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Daredevil

YET ANOTHER comic book hero comes alive on celluloid in this 20th Century Fox venture. While he may seem to be a combination of Batman, Superman and whatever else, his red leather suit makes him a different entity. He can scale walls, swing between high-rise buildings and... he is blind! Now would that be an asset? In his case yes, because if he cannot see, he has other powers that make him quite a superhero. He can hear, sense and move better than a fully endowed person.

When 12-year-old Matt Murdock (Scott Terra) sees his once boxer champion dad bullying a member of the mob on a quiet alley, he runs away, upset.

While he is running away, he crashes into a load of radioactive waste, which spills all over, including his eyes, robbing the boy of his eyesight. But wait! He finds his other senses are enhanced to almost miraculous levels and decides to train them further. The father is understandably upset by the accident, but proves to be the turning point in him trying to remake a life. He gets back to active fighting and game, and finds he is a winner after all.

Now, this does not make the mob happy, as they would like to control the winner to pick up the cash collections in the betting game. They tell him not to win in an impending match. And he does not comply, which makes him an irritant. He is killed, and now, Matt is determined to take revenge.

Years later, Matt is, now, a lawyer by day at New York's notorious Hells Kitchen and turns into the spectacular Daredevil by night, seeking to clean the city of its scum and dregs. He fights, kills if necessary and tries to be the good man. But it's not easy.

Comic books to movies seem to be worthy propositions what with Spiderman and the like raking in money. This one too is the cinematic version of Stan Lee's blind hero Daredevil: The Man without Fear. So you have a man who can `see' with his ears and mind, and soon his activities come under the scrutiny of the police and tabloid reporter Ben Urich, who is bent on discovering the identity of the secret crime fighter.

In the meantime, all is not gloomy and lonely for this Daredevil. He `sees' the beautiful Elektra (Jennifer Garner), daughter of the Greek billionaire Nicholas Natchios (Erik Avari), who is on the wrong side of the mob kingpin, Wilson Fisk (Micheal Clark Duncan) — rather well cast, one may add. Electra in the meanwhile electrifies Matt with her beauty and martial arts skills and naturally loves blossoms.

Now the kingpin hires an Irish assassin Bullseye (Collin Farrel) — a typical Indian villain-like creature hamming most of the time — for obvious reasons.

Ben Affleck looks good, no doubt, with his dark glasses and fancy stick, but if you are looking for expressions that will move you, forget it. One can say the same for Jennifer who fights well in matches against Matt.

It's a very dark film — literally, as most of the activity happens in the dead of night. All you can make out sometimes are figures moving, rolling and fighting with grunts and moans. Sometimes when Bullseye comes on to the screen you want him to shut up — his laughs and snorts are cliched. However, one scene in the end at the church, when he gathers splintered glass pieces and chucks them at Matt like some missiles, is eye-catching. Some of the visual effects when Matt `sees' Elektra, and things like a moving train or fist, are rather interestingly done. Looking for some hardcore old-fashioned action, then this is something for you.

CHITRA MAHESH

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