“Elephant White,” starring Djimon Hounsou, is one of those movies I totally underestimated. Perhaps it was the name, or simply just not knowing anything about it, or never seeing any promotion for it. Yet, to my surprise, it turned out to be a very well made and action packed movie, with incredibly well choreographed fights and a good plot, too.
The movie finds Curtie Church (Hounsou), a professional assassin and expert marksman, in the midst of an epiphany. Church — whose background is never really delved into, but it is most likely military — has always claimed “no remorse” for all the people he has killed, but his conscience has something else to say about it. So when his most current assignment or “job” is actually for a good cause, he intends to go above and beyond.
During the course of the movie, Church has a struggle that is never defined for us. Early on in the movie, he seems to be doing it all for the large pay-off, but when he receives a special visit from Mae (Jirantanin Pitakporntrakul), his world is turned upside down and he is forced to make new decisions and explore new sides of his conscience he never knew he had.
The movie is full of action — fights, shooting, car chases — and it has a suspenseful feel to it at all times. You constantly feel entertained. This even helps you ignore some of the weaknesses of the film and some of the editing flaws.
With human trafficking being such a sensitive subject, it’s no surprise there are so many movies made dealing with this subject. At the same time, since it is such an abhorrent crime, it creates plenty of bad guys to kill and beat up with little explanation, or justification for violation of rights.
I must take a moment to talk about the fighting sequences. Yes, they were well choreographed, as I already mentioned, but they were also realistic and brutal. Some of the moves I saw in this movie I have never seen before. And I could be wrong, but I even saw a few gun-kata moves, like the one made famous by Christian Bale in “Equilibrium.”
The filming was mostly on par with bigger budget movies like “Man on Fire,” and many others. The movie is mostly filmed at night, which gives it a creepy feel. It had surprisingly scary moments where the hairs on the back of my neck wanted to run for their lives.
Now, we already knew Djimon Hounsou could act (“Amistad,” “Blood Diamond,” and “Gladiator”), and we already knew he could fight (“Never Back Down,” and “Gladiator”), but in with “Elephant White,” we get both. I truly enjoyed how Church holds the movie together, and I enjoyed Hounsou’s chemistry with both Jirantanin and Kevin Bacon.
Speaking of Bacon, here is another type of role I have never seen him in. Though he is not the lead character, he is in the middle of a struggle of conscience, too. He seems to be in a period of self discovery and Church helps him chose the right path — we hope.
My final thoughts are that with so many movies dealing with similar subjects, “Elephant White” will probably fade away and never be heard of. It deserves better, because it is more than a B-movie, and it has a really talented cast and crew. From the action to the musical score, to the choreography, this is a well-rounded movie that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend.
. . .
Follow Josue Sanchez on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Josue_can.
And don’t forget to “Like” It’s Just Movies on Facebook at