Daredevil - 1.02 Cut Man

Writer: Drew Goddard
Director: Phil Abraham

Horn Head allows himself to be a bit of a hot head and in doing so finds himself seriously injured and in need of medical assistance.  When he’s fished out of a dumpster by Claire (Rosario Dawson), he finds himself an unexpected ally.

There’s a rule of thumb in the action genre that states “the smaller the story, the bigger the drama”.  Goddard’s script for Daredevil 1.02 takes the sizeable city story and boils it down (for the most part) to two people in an apartment vs. two people in a house; albeit in flashback form.  “The thing about red, is that they can’t tell how much you’re bleeding” –Jack Murdock has told his son this on several occasions.  It’s why he boxes in red (having retconned the yellow origin outfit).  Battlin’ Jack’s win-loss record has more in the L column than the W, it makes the use of the colour red as an animalistic survival mechanism.  It’s his camouflage and one that his son will embrace; though not yet.

For now, Matt is bleeding (badly) on Claire’s couch.  The camera work is still, close-up, it’s almost claustrophobic and with the heavy-lined shadows framing the corners of the apartments signifies that in Hell’s Kitchen, one is not safe… not even in their own apartment.  He shouldn’t be alive, but he can take a punch.  All the Murdock men can take a punch.

In the 2003 Daredevil film Jack “The Devil” Murdock was left-handed.  This is a small thing but a clever little detail as, apparently, left-handed people hear words differently to right-handed people.  Though it’s something of a stretch it’s not beyond argument that this part of his DNA lives within Matt and rather than the toxic spill giving him extraordinary senses it simply improved what was already there.  This is not present in the Netflix incarnation of Daredevil however the Murdock DNA is referenced both in the flashback and the present timeline.

Offered the fight of a lifetime by Mr. Sweeney, Battlin’ Jack is less than keen on taking a dive in order to collect his payday but is willing to do it, as his recently blinded child requires “help”, which costs money.  Begrudgingly he takes it, though at the last minute changes his mind on the outcome of the bout.  Murdock knows he can beat Creel.  He bets his entire payday on it (instructing his bookie to pay it into a Credit Union account in Matt’s name).  If Sweeney is fixing Jack’s fight to put Creel in line for a title fight then he’s fixing the title fight too, as Jack is certain of his ability to win (even with his loss record).  Though a degree of pride comes into the decision to win, for the most part it is sacrifice.  Jack goes into the bout knowing that a win will cost him his life.  Jack winning, dying, and paying out in Matt’s name gifts his son with more money in his name than Jack could provide cleanly.  It is this heroism, this self-sacrifice that runs in the Murdock DNA.  The Murdock men often do the right thing rather than the smart thing; with pragmatism all too often considered a weakness (for Matt to survive this will need to be resolved).

Matt, having been patched up, is in a position were he knows doing the right thing could likely lead to his death –drawing an uncomfortable parallel between him and his father.  The smart thing is to provide the police with the information he has obtained and lay low until he is well.  The right thing is to save the day.  Abraham’s cinematography in this episode has been remarkably restrained thus far but it is when Matt locates the kidnapped child that we see the incredible flair that has been brought to the television series.  Daredevil 1.02 features one of the most incredible, involving, brutally brilliant fight sequence to be committed to film in years.  Comparisons to Old Boy will, of course, be presented but unlike Old Boy –the corridor scene being a linear track along to the end; Daredevil places the audience by Horn Head’s side.  Every knock is heard, felt, ducked and absorbed.  The sequence, which feels close to five minutes in length, is as beautiful as it is brutal.  It places the audience in DD’s boots, allowing them to understand the physical toll that is required in order to be the man who stands up for the right thing.  If it were cinematic it would be considered on a level to Brian De Palma or Orson Welles.  Breath-taking.


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