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Subversive presents
Sensitive New Age Killer (2000)

"And what are you? A hitman? Or was it personal?"
- Matty (Carolyn Bock)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: June 29, 2007

Stars: Paul Moder, Carolyn Bock, Kevin Hopkins
Other Stars: Helen Hopkins, Frank Bren, Colin Savage
Director: Mark Savage

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, violence, sexuality, nudity)
Run Time: 01h:21m:49s
Release Date: April 24, 2007
UPC: 858964001256
Genre: crime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-B-B- B-

DVD Review

Here's a low-budget Aussie hitman export that is lousy with wannabe Tarantino/Rodriguez/Woo nods, and one that tries rather hard to go nutty at a moment's notice. Gunplay is frequent, the characters are a little squirrely and frequent bouts of comedic strangeness interrupt the blood to pitch the whole thing on its side temporarily. Sensitive New Age Killer (or S.N.A.K. as it's also known) from writer/director Mark Savage tells the story of a young boy who grows up idolizing a famous hitman, and then eventually becomes one himself, only with not quite the same level of success.

The anti-hero here is Paul (Paul Moder), the small time hitman who still rattles off stats of legendary killer The Snake (Frank Bren) like other folks do baseball stats. But poor Paul—married with a young daughter—doesn't quite have the same skillsets as the enigmatic The Snake, plus he's teamed up with his childhood friend George (Kevin Hopkins), a troubled man with very problematic mother issues and a not so hidden agenda involving Paul's wife Helen (Helen Hopkins). And then there's the problem of the horny policewoman Matty (Carolyn Bock), who is blackmailing Paul with weekly handcuffs-and-sex romps. With one last job to get in good with the bosses, Paul and George discover that their latest target—a high profile Korean—has drawn The Snake back into action

Moder's Paul is a likeable chap, hardly typical hired gun fodder. The fact that he's a hitman is sometimes inconsequential, and it's more like's he just trying to beat out the competition at a normal day job so he can be a better provider for his wife and kid (as well as get her that dog he promised). But he is a killer—we do see that often—and when Savage stages a encounter between Paul and The Snake it is a real turning point for both men, and it is a scene that Frank Bren steals without a throw. Bren's old killer reveals himself to perhaps not be the perfect mythical creature that Paul envisioned, and the dialogue here is smart and blunt, something that doesn't hold up for the entire film.

This is one of those films that has something of a cult following, and the weird shifts in tone (even the type of music used on the soundtrack tends to jump all over the map) I suppose adds to its freaky cachet. In order for this to work, you have to be willing to go with Savage's eclectic flow, and even then some of the low-budget elements do detract, while others balance it out and give things that requisite indie charm.

The whole thing barely tops the 80-minute mark, so Savage can't be accused of beating a dead horse; he's in and out with guns-a-blazing conflict and resolution before you know it. That really helps the cause here, and even though there are some rough patches, it's tough to completely dislike a film that is ballsy enough to have a character have sex with a woman that looks like his mom. How's that for weird, eh?

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Subversive's 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer may not look terribly sharp, but given the film was originally shot on 16mm and then blown up to 35mm then I suppose the imperfections are more source-based. The print itself is clean, yet edges are very soft, and grain is fairly heavy throughout. Colors look slightly muted, but there is no measurable smearing or bleed.

Not perfect, but tolerable.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in a rather stripped down Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo blend, and while the mix reproduces dialogue clearly throughout, some of the sound effects and soundtrack elements do play a bit harsh. Not much in the way of any real bottom end, which make the shootouts lack that deep, meaty rumble.

Kind of plain, but indicative of its minimalistic origins.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Defenceless, Marauders, Metal Skin, Blue Murder
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Mark Savage, David Richardson
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Extras include a six-page insert booklet dubbed a "production diary", and it has 40 entries from writer/director Mark Savage chronicling the creation of the film, from meeting with investors to the last-minute title change.

Also included here is a commentary from Savage and cinematographer/writer David Richardson, and though I wasn't completely enamored of the film, the track has some interesting takes on the rigors of indie filmmaking, though it does ramble on at times. The usual topics (actors, locations, cameos) get covered, but the pair do highlight the moments about the film that make it a "perverse action fantasy".

A bit tighter and far more compact is SNAK: A Post Mortem (39m:11s), a reunion of sorts that looks back on the production. Most of the cast is here (apparently all in separate locations), as well as Savage, and it covers the develop of the project, the characters and not-so-favorite memories.

There's also an automated Stills Gallery (01m:22s), cast/crew bios, and a set of Savage-related trailers. The disc is cut into a healthy 32 chapters—not bad for a film that barely clips the 80-minute mark.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Sensitive New Age Killer didn't all quite come together for me like I think it was supposed to, but there's no denying writer/director Mark Savage cut his teeth on the guns-and-oddball stylings of John Woo and Quentin Tarantino, and the implied homages surface pretty often here. It's quirky is as quirky does, sometimes successfully, other times not so much.

Uneven, but littered with bloody, demented promise.

 


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