Rocky movie review: Vasanth Ravi’s slow burning, violent revenge drama dares to push boundaries

ByHaricharan Pudipeddi
Dec 24, 2021 02:45 PM IST

Rocky movie review: Vasanth Ravi plays Rocky, a character who has been just released after 17 years in prison. It is unarguably the most violent film in Tamil cinema's history.

Arun Matheswaran’s Rocky is a no-nonsense, extremely ultraviolent revenge drama. This is the kind of film that doesn’t sugarcoat what it promised in the promos – unadulterated violence. In fact, the film is in love with the idea of violence so much that it uses it as a tool of catharsis, to make us empathise with the hero, who’s out to avenge the death of his sister. The violence is choreographed and shot in such a way that it looks like a visual feast on screen. If you have the appetite for brutality and don’t mind sitting through a slow-burning revenge drama, Rocky is just for you. Plot-wise, the film reeks of predictable moments and scenes but there’s so much to marvel at in Rocky, which is painstakingly shot to make every frame look like visual poetry. 

Rocky movie review: Vasantha Ravi turns in a measured performance. 
Rocky movie review: Vasantha Ravi turns in a measured performance. 

Vasanth Ravi plays Rocky, a character who’s been just released after spending 17 years in prison. We are told much later that he went to prison for killing his boss’ (Bharathiraja as Manimaran) son in front of his eyes. By killing, I mean he cuts him open with a jigsaw, takes out his intestines and puts them as a garland around his neck. Upon release, Rocky goes in search of his sister, but his violent past doesn’t let him live in peace. Soon, Manimaran comes after Rocky, and what follows is a bloody showdown. 

Rocky is unarguably the most violent film in Tamil cinema history. There’s a scene where Rocky asks a corrupt policeman before crushing his head with a hammer, ‘Do you know why your mother gave birth to you?’. Before swinging his hammer, Rocky replies, ‘To die in my hands’. There’s another scene where Rocky asks a guy if he can read and write, before cutting his tongue off (because he yaps non-stop) – he then hands over a paper and pen to get the address he wants. As much as Rocky is about violence and the glorification of it to some extent, it is also about the senselessness of it all. You get a better understanding about the senselessness of the violence as the movie ends. If you’re familiar with the kind of violence Korean and European cinema is known for portraying on screen, you will enjoy Rocky as much as most celebrated films like Oldboy and The Man from Nowhere among others. If you are also a fan of John Wick and how the film made violence look so cool on screen, you won’t mind Rocky.

Also read: Minnal Murali movie review: Kerala delivers India’s first great superhero film 

The cinematography by Shreyaas Krishna elevates Rocky to another level. Without those breathtaking visuals and shot compositions, Rocky would’ve been just another boring tale of revenge. Darbuka Siva’s music too adds a lot of value to the viewing experience. There’s one Oldboy-inspired action stretch and Darbuka’s infusion of classical music to this scene makes it one of the highpoints of the movie. It takes a lot of skill to make violence look so appealing on screen, proving debutant filmmaker Arun Matheswaran is a talent to watch out for. No Tamil movie before Rocky had dared to push boundaries when it comes to the depiction of violence. 

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

Film: Rocky

Director: Arun Matheswaran

Cast: Vasanth Ravi, Bharathiraja, Rohini and Raveena Ravi

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