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Outcast Movie PosterReview

Outcast (Action, Adventure) (2014)


Director: Nick Powell

Writer: James Dormer

Stars: Hayden Christensen, Liu Yifei, Bill Su Jiahang, Nicolas Cage

When an emperor is assassinated by his eldest son, the legitimate heir to the throne is forced to flee the same fate. With him, his elder sister and a weary wanderer running from his own past.

Known for his work as a stuntman and fight choreographer, Nick Powell makes his directorial debut with "Outcast". An action-adventure taking place in imperial China with a forlorn warrior on a fresh path, unintentionally guiding the future of an empire. It was produced by Canal+, Media Max Productions, Notorious Films and 22h22 while being distributed by Entertainment One, Telefilm Canada and Yunnan Film Group.

After the Crusades, a vastly different theatre of war unfolds in China, during the reign of the Song Dynasty. As the ageing reigning emperor announces his youngest son as his successor, enraged by being renounced, the emperor's eldest son makes a hastened end to his ill father's life. But not before his younger siblings escape the royal court. On the run from their warlike brother unrightfully pronouncing himself emperor, their journey through the turbulent Chinese countryside is far from smooth. Eventually, finding an opium-addicted ex-Crusader unwillingly accepting his new chargés guiding them in their path while struggling with figments of the past.

Trying to imitate films such as "The Last Samurai" or "47 Ronin" but in Medieval China. Nick Powell casts a Caucasian protagonist graced with the presence of Chinese royalty—an action-based familial revenge tale brought to us by an acclaimed stunt performer.

Outcast (2014)Briefly glimpsing into the Crusades, we see Christensen's Jacob and his former mentor in Cage's Gawain lay charge to an Arabian city. Their morals being questioned, with the latter mentioning going east. Thus, our entry into Song dynasty, China, where a tearful departure leads the rest of "Outcast", both narratively and thematically. An English-spoken feature with a primarily Chinese cast trying to imitate a historical-epic with lesser means, despite a seemingly vital journey to a safer future.

Outcast (2014)From an appealing time period, there's ample direction to move for Powell and Dormer's script. Christensen's foreign zealot guides Yifei's Lian and Jiahang's Zhao to wherever they may need, an ever-vital task to safeguard a future for the Song Dynasty. However, that description isn't granted much elaboration. We're treated to a revenge plot, although more-so, there's plenty of journeying without the direction you'd initially think it would have.

With an obvious strength in stunt work and action choreography, Powell's directorial feature is most sturdy through these spare segments. Using grounded and gritty fights without elaborate moves and using the environment to benefit, there's promise. Although, the twitchy camerawork fails to show this efficiently. Other than the action scenes, we're in for an uneventful adventure, which is challenging to engage with due to the almost dubbed-sounding Chinese/Chinese-American cast, only using English dialogue. An always-welcomed Nicolas Cage also suffers; with gruff vocals that cause even him to underdeliver. "Outcast" makes it abundantly clear that Powell should've never dared to sit on the Director's seat, unable to adeptly capture any of what could've made a film in historical China intriguing instead of opting for an empty and generic tale nobody wants to see.


Cast-out to the bargain bin.