Guardian (Indonesia 2014)

Rating: *(*)
Review Date: 3/1/15
Cast: Sarah Carter, Dominique Diyose, Belinda Camesi

"Dedicated to all mothers in the world."

An interesting sentiment to attribute to a non-stop blood and bullets action film, but maternal love is what motivates both Sarah (Dominique Diyose) and Paquita (Sarah Carter) to take up arms against a corrupt politician who wants them both dead. Sarah's impetuous adopted daughter (Belinda Camesi) is also a target, and her adolescent insolence is infuriating. After multiple attempts on her life, she decides the best course of action is to give herself up to the bad guys in a suicidal effort to rescue her girlfriend who is being held hostage. Once again, Sarah and Paquita have to come to her rescue by killing everyone who stands in their way.

On the plus side, it's pretty much all action and Dominique Diyose delivers an excellent and awe-inspiring performance. She's incredibly beautiful and handles her action scenes with physical grace, emotional intensity, and unflinching conviction. I would love to see more of her work. Sarah Carter plays the obligatory foreigner, which the production company desperately tries to capitalize on. She receives star billing, even though she has little more than an extended cameo and has less than a dozen lines of dialog. However, she's fun to watch and handles a gun quite nicely. Sadly, her fight scenes are appallingly bad due to incompetent camera work, which is disappointing considering her impressive performance in "DOA: Dead Or Alive" (2006).

Which brings us to the next point. The nausea inducing camera work in this film is unfathomably awful, which makes the film painful to watch. If it had been shot in any reasonable fashion, I might even recommend the film as marginally entertaining, but as it is, it's nearly unwatchable. The cuts are super quick and the camera is constantly jerking around, making it impossible to see or make any sense out of what's happening. I believe the director subscribes to the notion that if you move the camera around enough, you can fool the audience into thinking that something interesting is actually happening. It also obscures the terrible action choreography, so all you can make out are confused people aimlessly flailing about.

The visual effects are also horrifically embarrassing to watch. Unconvincing CGI cars are used for crashes and explosions, and the results are just terrible. Digital muzzle flashes and ejecting shells are used to the point of absurdity, and the amount of gunfire in the film is laughably ridiculous. Automatic weapons spew literally hundreds of bullets without reloading, and the shooters amazingly never seem to hit anything. In one particularly outrageous scene, Sarah Carter points her rifle into the window of a moving car and kills the driver with a half dozen shots. Then she continues to unload about 50-60 more rounds into the driver's seat for no apparent reason. This overkill behavior is repeated throughout the film, which quickly dulls your senses. If you're a die-hard and/or undiscriminating female action fan, you may find some enjoyable moments in the film, hence the optional 2-star rating. Otherwise, "Guardian" is just a huge waste of time.