The influence of East Asian culture on director Mysskin has always been evident, and he makes no bones about it. Apart from Kung Fu, the mainstay of action in Mugamoodi, references to the Dragon and the Chinese Embassy at a dingy mask-making unit on a terrace, convey a marked slant towards the region. The character of Mugamoodi (U) may be inspired by the comic book series or the Hollywood versions of Superman and other such men, but still the flavour of China and Korea is inextricably woven into the film.

Mysskin’s effort to make Mugamoodi appear as authentic as possible deserves to be commended! And Jiiva’s impressive underplay helps the viewer relate comfortably to the character. Mugamoodi, as he is called, is as human as everybody else that he makes you feel, if Mugamoodi can, you can, unlike a Spiderman or a Batman. The acumen of the writer-director comes to the fore here. The titular role fits Jiiva well, very much like the armour he dons. But your heart goes out to him — performing stunts in a costume that looks unbearably heavy, with a face-mask to boot must have been quite a task.

What begins as a romantic caper moves on to a dangerous ground of murder, mistaken identity and Machiavellian villainy. A predictable tit-for-tat routine between Lee (Jiiva) and Shakti (Pooja Hegde), transforms into love and takes a serious turn when Shakti’s father, a police commissioner (Nasser), is shot at and the blame falls on the guileless Lee. Somewhere down the line, the hero is forced to wear a mask and armour.

Beginning with a face-mask that is more on the lines of The Mask of Zorro, Lee graduates to the Superman wardrobe when the law chases him.

When was the last time you saw a good-looking villain stride on screen with venom oozing out from every vein? As Angusaamy, the diabolical avenger, Narain scores. But the pride he takes in the murders sounds immature.

The stunt choreographer, actors and the visual effects team draw appreciation in the climactic sequences where you witness chilling action several metres above the ground. Not to forget composer K’s electrifying RR. In fact, just when you begin to feel that the background score is either loud or obviously silent, K transports you to a sound zone that’s perfect for the mood of the sequences.

Pooja Hegde doesn’t have much scope for talent display. But Nasser, a natural, proves his mettle once again. And do we need an actor of Girish Karnad’s stature for the grandpa’s role? Just two old men and a physically challenged youngster are enough to take on trained goondas! At times, Mysskin shocks you with such juvenile touches in his screenplay.

Though venturing into a genre that’s been beaten to pulp in the West, Mysskin steers clear of stereotypes. That is if you can ignore some of the clichés of a Mysskin film. The song and dance in a wine shop, a Mysskin trademark, is part of Mugamoodi too — his dig at his own weakness for the yellow-sari clad dancer evokes a smile. However, he has eschewed gyrations of female dancers this time. And how many times do we have to watch a father with an acid tongue, who never understands his son?

Being an action film, Mugamoodi could have been racier. Most of the incidents happen in the dark, and the culprits roaming around in black only add to the opaque effect.

A children’s film? It’s a clean film. Probably kids would have found it more engaging, if the fantasy element had been brought in. Romance? Of course, but it is only used as an instrument to propel the tale to action mode. Worth a watch? Yes, for travelling on a terrain that’s new to Tamil cinema!

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Tamil Cinema ReviewsOctober 18, 2011