Victor Zheng, founder of Team Avatar Films wrote and directed the short Agni Kai: Hsu VS Liang which won an honourable mention in the Incluvie Short Film Festival Competition. It’s a remastered version of the original passion project he undertook with an equally passionate team, and as a fan of the universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender (A.T.L.A), it’s an absolute treat to watch. You can feel the crew’s love for the universe and I love the dedication with which the infamous Agni Kai has been recreated in a very lighthearted manner!
Sparked by a petty squabble, the Agni Kai in the film is a fast-paced but short-lived duel between Private Hsu (Timothy Hsu) and Private Liang (Ann Warque). They’re both privates of the Fire Nation army and in true Fire Nation fashion (at least I think that’s how A.T.L.A portrayed the Fire Nation), their Lieutenant Oto, played by Victor Zheng himself, intervenes when he sees them arguing to get them battling each other ruthlessly.
The special effects are really cool, I want to acknowledge the effort that is clearly born of a passion for storytelling and a love for the universe. The music is pretty catchy and action-appropriate, sounding like an adrenaline rush. The action’s choreography is reminiscent of the Agni Kai from the show, and I wish this was longer. That’s also largely due to the immersive cinematography that accentuates the coolness of the moves and the speed with which the duelers charge at each other. I seriously want a lot more of those kicks and flaming sword clashes, and I’m looking forward to more of what Team Avatar Films has to offer! And last but not the least, I love the writing! Specifically the lines of the on-lookers whether they’re booing a character or egging them on. Some of those comments are seriously funny, especially from the scenes that play during the credits, with one of the on-lookers joking about Hsu having skipped leg day at the gym.
Keep it up, Team Avatar Films and to the fans of A.T.L.A I say do yourselves a favor and watch this short film that’s bustling with enthusiasm!