SISU Review – Grindhouse To The MAX

Notable Finnish Director Jalmari Helander (RARE EXPORTS, BIG GAME) returns with his action adventure, war-time new movie SISU, a film clearly inspired by RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD as Helander is one of a handful of modern directors that has the gift of capturing the vibe of the cinema of an era of cinema that is almost long gone. 

The meaning of Sisu, a Finnish word, is the extraordinary determination in the face of extreme adversity and courage that is presented typically in situations where success is unlikely. This definition accurately describes our main character, The Prospector (a terrific Jorma Tommila who gives a performance almost entirely without dialogue) who finally finally finds a huge deposit of gold after a long search. He now only has to transport the loot to the city and cash out.

The only problem? It’s also the tail end of the second World War and in Finland and the Nazis are just about on their way out. The occupying Nazi German forces are evacuating Finland and leaving behind a “Scorched Earth” (no really, that’s a chapter title card). Our prospector runs into a German unit that steals their gold and leave him for dead. They just made a terrible mistake as The Prospector turns out to be a former Finnish soldier known as the Immortal (told to us by a small group of women taken hostage, a nod to MAD MAX FURY ROAD), as he is considered unkillable.

Partially based on a real-life Finnish Soldier known as the White Dead, The Prospector is a Finnish killing machine. He is going to make all this German pay with their lives and get his gold back. He uses every weapon or tool at his disposal to tear this Germans into pieces.

Easily earning its R-rating (or 18a in Canada…seriously, keep the kids at home), SISU is the most violent film I have seen this year and there are so many homages to past films, most notably in the style of THE ROAD WARRIOR. The kills reminded me of the work of Gareth Evans’ RAID movies, and I have never seen so many deaths by a pickaxe since MY BLOODY VALENTINE. We also get to see many up-close field surgeries, self-done by The Prospector as he tries to put his body back together from injuries. These scenes are incredibly painful to watch, so viewer discretion is advised.

SISU is not a film that is going to enlighten you, but it’s a balls-to-the-wall WWII film with a solid grindhouse style. There is not much dialogue in the film as the violence speaks louder. You know from the beginning how this film is going to end, sure, but the movie is all the more enjoyable seeing all different gory ways the prospector disposes of the German. If you love the RAMBO films, you’re going to enjoy this one. 

Lionsgate –

SISU is now playing in theatres worldwide.

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