Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to both Eric Bresler of Artsploitation films and Matt O’Mahoney, Writer and Director of the Horror/Comedy film “Bloody Knuckles” for allowing me access to an online screener of the film prior to its official release date of October 27th. Bloody Knuckles is Matt O’s first full length feature film. The story follows Travis (played by Adam Boys a fellow Aussie), a comic book artist with a proclivity for the morbid. When a copy of his latest edition falls into the hands of Leonard Fong (played by Kasey Mazak), the local Chinatown crime boss who’s offended that he’s the current topic, Travis’s drawing hand is removed and his life spirals out of control when he’s hand takes on a mind/agenda of its own. With the help of both Amy (Gabrielle Giraud), a reporter and love interest and Homo Dynamous (Dwayne Bryshun), a gay, dominatrix dressing crime fighter of sorts Travis can get his life back. The film also stars Ken Tsui, Steve Thackray, Kent Leung and Tim Lok.
Bloody Knuckles has an interesting and unusual premise, one that appears to have been inspired by the likes of “Idol Hands” and “Big Trouble In Little China”. The poster art is pretty cool and the opening title credits are entertainingly presented. There’s some really talented drawings on display with the “Vulgarian Invasion” brand of comics that Travis creates. I’m not a comic fan myself but I can see the talent behind that style of art, so kudos to whoever drew those. The film’s opening sequence was a great way to kick things off acting as an indication to what sort of business the China-man are into, as well as giving the audience some clever gooey practical effects early in the piece. Nearly all the camera work is expertly handled and the editing is nice and crisp. Audio levels were loud, and with my second-rate speakers that’s saying something. Bloody Knuckles is adequately lit and the subtle use of low-fi, synth music is great as well. There’s only a handful of locations in the film which helps to keep the cost down. There’s Travis and Ralphie’s (Tsui) apartment, an underground club and Fong’s Chinatown hangout.
I enjoyed a fair share of the humor on display in Bloody Knuckles. A few of the jokes were a little crass for my liking and some of the desperate stuff was rather obvious but most of it was fun. The awkward interactions and misunderstandings are among the films strongest moments, comically speaking. The “I don’t work with terrorists” gag and a majority of the serious, voice over communication done by Dynamous were the funniest things in the film. The constant talk of vengeance was humorous given the nature of the story, and for the most apart interactions between Travis and his hand were also pretty funny. Midst the entertaining movie references and silliness of the story, are serious undertones that establish contemporary issues regarding censorship and act as a social commentary throughout the mayhem of what’s ultimately a Horror/Comedy film. That aspect didn’t leave me any further informed on the subject but it also didn’t hurt giving the film another avenue.
All of the cast in Bloody Knuckles did a great job. Ken Tsui was entertaining and likable as Travis’s roommate and best friend Ralphie. Gabrielle realistically portrays Amy and supplies us with some of the films more serious moments because her character’s a little more well-rounded. It’s Adam Boys though that ends up elevating the film, he appears to know the exact intended tone of the character and just the film in general. You can sympathize with his situation, he’s basically rebelling against the system and what is and isn’t politically correct and let’s face it we’ve all wanted to do that at some point. The animatronic work that went into controlling the hand deserves plenty of praise. There’s several scenes where we get to see the hand exploring its surroundings much like “Thing” from “The Addams Family” film does. There’s also some great practical blood and gore effects on display, most of which can be seen in the second half of the film. The consistency in blood color varies from time to time, but when a character gets killed it’s always considerably messy and in particular one of the kills, but I won’t spoil it.
It’s clear that on the technical front Matt has learnt his craft well. With the exception of a handful of shots that could have been framed better and the early inconsistency in blood which was ironed out quickly, everything else is admirable. The other minor misgivings are in some of the writing and the fact that at times, the middle part of the film lags. The youngest of the Asian gang (can’t remember his name), but who holds Amy at knife point early in the film didn’t do his best work. It was obvious that he was the least threatening member of the gang mainly because everybody else did their bit. That could just be down to a lack of experience and he’s character might be seen as the new up and comer in the group but he didn’t sell me on his performance. Detective Frank played by Steve Thackray was okay but my issues stemmed from some of the writing involving his character. He’s shtick came across to me like a parody (maybe intended), where he’s just going through the motions and being extremely unprofessional. Even if you had a certain agenda or no interest in the specifics you wouldn’t conduct yourself in the manner he does throughout the investigation involving Travis.
Bloody Knuckles says “nobody has the right not to be offended”, but I’m sure there’s plenty of people who will watch this and won’t be, it takes a lot to offend some people. I wasn’t a fan of the BDSM sequence in the film but I guess it supposed to make you feel uncomfortable (which it did haha), and I know it had a purpose in setting up the arc for the Homo Dynamous character so it’s probably more a personal preference than a knock at the film itself. There’s an assortment of colorful language in here too. Some of it in context but other times it feels forced, bringing to mind the C bombs that get a little crass. There’s quite a lull between the time Travis loses his hand and when he comes to terms with deciding to take out the Chinese gang. There’s no real interactions of any importance throughout that part of the film and it turns into a bit of a chore as you wait for the showdown to ensue. The one thing I thought was going to have more of an impact simply because of the poster was Travis’s hand giving him the finger at some point. There’s a moment where we see a side on index finger after the hand has been thrown out of the window and hits the street, but I would’ve enjoyed seeing it during the final showdown maybe aimed at Fong. Speaking of the showdown it was over prematurely. I was hoping for a bit of back and forth and plenty more splatter! Maybe a certain characters head to explode “Scanners” style or something but alas.
Look “I know you don’t have ears but listen up” Bloody Knuckles is a bloody good time. It has that Asian influence/charm of “Big Trouble In Little China” mixed with the absurdity of the previously mentioned “Idle Hands”. Matt O’Mahoney is a filmmaker to watch out for in the near future, he’s created something with a great energy and high in production value. Everything from smooth camera movements, to clear audio and balanced lighting plus a nostalgic soundtrack Knuckles has more good than bad. The performances are mostly fun while remaining professional and the practical blood and gore effects are as good as any Horror/Comedy on the shelves. I could have done without some of the crass dialogue and desperate moments of comedy, as well as the slow middle section. A couple of writing hiccups could have been rectified and a lot more mayhem added to the film’s climax to just help put the icing on what is a pretty impressive cake. Bloody Knuckles is available for pre-order through Amazon I suggest you get yourself a copy!
My rating for “Bloody Knuckles” is 7/10