If only theater producers intent on turning Broadway into a showcase for recycled movie ideas would have the nerve to hire director Timothy Haskell. In recent years, Haskell has transformed such ’80s touchstones as Road House and Fatal Attraction into Off-Broadway hits, using their cult status as an opportunity to perpetrate all sorts of campy send-ups and low-brow mischief. His latest, The Jaded Assassin, takes on a movie genre that hardly needs further parodying—the kung-fu epic. An orphan girl (Jo-anne Lee) embarks on an odyssey to end a mystical curse that is killing the warriors in her land. A narrator (Laine D’Souza) reads most of the dialogue while the simulated fighting assumes acrobatic dimensions. The comedy is mostly physical. But the biggest laughs come from the bargain-basement resourcefulness of Haskell’s direction. A white-sheet shadow play elevates the action to a whole new level of abstract absurdity. During the climactic fight scene, a pair of warriors defies the laws of physics thanks to some of the most unconventional Bunraku puppetry. The play’s down-to-earth goofiness is ultimately what makes it soar.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 20, 2007