Bullets of Justice (2019)

Set in the apocalyptic aftermath of World War Three, in a world where hybrid porcine mutants (known as ‘Muzzles’) literally butcher humans for food, Valeri Milev’s Bullets of Justice is an amped-up Eighties-style actioner – so absurdly hyperbolic, indeed, that it is more akin to parody Kung Fury (2015) than to the real deal. 

Rob Justice (played by the film’s co-writer, composer and producer Timur Turisbekov) is a never-smiling bounty hunter who has outlived a series of female assistant/fuck buddies in his committed (if confused) onslaught against the Muzzles. Speaking his laconic lines in an unwavering monotone, he sometimes works with the military resistance, while trying to find the origin of his strange dream visions and the location of the Muzzles’ elusive ‘Mother’ (supposedly the only creature still living that is not sterile). He is an archetypal movie hero, oozing masculinity, and his mere arrival is often greeted with applause from his male colleagues. 

It is a confusingly busy narrative, with over-the-top action sequences, jetpacks, teleportation, time travel, dancing robots, Force-like powers, and abject gore by the bucketload. Yet there is also method to its madness. For if Bullets of Justice has the feel of a spoof, that is because it is deconstructing the maximalist machismo of the action film, and revealing its soft, yielding centre. Much as Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch (2011) used its kickass set-pieces as palatable cover for something far more horrific going on underneath, Milev’s film focuses on a man in conflict, even denial, about his life and identity, all in order to queer the tropes of cinema’s toughest-talking, hardest-hitting genre. 

It is not often in an action film that the hero, in the middle of sweaty, hardcore-looking sex with his latest big-breasted partner, comments in voiceover  on the quality of her arse, then on the better quality of his own, and then on the best-quality arse of all – belonging to a long-haired, thong-wearing, camp-as-all-fuck male model named Rafael (Semi Alkadi). It is not often that its hero is in pursuit of piggy characters who not only bear the surname ‘Arsehole’, but also have a mouth – prodded and even tasted by him – that looks exactly like an anus. It is not often that our hero’s sister (Doroteya Toleva), with whom he regularly has sex, sports a big, bushy moustache. This deluge of surreally subversive signifiers points to the reality from which our man’s man is in fugue – and guarantees Lynchian laughs aplenty for the keyed-in viewer ready to go along on this rough ride. There is nothing else out there that is quite as, well, out there as this rambunctiously paced and crazily stylised midnight movie – and its final sequence pulls the rug from under so much balls-to-the-wall genre posturing.

© Anton Bitel