Le Serpent aux Milles Coupures (aka Thousand Cuts, 2017)
Director: Eric Valette
Cast: Tomer Sisley, Terence Yin, Pascal Greggory, Stephane Debac, Erika Sainte
Le Serpent aux Mille Coupures, aka The Snake with a Thousand Cuts/ Thousand Cuts, is a French crime thriller that centre around a mysterious killing of three drug traffickers. that happens in the small town farm area. The hitman escapes injured and hides out in a mixed family that is already being bullied by their neighbors very much against their will. As the traffickers’ family sends over their own hitman to hunt down and revenge their death, we see four sides of the story from the cops, the neighbors, the hiding hitman and the hunting hitman. The violence and characters are what truly stands out in this adaptation of the French novel with the same name written by DOA.
Thousand Cuts is a reference on the ruthless killer Tod played by primarily Hong Kong actor, Terence Yin. However, the other characters prove to be equally important. Terence Yin pulls off a rather sadistic killer who speaks in Spanish and English (at times illegible, where we wished the there would be subtitles also). However, a lot of his dialogue helped us understand his origins while his cruel torture and killing methods and the obsession for his knife never quite gets further than being a disturbing aftermath. His character felt like its main purpose was to show the extreme cruel, dark side of being a heartless killer in a rather cliche background sort of way. However, his role helped to give a contrast to Tomer Sisley’s nameless injured hitman who is mostly referred to as The Motorcyclist. A killer who is hunted and perhaps is the most intriguing among the characters because he seems to be capable of emotion and manipulation and yet the question arises at a certain point whether he longs for something more or that he is using the emotions of being human to manipulate. This character is deep and will be the centre of provoking further discussion of this movie. The best parts of the film are actually with The Motorcyclist because he is multi-layered and always seems to have something more to discover and wonder.
As a crime thriller, Thousand Cuts offers a decent amount of thrills whether it is in the visual disturbing images by Tod or even the multi-layered Motorcyclist. However, its hard to imagine that this tale is so much more and yet so many issues are not fleshed out enough. It touches only slightly on the family that The Motorcyclist chooses and their issues dealing with racism from the neighboring farms, emphasizing a small town characteristic, but never deep enough or long enough to feel a purpose to it, except to show that The Motorcyclist’s choice of choosing this family makes him also a bully and a bad man, which has proven that perhaps he really isn’t that bad. The neighborhood in the farm area also is a focus that never seems to matter too much even when the finale seems them converging at the same location for the big finale. The fact is Thousand Cuts feels disjointed in many parts and the majority of the characters never seem to get the depth that they deserve. Visually, Terence Yin pulls off a great villain with his ruthless acts but his acts are only there for shock value and reassurance of his character rather his reluctant driver becomes the comic relief pulling some dark humor in various spots.
Thousand Cuts has the potential to be something more. However, its slow pace and disjointed storyline lacks a certain depth that helps make it memorable. Terence Yin pulls off some great dialogue and captures his role very well. However, the outstanding performances goes to Tomer Sisley as The Motorcyclist who thrills us by the grey area his character resides in constantly. The final act is definitely the best part of the movie as everything comes together and has some engaging action. Thousand Cuts is put together with good moments but somehow it still falls short of its potential. However, if you can put the story aside, the performances here and the imagery is done very well and the set location is also a great choice and these credits go to the director Eric Valette, which makes this one worth checking out.