“Killer dance moves.”
Prima ballerina Maya Mason (Skya) has it all: great career, billionaire oil-magnate husband Michael (Slater), loving daughter. But it all comes tumbling down when Michael is assassinated in an apparent coup d’etat of his business empire. The final piece is a set of documents, bearer shares that confer control of the company to whoever has them, and the players behind the predatory takeover bid, think Maya knows where these essential certificates are. She insists she has no clue, but is not believed, and to apply pressure, she is framed for drug trafficking and thrown into jail: not where anywhere wants to be, least of all a classical dancer. Worse is to follow, when they kidnap her daughter, but that’s a step too far, and Maya vows to use her very particular set of skills, skills she has acquired over a long career, to make her a nightmare for the people concerned. Or, if you want the one-word version: ballet-fu.
If you came into this expecting anything at all like the cover, you’re in for a surprise, as it is likely the most utterly misleading of all time. Neither Slater nor Hauser are actiony types at all in this; rare though it is for a film to undersell the action heroine element, for our purposes we’re all the happier with the end product! It’s certainly a new style, even if we remember that Michelle Yeoh, for example, learned ballet well before martial arts, beginning at the age of four. It’s a shame it’s not put to significant use until the second half, starting with a prison fight after another inmate decides she wants Maya’s ring. This is finished off with a barrage of spin-kick after spin-kick after spin-kick, and is pretty awesome. There’s also a good brawl in a bathroom, but you’re left wishing for more, since it’s something deserving of greater use, and Skya’s flexibility is awesome. Yes, she can kick behind her head, thanks for asking.
She proves herself somewhat multi-talented here, also co-directing and singing the poignant song over the end credits – Chris decided she wants it played at her funeral, but if we played every song she had decided to use, it would be a three-week event… There are some aspects of the plot that don’t make a great deal of sense – why do the villains bother to frame Maya, when they could just kidnap her and torture the certificates’ location out of her? And, I have to say, her darling little daughter is much more whinily irritating, rather than the “adorable” for which the film is clearly aiming. Some of the other performances come over a little bit “English as a second language” – including Hauser as Maya’s former boyfriend – yet it moves along briskly enough, and Skya sells both the dramatic and physical aspects with enough credibility to make for a decent 90 minutes of fun.
Dir: Robert Crombie + Sofya Skya
Star: Sofya Skya, Christian Slater, Cole Hauser, Angus Macfadyen
a.k.a. White Swan