The Scrapper Image

The Scrapper

By Bobby LePire | December 5, 2021

The Scrapper is not in much of a hurry to get to the plot. With a runtime of only 86-minutes, it is reasonable that someone just sitting down to watch the film would expect minimal character development in favor of tons of action beats. However, writer/director/star Bari Kang is not all that interested in the beatdowns and shootouts. No, he is far more interested in exploring what drove his characters to the point where violence seems to be their only option.

Jake (King) is an ex-convict who hauls junk to break down into scrap metal. While it doesn’t pay much, he is happy with the work, especially as it is an honest living. At home, Jake takes care of his mentally challenged, very sweet brother, J.B. (Gugun Deep Singh), while he and his wife, Kitt (Ava Paloma), are expecting a child. While they are struggling financially, the three make it work as best they can.

However, his criminal sister, Linda (Allison Thomas Lee), owes the Cartel she launders money for $100,000. Upon discovering this, Jake must re-enter the criminal life, find a place to rob with enough cash, and pay back the loan, all within a week. Interestingly, this only covers the first 40-minutes of the story. See, the joint Jake and his accomplice hit to get the money is the first domino to fall, creating an ever-increasing violent situation, pushing Jake to his most extreme limits.

The Scrapper might be short, but the filmmaker takes the time to lay out Jake’s past and present, digging deep into his state of mind. As such, the lead character is very well-drawn and human, as are Kitt and Linda. The three actors and a non-cartoony Gugun Deep Singh, ground the proceedings and allow audiences to invest in the story.

“…Jake must re-enter the criminal life, find a place to rob with enough cash, and pay back the loan…”

Unfortunately, the side characters are less engaging. Kang writes the criminal underworld as revolving around two groups: the Punjabi and the Cartels. While their interconnectivity makes some sense, not enough parallels are drawn between the two to showcase how criminal activity, even if not overtly violent, is always on the periphery of Jake’s life. For example, the main baddie, Raj (a game Samrat Chakrabarti), is also a police detective… or he pretends to be sometimes? The fact that it remains unclear shows how little the plot focuses on the true criminals of the piece.

On top of that, the movie is a lot of talk, only showing sometimes. While it makes the quieter moments, such as the initial break-in for the $100,000, all the more intense, the production overall lacks visual flair due to all the dialogue.

However, once The Scrapper reaches the hour mark and Jake unleashes his full fury, audiences are with him every step of the way. While the action is pedestrian in how it is filmed, it still manages to be exciting. It certainly helps that Kang’s low-key portrayal allows this boiling point to register fully. Plus, it is always fun to see those who had it coming get their comeuppance.

Kang’s sophomore effort is imperfect, with confusing villains and an underground world that needs to be fleshed out more. However, The Scrapper achieves its goal of understanding what drives a decent man to violence thanks to strong writing and good performances.

The Scrapper (2021)

Directed and Written: Bari Kang

Starring: Bari Kang, Ava Paloma, Gugun Deep Singh, Allison Thomas Lee, Samrat Chakrabarti, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

The Scrapper Image

"…achieves its goal of understanding what drives a decent man to violence..."

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