EquilibriumEquilibrium is an interesting 2002 Science Fiction film on the list which has a bit of a martial arts edge to it.

The film is set sometime after World War 3, and the world leader has seen what small amount of humanity has remained and concludes that another fourth World War would wipe out mankind for good.  So he decides that the very best solution to stop man from blowing up and destroying itself  is to suppress all human emotion, avoiding emotion like sadness and anger.

This is done by issuing a mandatory drug which removes emotions from humans, and removing all art and anything tangible which could illicit any kind of emotional response. This is also enforced by clerics (kind of like Kung Fu Spocks – without the pointy ears), who destroy all of the items that are banned and police the world with any ‘sense offenders’ being killed by incineration after a trial.

This is when we’re introduced to Christian Bale’s character John Preston, the very best Cleric in the force and a walking example of the ideal member of this modern ’emotionless’ society.

But his partner is acting suspiciously, so John looks into it.  He discovers his partner Errol (Sean Bean) is keeping certain things from him and has been feeling emotions for sometime.  John then executes him for his sense offense.

But things start to change with John…

He accidentally skips a dosage and starts to feel emotion.  Before long he questions this emotionless way of life and before long starts to indulge in it and gives up his dosage altogether.  Before long he joins the resistance and plans to assassinate ‘Father’ (the man in charge of this new world order) and bring emotion back to humanity.

John Preston

Quite a Concept

This whole concept is very interesting.  Although anyone over the age of 10 could debunk why it would never happen, it offers a smart take on what it would be like if things did go the road of ‘no emotion’.

Everything is grey, sterile and boring however clean and modern.  The overall look of the environment and the people has a bit of a calming effect as everything is so peaceful.  But it’s pretty funny how this lack of emotion is to save lives yet they ruthlessly kill all ‘sense offenders’ – losing a large number of humans quite regularly, all for the cause of man’s survival….?

It’s shows how flawed the idea is and the movie itself even touches on how useless the idea is, with one person addressing the fact that surviving without joy or appreciation, simply to survive doesn’t make sense as you’re merely surviving for the sake of surviving.  Of course naturally there’s a rebellion and this itself would eventually lead to a civil war of some sort.

This whole dictatorship reminds me a lot of the Nazi’s, and even the flag itself is reminisent of the Nazi flag. Check it out below to see what I mean!

Libria and Nazi Flag

All interpretations aside, the movie is quite interesting merely discovering how the world works and furthermore, what John’s experience is like feeling emotion for the first time.  With a top bill of actors like Christian Bale, Sean Bean and Taye Diggs, you can expect a decent and relatable line up of characters.  But what about the action?

Christian Bale Fights

The Action & Martial Arts

This movie has some great action and even a bit of a martial arts edge to the operation of the clerics.

The clerics learn a ‘gun kata’ for being surrounded by many enemies.  The idea being that statistically all of the movements provide the greatest chance for accuracy and defense from their enemies.  A kata, rehearsing moves to perfection is a very karate and martial arts approach to combat – but relying on statistics and history to determine each move mathematically is such a perfect expression of the movie’s concept – taking the art portion out of a martial arts oriented approach.

Of course Christian Bale’s character has a fantastic Gun kata and watching him perform it is impressive.  But there are also other combat sequences, relying on clever editing to create some excellent action, but Bale also holds his own pretty well on screen.  With his Wing Chun background I’d imagine he’d have a decent understanding of martial arts and would be able to apply that to his performance.

Overall the movie offers action sequences rather regularly and they’re all pretty decent.  Entertaining for fans of action with a good amount of martial arts thrown in to keep martial arts movie fans happy, without being total purist in approach. Equilibrium passes off as a well rounded action / sci fi film.

Gun kata

The Verdict?

I liked it.  Not purely a martial arts film, but more a science fiction / action.  But there’s something here for martial arts fans also backed up by a clever concept and story line.  Check it out for sure!

On Blu Ray –

Region A (US & Canada)
Equilibrium [Blu-ray]

Region B (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe etc)
Equilibrium [Blu-ray]

On DVD –

Region 1 (US & Canada)

Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Equilibrium [DVD] [2003]

More info on Movie Regions here.

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