Saturday, June 15, 2019

DWF ’19: The Teacher (short)

This teacher will totally school you. She changed professions relatively recently, but her previous skill set is as sharp as it ever was. Three of her former colleagues will learn that the hard way in Jeremy Weiss’s wildly entertaining short film, The Teacher, which screens during this year’s Dances With Films, in Hollywood, USA.

Just like Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, the Teacher’s old boss, “The Contractor,” is not inclined to accept her resignation gracefully. Instead of whisking her off to an Adriatic seaside Potemkin Village, the Contractor has two of his best assassins to ambush her on the streets of Qindao. One is a German hulk and the other is refined Japanese ronin. Both men are extremely lethal, but they have still probably met their match. After all, the film is titled The Teacher, not The German or The Swordsman. Regardless, it is relentless fun watching her fend them off.

Even though there are three credited screenwriters, David Carter, Chris J. Ford, and Keith Kuramoto, the narrative is not all that complicated. Of course, the whole point of the film is the adrenaline-charged, pedal-to-the-metal fight scenes, so it is really just as well they refrain from giving us any derivative plot complications that might distract us from the real business at hand. Weiss and stunt coordinator Jaden He (the Swordsman) stage a number of really cool martial arts face-offs.

In a mere fifteen minutes, Sarah Chang (who also did stunt work on Bleeding Steel and Wolf Warrior 2) conclusively proves she has the chops and the presence to be a major international action star. She comes across as rather sweet and vulnerable, but then she counter-attacks like nobody’s business. Plus, Jaden He and Kevin Lee make worthy adversaries, who make the ebb and flow of their fight scenes look convincing.

For a short film, The Teacher is unusually cinematic, especially the use of the aerial cityscape cinematography that evokes fond memories of old school movies, like The Man from Hong Kong. There is a great deal of new talent worth watching in this short, starting with Chang and most definitely including her on-screen rivals. Highly recommended for action fans, The Teacher screens tomorrow (6/16), as part of Competition Shorts 4, at Dances With Films 22.