Fierce Target (2019) Review



The first feature length offering from martial artist Emilio Lavizzi and Wild Card Films is strong in its choreography but a complete mess in its storytelling ability.

Plot:  A rebel car thief helps a 12-year-old girl on the getaway. As their two worlds collide they quickly become the targets of Senator Parker and his security team who launches a ruthless campaign to destroy them.


“People from all walks of life slave away, working their asses off, endlessly, from morning ’til dawn.”

If you see the problem with that sentence, you can begin to understand the problems with Fierce Target, the first (and thus far only) feature length offering from martial artist Emilio Lavizzi and Wild Card Films.  12 year old Mira (Chloe Gunther Chung) witnesses a senator (Don Worley) murdering his adulterous wife, and goes on the run after her parents are murdered.  When former kickboxer Pietros (Emilio Lavizzi, who strongly resembles a young Mandy Patinkin) shows up at the wrong place at the wrong time in his stolen sports car full of mob money, he reluctantly becomes her protector, all while being framed for all the aforementioned killings.  Can Pietros clear his name and find a way to get Mira to safety?  Can Mira save his troubled soul?

The lone strength of this film is in its fight choreography, with Lavizzi and his crew doing a fine job in putting together several interesting sequences and scenarios, each flowing pretty well in their usually brief moments.  Now, with that out of the way, it’s time to get to the film’s weaknesses: the most blunt way to put it is that the entire rest of the film is a complete mess.  Its $1.2M budget seems like most of that went towards the sports car that makes an appearance, and the rest of it with the price tag of Fruit By The Foot.  Like Wile E. Coyote, Lavizzi puts some things together, and he seems to have an idea of what he wanted to achieve, but the execution of virtually every single other aspect of Fierce Target winds up in some kind of disaster in attempted cinematic storytelling.  A typical coherent story follows a 3-act structure: a Beginning, a Middle and an End.  Fierce Target is broken up into: Beginning, Milwaukee and Tophat.  This film feels like it was intended to be several separate stories that could have possibly been meant as concepts for later-to-be fleshed out sequels, but it’s as if Lavizzi put it together in a blender, turned it on, and then threw it into a bathtub.  Some important plot elements from the first act are all but abandoned, frequently dismissed in the blink of an eye so that the story can move right on into some other idea.  The little girl Mira acts as narrator in the beginning, but then does it again only maybe twice more at random throughout the entire film.

The soundtrack is your standard generic techno fare; nothing noteworthy.  The handful of CGI effects are almost as bad as most of the acting (save for a rather enjoyably hammed up performance from Don Worley): several camera effects seem to occur just for the sake of showing they can be done rather than adding to the impact of a scene.  The film’s more traumatic moments for the characters are met with little more than one or two angry or sad sounding sentences, as well as some VERY awkward dialogue at times, not to mention some behavior in front of a child that felt uncomfortable to watch, and not in a proper contextual way.  None of the characters come off as endearing or sympathetic at all.  There are some ambitious car chase sequences early on, but they are all very choppy, and even then, it is easy to tell everyone is driving at a normal (if not slower than normal) speed, and there are no real consequences to what is shown.

In particular, there is an instance of a chase scene, followed by parking as normal in a lot and confronting the pursuers right there, as if everybody just got tired of driving.  Why even bother with the “dangerous” evasion tactics behind the wheel?  Why are the stakes in any given fight scene not stressed much earlier?  Who is (insert character) who suddenly shows up to fight?  Why do so many early plot elements end up described in dialogue instead of ever on camera, and why does so much of what DOES find its way in the film feel unnecessarily long at 1 hour 50 minutes?  The answers, according to Fierce Target, are “Yes, Seven, and Madagascar.”

Despite every way in which Fierce Target falls short, it should be noted that Lavizzi went out and made an action movie, one that has been in the works for over a decade, and for that alone, as well as his fighting background, he is worthy of respect.  As a standalone choreography showcase, the cast and crew put together plenty to enjoy from that one standpoint.  However, with the time that has elapsed since inception, Fierce Target is less like a fine wine and far more resembling of a cheap convenience store wine, best enjoyed with a whole lot more wine.

Written and directed by Emilio Lavizzi.