Review: Kaante (2002)

Directed by:
Cast: , , , , , , ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

Is it a remake of Reservoir Dogs? Does it rip off The Usual Suspects? All of the above! Considering that Reservoir Dogs was inspired by Ringo Lam’s City on Fire and The Usual Suspects was inspired by Kurasawa’s Rashomon, it’s no surprise that this baby is a mixed kettle of fish. You can even throw in some Martin Scorsese and John Woo in there too. The director claimed that Kaante was also ‘inspired’ by several well known crime thrillers but he’s going to have a hard time convincing the average punter. Complete chunks of plot and scene set-ups are directly lifted so the comparison is blatantly obvious.

The question isn’t so much whether who inspired whom but whether the fruit of this inspiration is something worth your time. So is Kaante worth forking out the dough?

Well, consider this. There’s enough testosterone in this movie to knock over a whole herd of rampaging cows. This crime caper felt like a Bruckheimer secret side project, an all boys affair running on adrenaline, with big ideas, big guns and even bigger explosions.

Where Corey Yuen’s the all-chick action fest So Close was all lipgloss and sexual innuendo, Saanjay Gupta’s Kaante is all bad boy gun-toting coolness and machismo stylistics.

Despite being derivative to Hollywood and a nod to HK cinema in nearly every way possible in terms of plot, style, direction and music, Kaante still score points for retaining some inherent Bollywood goodness. It’s fantastically paced with superb direction, cinematography and editing. The attempt to integrate Bollywood over-the top escapist fare with tense emotional drama is also commendable, with some degree of success.

In its over eagerness to be hip and impressive though, the film does shoot itself in the foot at times — certain scenes are hackneyed and heavy handed. There’s a scene with an arms dealer, which I think could easily be deleted for the singular purpose of promoting peace, love and harmony among humankind.

Other times, style rules over content. A five minute slow mo’ montage of the boys fondling and testing out their guns is an indulgent show-off piece, bordering on eroticism so intently serious that it cracked me up.

Writing wise, the script is generally snappy and funny, capturing some of Tarantino’s irreverent humour, although a conversation about Madonna was strangely absent. The mostly Indian audience [that is excluding me and my friend] had a ball, cacking themselves at jokes and moments that obviously didn’t come through on the subtitles.

Stretching at nearly 3 hours, it could have done with a little trimming, especially the two extraneous musical numbers, since they were done pretty much out of context, serving little purpose other than titillating eye-candy.

Kaante receives no points for originality, in fact most of the time I can’t help but feel that it’s a Hollywood action fest disguised in Hindi right down to its gaudy little shoes.

But I quite enjoyed it despite … well maybe because of its charged up fervour.

7.5 drunk toe-tapping criminals out of 10.
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