Transformed tells you exactly what sort of film it is going to be with an opening scroll that informs us that, back in 1830 a comet crashed into the Earth, killing most of the people in the surrounding area. But one man survived – and was transformed into a young and vibrant being who collected the debris so he could repeat the process.
This is a martial arts transgender body swap film with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek.
The film proper starts by introducing us to Alan (Matthew Jacobs), a man who doesn’t enjoy the happiest life in the world. But he gets through, largely with the aid of excessive amounts of alcohol. And it’s following one such binge that he stumbles – at exactly the wrong time – into the scheme of Hilda, the film’s resident mad scientist.
Hilda is getting on a bit and wants to regain her youth by swapping bodies with April (Leigh Jacobs) who her henchmen have just kidnapped. And, of course, it all goes horribly wrong with Alan ending up in April’s body and Hilda ending up in Alan’s body.
What follows is an essentially McGuffin driven plot, with everyone chasing everyone else. But it works. The film moves along at a fair old pace, the dialogue is refreshingly free of excess exposition and often funny, and the acting is never less than competent.
As mentioned at the top of this review, Transformed is – as well as everything else – a martial arts film. The fight scenes all flow very smoothly, are certainly very well choreographed and consistently impressive. So much so that it didn’t surprise me to see Matthew Jacobs being described as a martial arts expert on the Siren Tales website. My only gripe is that some of the fights did feel a bit staged. But this is a very minor complaint given that the vast majority of scenes – especially where Matthew Jacobs is involved – are faultless.
However, it is Leigh Jacobs and her portrayal of Alan as April that really makes this film something special. She does a fantastic job of getting across Alan’s initial confusion and then his slow coming to terms with his (or her?) situation and, in doing so, she manages to keep the audience fully involved in what is happening on the screen.
Transformed is an above average action comedy with a set of genuinely engaging and often sympathetic characters. The direction is lively, the plotting is nicely free of any unnecessary padding – and throws out a few twists as the film progresses - and the editing keeps the film moving at a cracking pace.
All in all, this is a fun film that pushes all the right buttons and one that is well worth getting hold of.