Valentine: The Dark Avenger
R0 - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (9th October 2019).
The Film

"Valentine: The Dark Avenger" (2017)

Sri (played by Estelle Linden) is a young girl in her early twenties that is looking to becoming an actress, but in the meantime doing menial work as a waitress in a cafe. When a rude patron physical starts harassing the staff, Sri wields her martial arts skills to take down the guy, and the act is spotted by Bono (played by Matthew Settle). He is looking for a lead to play the heroine in a movie, but he has no money, no backing, but an idea to use her skills to make promotional videos for YouTube and possibly a feature along the way. With the help of his friend Wawan (played by Arie Dagienkz), the costuming and look of the character of super hero Valentine is made, and it is up to the three of them to take down petty crime, and use the footage for their shorts. But there is a bigger force taking place in the city of Batavia - a masked man who calls himself Shadow is wreaking havoc on the city, going against the police force and calling for an uprising.

"Valentine: The Dark Avenger" is based on the Indonesian comic of the same name, published by Skylar Comics in 2014 for five volumes. Written by Sarjono Sutrisno and Aswin MC Siregar as a follow-up to "Volt", the series was more serious in tone than their previous work, and having a strong female character in the lead as well as a more menacing villain. The film adaptation focuses strongly on the martial arts aspect with a large amount of fighting sequences and training montages, and while Linden is quite adept the choreography and editing is extremely fast paced with quick cuts and zooms making it hard to focus on the fighting and instead relying on the editing to pump things up. If the cuts were fewer and had even some sequences with one shot one take that would have been much more enticing and focused. The pace of the film in general is very quick, by establishing the characters quite quickly but at the same time, does not focus enough on many of the backstories. Sri's family struggles after the death of her father and her relationship with her mother is discussed quickly enough but in later portions, it's almost as a reminder that she had a family in the first place since they appear so infrequently. The relationship between Bono and Wawan is also unexplained, and so it is a very odd pairing to say the least, with an American guy in his thirties and a flamboyant stylist as a friend.

With the hero and vigilante comic book genre going to cinema being a major trend for the past decade, it's interesting to see something a little different coming from another part of the world. "Valentine" has more in common with works such as "Chocolate" from Thailand, "Shaolin Girl" from Japan, as well as "Kick-Ass" focusing on a young female fighter. Even the purple costume used is very similar to that of Hit-Girl. In addition, with films such as "The Raid" and "Killers" gaining massive exposure outside Indonesia, the genre of martial arts action films became a big draw. "Valentine" is easily placed in the same genre, with international appeal as well as domestic, with a fairly low budget production featuring fight scenes galore. It does have a target towards a younger crowd, so there are no major issues with blood or major violence as seen as in other contemporaries. The biggest issue with "Valentine" is that much emphasis is placed on the main characters and not enough on the others. The villain of Shadow does not get enough time, making his presence less threatening. The families and other connections also share the same fate.

The film was planned very quickly from the time the comics were being written, and the first teaser trailer was played on August 8th 2015 at Popcon Asia. The production had several delays, but the Indonesian release date was finalized for November 23rd 2017. There were even problems with the release, with the film being withdrawn from cinemas very quickly after due to technical issues with the final digital screening files. With a troubled release and lukewarm reception, the film was not a major hit in its native country, and international sales were made by a few, with the United States and Australia having releases in 2019. Even though the ending of "Valentine" movie is very open ended to having a sequel, it's most unlikely that would happen, but who knows? The film is not perfect by any means, but it is well intended and has a lot of good ideas throughout.

Note this is a region 0 NTSC DVD

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in the theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement in the NTSC format. Being a newly shot digital production, it certainly looks quite good with bright colors and natural skintones. There isn't a particular palate that stands out, so everything looks quite clean and crisp and without a singular sense of style. The use of CGI and greenscreen work is a little less than convincing and even in standard definition looks less than stellar. Overall the transfer itself is a fair one, though it won't be a particular demo disc for anyone.

The film's runtime is 97:21.



















Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1
The only audio track available is the American dubbed version, rather than the original Indonesian/English audio track, which had certain scenes in English. In the dubbed version, even the English scenes are dubbed over so there is a bit of a sync issue in the English scenes. On the positive side the 5.1 track uses the surrounds well with the music and effects, making it very lively especially in the action scenes. It's unfortunate the original audio is not included and the rating must go down for that.

There are no subtitles included for the film.

Extras

No extras are provided. The film starts on disc entry and stops when the film ends.

Packaging

The case mistakenly states the disc is region 4 only while it is actually region 0. It also states it is in the PAL format when it is NTSC, and the runtime as mistakenly listed 112 minutes.

Overall

"Valentine: The Dark Avenger" has its good points as a martial arts hero film, but for the most part there are not strong enough characters and not an immediate sense of threat to sustain the runtime. The Umbrella Entertainment DVD doesn't include the original language track and only the dub, making this a difficult recommendation.

The Film: C- Video: B Audio: D Extras: F- Overall: D+

 


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