RDX is the latest addition to the action dramas coming out of Malayalam cinema. We had the exceptional Thallumaala and Oru Thekkan Thallu Case last year, that explored comedy along with action, which was the formidable theme of both films. RDX expands to Robert, Dony, and Xavier, who inadvertently become part of brawls leading to a chain of altercations that eventually threaten their livelihoods.
What happened at the carnival?
RDX begins in the year 2003, when a locality in the city of Kochi is looking forward to celebrating the carnival which is a part of the festival organized by the local church parish. By the looks of it, this is a yearly event that everyone looks forward to. Dony is the eldest son of Philip, a local timber businessman, and he had a history of getting into fights a couple of years ago, though it seems all of that stopped abruptly one fine day.
There is no reason given initially as to why Dony stopped getting into local altercations. Some local thugs who had a history with Dony and his family made it a point to disrupt the carnival festivities. It also seems there was a clash of egos between the two groups, while Philip’s men took over the festival preparations. This may have caused the rowdies to unleash havoc, and they ended up humiliating Philip.
Dony had to step in because he could not stand his father being insulted in public, and the scuffle became physical very quickly. Muscle memory could be the reason why Dony was able to pick up his fighting skills from where he left off. We believe this was the only way Dony could bring the situation under control. We wonder why the police did not get involved in this because a scuffle at this scale could lead to loads of people getting gravely injured.
Why was Robert asked to come back?
Robert is the youngest child of Philip, who is currently not part of the family dynamics. Post-fight at the carnival, the same group of men, including Paulson, Davis, Ratheesh, and Seban, reach Philip’s home and brutally attack all the members of the family. This attack, as expected, was retaliation for the scuffle that happened at the carnival. They wanted to settle scores by injuring everyone in the house. All these men seem like professional rowdies who did not think twice before harming anyone.
Dony’s wife is gravely injured, and the goons do not spare his infant Sara as one of them snatches a gold chain off her neck. This scene is brutal, and it will take a while for the family to recover from this attack. Robert, who has not visited the city in the past five years, takes a stand against these men and decides to come back. It seems Robert had strong reasons to leave the city in the past, and he had probably decided to never come back, but fate had other plans.
How did Mini and Robert meet?
RDX from here on takes the viewers to the year 1998. A young Robert and Xavier are skilled martial arts fighters under the supervision of their karate master and the latter’s father, Antony. Meanwhile, Dony is trained in boxing, and all of them are always around to get into a scuffle with any of the opposing gangs. They are youngsters who are unhinged about the consequences of their actions. They never realized the altercations they got into around this time would end up haunting them five years later.
Robert and Mini’s meet-cute happens when she comes by the karate academy wanting to do a crash course in the said martial art. She reveals that she needs to teach her creepy professor a lesson. Robert volunteers to take care of the situation by physically assaulting the man. Impressed by his willingness to help, the two of them soon fall in love. He is impressed by her confidence, and she feels he understands her for who she is. This is a classic of young romance that is filled with picture-perfect moments that the couple share. Their romance also has a splash of savior complex, a tactic used by men to get the attention of the women they like. Mini was fine with it so long as Robert did not try to control her life.
Did Robert have to leave his hometown?
On the Cochin Carnival, which was the premise of the film in the 2003 timeline as well, the 1998 version plays a significant role in taking the story forward. Robert and Mini are very much in love, much to the chagrin of Faisal, a local dance choreographer who likes Mini as well. But instead of showcasing his interest directly to her, he tries to annoy Robert by inundating him with ruffians, which leads to a long chain of scuffles that ends badly for everybody involved in it.
The scuffle was planned to get a reaction out of Robert and make Mini doubt her decision to be with him. The sheer masculinity is on full display, but none of these hooligans care enough to ask what Mini wants. RDX accurately projects the mindset of the men in that decade, where a woman’s consent to a relationship never mattered to anyone.
