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Pre-emptive Defense

by Couch Kumara

A student has a dire medical emergency in the midst of a self-defence class.


OK I guess I had better review this one whilst it is still fresh in my memory coming off 2nd place in Wellington, congrats on that and good luck for potential national finals!

Onto the film itself, where a self-defense guru with 15 years training passes on his knowledge of impacting, incapacitating and impairing would-be attackers with hilarious effect to a class not ready for his swift authoritative action, made all the more difficult for one student when they take the wrong pills.

The performances here were top notch with Sam O'Connor as the direct professional instructor commanding powerful screen presence, whilst Josh Dey nailed the wide eyed beginner with aplomb. Script was also gold with incredibly memorable lines such as the penis being the CPU of the paedophile. Gold.

Editing was slick, and the reaction shot was killer too, evocating instant memories of Eric Stolz administering a needle in PULP FICTION. So yeah, I can definitely see the reason for the awards as story was strong and elements were nailed which is exactly what we're looking for from 48.

Now for mine there were a couple of things that held the film ever so slightly back. I mentioned it in my review of Tripping Point but yes utterly surreal seeing multiple teams with a race against time to stop drugs hitting the central nervous system of the protagonist. Plus as per my previous paragraph that was most definitely a Tarantino homage at least. So some of the key story beats not being the most original just personally I noticed, however it was balanced out by everything else being unique.

Ultra - shot in the dark was to be honest on the line for me. Like yeah it was an evening class in a dimly lit room, but not quite sure it fully ticked the 'in the dark' box there. I don't mind really though I think Ultra really shouldn't come into things when measuring entries against other teams.

Last personal slight negative for me was I thought the film looked great and it was a genuinely believable dojo/centre, but it also meant the background was a little bit plain. On the other hand that worked by allowing the strong script and performances to stand out. Which was helped by having crystal clear sound and sound design.

And that's just personal opinion, because the thing is everything was so tightly consistent in terms of grade and framing that its super hard to deny how bulletproof your cinematography win was.

One thing I will say though is that on first viewing through the heats I had the film marked down as a 3 or 3.5 out of 5. I thought the script was great but wasn't sure the story worked as a cohesive whole. However it 'came alive' for lack of a better term on second viewing, and seeing it on the big screen with 600+ others proved just how cinematic it was. I'm still not 100% on the story despite the great script (hence my arbitrary rating of 3.5/5) but in combination with the elements I truly see how it worked overall. So great job team, awesome to see legends like you continue to make rock solid films in this comp.

Story: 3.5/5
Technical: 4.5/5
Elements: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

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