Signaling director Joseph Kandov’s second turn at the helm will be his latest sci-fi action fantasy, Shocked. This is my first taste of anything he’s directed and for its fifty-three minute duration, he ponies up quite a concept worth investing some interest, particularly if he can polish up his craft a bit for the sequel should there be one.
Penned by Kandov and cast member Kofi Nsafoah, Shocked prefaces its narrative with a foreword on ancient African culture and technology. The film segues to present day with Ran Jacobs debuting as Kojo, a good Samaritan left neutralized when Osei (Hannibal Miles) an alleged mugging victim shocks him with a mysterious device.
He later shocks an elusive criminal named Mason (Kofi Nsafoah), and as the film moves forward, we meet a small cadre of local gangsters, a detective, and a man named Xamot (Donald Tucker) searching for the murderer of his twin brother, Jimmy. The mythos behind the device is only further explored as the story eventually sees Kojo confronting Mason with the device still in the wind.
Going on the basis that this is actually slated to be the first of something more serial instead of a one-off, there’s a lot left to be desired pertaining to character development. One of the bigger missteps sees a character getting his head blown off by local crimeboss Mr. Saint (James Lee), and we never really see its connection to the story, or what exactly Jimmy’s role in the story leading up to Xamot’s fracas with Asian criminal heir, Sai (Kenneth Klugewicz).
Jacobs, also a martial artist, delivers an ample performance as Kojo, and showcases a certain level of promise given the right director and choreographer. There are definitely some sweetners in the action if you can forgive some of the not-so-well-stacked hits that ensue, while the CG is what it is for a low/no-budget indie. We later meet a quartet of females with their own plans for the device after they’ve gone postal and stabbed their unsuspecting male cohort in a frenzied killing scene. It’s really the only time the acting leaves an impression, albeit purposefully comedic, apart from the drab performances of its cast.
One major plus worth pointing out is the Afro-centric nature of the story. I could easily imagine how something like this would look on a much bigger scale if concepts like this were sought after with the right numbers and people in tow, and what I dig the most is that it took up-and-coming indie filmmaker to rise to the challenge. I’d say that slightly more upscaling directors and producers should take notice but given the air of lingering racism and bigotry, taking this sort of chance is like sitting at a shitty craps table and the fix is already in, even in a post-Black Panther industry.
In rating the actual product, you could do worse in the realm of indies. While Kandov’s palette is one full of ideas, Shocked is more tattered in its delivery of characters and acting than preferred. As a result, he inordinately packs on to the canvas, leaving a more porous introductory than preferred, and the expected high point that should have seen Kojo face off with Mason is left categorically anti-climatic.
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Shocked fails on the Pass/Fail scale, but I wouldn't ignore the idea of applying concepts like this a bit more.
- Solid moments of action amidst a story that builds off a fascinating concept rarely seen on screen.
- Dull resonance that caps off an hour-long foray into largely tepid acting, poor scripting and structure.