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Essential Killing

20 customer reviews

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(Jan 24, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Product Description

In an award-winning performance (Best Actor, Venice Film Festival), Vincent Gallo (Buffalo '66) plays Mohammed, a Taliban fighter captured by the US military in Afghanistan after a violent desert attack goes awry. While being transported to a secret detention center in Europe, the vehicle crashes and he suddenly finds himself free. But his newfound freedom quickly disappears as he is relentlessly pursued in a snow-blanketed forest by an army that does not "officially" exist.

A critically acclaimed, thinking-man's action thriller from director Jerzy Skolimowski (The Shout), ESSENTIAL KILLING tells the story of one man's struggle for survival, where morality has no place as he confronts the necessity to kill in order to survive.

Special Features

  • Interview with Director Jerzy Skolimowski, presented by American Express


"Brilliantly directed and shot...Vincent Gallo puts in a superb performance." --The New York Times

"It's pure action!" --Roger Ebert

Product Details

  • Actors: Vincent Gallo, Emmanuelle Seigner, Zach Cohen
  • Directors: Jerzy Skolimowski
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: Polish, Arabic
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Tribeca
  • DVD Release Date: January 24, 2012
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005DCDA48
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,947 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Despite the prominent blurb from Roger Ebert on the DVD cover which proclaims "Essential Killing" is "pure action," really nothing could be further from the truth. I'm consistently baffled by films that are marketed in a skewed way. Perhaps in the short run it drives DVD rentals and sales, but it also sets up unrealistic expectations that may upset certain viewers. While there is undeniable action in "Essential Killing," its sensibilities seem more firmly aligned with the arthouse crowd than those looking for non-stop action mayhem. That may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your viewing preferences. Personally, I found this to be a sparse and surprising little film about the struggle for survival and freedom told from the perspective of a lone Taliban fighter adrift in an unknown land. Vincent Gallo plays the lead in a strong dialogue-free performance that won him Best Actor accolades at the Venice Film Festival.

The film begins with Gallo evading unsuspecting American soldiers within the desert caverns of Afghanistan. When he forces a confrontation, he is caught and detained. The rest of the film unravels from Gallo's perspective as he is transported to an unknown European location and has no way to communicate with his captors. He must navigate his harsh winter surroundings in an attempt to survive, but there appears to be nowhere to go. There are a few firefights and one-on-one confrontations, but he has just as much to fear from the elements as he does from his enemy. As his journey progresses, Gallo experiences fear, desperation, and confusion and conveys it all succinctly through expression only. It's a bold and unusual choice.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Idus Lincoln on April 10, 2012
Format: DVD
A visionary and masterful film. There is a story, it just isn't told in the same stock way. I think the story is a poetically-told and profound one. If you want Rambo with a turban and sneer at the idea of an "art film", then skip it. You won't know how to watch it and your commentary will be misplaced. If you understand that politics is elemental, consequential, and, yes, essential, and is more than ideologies and labels and bad guy verses good guy frames of reference, you could get something out of it. If you understand that politics isn't just parties or campaigns, but that 95% of it is what people don't see and don't ever know, you may like it. If you understand that politics is really (or had better be) ultimately about the planet, other life forms, seeing people whole, nature itself, and each man's soul, or at least have an open mind to seeing a more encompassing view of "politics", you might like it. Skolimowski's best, in my opinion, and that says a great deal.
Also, amazing acting by 2 leads, stunning direction and photography, Skolimowski gets better with age.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Heavenly Hermes on April 23, 2012
Format: Blu-ray
As a general rule war requires 1) the suppression of the consciousness' instinct of universal justice; and 2) the dehumanization of the enemy. The injustice done by the West in Afghanistan and dehumanization of the Taliban is a case in point. The war in Afghanistan has long, long ago passed the rubicon where it can judged as "just" by any measure. Whatever legitimate criticisms one may have of the Taliban are far superseded by what has become a raw imperial drive by the West to dominate that tortured land for other geo-political goals, with no regard whatsoever to the sanctity of human life on the ground. As example of just how far our dehumanization of the Taliban has gone, Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan and an ethnic Pashtun, was severely criticized for calling his and America's enemies amongst the Pashtun Taliban "my brothers". (Of course, the cozy relations between the Taliban and the US pre-911 are generally forgotten) Even among many Muslims, we see the dehumanization of the Taliban. And the Taliban have been guilty of dehumanizing others -- such as their fellow Afghan Shi'is -- as well.

In Essential Killing we are reminded of our shared humanity, our shared anguish over separation from our loved ones, and our struggle to survive and to return home. We are reminded that, as we dehumanize others, we need to gaze into the mirror of both our individual and national consciousness to see both the human and the beast within each of them.

The director --- no doubt and in part out of deference to anti-Muslim and Zionist sensibilities in the West -- plays down the political implications of this masterpiece. One wishes he could have been a bit bolder on this front; to bring more of the protagonist's roots, culture, and spirituality into the forefront of the drama. But those implications are inescapable, and the dynamic imagination can fill in the blanks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By erisgeenhoop on August 21, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Excellent film about an Afghan escapee in the wintery woods of Poland.
Yes, the pace of the film is not of a Hollywood standard , but this does not affect the intensity of the story. Some reviewers call this gripping film slow (when did that become a bad word?) : a man runs for his life in a snow-covered landscape in a country unknown to him while being chased by a large number of soldiers who want him dead ; to survive he has to kill several people , sleep in the hay in a trough for deer, eat hallucinogenic berries and compete with a baby for his mother's milk. All of this in less than 48 hrs. Of course, there's a thunderous lack of explosions and dialogue. I guess in a world where we get served our daily dose of decapitations , and where the citizens of any mid-western town in America have to look into the barrels of police machineguns, films like these are just too tame.
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