- Ivy 2017
The Sad Café
Andrew Nathan Janzen (executive), Karen Lynch (executive) for Jiang Hu Productions, Brotherhood Entertainment
directed by Bennie Woodell
starring Bradley Fowler, Katie Lanigan, James Jeske, John LaFlamboy, Matt Ukena, Liz Davis, Eliza Shin, Will Cummings III, Ashley Moret, Walt Sloan, George Gibson, John Rushing, Chad Floor, Joseph Goratowski, Tony Lee Gratz, Patrick Love, Kendyl Lynch, Steven James Price, Andy Pruski, Michael Schmid, Bruce Spielbauer, Darryl Villacorta, Ben Woodell, Andrew Hempfling, Benjamin Nicholson
written by Bennie Woodell, fight choreography by Andrew Hempfling
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Jack (Bradley Fowler) is in love with Rose (Katie Lanigan), waitress of
the café he eats at every day. But even though he has got a strong
feeling his affection is mutual, they have never exchanged a word mre than
they had to - because you know, Jack is a professional assassin, and in
this profession dragging those one loves to hell pretty much comes with
the job. Jack would know, the murder of his first wife Julie (Ashley
Moret) was even ordered by his own boss, Ares (James Jeske).
has continued to work for Ares after the incident remains at anybody's
guess, but deep down he knows he is scum, and he will always bring hell to
the ones he loves.
Then though Jack does something good when on an
assignment for Ares, he ends a hostage situation with none of the hostages
killed. This gives him the feeling that he is capable of doing so and
encourages him to ask Rose out on a date - and before you know it, the two
are lovers. Of course, though, Jack refrains from telling her what he does
for a living.
He should be in seventh heaven, but then Jack sees love
gone horribly wrong when his partner Steve (John LaFlamboy) is lured into
a trap and killed by his very own psychotic girlfriend Lin (Eliza Shin), and when Jack gets
his hands on her and tortures her to death, she only mocks him - and seems
to transform to Rose before his very eyes.
Jack meets Rose's father
(Will Cummings III) - who just happens to turn out to be his next
assignment to kill. Jack fulfills his assignment and still tries to be the
loving boyfriend to Rose he always has been, but Ares and his sadistic
daughter Selena (Liz Davis) have soon found out that Rose has become a
liability, and while they send Jack on yet another assignment, they kidnap
Rose, and Selena brutally tortures her.
It all leads to a showdown that
leaves only Jack standing, but a broken man ...
Nice entry into
the contract killer genre, a genre that for some reason has become
particularly popular in Hong Kong over the last two decades or so - and
indeed, The Sad Café has much more in common with Hong Kong cinema
than with any thriller ever produced in the USA. And with its deliberatly
unhurried pace, its style-conscious and atmospheric direction, and it's
sudden outbursts of violence outbalanced by a strong romance subplot, it
resembles most closely the works of genre-bending directors like Wong
Kar-Wai or Johnnie To - but without merely copying their films or best
scenes, just by remaining true to their spirit. And add to that the very
low budget The Sad Café was obviously made on, and you can't help
but being impressed.