There is a dialog between Jack and Riddick at the beginning of Pitch Black.
J.: Where the hell can I get eyes like that?
R.: Gotta kill a few people.
J.: 'Kay, I can do that.
R.: Then you got to get sent to a slam, where they'll tell you you'll never see the daylight again. You dig up a doctor, and you pay him 20 menthol Kools to do a surgical shine job on your eyeballs.
There are undoubtedly more flamboyant characters than this guy. Yet there are few characters who are at once so deadly efficient and so charismatic. He does what needs doing. He does not kill lightly but only when compelled. And when he kills he does it swiftly with deadly precision and economy of movement.
He sports a buff physique, and he is exceptionally fast and lithe. Killing an alien man-eater in Pitch Black took the power of observation and skill as much as brawn. And running across the scorched surface of Crematoria, staying ahead of the sunrise and weaving between fissures and crevices, in The Chronicles of Riddick took speed and focus.
He is good with guns though his true specialty are knives, which he uses with great adaptability. He displays the fighting style similar to Kali or Eskrima, which suits him marvelously since it is based on fighting interchangeably with empty hands and knives, both things he is extremely efficient at. Experts describe the style as deceptively simple though its complex underlying techniques take years and years to master.
Among his other skills are spaceship piloting and a knack for escaping. He does the letter by displaying time and time again the talent to think fast and anticipate what his adversary would do.
For all his muscles it is interesting how much he relies on his cunning. Although those muscles do come in handy every now and then. Few characters can boast such blend of astute mind and remarkable physique. Okay, he never does any quantum physics or plays chess against a superior alien intelligence but he is never really required to.
The universe he lives in a harsh cruel one with little time for anything else except running, piloting, escaping, killing. He is constantly forced to live in a nitty-gritty survival mode.
He seems to have a way with animals especially big predators. He is the sole convict who survives encounter with a strange hybrid in the dungeons of Crematoria in The Chronicles. Not only does the animal hesitate to attack him it lets him pet it! Call it mutual respect.
What little we know about his beginnings is the stuff of legend and hearsay. What is certain is that he is a Furyan. The Furyans were a warlike race largely extinct by the time his story starts to unfold.
However, a few members of the race managed to survive though little is known of their whereabouts or customs. Except that they are, as one character puts it, "defiant to the end". They cannot be controlled by any will other than their own. Yet their will can be broken or they can be persuaded to abandon their Furyan way and adopt another creed, as seen in The Chronicles of Riddick.
He possesses a keen sense of honor. In Pitch Black there is a scene when Johns points a gun at him and says: "I want you to remember this moment. The way it could have gone...And didn't". In the next moment he easily snatches the gun from Johns and points it at him saying: "I want you to remember this moment." And then he flings the gun to the floor and walks away.
That sense of honor will cost him a lot of anguish at the end of Pitch Black when confronted with human selflessness he feels impelled to put aside his cynical and self-serving attitude and act towards the preservation of human life and safety of his companions.
Though you may find this sense of honor odd in such a hard-bitten character, there is an even odder yet somehow deeply human trait that he possesses. Yes, even "an escaped convict and a murderer", as he scornfully styles himself in Pitch Black, has a true soft spot. That is Jack/ Kyra.
In Pitch Black Jack is a teenager without family who admires Riddick. He goes so far as to adopt Riddick-style welding goggles and haircut. In the course of the movie we find out that little Jack harbors a secret which could jeopardize his idol as well as the rest of the crew.
In The Chronicles of Riddick Jack shows up under a different guise and name. Yet the influence his presence exerts on Riddick is constant and compelling.
Jack is his sole link with humanity. That is a precarious and complex position. And one ultimately doomed to wreak havoc with the lives of them both. Bringing death to one and anguish to the other.
Keep an eye on this guy. The Chronicles of Riddick leave him at his most tragic moment so far.
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