Jake Red Cloud (Alex Kruz) is looking for a room to rent, and he’s found a new place to rest in the home of Jeanine Parker (Jen Waite) and her daughter Ann (Breanna Lakatos). Jeanine is a bit too friendly with the alcohol, much to the dismay of her daughter who often has to deal with the fallout of Mom’s less-than-impressive romantic choices. While Jeanine harbors a not-so-secret or subtle attraction for Jake after Jake runs an unsavory suitor off her property, the true friendship grows between Ann and Jake, as Jake reluctantly takes on a more paternal role in the house.
And all would be good, except there’s more to Jake than is apparent. Traveling light with a guitar case, clothes, a Bible and a gun, there’s obviously something else going on with the quiet renter, and things come to a head when an Asian gang arrives at the house, hellbent on bringing Jake’s past into his new life. Before things can get better, they get much, much worse.
According to the official website for the film, Red Cloud: Deliverance is the continuation of the story of Jake Red Cloud, as initially created as a comic book. This is not all that surprising, as the film feels like the beginning of a story arc as one would find in comic books. It might even work as a standalone effort, but due to its ending, there’s no way it can exist outside of a larger tale still to be told.
For the most part, the film sets itself up as a domestic drama. Jake is running and hiding from his past, and he’s stuck in the middle of a domestic dynamic between a not-so-stellar mother and her unfairly suffering daughter. As such, most of the film has that slower pace one would expect with a drama, and things are somewhat sedate. This is character and relationship building time, so the pace makes sense.
Things get more than a little zany when the Asian gang shows up, however, as the tone changes and acting goes a bit hammy; all of the antagonists seem primed to see who can out-creep, out-taunt and out-shout the other gang members. It’s fine for their characters, and while it doesn’t fit comfortably into the tone the film has already established, the story has obviously changed from domestic drama to action film by that point, so any tonal shift would seem slightly off anyway.
As I previously mentioned, my overall impression of the film is that it is all setup for something larger. Since it does come from a comic book source, this is not surprising, and if this were a five issue arc, for example, this would be issue one. We’ve gotten hints at a back story, and we’ve seen that Jake’s most recent run-in with the Asian gang has set him up for a new set of adventures, potentially Lone Wolf and Cub-style. Still, that leaves us with a cliffhanger feeling, that can be somewhat disappointing. I guess I would’ve liked a more complete single story rather than a somewhat lengthy introduction to something larger; I wasn’t left so much wanting more as shocked by the abrupt ending.
Still, if this film was made to setup a story arc, it succeeds in introducing all the characters and functions as a competent television or webseries pilot. The acting is a little stiff for its own good in some parts, and the story of a drifter with a secret past suddenly forced to protect a domestic situation is nothing new or unique, but everything works for what it is. I personally think the comic books might be more my speed, but if this does expand into a series or multiple shorts and I can get the full story that way, I’d still check it out.
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