Paul Andolina is back to share another foreign superhero movie. If you like his stuff, check out his site Wrestling with Film.
What if the Punisher wasn’t a veteran and instead was a financial advisor who happened to get on the wrong side of a corporation with nefarious motives? That’s what I feel Rendel: Dark Vengeance, a 2017 Finnish superhero film answers. It’s the first Finnish superhero film but it’s far from the colorful SFX laden movies that most of us are used to.
Based on a character that director Jesse Haaja created as a teenager, Rendel is a movie about a vigilante who longs for revenge more than justice. Rämö is a financial advisor, who has a wife and a daughter. Unfortunately for him, VALA an organization that has created a vaccine is looking for a loan to push their vaccine throughout the European Union. When he denies the corporation the loan, Pekka Erkola, one of the higher-ups of VALA makes sure he will never get another job in his field again.
Spending his days in bars after an unfruitful job search, a man name Kurrika offers him a job for VALA. Rämö is tasked with filing and destroying certain paperwork regarding VALA’s work on the vaccine but is warned to stay away from a strange chemical that is used in the drug’s manufacturing as it will harden and become impossible to remove from your ski. Kurrika tells him it bonds on a cellular level and is dangerous.
Rämö takes his job home and keeps some of the files as he becomes obsessed with VALA’s operations.
However, this gets the attention of Erkola’s son as he is told not to tell anyone about his job.
Erkola’s son, Rotikka is tasked with doing his father’s dirty work, performing most of the criminal activity necessary to move the vaccine and money throughout Finland. He has a wild temper and his father and he do not always see eye to eye. He takes matters into his own hands breaking into Rämö’s home, executing his wife, daughter, and has his henchman bash Rämö’s head in with a nail-studded bat.
Rämö survives the attack and becomes Rendel by using the chemical Kurikka warned him about to cover his face, giving himself a seemingly permanent mask. He dons a bike jacket and sets out to get revenge on Rotikka and VALA who have taken everything from him.
This movie is dark and I don’t just mean in tone. Almost the entirety of the film is in dark and dingy locations; abandoned factories, warehouses, and desolate parking lots. It really helps set the mood for the movie. This is a desperate time for the town of Mikelli. They are being pressured by VALA into accepting the vaccine’s distribution in their town and crime seems to be running rampant, and the settings show the ugly reality that is becoming the new norm.
Rendel is an excellent watch but may be too slow moving for some folks. This movie isn’t full of the quick cut, high octane action that some audiences are used to. If you are a fan of more mature superhero films I think you are the perfect audience for this film. I’d like to see more than just the underworld that VALA seems to have its hands so deep in. I’d like to see the things that happen in the daylight as well. A sequel has been announced due to Rendel‘s success and I am eager to see it.
I hope a lot of folks seek out this film as I’m always eager to see foreign films get distribution here in the United States. With our market over saturated with blockbusters and films with huge Hollywood casts it’s always nice to see films with not super huge budgets from other countries do well. Rendel had a budget of about 1,650,000 USD which pales in comparison to a lot of the movies Marvel and D.C. have been putting out on our domestic streams but I feel like it holds its own among independently made superhero films that we see here in the states.