Sisu Movie Review

“Sisu” is a deliriously fun and violent exploitation war film set in the ruins of Finland during World War II. Directed by Jalmari Helander, the movie takes inspiration from spaghetti Westerns, 1980s action films, and the works of Sergio Leone. 

With a deeply nationalistic tone, “Sisu” follows the journey of Aatami Korpi (played by Jorma Tommila), a grizzled prospector and former special forces soldier, as he fights against Nazi invaders to protect his hard-earned gold. 

While the film revels in its excessive carnage, it also subverts the traditional portrayal of prospectors and explores themes of colonization and resilience.

Unbreakable Determination and Bloody Confrontations

At the core of “Sisu” lies the concept of sisu, a Finnish term that embodies unbreakable determination. Aatami Korpi exemplifies this quality as he faces off against a group of Nazis who discover his gold and attempt to claim it for themselves. 

The ensuing fight becomes a battle for the treasure, with Korpi displaying a near-supernatural resolve reminiscent of iconic action heroes like Rambo. 

He navigates minefields, survives a hanging, and employs unconventional tactics to outwit his adversaries. The film’s high body count and gory violence contribute to its enjoyment, allowing viewers to revel in the thrilling and over-the-top action sequences.

Subverting Historical Expectations

Helander cleverly subverts historical expectations associated with prospectors in “Sisu.” Typically, prospectors represent the colonizers who exploit local resources and territories, often displacing indigenous populations. 

However, in this film, Korpi’s actions can be interpreted as an act of protecting Finland’s limited resources from the invading Nazis. The desolate Finnish landscape, depicted as a war-torn hellscape, serves as a backdrop to this struggle. 

The Nazis, depicted as colonizers, aim to seize the last remaining treasure in the country. This subversion of the prospector archetype carries a deeply nationalistic message, positioning Korpi as a symbol of resistance and resilience.

Plight of the Finnish Women

The narrative of “Sisu” intertwines with the plight of Finnish women held captive by the Nazis. These women, portrayed by actors like Mimosa Willamo, play a significant role in the story, despite having few lines. 

Like the gold, they are viewed as resources that the Nazis have colonized. Helander’s casting choices, featuring actors with hardened visages, effectively convey the suffering and resilience of these characters. The film draws parallels between the women’s fight for freedom and Korpi’s struggle to reclaim his treasure, further emphasizing the nationalistic and anti-imperialistic themes.

Outlandish Entertainment and Nonsensical Charm

While “Sisu” explores deeper themes of resilience and national identity, it doesn’t shy away from being outlandishly entertaining. 

The film revels in dumb action beats, inventive kills, and hokey yet enjoyable dialogue. It harkens back to the days when Hollywood produced films with unapologetic villains and bulletproof but engaging heroes. 

“Sisu” doesn’t feel the need to explain every plot point and embraces its own silliness. By immersing viewers in its fast-paced and adrenaline-fueled narrative, the film creates a sense of comfort and enjoyment.

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“Sisu” is an extravagant exploitation war flick that offers a thrilling and bloody cinematic experience. It combines elements of spaghetti Westerns, 1980s action films, and nationalistic storytelling to create a unique and entertaining narrative. 

Jalmari Helander’s subversion of the prospector archetype and exploration of themes like colonization and resilience add depth to the film. 

By intertwining the fight for gold with the plight of Finnish women, “Sisu” presents a layered story that engages viewers on multiple levels. Moreover, the film’s nonsensical charm and unapologetic entertainment value make it a highly enjoyable ride.

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