Bey Logan gives us a rather unique look at black market organ trading in his latest effort. The Dark Soul.
Kevin Brewerton stars in the latest film by Bey Logan about a mysterious stranger named Chandler (Brewerton) who appears in an Asian city looking for a missing person. Soon Chandler teams up with Dixon Lee (Lang-Xing Ye) when they come face to face with an international organ smuggling syndicate and a secret that changes Chandler’s life.
The Dark Soul is a hard one to process initially. From the get go it is clear that there is much lost in translation for someone who has never really steeped themselves into Asian culture, particularly Chinese Culture. In many ways, this is one of those films that make your average American viewer feel a little like the ‘fish out of water’ that everyone in the film believes the lead character, Chandler, to be. Regardless, I persevered and dove into this film determined to see the latest Bey Logan had to offer.
At first glance, this is little more than a stiff, slow and initially confusing Asian action film. It was clearly made on a shoestring budget with a cast of B-level actors but, even with everything going against it, it still manages to tell an intriguing tale that touches on action, intrigue and a little bit on the supernatural.
The story itself seems to be one that is a search for self identity. Chandler comes to China looking for answers after experiencing horrible nightmares that lead him to search for a certain man. All the while we are unsure if this man he is searching for is a former college, an old friend or even a companion from Chandler’s past. As the story progresses we learn that there is much more going on when it is revealed that Chandler is the recipient of black market organ. I won’t go any deeper than that as to avoid any spoilers but the story seems to have a deeper meaning for those familiar with Bey Logan and his work in Asian cinema. In many ways, Logan himself is a transplant hailing from England but finding a life in Asia as a film maker.
While the story has a ton of potential, actor Kevin Brewerton nearly derails it from the beginning with his very stiff and extremely wooden acting. In many ways he reminds me of some of the early works of Christopher Walken with a very clipped cadence to his words and a rather aloof personality that makes him feel more at home in 80’s B-movies than a modern film. That being said, the Brewerton we see at the start of the film does not seem to be the same actor we see at the end. It is almost as if we are watching an actor improve in his art as the film progresses and that alone gives me hope that he will only improve with subsequent films. Where Brewerton shines is his skills in his martial arts. It is abundantly clear that this man is more comfortable with physical action than he is with emotional moments. His movements are graceful and purposeful showing that he has a true talent in the martial arts. Even though he has been in a number of films, I hope we get a chance to see Brewerton continue to grow as an actor.
Accompanying Brewerton through most of the film is Lang-Xing Ye as Lee. While it is obvious that this is Lang-Xing’s first stint in a role like this, he clearly shows that he has the skills needed to make it. Much like Brewerton, Lang-Xing seems a little off at the start of the film but, by the end, it is clear that he has found his character. I look forward to seeing more of Lang-Xing Ye in future films.
As I said before, it is clear that this is a film on a tight budget but, like many of my favorite 80’s films, this limitation does not slow The Dark Soul down. In fact filmmaker Bey Logan does all he can to make the film he wants working around his limitations in clever (and sometimes obvious) ways. I am curious what kind of film Logan would make on the budget of a major motion picture. Would we get a Uwe Boll effort or something more in line with Luc Besson? Despite his rather recent public scrutiny, I think Bey has the makings of a Besson if given the chance. I don’t think we have seen his Leon moment, but I have a feeling it is just around the corner.
The Bottom Line
So far, each of Bey Logan’s films are entries that you have to commit yourself to in order to get the full experience. While it would be easy to give up on The Dark Soul in the first few minutes, I found that, if you can look past the rather stiff acting and low budget effects, there is a good story here. After his film Vixen, I could see that Logan was a filmmaker who just enjoyed making films and was not afraid to have fun with the canvas he was painting on. As I watch more of his films, it seems that Bey attempting to blend American and Chinese sensibilities onto the screen to varying degrees of success. The road to bring the East and the West together in a way that honors both cultures is not an easy one and, to Bey’s credit, he seems to be making some serious strides in the right direction.
The Dark Soul is an interesting film that, with some more polish could have been a real gem. It is a film with a ton of potential and I am glad I got a chance to see it. If you enjoy interesting stories and Asian Cinema, this one is for you. Just be sure to give it some time to get the story going.
DarkCoast will release THE DARK SOUL onto various digital platforms on June 11 (Amazon, DirecTV, Vudu, FANDANGO, Vimeo on Demand + AT&T).
Late To The Game 6/9/2019
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