Ji (2019)

We’ve gone down the DUST rabbit hole once before — as part of last year’s Scarecrow Video of Seattle’s Psychotronic October Scarecrow Challenge of watching 31 movies in 31 days. For the 24th day of the challenge, the theme was “Short Attention Span Theatre: Watch Some Shorts or Anthology Things.” And I chose to meet the challenge with a pair of short films from DUST: a You Tube-based, social media portal that features science fiction shorts from emerging filmmakers obsessed with aliens, robots, space exploration, technology, and the human experience in space.

During my last year’s DUST excursion, I felt moved to the point of wanting to review two of the many wonderful films on the DUST platform — and chose to review Colin West’s Plastic Pink Flamingos and Marko Slavanic’s Skyborn. This year, I was wowed by the writing and directing, narrative-fiction debut of Ben Griffin, a filmmaker who earned his bones in the music video field with the likes of Demi Lovato, Imagine Dragons, Machine Gun Kelly, and Metallica* (2019’s Metallica & San Francisco Symphony). (We previously reviewed A Clear Shot, the latest feature film by Nick Leisure, himself a writer-director who rose up through the music video field ranks.)

Lewis Tan (Shatterstar in Deadpool 2; Gaius Chau on AMC’s Into The Badlands; Lu Xin Lee in Netflix’s Wu Assassins) is Ji, a modified human and commanding General in a military unit protecting the mechanized exo-planet Nilo. His artificial life on his artificial home world is perfect — yet, he hungers to learn of his human roots.

Against orders and abandoning his post, Ji sets off for Earth and comes to discover it’s not the wasteland he and his people were told. Upon arrival, he meets an Earth woman (Eva De Dominici, of the upcoming Bruce Willis sci-fi actioner Cosmic Sin and TV’s Hawaii Five-O) and falls in love. You’ll also recognized Peter Adrian Sudarso (Marvin Shih and Preston Tien in the respective Power Rangers‘ spinoff series HyperForce and Ninja Steel) as Ji’s commanding officer who ventures to Earth to return him to Nilo.

Ben Griffin’s debut is the epitome of skilled filmmaking at its finest, complete with a top-notch, imaginative script flowing in perfect harmony with a solid cast and stunning special effects: a highly recommended watch that’s worthy of expansion into a feature-length film. The last time I was this enraptured with an action-oriented short film, was Brando Benetton’s top notch college thesis project, Nightfire. Which proves my ongoing point: it doesn’t have to be long to be good: it’s in the content, not the length.

You can learn more about the works of San Francisco’s Ben Griffin and his Prime Zero Productions at their official website, Facebook and You Tube pages. After completing a successful film festival run, Ji is now available at DUST You Tube as of July 30, 2020.

* We previously reviewed Metallica’s support of Spencer Susser in 2010’s Hesher (Will somebody please back Spencer and let him make another feature film, will yah? Hesher is so good.)

Disclaimer: We were not sent a screener or received a review request for this short. We discovered it on our own and truly enjoyed the work.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies and publishes on Medium.

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