook (Man Soo Yoon, Kiltro, Desvío) and the climactic fight between Kalari and Geurrero are both excellent.

Yes, I said the climactic fight is between Kalari and Geurrero, not the two brothers. Although it isn’t on the poster, The Fist of the Condor’s print carries the subtitle “Chapter One” and the final reckoning between them, as well as some important details of their feud, seem to be held back for the sequel.  While it’s not as bad as Alienoid, where viewers found out after two and a half hours they were only seeing half of the story, it’s still annoying and will lead to unhappy viewers. Adjust your expectations accordingly to avoid disappointment.

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If you can get around that though, The Fist of the Condor is an entertaining film that makes the most of its small budget and small but talented and enthusiastic cast. If Karate Ghost was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to old school kung fu films, this is a more serious and respectful hommage. 

Well Go USA will release The Fist of the Condor in Alamo Drafthouse Theaters on April 4th. It will be available on the Hi-YAH! Streaming Platform on April 7th. A general release and DVD availability will be announced later. And if you want more action, FilmTagger can suggest a few more titles for your viewing pleasure.

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