{ Page-Title / Story-Title }


Rocky review: A visually breathtaking but ultraviolent film

Release Date: 23 Dec 2021

Cinestaan Rating

  • Acting:
  • Direction:
  • Music:
  • Story:

Haricharan Pudipeddi

If you have a strong stomach and don’t mind sitting through a slow-burning revenge drama, this movie is just for you.

Arun Matheswaran’s Rocky is a no-nonsense, ultraviolent revenge drama. This is a film that does not sugarcoat what it promised in the promos — savagery. In fact, the film is so much in love with the idea of violence that it uses it as a tool of catharsis to make us empathize with the hero, who is out to avenge the death of his sister.

The brutality in the film is choreographed and shot in such a way that it looks like a visual feast on screen. If you have the stomach for gore and don’t mind sitting through a slow-burning revenge drama, Rocky is for you. Plot-wise, the film is packed with predictable moments and scenes, but there is so much to marvel at in Rocky, which has been painstakingly shot to make every frame look like visual poetry.

Vasanth Ravi plays Rocky, an ex-con who has just been released after spending 17 years in the slammer. We are told much later that he went to prison for killing the son of his boss Manimaran (Bharathiraja) in front of his eyes. By killing, I mean he cuts him open with a hacksaw and rips out his intestines, which he proceeds to use as a garland. On gaining his freedom, Rocky goes in search of his sister, but his violent past comes back to haunt him. Soon, Manimaran comes after Rocky, and what follows is a bloody showdown.

Rocky is indisputably the most violent film in Tamil cinema history. There is a scene where Rocky asks a dirty policeman before smashing in his head with a hammer, "Do you know why your mother gave birth to you?" Before swinging his hammer, Rocky answers his own rhetorical question, "To die by my hand."

There is another scene where Rocky asks a chatterbox from whom he is seeking an address if he can read and write, before cutting his tongue off and handing him a paper and pen to jot down the information.

As much as Rocky talks about violence and glorifies it to an extent, it is also about the senselessness of it. You get a better understanding of this as the movie ends. If you are familiar with the kind of violence Korean and European cinema are known for depicting, you will enjoy Rocky as much as celebrated films such as Oldboy (2003) and The Man From Nowhere (2010). Even if you are a fan of the John Wick franchise, you won’t mind Rocky.

The cinematography by Shreyaas Krishna elevates Rocky to another level. Without those breathtaking visuals and shot compositions, Rocky would have been just another boring tale of revenge. Darbuka Siva’s music adds a lot of value to the viewing experience. There is one Oldboy-inspired action stretch and Darbuka’s infusion of classical music to this scene makes it one of the high points of the movie.

It takes a lot of skill to make violence look so appealing on screen and first-time filmmaker Arun Matheswaran is a talent to watch out for. No Tamil movie before Rocky had dared to push boundaries when it came to the depiction of violence.

Vasanth Ravi turns in a measured performance. In the film’s most tender moments, he is as fragile as a flower but is transformed into a monster when it comes to the action sequences. He is a treat to watch. Veteran actor-filmmaker P Bharathiraja leaves a lasting impact in the interesting role of an aged crime lord.

Rocky was released in theatres on Thursday 23 December.