Independent Film: “Eyes of the Roshi” (2016)

There are so many people who don’t “get” or understand why indie films are important. I tell everyone: it’s the life blood of the film industry. With an indie film, one isn’t hampered by people telling you how they think your story should go. If we didn’t have indie film, we wouldn’t have George Romero, Eli Roth, Wes Anderson…you get the idea. It’s the life blood of an industry that spits out movies like a redneck spits chewing tobacco. Indies allow writers. directors, and actors to come together to tell **their** story the way they want. That is why it’s so important to support the indie arts when ever you get the chance.

“Eyes of the Roshi” is the perfect example. Put out by Light Age Films, a Virginia Beach film company, they filmed in and around the city, employing local actors. The movie was written by: Joseph Baum, Dan Cava, Mari Mann and Jon Mark Nail. Directed by up and comer, Jon Mark Nail, “Roshi” stars Eric Roberts, Ethan Marten, Amanda Dunn and Grandmaster Adam Nguyen. Adam is a true Grandmaster in Karate Do and yoga. So the yoga poses and the fighting moves are his own, no stunt man needed.

This is a slow burner. Meaning that it starts slow, then builds. It all starts with the love of Roshi’s  (Adam Nguyen) life being brutally raped and murdered. Ho, the killer is shot in the face before taken to jail. Many years later, Ho gets a crazy hitman (played very well by Ethan Marten) out of jail and sends him after our sweet hearted Roshi. Knowing he has to leave his simple home, he winds up in Hampton Roads. His first encounter with the locals doesn’t go as planned. Bullies try to pick a fight, but Roshi won’t have it. He just grabs the bullies hand, as he’s taking a swing and puts pressure on it, til he cries uncle. Two local farmers have watched this, chuckling the whole while. They offer Roshi a job (he can’t really do anything but meditate, teach Karate Do and yoga), trying to figure out what he could do for work. Roshi  also meets Blanche (Amanda Dunn) a troubled and confused lady. Feelings grow between them and she becomes one of his closest friends, perhaps more. 

Booker, Eric Roberts character, is an ass. Booker is a sleazy, selfish out for himself guy. He plays that character well enough that we start hating him and his sidekicks Marty (Jonathan Marten) and Itchy (Seth Marten) pretty quickly.There’s a lot of dark humor between these three, which is rather fun. For his own gain, Booker decides to help Carey the hitman. Now, Carey, he’s a whole other basket of crazy. He doesn’t care who he has to go through to get Roshi, he just enjoys the kill waaayyy too much. 

The movie as a whole is more than worth watching. It’s fun, it’s dark, intense creepy, at times even a bit horrific.  But, two scenes will stay with you: When Carey corners Blanche in a farm house, we learn a bit about Carey. This man is a version of pure evil…his background is far from pretty. It’s suspenseful, building it’s way into horror. The other is the showdown between Carey and Roshi on a pier with Blanche watching. What happens at sunrise will shock you.

 Light Age Films started with a wonderful group of actors, telling a very lovely story, it’s director, John Mark Nail, has a very bright future. While not perfect, it is still very much worth seeing.

Should you see this movie? Most certainly. Should you tell your friends about it? Of course. Will I be buying this when they release it on DVD? You bet your ass. This is a very good indie film and I feel honored to have seen the film and get to review it. Tell your friends…lets get other eyes on “Eyes of the Roshi.”