Here’s the story of this futuristic martial arts film. A government weapons lab accidently releases a virus that causes a world pandemic (sound familiar?). A woman named Violet becomes infected, and the government forces her to abort her baby, sterilizes her, and kills her infected husband. Now embittered and alone, Violet trains as a revolutionary fighter, becoming ULTRA-Violet. But when a sick young child comes into her life, she changes her mind and uses her new skills to protect him.
Doesn’t that sound like a great story! Then why did Ultraviolet get crummy reviews?
Well, the film is about a woman and child. And, Violet is tough and strong-willed — especially about protecting children. And typically, I do not find that critics like martial arts films, even the great ones.
Also, the film is uber showy and stylish. It has art pieces, striking ultramodern architecture, and bold musical backgrounds competing for attention. Each scene has a different color scheme that fits the characters’ actions/emotions, and Violet changes her clothes and hair to match. Also, CGI is used to enhance textures and colors in a way you may never have seen
BEWARE: SPOILERS IN THE NEXT SECTION!
The film moves quickly and some of it is told in brief flashbacks, so perhaps it was hard for some reviewers to follow. I’ve seen it several times, and I’ll string the basic plot together for you so it is crystal clear, if you like:
Young Violet has specific plans for her life: find a friend, fall in love, marry, and have a child. But her plans are ruined when she gets a fatal disease that gives her enhanced healing, acute senses, and remarkable strength. Her kung fu training is aided by “flat space” technology that allows her to 3D print weapons and a device that allows her to defy gravity for a few seconds. Now, ULTRA-Violet steals a governmental super-weapon and barely escapes using kung fu, swords, and guns. But when she opens the weapon case, she finds a helpless child like the one she lost. Violet goes to the Blood Chinois group for help, but they made a deal with the government to kill her. Finally Violet escapes on a motorcycle that can race sideways, up, and down buildings to avoid police cars, black helicopters, and shooters’ gatling guns.
Back home, her scientist/boyfriend tells her the child is carrying a disease that will kill it. Violet realizes she loves the child and, after fighting off some traitorous colleagues, she returns to the head doctor to get an antidote to save the child’s life. She cries and one of her tears infects the child, gifting him enhanced healing. There is more fighting and a duel with the head doctor, before rescuing the child, helping find a cure for the pandemic disease, and bonding with her scientist boyfriend.
OK. RELAX. NO MORE SPOILERS!
KURT WIMMER (writer of Children of the Corn, Salt, The Thomas Crown Affair, Sphere) wrote and directed Ultraviolet. It was said that he’d visualized every frame of the film in advance. Wimmer later repudiated the film after a conflagration with Screen Gems over editing (but see Recommendations below).
MILLA JOVOVICH (Fifth Element, Resident Evil) plays Violet Song Jat Shariff, the nearly anorexic infected martial arts fighter whose life is changed by a child. She says she hates driving, motorcycles, and needles.
CAMERON BRIGHT (aka Cameron Douglas Crigger: X-Men) played the infected child named Six.
WILLIAM Fichtner (As the World Turns, Armageddon, Black Hawk Down) played Violet’s scientist boyfriend, Garth.
NICK CHINLUND (Jonny Quest, Lethal Weapon III, Con Air, Below, Training Day) played 6’2” Ferdinand Daxus, the head doctor and vice-cardinal of the government Archministry. He also played Toombs in the Chronicles of Riddick, but he came too light. I think he should have took the money.
WHAT IS THIS FILM ABOUT?
#1. This film is about a mother’s love for a lost child, set in a background of pandemic disease. The rest is eye candy.
2. Moreover, this is a martial arts film. So don’t be surprised if there is a lot of fancy fighting with swords and guns. There is a lot of kung fu that resembles gymnastics and dancing. For example, in one scene, unarmed Violet fights a crowd of killers by dancing so gracefully that she dodges their bullets and they shoot each other.
3. This is not a film about vampires.
I’m always trying to find you great films you may have missed. This film received terrible reviews and bad box office returns, but film lovers bought $35 million worth of DVDs and Blu-rays to make the film successful.
If this review sounds interesting, take a chance and see this film. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but DON’T get the Expanded Director’s Cut. It is only available on DVD and expensive Japanese import Blu-ray, and it starts out with a narration that ruins the story and brings the action to a crushing halt. Instead, save some money and DO GET the “PG-13 Theatrical Version.” And get the great Blu-ray version if you can. Compared with the Blu-ray, my DVD image was fuzzy, the colors were muddy, and the stereo music unfocussed. BTW, this film sounded best on my stereo with audio set to uncompressed.
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I hope this review helped unravel this potentially great film. Enjoy!
And remember, “It’s just the wind.”