Since becoming a film critic, I have found that I love many foreign films. Growing up, the only non-American-made movies I ever watched were anime. I liked many of the films I watched, but I always found it annoying to have to read subtitles. Even if the movie was dubbed over for us English-speaking folk, sometimes the words did not match up with the mouth movements, creating this “uncanny valley” feeling, where you know something is off, ever so slightly.
Maybe it is in my old age (I’m about to be 45, so I’m not THAT old) that I don’t mind either of these, anymore. Having subtitles just means I have to pay extra attention. And anyone who has watched a lagging stream on YouTube or Twitch probably can deal with the slight mouth-movements-to-words-spoken issues with many dubbed films. And honestly, I have found a whole new world of cinema I never knew about.
RRR is an Indian production released in 2022. The RRR initials roughly translate to “Rise, Roar, Revolt” (though the actual translation from Telugu is “Rage, War, Blood”). This film is full of all of those plot points. At just over three hours, this epic action film will fill all your adventure desires. Do you want massive battles like you see in The Lord of the Rings? Maybe you want the drama of a spy trying to infiltrate the evil lair of the enemy, as in any James Bond film? Or perhaps you prefer superhuman feats of strength and dexterity found in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? RRR has that and so much more.
Taking place in 1920, RRR begins by introducing us to Governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) and his cold-hearted wife, Catherine (Alison Doody). After giving a woman named Loki (Ahmareen Anjum) money for what was believed to be a song she sang, the couple forcefully takes Loki’s daughter, Malli (Twinkle Sharma), for their own. Outraged by this, the tribe sends its appointed guardian, Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.), to save Malli. Tipped off that someone is coming to take the girl, Catherine recruits A. Rama Raju (Ram Charan), an officer in the Indian Imperial Police, to search out and kill Bheem.
Without knowing each other’s identities and motives, Bheem and Raju meet and become friends after saving a child from a fiery explosion. Their friendship blossoms over time, with Raju even helping Bheem in his attempts to win the affection of Buxton’s niece, Jenny (Olivia Morris). But as each man’s objectives are diametrically opposed, conflict soon rears its head, putting these close friends at odds with one another, where death is the only foreseeable outcome.
Seriously, I cannot begin to express how good RRR is. It’s one of those rare films that has something for everyone. Do you need an action movie that you can watch with your significant other, who really loves romance films? RRR has what you need. Want tons of violence and fighting? Yup, RRR has that, too. Maybe horror is not apparent in the movie, but some of the atrocities done by the English oppressors on the Indian people are pretty horrible. I am not usually a Bollywood fan, but there is that touch of comedy, unrealistic action and dance numbers from out of nowhere that make RRR simply enjoyable.
I can say with utmost certainty that RRR is the craziest film I have ever seen, both foreign and domestic. And I love it.
Earlier I mentioned that I am more in tune with movies featuring subtitles. And while most of RRR’s dialogue is spoken in Telegu, having to read the subtitles did not hinder me from enjoying the film in the least. The mix of Telegu-speaking and English-speaking actors would normally not work well for me, as I hate bouncing back and forth between the languages, but RRR doesn’t have that problem. In fact, I found myself understanding the film even without the text.
It is the art of visual storytelling that is the true strength of RRR.
RRR earns five out of five stars in my review. The acting, while in the traditional Bollywood style of being exaggerated, is really a nice change of pace from what is normally released in the U.S. Rao and Charan really convey the love these men share for one another, and the tragedy of discovering each other’s missions.
With a 180-minute runtime, RRR goes by fast and even left me wanting to see more. With awards season on the horizon, I think I have found my favorite foreign-film nomination!