Our man on the plastic stool is unsettled by kids who just LOVE Wolverine with all its graphic scenes of torture and gory killing
According to Director James Mangold, The Wolverine was able to skirt ratings that would bar young viewers by featuring more blade violence than gun violence. If you're into slow knife penetration and lots of wanton bloodless killing, you should definitely go see it. Just don't take your kids. If you already did take your kids to see it, you might want to have a long talk with them about how they shouldn't stab their grandfather in the brain (no matter how mean he is) or perform major surgery on themselves (no matter how bad they feel). File photo
This weekend I took two little girls to the movies. I offered to buy them tickets to see Xì Trum II (Smurfs II) but they insisted on Người Sói (The Wolverine).
For those of you who don’t know, the Wolverine is a comic book character. I didn’t know anything about him myself before the movie. So here’s a crash course: as a little Canadian boy in the 19th century, the Wolverine’s hands sprang bone claws when his actual father killed his adopted father. Young Wolverine used these claws to disembowel his actual father. Then he spent the next 100 years fighting wars with the US army alongside his twisted half-brother. His tour here in Vietnam apparently ended when his half-brother tried to rape a Vietnamese woman.
All of this was established in Wolverine X-Men Origins, which I never saw. So I didn’t know anything about all the rape and father murdering when I bought tickets for Người Sói (which more accurately translates to The Wolf Man) for two adorable little girls.
Clutching popcorn tubs the size of their heads and some giant sodas, they settled into their oversize chairs prepared for full moons, hairy hands, and perhaps some high school werewolf romance. What they got instead was perhaps the most spectacularly bizarre and wickedly violent narrative since the Old Testament.
If life made sense, I would probably be arrested for taking them to see it.
The film begins in Nagasaki, where the Wolverine saves a friendly officer in the Imperial Japanese Army by throwing him in a well and then keeping him under a metal door while the nuclear blast vaporizes roughly a million or so unseen people.
In addition to his ability to stab things with his claw hands, the Wolverine has a body that instantly heals itself. So during the opening scene, we watch most of Hugh Jackman’s skin melt off and then grow back. For the rest of the movie he gets beaten with baseball bats, shot, stabbed, poisoned, arrowed, poison-arrowed, declawed, and finally reclawed.
You don’t end up feeling very bad for the Wolverine because he does a lot of really terrible things to pretty much everyone.
Somewhere in the convoluted origin story that precedes this film, the Wolverine promises his dead girlfriend he won’t kill or hurt anyone. That goes right out the window when he decides to stab a poisoned arrow into the hand of a bear hunter (The Wolverine really likes bears) and then tortures the man with a shot of whiskey.
It just gets a whole lot worse from there —particularly when Jackman falls in love.
The object of his affection is a rail-thin Japanese actress whose life he saves so he can totally ruin it.
See, ladies, when Hugh Jackman loves you he throws your fiancé off a building, stabs your dad through his throat (oh yeah, your dad’s trying to kill you) and then has you stab your beloved grandfather in his brain (your grandfather is trying to kill the Wolverine).
Once all the men in your life are dead, he just peaces out. He’s got other stuff to do.
Hey, did I tell you about how Jackman performs heart surgery, on himself, with his claws?
Oh, he does.
The kids didn’t like this movie. They loved it. Which somehow makes all of this worse.
Why am I writing about how perversely violent this movie is three weeks after it opened?
A few reasons. For one, it’s making a bundle of money overseas — almost twice as much as it made in the US. I couldn’t get a hold of anyone at Galaxy Cinemas to find out just how much it earned in Vietnam — or how many little kids loved it.
Nor could I find out why it was allowed to be shown here. When two Vietnamese-Americans tried to make a dumb action movie set in Cho Lon, or Chinatown, it was squashed and pirated.
But arrows, whiskey torture, and lots of slow knife penetration are A-OK for viewers of all ages.
Nothing at the theater even prepares parents for what their kids are about to watch. You don’t even need a rating so much as a sign that says: “A guy in this movie cuts open his own chest with his hands—then dies—then comes back to life and kills a guy.”
Apparently, people in the US did a lot of careful editing to make sure as many kids could see it as possible.
"I was amazed that the trims we made to get a PG-13 were not devastating to the movie," the film’s director, James Mangold, explained to MTV News.
"The movie is mostly old-fashioned sword warfare — and arrows — so in many ways we dodged the kind of intense violence of guns."
The Wolverine fans in the US can’t wait to see the director’s cut.
“I'm very happy with the cut, and the studio was very generous in terms of letting me finish the movie as I wanted, but I do think we will have a slightly more violent version... let's say an unrated, bloodier version” he told Digital Spy.
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By Calvin Godfrey, Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the August 23rd issue of our print edition Vietweek)