Bartkowiak is a Polish film that was released recently on Netflix. It is directed by Daniel Markowicz and stars Józef Pawlowski, Joanna Kocyla, Zofia Domalik, Szymon Bobrowski and Jan Frycz among others.
Netflix describes it as:
After his brother dies in a car crash, a disgraced MMA fighter takes over the family nightclub and soon learns his sibling’s death wasn’t an accident.Via Netflix
– Bartkowiak Review contains no spoilers –
Bartkowiak is the first Polish film that I have ever seen, and while it wasn’t a film that blew my mind away, I realized that it was something that greatly exceeded my expectations.
The film follows Tomek Bartkowiak, the younger of two brothers. He used to be a famous MMA fighter and was an undefeated champion of the sport. After his first bitter loss and accusations of foul play, Tomek retires and isolates himself from the rest of the MMA world. However, a family tragedy drags him back into the world he had tried hard to forget. What he discovers during this, leads him to dig deeper into his brother’s accident, as well as the loss that changed his life.
What We Liked: Bartkowiak
The film starts with a kick-ass (literally) action sequence which is perfect in every sense. The choreography is quick, light, and flows with a certain aggression. If you are a fan of great fight sequences, this one is definitely something that will draw you in. In fact, most of the action sequences are actually very well-choreographed. They are brilliantly shot as well. Lighting plays in the camera’s favor, and the director did well to opt for raw, guerilla-style cinematography.
The plot keeps it simple and does not try to oversell itself as something it isn’t. There’s not much of a suspense angle, and things reveal themselves fairly quickly. But, we must keep in mind that the film is an action film and not a thriller. So, really, no complaints.
What We Didn’t: Bartkowiak
Despite having a run time of barely a hundred minutes, the film starts dragging along towards the end. Fight sequences, no matter how well-choreographed, can only entertain you for so long. The problem is exactly that: there are way too many action sequences. Now, we know, we said we liked them, but frankly, a few of them were irrelevant, and a bit too drawn out.
For me, the biggest downfall was the acting. The lead had quite a monotonous expression on his face. Whether it was a fight sequence, a tender moment between him and his brother, or when trouble struck, there seemed to be a constant smirk stuck across his face, that truly did dilute the watching experience. One of the most interesting characters, the Coach, is great to watch on screen, but he flits in and out of the plot rather carelessly.
Final Verdict: Bartkowiak
Put plainly, Bartkowiak is a decent film to watch. It has a rather short run time of 90 minutes, which is perfect to cover its fairly simple plotline, great fight sequences, and of course, an intriguing plot. That’s not to say that the film did not have its fair share of flaws.
The acting falls short, the action sequences are much too frequent and some characters exist just to fill in certain gaps in the film. In no way is Bartkowiak a must-watch, but it isn’t a film I would tell you to skip if you really did want to watch it. All in all, Bartkowiak is an action film, with not much brain to it.
Simple, but entertaining.
Bartkowiak is streaming on Netflix.