Cameron (Hernando Caicedo) has found a pretty unique way to make money: people pay him for the opportunity to tie him up and punch him. Three hits to the head, three to the body, and business is actually pretty good. His life begins to change, however, when he meets Jane (Julie T. Pham), a woman he’s been having an online relationship with. Jane is pretty unique too, as she refuses to go out in public without a mask on.
Without going into any of the drama or complications that occur as the tale goes on, I’m sure you’d agree that Punch Money is original enough already. Which is actually the cause of disappointment for me, as it sets up so much potential and then delivers a rather standard tale of two people getting to know each other as they fall in love, with some tragedy-specific twists.
And don’t get me wrong, that’s fine. I’m not going to entirely fault a film for not living up to potential that I’m projecting on to it. There was just an opportunity to be something really special and unique, and the signs are there, but instead it’s just “okay.”
Technically, the film goes with a down-and-dirty aesthetic. Visually it’s fine, though not imaginative or impressive. The camera is there to do its job, capture the scene and cover the angles for editing, and that’s the bulk of its contribution. This isn’t about getting creative with composition.
On the audio side, however, I did have to adjust my TV to enjoy it. Initially, when played as a stereo output, the sound had a tinny feel to it that was not aurally appealing. Only after switching to mono did everything balance out properly; I don’t know if that’s an issue with the mix itself, or just the DVD I watched, but I did have to make some adjustments to get things just right.
In the end, Punch Money has a number of truly original elements within its familiar framework. It’s not a bad film, just one that settles somewhere in the middle. Good enough to keep your attention, the filmmaking chops are there, just nothing to write home about.
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