The Sitges Festival has strapped on its boxing gloves for the European premiere of Os reviento, (I’ll Crush Y’All) directed by Kike Narcea, a Spanish production full of punches, smiles and over-the-top characters. The movie proved a huge success in the United States, where it won the audience award at the Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas — one of the most popular genre film festivals. It also won in the best feature film category at the Buried Alive Film Festival in Atlanta, generating great expectation among fans and not-so-fans of the bad guy genre and positioning itself as among the new brand of cinematic guilty pleasure, of which Jason Statham remains the undisputed king.
An example of this summer’s guilty pleasure offering — to which many moviegoers, albeit in a loving sense, would not openly admit — was Meg 2: The Trench, in which Statham takes on a prehistoric shark. Os reviento stars Mario Mayo as Tarado, an actor who is positioning himself for the title of the Latin Statham. “A programmer at Austin’s Fantastic Fest reviewed it as ‘The Spanish Jason Statham,’ and the truth is that it made us both very excited because we love it. It is true that they are easily comparable. They’re both bald, both very hunky,” says Narcea “But the truth is that each one has his charisma. I think, in fact, that Mario Mayo is better looking than Jason Statham.”
Is there a such a thing as a punch-’em-up genre? “There is a line in the film, delivered by my character’s father, which defines this question: ‘You were born to dish out punches and you know it’. And the thing is that Tarado is not a scholar of minds, nor is he a strategist who plans what he’s going to do at every moment. He is a guy who has always been in trouble and who simply wants to escape from it, but when he sees what little he has in danger, his only way out is to fight,” says Mayo. For Narcea, “the good Spanish action directors, talented craftsmen like Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi, José Antonio de La Loma, or the Romero Marchent brothers, ended up making co-productions and movies that, although Spanish, were shot in English with American actors, or stars like Antonio Mayans, who we have in Os reviento playing Mario Mayo’s father. I would like, frankly, that some of these works that we make have enough success to consolidate a niche market and [generate] talk about Spanish action cinema.”
The surprising thing about Os reviento is how its creators, with a budget they consider sufficient but not generous, have managed to produce a film with more than respectable technical and artistic qualities. “I have done theater, I participated in several of the first internet series that existed, and in several short films that a priori do not have the financing of a feature film. The important thing is to give the most of yourself wherever you are,” Mayo explains. And as Narcea points out: “If the doubt is whether to make the film or not, the answer is always yes. You don’t have to be crazy, or try to shoot stories that require a certain budget. But yes, when you don’t have the budget you want, you have to do something else, but do it [well].”
Os reviento opted for care of the product. “I believe that what we call magic in cinema is precisely made up of details,” says the director. “With image and sound alone, you have to fill everything with details that make you believe that the Titanic is really sinking.” And that also applies to fight sequences: “Fatigue can play tricks on you, so you have to be very careful to make it look credible and not trashy. And, of course, having an actor in front of you who also knows what he is doing,” says Mayo.
In addition, humor provides the spine of the movie in a kind of self-parody with substance, where the dog seems to be the most intelligent character. “In the movie they are all crazy. In fact, Tarado is possibly the most normal, the only one who just wants to live with dignity and not go back to jail,” Narcea explains. “Spain is a place where any tragedy, epic or epic, is always full of humor, of someone who doesn’t know [what’s going on], of people all talking at the same time, of everyone giving their opinion. At times Os reviento seems like a [Luis García] Berlanga movie. It wasn’t premeditated, but it’s true that I consider Berlanga a master of masters and I’m a sucker for quinqui [Spanish exploitation] cinema.”
You never know where a Jason Statham will emerge from, or if he is born or made, but Mayo, on the basis of humor and punch-ups, leads the film with charisma: “I remember when I saw Demons, by Lamberto Bava, as a child, where [the characters] had to fight a horde of demons in a movie theater. And Tarado, in a way, sees himself in that situation, without any set plan, fighting with his fists and whatever he has at hand.” It’s remains to be seen if Os reviento will have to pull punches to navigate the sea of premiere season.
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