The Man Who Feels No Pain (India 2018)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/7/19
Action Director: Eric Jacobus
Fight Coordinator: Dennis Ruel
Cast: Abhimanyu Dasani, Radhika Madan

Surya (Abhimanyu Dasani) is a boy who was born with congenital insensitivity to pain. His unique condition and odd behavior make him a natural target for bullies, but his friend Supri (Radhika Madan) is there to protect him. Surya's dream is to become a superhero and catch muggers like the one who killed his mother, so he spends all of his free time learning martial arts by watching old kung fu movies. Unfortunately, a dangerous stunt ends up nearly killing Supri's father and Surya's family is forced to move away. Many years later, Surya continues to chase his dream by becoming a student of Karate Man, a legendary one-legged fighter who defeated one hundred men in a row. However, Karate Man has fallen on hard times, and it's up to Surya to help him defeat his evil brother, Jimmy. As fate would have it, Surya reunites with Supri, who also turns out to be one of Karate Man's students.

This is the first Indian martial arts movie I've seen, so I have nothing to compare it to. I primarily tracked it down because Eric Jacobus and Dennis Ruel worked on the action choreography and direction, and I'm a fan of their work. That said, the action is nicely grounded, staged well, and executed with technical precision and flair. The cinematography is great, but it seems like nearly half of the film was shot in slow motion. I don't know if this is typical of Indian cinema or not, but it becomes a huge distraction after a while. It's a good trick to have in your cinematic toolbox, as long as you don't abuse and overuse it. Newcomer Abhimanyu Dasani is a charming, attractive, and charismatic lead, and does a wonderful job of capturing Surya's quirkiness. Unfortunately, Surya is an unreliable narrator and the film falls victim to its own unrelenting silliness. It also suffers from pacing issues, and way too much time is spent in childhood flashbacks. Not being familiar with Indian cinema, I can't say if this type of humor and presentation is common or not, and I definitely felt culturally stranded while watching it. If nothing else, the action scenes are fun to watch, and action is an international language.