Header Ads

MFKZ (2017) [aka Mutafukaz]

Guest contributor Jeremy W. Harrison writes.

The world of MFKZ -originally Mutafukaz- was introduced as a website at the start of the 21st century. Due to its online popularity, it became a seven-minute short film that was introduced in 2002. A popular comic book of the same name was also released only four years later selling over 135,000 copies. For comparison, one of Marvel’s best-selling books Amazing Spider-man at that time was only doing about 90 – 100,000 copies.

The success of the comic lead to this feature, a co-production between French studio Ankama and Japan's Studio 4°C.  It is based on a screenplay by Guillaume 'Run' Renard and directed by Renard alongside Shojiro Nishimi. The film debuted at the Annecy festival in France in 2017, before going on to play London Film Festival and Animation Is Film.

The movie obviously has a love for Los Angeles, the city that inspired the one our protagonists live in- Dark Meat City. Along with having great animation, the visuals give a nice representation of what a Hispanic ghetto looks like, as well as East LA and the city in general. So many scenes are filled with rich detail it’s almost like Renard grew up in Los Angeles- and in a way he did. According to him, he grew up on an idealized image thanks to Hollywood and later fell in love with the real city ugliness and all, so that he had to create Dark Meat City as 'LA's evil twin'. This love really shows through, because the city is fleshed out in an odd way I can’t explain.

Now, what about our heroes being fleshed out, as well? I would say, yes!

Our main hero, Angelino (Kenn Michael) and his best friend Vinz (Vince Staples) live as nobodies in their twenties that can’t manage to hold down a job. Meanwhile, their friend Willy (Dino Andrade) plays the goofy comic-relief that’s implied to be a little bit better off (money-wise) then our two main protagonists. All they want is to be somebody and like the rest of us have better lives. But will they choose Good, or Evil? There is a lot of Christian imagery and Satanic code, for example, 666 “The number of the beast” pops up.

The movie gets underway because of a girl named Luna whom our main hero, Angelino becomes infatuated with at first sight.

At first, the movie clearly takes inspiration from They Live and Men in Black, with a hidden world of aliens and government agents existing in the shadows of everyday life.

To explain things like characters and motivation to the audience the film makes an interesting choice. It stops the movie to give you this much-needed exposition, in a 1940s newsreel style. When it first happens, it throws you a little out of the movie. If you aren’t with it when they pay homage to Captain America knocking out Hitler, but with Luchadore Masked fighters (that fight in secret to protect the world, superhero style) then you’re just not going to be on board for this type of exposition. It’s a great visual way to explain things to the audience without your characters giving this long boring back story. The movie makes the right choice of  the old adage "show don’t tell."

Now while They Live and MIB are great adventure stories, there’s also some inspiration from Friday and maybe Menace to Society in its depiction of gritty street life. The last fight scene is clearly inspired by Friday, I feel.

The movie is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It takes living on the hard-ghetto streets and merges it with the fantasy world of science fiction and it does so beautifully. Filled with incredible action, story, science fiction and just a hint of romance. I say it’s easily the best and most adult animated picture of the year.

Angelino is the down on his luck everyman hero that goes on an amazing hero’s journey quest to discover his past and love. It’s an amazing film that I just can’t recommend enough.