Fan Film, Fan Films

Review: Ryan Vs. Dorkman (RVD1)

rvdAfter doing the big write-up on RVD2 yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t seen in a few years, so as the week builds to the premiere of the sequel on Saturday, I figured it would be a good opportunity to go back and revisit the original. It’s probably pointless to review a movie that has over 1 million views on YouTube, but know what? So’s running a site about fan films, so it’ll fit right in.

If you’re looking for plot, you’ve come to the wrong fan film. This is a duel, pure and simple. There’s a few fan productions that are simply lightsaber fights, but this one probably is the most famous. The key to its success isn’t the effects–Duality beats it cold in that department–but rather the choreography, and while that makes sense, since it was originally produced for a duel choreography contest, it really is the sticking point. Instead of making a short filled with the whack, whack, whack of lightsabers, they actually sat down and tried to figure out, ‘what haven’t we seen done with these weapons?’

The answer is played out throughout the flick–holding lightsabers upside-down like daggers (a dumb move if you’re fighting, apparently); lots of getting close enough to punch out your opponent (Dorkman gets in most of the hits); horizontal fighting (the rolling shot is fabulous); fighting dirty by going for the groin with an upwards swing; and more. Creativity is great, of course, but in a flick like this, without the moves, it’s not worth much. Smartly, the fight starts with a looong shot of sharply staged saber-swingin’–it pulls you in and yet also acts as the jumping off point for the creativity to come, because it serves up typical, if heated, lightsaber moves as mere preamble.

The two filmmakers each have their own style of fighting–Michael “Dorkman” Scott tends to have the moments laden with attitude, whether adjusting his glasses with a smirk or fighting with one hand behind his back, just because he can. Dorkman also gets one of the few outright comic moments as well; the look on his face when he realizes his glasses have been broken is a riot. Nonetheless, Ryan Wieber still gets a few flashy moments, using a handspring to get back on his feet, and soon after letting loose with a barrage of spins and turns as he waves his weapon around himself like a whirling dervish.

Strangely, the only real weak point of the movie is the very end; without giving it away in case you haven’t seen it, the last moment of the flick is a cop-out, since there was nothing prior to set it up. It comes out of nowhere, but rather than being a clever twist, it feels like a cheat. Hopefully the sequel won’t end in such a manner–either that or perhaps they’ll take the concept and amend it until it’s plain out of control.

What makes a movie a viral video smash? Beats me, but clearly this is one of those rare fan films that has struck a nerve with both diehard fans and the general public. If the RVD team had just left it at that, it’d still have been a very cool feat, but it’ll be very interesting to see in a few days how they expand on this popular short.

Ryan Vs. Dorkman

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