REVIEW: ‘Fistful of Vengeance’ Doesn’t Pull Any Punches

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Fistful of Vengeance - But Why Tho

Wu Assassins was one of the best Netflix series of 2019 and hands-down some of the best action and fantasy on the platform. After a long wait, we get to dive back into the franchise with Fistful of Vengeance, a direct sequel to the series which has Iko Uwais, Lewis Tan, and Lawrence Kao returning as Kai, Lu Xin, and Tommy respectively. Directed by and written by Cameron Litvack and Yalun Tu, the film also stars JuJu Chan Szeto, Pearl Thusi, Yayaying Rhatha Phongam, and Jason Tobin.

But don’t worry, if you haven’t seen Wu Assassins, Fistful of Vengeance is still a great watch that manages to fill in any gaps for newcomers or those who didn’t rewatch before the film. In it, Kai is the Wu Assassin, a title that comes with special powers, fitting him into a mythos of gods and monsters. Together with his friends Lu Xin and Tommy (more like brothers really), they track a killer from San Francisco’s Chinatown to Thailand to avenge the death of a loved one. But their hunt soon entangles them with old enemies, a mysterious billionaire and an ancient mystical force bent on taking over the world.

One part adventure film one-part hard action, Fistful of Vengeance manages to somehow build the world of Wu Assassins even larger within its runtime and somehow not feel bloated or too exposition-heavy. This is due in large part to the key focus on action sequences and character relationship moments that show you more than tell you what’s happening at any given moment. As a sequel, comparisons to the series are bound to be made, and for me, Fistful of Vengeance is able to go places that the series could not. This helps make the film stand apart from the series but also improve.

For starters, nowhere does it feel like Fistful of Vengeance is pulling any punches. It’s more violent and bloody than the series with inventive kills that serve as pivotal moments in the film and just great “oh shit” moments that are fun to have in the genre. One very special element about the film is the ability to bring forward a gritty and grimey action thriller with all the fantasy and magic we got acquainted with in the series.

It goes without saying that Uwais and Tan thrive in this film. Fistful of Vengeance understands how to use shocking moments to push the story, how to craft violence in a way that never feels out of place, and how to treat action just as important as dialogue. With Tan and Uwais having the largest focus in the film, it’s important to not that even though they’re both great physical actors when it comes to action, they’re also dynamic on screen when it comes to creating a thriving relationship. Like Wu Assassins before it, Fistful of Vengeance is very much about family. It’s about familial sins, found family, and more. The brotherly bond between Kai and Lu Xin is expanded over the course of the film. Add this to the fact that both actors knock their action elements out of the park, and it’s a winning duo.

Each fight sequence is beautifully edited to let the actors shine and fast-paced to capture their physicality. And the best part? The pace is kept when the men are fighting women as well. With a female cast that stuns, each and every woman fighter holds her own in one to matches and does so with the same precision and beauty as we see from Uwais and Tan.

Within its genre, Fistful of Vengeance comes out swinging hard. It has inventive fight sequences, a sexy charisma, and you can tell every member of the cast threw their entire beings into their roles. The cast has kinetic energy that bounces from each interaction to the next and the chemistry between everyone can’t be understated. Outside of martial arts, Fistful of Vengeance also presents a story, that even with slightly odd pacing, world-builds and pushes the characters towards growth and resolution either for residual elements from the series or new ones that arise.

Truthfully, Tommy gets the chance to grow the most out of our returning characters and it’s done so by acknowledging his past and making something new. Relationships are key in Fistful of Vengeance seeing Tommy develop into a character with his own drive and his own power in the story helps round out a great story. But the film doesn’t just do right by its original cast, standouts like Thusi and Tobin are two new characters that deserve to be praised as well.

Finally, we have one element I didn’t think I’d talk about in Fistful of Vengeance: sex. Not only does Fistful of Vengeance feature some amazing action, but it also has one of the most passionate sex scenes I’ve seen come from a Netflix production. While I won’t spoil which characters are involved, I will say it’s intimate, steamy, and works extremely well as a narrative device, and well, to hydrate the thirstiest among us.

A near-perfect fantasy-action-adventure, Fistful of Vengeance brings everything that action fans will want. It brings fantasy and violence together and leaves you wanting more. Thankfully, the door is open for that with the ending, although it does offer some closer. If this is all we get of Wu Assassins, I could be okay because damn…what a way to end. That said I hope the brilliance, chemistry, and beauty of the franchise that Fistful of Vengeance showcases sends a message that this is a world we all want to see keep growing.

Fistful of Vengeance is streaming exclusively on Netflix on February 17, 2021.


Fistful of Vengeance
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    Rating - 9/10
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TL;DR

A near-perfect fantasy-action-adventure, Fistful of Vengeance brings everything that action fans will want. It brings fantasy and violence together and leaves you wanting more. Thankfully, the door is open for that with the ending, although it does offer some closer. If this is all we get of Wu Assassins, I could be okay because damn…what a way to end. That said I hope the brilliance, chemistry, and beauty of the franchise that Fistful of Vengeance showcases sends a message that this is a world we all want to see keep growing.