Phoenix is having a rough night. Her scumbag ex boyfriend has just shown up in her apartment with a gunshot wound and a sack of stolen cocaine and her psychotic HIV positive prostitute sister has also shown up, having just shot a john in the face. Plus there are gangsters after the cocaine who will stop at nothing to get it back. Plus there’s her lesbian friend downstairs whose brother is involved on multiple levels and wants to drag her into a plot to steal and sell the cocaine. Plus it’s her birthday.
Phoenix is the central character in A Kiss of Chaos, the unfortunately titled offering from Maya Entertainment. She is played with sullen competence by Judy Marte and surrounded by a cast of “where do I know that dude from?” Latino actors in a basic drug/gangster/crime movie that is clearly aspiring to be more. For one, the character of Phoenix is supposed to be an artist of some kind. We know this because there are a couple of flashes of her on a stage in some kind of coffee shop, apparently reading entries from her diary, which, as her lesbian friend tells her, “sound like poems”. We must, however, take this on faith, since the only tidbit we hear is the enticing entry, “November seventh; I’m in love with the wind”. I’m serious.
Phoenix’s artistry has little impact on the events of the film though. Every other character behaves in random, unpredictable ways, often with mysterious and unexplained motivations. The best example of this is the character of Isis, Phoenix’s sister. Right down to the film’s final scenes, we have no idea why this nut job does the things she does; her only apparent reason for existing is to be crazy and desperate, and maybe to legally allow them to use the word “chaos” in the title. In fact, the only reaction I had to her final scene was a mystified “What the hell….?”
All the other characters in the movie, particularly the gangsters, are shallow stereotypes right out of central casting. That side of the plot goes pretty much the way every movie involving drug dealers and betrayal goes, with lots of cursing and shooting, and many men dying in a loud and gruesome fashion, with weird-looking post production blood and wound effects.
The writer/director, Ricardo Sean Thompson, does a nice job with the look of the film, with lots of gritty atmosphere and a real sense of the world these people inhabit. His pacing needs work though, as he tries to speed things along without giving the audience time to digest the many double-crosses and layers of betrayal. The plot keeps throwing stuff out there while trying to keep things colourful and exciting until you just lose patience and stop even trying to care. And by the end, when Phoenix surprisingly and inexplicably transforms into an ass-kicking avenging angel with a gun, you’ve lost the capacity to even question where this latest development came from and ready your finger on the stop button on your remote.
A Kiss of Chaos is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen. The quality is decent, with a dark and muted colour palette, which serves the film’s atmosphere nicely. There is good detail in the indoor scenes, but outdoor scenes and larger set pieces are a bit grainy, which also works for the film. Dark scenes tend to get a bit muddy, and the transfer is very clean, with only a few defects popping up here and there.
The disc contains a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track and a 2.0 Dolby Stereo track along with English and Spanish subtitles. The sound quality is fine, with occasional use of the rear channels, mainly for effect during the action scenes. The dialogue is well-recorded and easy to understand, with easy to read subtitles during the Spanish segments.
Automatic Trailers: Across the Line: The Exodus of Charlie Wright, Spooner, The People I’ve Slept With, Zombie Farm
There is a lot of good stuff here, and hardcore gangster movie fans might find a rental worth their time. However, the good stuff is so buried by shallow characterization and poorly delineated motivations for the characters, that the end result is a confusing mess.