“Tell her about our father.”
Swedish directors André and Vito Gogola cannot deny the roots of their short film “Ren”. In fact, they are quite vocal about the inspirations for their film as the tagline on YouTube speaks of an “80’s Hong Kong Style Short Film”. Since this evokes the works from directors such as John Woo and Ringo Lam, the stakes are set quite high for their production in terms of visual storytelling, the insistence on pathos as well as the obligatory gun battles which have become the trademarks for the cinema of that time.
In the film, a young girl named Ava (Jamie Yun) enjoys a quiet evening with some of her friends when suddenly a few unwelcome visitors enter her apartment. Three men who introduce themselves as members of the Kongbu mafia, an infamous crime family from China, and state their former boss was the true father of Ava. After his demise, they have been searching for her for quite some time so she could take the reigns within the organization. While Ava tries to figure out how to deal with the situation, a crew consisting of members from a rival family to the Kongbu mafia plan an assassination to settle the war between the two organisations.
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Overall, the fifteen minutes of “Ren” show more of a beginning than a fully-defined story. Even though the basic elements are undeniably there, this short film defines a promise of things to come. Especially since the action does not take place in Hong Kong, the protagonist has not yet fulfilled her destiny, but has made the necessary first step once she has taken hold of a gun and fired the first shot of the movie. Certainly, there is a more than solid foundation depicted in this short , one made by two dedicated aficionados of the genre.
Consequently, both directors are fluent when it comes to the visual language of the genre. The editing, cinematography and use of music in the opening scenes alone are wonderful as both an introduction to some of the characters as well as the central theme of finding your destiny. Throughout the film, the use of lighting gives it a very noir-ish look fitting for the kind of stylization the directors are after while also hinting at the dissolution of structures. After all, there is a reason Hilmar Bjarnason’s character speaks of the crime family as an “industry of chaos”.
In the end, “Ren” is a formally solid introduction to a world and to characters which have yet to be fully defined. Its promise is quite attractive to action fans, especially due to the eloquent use of light and music as well as the overall visual storytelling during the whole feature.