Once again, martial arts crosses lines between sport, art, reality, and what could be possible. In a short film by Hammerstep founders Garrett Coleman and Jason Oremus, Indigo Grey: The Passage, distinction between reality and fantasy dissolve in the mind of a small boy.
In an unusual but welcome combination of martial arts, hip-hop, and Irish step-dance, performers wearing black hoods and gas masks appear to the boy in an abandoned industrial warehouse. Think Orwellian cabaret. The steady, driving rhythm keeps our eyes on the performers while frequent percussive explosions take us back to the boy, now wearing his own mask and watching the performance, not with fear, but with an eye to a possibility.
The juxtaposition of a cello with a miniature flying spaceship reminds us that we’re dealing with two very different realities, both of which impact the performance. As the boy realizes the lack of his own limitations, he launches into a performance of his own, a controlled, serene practice of martial arts that brings the kind of smile to your face when you watch any young child realize his or her potential. Aidan Lok, as the young boy, actually holds a first degree black belt in Shotokan Karate, and he blends his performance seamlessly with the masked dancers and the dream of the boy he portrays.
Hammerstep managed to snag Evanescence’s Amy Lee for the score, and it is singularly what keeps the short film moving. Dusty wood floors and reverberating metal warehouse walls are integral to the sounds and suggestions the film creates. Sepia tones add to the surreal dancers and environment inside the warehouse, but the visual is always driven by the audio. Martial arts films have always been accompanied by powerful scores, but they generally have 90 minutes to get the job done. Amy Lee pulls this one off in a mere six minutes.
For a short film, this one does justice to so many genres of music, movement, and film. It’s definitely worth the watch.