In the year 2028 a game show called The Chosen Ones is live streamed around the world. The premise of the game is players are put to a place called the Badlands Jungle where they have to fight to survive, the winner gets their freedom.
Due to the modern world of social media, I have been waiting to see this movie since 2020 when I first discovered it was being made. From seeing updates on filming to the various trailers being released my excitement for the project grew and grew until finally release day arrived. I wanted to see this film, no I had to see this film and I wanted so much to like it. But I found I didn’t like it, I LOVED it.
The premise is a reasonably simple one which has been explored before, The Running Man springs to mind, EXILED is less glossy than what has come before. The locations are run down with a real sense of decay and despair which help with the tone of the story. It has a stark raw look which gives a sense of realism and ties in with the livestreaming part of the narrative.
I like to give as spoiler free reviews as possible and I don’t want to go too much into individual characters. Where this story could have had very conventional “bad guys” writer/director Ranjeet S. Marwa has given us a varied cast of personalities, as each character is introduced you get a little readout of their stats in the game and you can see how long they have been playing which I feel is a nice little touch.
The cast is on point, each member doing an awesome job of making each character an individual rather than Bad Guy 1 etc. Our three main characters are Igor, the “main villain”, played by Nick Khan who does a fantastic job portraying a sadistic cold-blooded killer. Hannah Al Rashid plays Amber, a survivor of the game who acts as a guide to Hiro played by Sunny Pang. It is Hiro who we follow from the start and though this very much has the feel of an ensemble piece, he would be the main character.
The action is handled brilliantly, Nick Khan as well as playing Igor serves as the action choreographer and stunt coordinator. The fight scenes are brutal and gritty with a sense of realism, mostly shot wide which is a refreshing change from a lot of the modern Hollywood, tight, cuts every 3-millisecond type fight scene. This may be in part to Sunny Pang, a veteran of Indonesian action cinema, being action consultant.
Writer/Director Ranjeet S. Marwa is not someone whose work I am familiar with and he has a lot of credits to his name on IMDB. From what I have read this film was a labour of love for him. As with a lot of things the global Covid-19 pandemic scuppered a couple of projects for him so he put together all the things required and made this movie. Not only did he write and direct he produced, edited, designed the costumes, operated a camera and cast the piece. A busy man and I’m deducing someone with a passion for film-making I want to seek out his previous work and I will definitely be looking out for his work in the future.
EXILED: The Chosen Ones is available to rent on Amazon Prime.