WET, which takes its name from the phrase “wetwork” or a job that leaves your hands covered in blood, is a third-person action game with styelized violence and a grindhouse/exploitation aesthetic.
Action/Adventure Third-person Shooter
Artificial Mind and Movement
“ExploitaFest Wrap Up” continued from page 42.
showed many exploitation mainstays like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and the venerable I Spit on Your Grave. However, it is the lesser known films that keep me going to the theaters yearly marathon of the classics in “grindhouse” cinema. In the past I have discovered some great flicks here, two recent examples being the Japanese chambara films Hanzo the Blade and Sex & Fury, that had gone under my radar previously. I’ve come to expect a surprise or two from this run-down, single screen theater in the heart of the city. Hell, this theater probably is the heart of the city. Decaying, poorly maintained, and slowly succumbing to the more modern sprawl around it- how about that for a social commentary on our culture?
I digress- this year did not disappoint in the pleasant surprise department. Although “pleasant” may not be the best word to describe a fairly traditional revenge drama as blood soaked at this one was. The name of the film in question is WET. I remember seeing a short trailer for WET in this same theater during a double feature of Ms. 45 and Thriller – A Cruel Picture. I mentally tagged it in my head to check it out but it got lost in the shuffle until now.
It would be easy to someone who isn’t a fan of the exploitation genre to simply ignore WET or call it a Tarantino rip off and end it right there. This is a bit of a “high concept” and is really made to be enjoyed most by those of us packed into this grungy building to enjoy films like it. It would be fairly hard to explain the appeal of something like WET to somebody who considers Kingdom of Heaven or 300 to be among the most violent movies around- not to play the “they just don’t get it” card, but they just wouldn’t get it. The beauty of this movie is made much stronger when you are familiar with its grimy influences.
WET is a pretty visceral experience. Rubi seems to have a grab bag of acrobatic moves to dispatch the minions that stand between her and her ultimate revenge. Her concentration and speed are so thoroughly trained that she can actually slow down the events around her and pick off enemies one at a time- or just slash through the guts of three of them who were unfortunate enough to be standing close together. Sure, this is an effect we have seen in many films, but not quite to this extreme. I never saw Keanu Reeves do a wall-run into a front flip and cut someone in half with his samurai sword, I just saw him turn into Jesus or whatever that ridiculous ending was supposed to mean.
Speaking of Jesus, WET isn’t exactly the greatest story ever told, but it is certainly an entertaining romp. It actually has a good amount in common with Lady Snowblood, and by proxy the Kill Bill movies. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t stand out on its own merits, however. Unlike Lady Snowblood, Rubi is a bit more of a bombastic personality, and also there isn’t any rape involved- think of WET as a rape-revenge film without the former. It also doesn’t have any foot fetish shots, so at the very least it has that to distance itself from the Tarantino comparisons.
What was I talking about? Oh, the story. Rubi is an assassin, she is tricked by a drug lord who hires her for a mission and is left for dead. Of course it doesn’t take long for her to recover and slide, slash, and shoot her way through to the mastermind. If there is one thing I’ve learned from these movies its that if a girl is wielding a sword or dual pistols, she probably has more lives than a cat. One of the most refreshing things about Rubi is, her catlike inability to die not withstanding, she takes a realistic amount of punishment. She isn’t superhuman, she may be superbadass, but she still takes her fair share of punishment and still limps her way to the films rewarding climax. I’m also trying my hardest to not make a pun about the fact I used the word climax in a review of something with the title WET.
WET may be a modern take on some classic genre tropes, but the visual feel of the production seems to be missing something. It would be hard to call it dated due to the older movies and style it is influenced by, but still, there is a slight unpolished look to it that the director tried to hide under a flim grain filter. This doesn’t detract from the main selling point of WET (really most movies from this weekends film festival) and that is the unrepentant violence. The unrefined visual feel of the movie also takes a backseat to an absolutely amazing soundtrack. Each action scene is punctuated by some incredible surf-punk tunes that not only go perfectly with WET’s frenzied pace but also enhance the action sequences dramatically.
While this highly stylized violence may eventually get repetitive to some viewers in later acts, the breakneck pacing of the story and the fact the action never actually slows down to catch its breath helps to alleviate any feelings of doldrum. I have to admit though, I wasn’t really too sold on WET being anything but a bloody one trick pony until a scene where our vulgar heroine, played by the wonderful Eliza Dushku, is falling from an exploding plane at an unimaginable height. In this scene she is not only hurling herself towards a parachute, but she is also dodging exploding debris and shooting foes from the sky. Rubi certainly puts my multitasking abilities to shame- I almost got into an accident trying to set my GPS to find an Indian restaurant near the theater while driving. During the aforementioned scene, the movie not me getting cursed at for cutting someone off, I actually had to turn to the guy next to me and ask him “How could anybody not like this?”
He didn’t answer, as he was too interested in whatever game he had in his Nintendo DS at the time. I wanted to ask him what he was playing, but I knew whatever it was it wasn’t as interesting as what we were witnessing on this screen, so I left him alone to his game I mean, It isn’t like a video game could ever capture the feel and entertainment of this genre adequately anyway.
Make sure to check out issue 91 next month- Gavin reviews the DVD re-releases of The Mountain of the Cannibal God and Eaten Alive!, and even adds a story about taking a girl to see Man From Deep River on a first date! Ouch!