If you don’t like your shoot 'em up films with a slower pace, and less noise then Anthony Greene’s “The Henchman’s War” may not be for you. Although the movie centers around guns and killing, it’s obvious from the opening scene that this film is different. “The Henchman’s War” is your typical revenge driven plot but in the hands of Anthony Greene it becomes a rabbit hole that you slowly get sucked into and follow to the end.
Hit man Joe King (Rick Kain) is a man on a mission. After years of loyalty to mid-level crime boss Tony “Cubby” Wagner (Robert Leembruggen), a line is crossed that forces Joe to go after his boss. This means that he must methodically take out every goon on the ladder until he gets to Cubby. Sounds familiar right? Well with Greene’s vision, his legion of actors, and Director of Photography K. Quin Paek’s skills, this independent film brings something refreshing to the genre.
Kain brings a certain dark heaviness to the introspective hit man. He’s in most of the film, but says about as much as the bit players. He’s usually in the shadows, his face is cut off, or his back is to the camera almost as though he doesn’t want to be documented. He just wants to move forward with his goal. The rest of the cast, made up of stage actors, bring their own individual flair to the film as well. Leembruggen is especially good as Cubby; a boss nearing the end of his life in age and time, with Joe coming after him.
Paek’s minimalist use of light paints a palette that helps reinforce the tone of the film. An empty parking lot becomes an intriguing metaphor for Joe’s life- dark, silent, and alone. There are many scenes where actors are in shadow against a brightly lit background and it’s done so beautifully you forget you’re watching a low-budget film.
Greene is a director to watch. It’s obvious that he’s studied film, and you can see the influence in his work. Whether he does a slight nod to Sergio Leone with two henchman at a stand off, or John Cassavetes with the overall plot of a quiet neo-noir film. He gives the film subtle touches like using the sound of the hammer cocking or cylinder spinning on Joe's revolver standing in as his voice at times. He knows his craft, how to manipulate the components of it, and how and where to place the camera.
Overall the film lags a bit, not from its’ pace, but by its’ dialogue. The cast, DP, and director prove that you can turn a cliched script into a film with some bite, which isn’t an easy feat. With “The Henchman’s War” being his narrative feature debut I can’t wait to see what Greene will do with a bigger budget. His debut film proves that independent and low budget doesn’t mean poor quality, but rather up and coming top level work!
Find out more about the film at http://www.thehenchmanswar.com/