In my impressionable teenage years I was exposed to the first round of the modern day action heroes. Starting with Arnie, Bruce and Sly more followed in the bulky shapes of Dolph, Jean-Claude, Chuck and a host of other lesser tough guys. What was missing from this mix was a female star to beat (up) the guys at their own game. Into the Arena came Cynthia Rothrock an all action bad ass martial arts fighter. Never really scaling the same heights of her male counterparts, Cynthia at least proved there was a market for her type of action hero. Since her, female action stars have been a bit thin on the ground with the only recent memorable mainstream performance coming from Gina Carano in the 2011 Steven Soderbergh thriller, Haywire. So it was a pleasant surprise to be recommended a short film called Rough-House featuring  a all action actor, Mandy Bhari in the lead role. 

The Mask

An agent, Cal, has been held for more than three weeks in a run down building. Having been subjected to both physical and psychological torture, Cal is managing to hold on to her silence. The captor, a mysterious masked man (Scott C. Magee) has run out of patience and decides to remove Cal’s tongue with a machete. Cal is able to remove herself from her binds and gain the upper hand on The Mask. In order to get to the big boss (Raymond James) Cal must fight her way through a room full of the Boss’s henchmen. Has Cal go the moves and the guile to triumph in the face of overwhelming odds?

There is a certain art to being able to tell a story and get you involved with a set of characters. A short film is at a severe disadvantage in that it has so little time to do this. With a running time of only three minutes Rough-House has a massive task to get it s audience involved. To its credit it achieves this with ease. This is in no small part to the writer / director Johnny Herbin. He has produced a screenplay that gets to the heart of the story almost from the first shot. It doesn’t hurt  that the role of Cal is played with such style by Mandy Bhari. Mandy obviously relished the opportunity to mix her acting talents with her martial arts prowess. With her extensive fight training, Mandy is the centre of attention in all of the fight scenes. The scenes are fast, very well choreographed and above all, highly entertaining. The music and sound effects deserve a special mention. They compliment the scenes and add to the entertainment rather than overwhelm the action. The three-minute run time even allows for a rather splendid final scene. Without giving anything it away, it rounded off the film in an interesting way.

As always I have the utmost respect for anyone who is able to translate an idea into something that can be seen and enjoyed by many people. It is a true gift. This film is really good and cannot be recommended highly enough.

You can view the film below

John McArthur
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