Soaked in a modern socio-tragic atmosphere, Men Dahr Ragel (Born to a Man), a pleasant movie is not a cinematic great work in the genre that it represents.
Directed by Karim El-Sobky and starring Asser Yassin and Mahmoud Hemida, the film relies on recurrent and excessive action where the plot shifts between suspense and melodrama.
The narrative remains balanced, though reveals a well studied social drama with classical tragedy taking on a new skin.
Perhaps it is not the easiest story to tell, as it follows the complicated relationship between gangsters, police and Islamists right after the January 2011 revolution.
Spanning 145 minutes, the film also addresses the conflict of generations, through the relationship between father Adham (portrayed by Mahmoud Hemida) and his son Raheem (Asser Yassin).
Raheem, the young aspiring boxer, leads a rather quiet life and earns his living normally until the day he is attacked by a young resentful Islamist named Taha (Sherif Ramzy) and thug Hennesh (Walid Fawaz), the brother of a girl Raheem fancies (portrayed by Yasmin Raeis).
In a continuous romantic crescendo and through a series of flashbacks, the viewers are invited to follow the cat-and-mouse game between the police and Raheem.
This is the first script coming from Mohamed Amin Rady, a writer well-known for his many successful television series. His experience, however, is probably what weakened the script.
Following the speedy developments of a television series, this excessively long film becomes a range of portraits and interlaces several themes: love, revenge, tragic death; it introduces action and suspense and becomes a socio-political commentary.
It is in this context that Men Dahr Ragel is trapped between the lengthy scenes and the swift changes of some protagonists' behavior. As a result, this action-packed sweet and sour combination reminds us of some dramas that have emerged from Indian cinema.
But the director's skill compensates the script. Karim El Sobky proves that his stylistic methods distinguish him from action films presented by his family's El-Sobky Film Productions.
Not one scene, not one frame in Men Dahr Ragel, is left without the evident hand of a talented director. At times, he even shows off with some special effects and interesting artistic techniques.
El-Sobky junior leads the movie thoroughly, despite a few glitches in the cinematic rhythm and sometimes poor makeup (noticeably artificial beards, etc).
The editing by Amr Assem, though well cared for, unfortunately adds to the length of the scenario, a trap which many young filmmakers fall into finding it difficult to give up on a few scenes in the final cut.
The cinematographer Ahmed Beshary, however, supports the visuals with an adequate and magnificent ambiance, while talented musician Amr Ismail offers a score that fuses well with the film.
Men Dahr Ragel is definitely a must-see film for fans of Asser Yassin. The young and already well-established star builds a fairly appropriate character, despite a few weaker undertones. To Mahmoud Hemida though, the role of the father is a showcase of a rich dramaturgical approach, worth his name.
However, the biggest pleasant surprise comes with Sherif Ramzy. Portraying Taha, the role of a young religious man who is pretentious and spiteful, Ramzy proves that he still has a lot to reveal.
Finally, Yasmin Raeis finds herself casted in a role that fits her very well. Even if dominated by the physical appearance, Raeis's acting abilities allowed her to capture the depth of the role, as she adds tenderness and a certain simplicity to the character.
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