The Warrior (12)

Review by Simon Bell

A COLD-blooded mercenary strives to become a man of peace in this strikingly photographed action/adventure drama, based on a Japanese samurai folk tale and set in North India.

Don't be misled though: this visually awe-inspiring piece of celluloid art - from Hackney-born and bred writer/director Asif Kapadia - may be a full-blown epic, but it balances scale and sweep with deliberation and panache.

Lafcadia (Irfan Khan) is a steel-nerved warrior operating under a warlord who keeps a brutal reign over his villages from a crumbling desert fortress. He's invaluable to the tyrant's sovereignty for his unerring professionalism in the cold-blooded massacre of those behind on their tax payments.

But mid-slaughter one particular day, Lafcadia is struck dumb by a vision that coerces him to abandon his blood-fuelled frenzies, pledge to lay down his trusty sword for good and take off into the Himalayas with his son.

However, aforementioned despot isn't happy with Lafcadia's career choice, and vents his frustration by kidnapping his son Katiba (Puru Chhibber) and burning his home to the ground.

Defiant stalwart that he is, Lafcadia sets out on his quest with the tyrant's ruthless band of brawlers hot on his heels and baying for blood.

All of the above may have a tinge of the familiar about it, but Kapadia's reflective and atmospheric stylization echoes the best of Sergio Leone's Westerns, while optically referencing Kurosawa, to astounding consequence.

It took four years to make and embraced French and German financing and an Italian composer. With a British director, an Indian setting and a Japanese story, you could also say this is the best of international film-making.

Kapadia's Sutherland Award for most original and imaginative first feature at last year's London Film Festival has been won previously by none other than Bertolucci, Godard and Ozu. Methinks in years to come Kapadia's name may not look so strange alongside them. The 29-year-old shot his graduation film at his Mum and Dad's home in Stoke Newington when they were away on holiday.

Could he have laid the foundation for a new, burgeoning Hackneywood…? Indielondon likes to dream on.