A film with a very specific target audience, of which I quickly learned I am not a part
Bullets of Justice arrives on VOD platforms October 15.
The first adjective that comes to mind when considering Bulgarian action-horror film Bullets of Justice is “tasteless”… which while a perfectly valid gut response, is not really an accurate descriptor. “Tasteless” implies an absence of taste, but writer-director Valeri Milev and writer-star Timur Turisbekov’s ultraviolent, sex-filled gonzo feature is anything but bland. It has an abundance of taste — it just happens to be appalling.
But it’s certainly not all bad — let’s hit some of the highlights. The story posits a future in which pig-human hybrid mutants, the Muzzles, have overtaken humanity as the planet’s dominant species. Having lost fertility, humankind is on the brink of extinction and waging a losing war against the Muzzles, who in addition to domineering humans, have also acquired a taste for them. This framework is pretty great, and likely the primary interest factor in drawing viewers to check it out (that and a brief Danny Trejo appearance).
This world is fleshed out pretty well, and credit where it’s very much due — the film has exceptional scope and production design for a low budget feature, not to mention tons of practical makeup effects and gore.
“Over the top” is a tough line to walk. I absolutely love movies like Shoot ’Em Up which are extreme, hilarious, and definitely OTT. And I think there are definitely viewers who will be very taken by Bullets of Justice and its absolutely insane EXTREME EVERYTHING approach, although it landed with a big thud for me personally.
The film certainly aims to be funny, and I think some viewers will find it so, but its humor is so depraved, violent, casually cruel, and otherwise repulsive that whether it works or not depends on whether you can meet it on its wavelength. The film opens with protagonist Rob Justice preparing to shoot a terrified mutant point blank in the face, and we see a load of excrement drop between his legs. This truly does set the tone for the film with an early glimpse of just what kind of movie we’re in for.
The film is definitely out to offend your sensibilities, and goes hard on some very bizarre and inexplicable choices, a short list of which will probably give you a good idea whether this is extremely for you or extremely not for you (there’s no middle ground).
- Rob enjoys a sort-of incestuous romance (featuring graphic sex) with his mustachioed stepsister
- Speaking of graphic sex scenes, there are quite a few — in this deeply misogynistic society, Rob’s “assistants” are women who must agree to submit to him sexually in exchange for training.
- Among the Muzzle characters are several “Assholes” — a bizarre subset of mutants whose faces are… human hindquarters with diarrhea-oozing sphincters for mouths and testicles for chins.
- The human antogonist is Rob’s rival, a male glamor model who wears only a bouncy, phallic codpiece in most of his appearances.
- The film has pretty much constant, mean-spirited violence. Even as someone who enjoys cinematic violence in most action and horror contexts, I found its nature here off-putting.
With this kind of extreme-everything approach, Bullets of Justice could perhaps make for a riotous party experience with a game audience, but it proved a very rough go for the “watching by myself at home on the couch” approach.
I think there’s a small subset of viewers who will absolutely love this film and its ultra-gonzo aesthetic, but it isn’t for me, and won’t be for most.