Robert, Dony, and Xavier are injured, as are the men from the rival gang, many of whom had criminal records. One of them gets seriously injured, which forces Robert to leave the city for good. His family wants him to stay alive, and the only way to do that is to make the painful decision to leave the town and move away until the storm calms. Robert was in two minds because he wanted to stay back and face these people who initiated the fight. He wanted justice for what he was put through. But knowing he will be placing his family in danger, Robert decides to move away, possibly without informing Mini. Robert’s exit from the city forced Dony and Xavier to stay away from trouble. All three of them got busy flourishing in their personal and professional lives.
What was their initial plan to exact revenge?
The story comes back to the 2003 timeline, where Robert is horrified to see the ordeal his family was put through. He did not expect the aftermath to be this painful. It probably reminded him of the big brawl of 1998 and the terrible aftertaste he still feels looking at the condition of his family. The police arrest Davis for his role in the brawl at the carnival. This was the police’s way to calm the situation down. Davis is one of the gang leaders who has the potential to rile up the crowd and go after Robert and Dony once again. Since these men were street hoodlums, they were not worried about getting arrested.
Robert and Dony, instead of registering an FIR, hunt down the troublemakers one by one to get back at them for going after their family. This cycle of avenging their injured male egos goes on as the brothers enter the rival gang’s neighborhood. We believe they made the mistake of walking into the lion’s den without any backup. The brothers wanted to prove themselves to be equally strong and capable, which led to a big showdown.
As the news of their entry into the neighborhood spreads, Robert and Dony are overwhelmed, and the latter is almost killed. Xavier comes to their rescue, and all three of them barely escape alive. The attempt to kill Dony by the massive mob of frenzied men was bound to happen, for all of them are angry at each other for hurting their sentiments. Unlike “Thallumaala,” none of them became friends after the countless brawls they got into. Robert and Dony’s revenge plan did not work. It is not clear if these men wanted to kill those who attacked the family. If they beat the rival gang, the same group will find a reason to get back at them, and this cycle will never end. Even if they planned to kill, the men would then come across as shortsighted, for they are willing to give up their family and loved ones just to satisfy their egos.
What Happens To Robert, Dony, and Xavier?
Xavier suffers concussions because of the brutal attack on him. On learning what his men went through, Paulson decides to show up to have a showdown between him and the three men. Paulson starts psychologically messing with Robert and Dony by cutting off the electricity at the hospital where their family is admitted. The rival gang headed by Paulson had to resort to this to showcase his power. As the onslaught begins, Robert, Dony, Xavier, and their families are forced to leave the hospital in a hurry to make sure none of them become collateral in this clash of egos.
Paulson and his men chase them relentlessly. The urgency with which the scenes unfold proves that Paulson wanted to kill all of them. He had nothing to lose because he was always involved in such crimes and worked without understanding the repercussions of his actions. Paulson and his men are fueled by bruised egos, and they channel that through brawls that may have landed them in prison many times. They do not reform because they do not want to. The showdown between them happens because Philip wants this back-and-forth of assaults to stop. Philip was sure either of them would die, which is why he asked his children to end this once and for all.
RDX ends with this final brawl breaking out, and Xavier’s father, Antony Master, joins his kids to help them get their revenge. Antony Master had vowed to never make martial arts about getting even with anybody by fighting. He had his principles and ideals and respected his art way too much, but this attack was personal and made him get into the brawl. Antony was a good friend of Philip, and helping them comes easily to him. His expertise in karate helped the men conclude the fight. The culmination happened in such a way that Paulson was rendered immobile for the rest of his life. We believe the end could have been made more believable instead of glorifying fighting to the death. Fortunately, no one dies in this overlong and stretched fight. This was not the end of Robert, Dony, and Xavier’s revenge plan. They end up crippling Davis as well when he is bailed out of prison. There is no indication if this saga of brawls will continue with revenge as a motivation. With Davis also being stopped, all of them could go back to their lives and live the way they want.