A site dedicated to discussing a variety of action & martial arts film entertainment, and part time contributor to The Action Elite. The written and expressive work of the author(s) of Film Combat Syndicate is/are protected by Copyright Law. To send us scoops or share your inquiries, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think the only time I'll ever fully enjoy an Isaac Florentine film is when he's busy immersing the audience in MMA matches with prison Spetz champ, Uri Boyka at the center of an Undisputed film. Beyond that, I can't really help but view last year's Close Range as anything more than what it is. Even with B-movie action cinema, there's a way to hit the sweet spot, and unfortunately this one doesn't. However, that's not to say this film doesn't try and it certainly does, but only in ways we're probably already familiar with.
Action star Scott Adkins is back and doing his best to shake off his English accent to sound more American, here and now Colt MacReady, a former soldier-turned-outlaw. He's got an interesting backstory that would have serviced the film well almost on its own, but here were mostly stuck with a hero we know almost little about, a sister he doesn't get along with, and a niece he's forced to rescue from a corrupt Sheriff working in cahoots with a Mexican drug cartel in search of a missing flash drive with all sorts of seedy shit. Push comes to shove and soon, bullets start flying, bodies start falling, and Adkins is back to work and doing what he does best - kicking and punching people in the face, dodging gun fire, and SUVs for good measure.
While most of the acting is okay, what keeps Close Range moving are its villains with two of the best performances coming from actor Nick Chinlund, and co-star and fight choreographer Jeremy Marinas who gets a small but distinguishable role leading up to the only one-on-one fight in the film. On that note, the martial arts and action pay off very well from a truly talented team proving beneficial to Florentine who, like a few directors in the last 30 years, have spent years speaking the language better than most filmmakers.
Honestly however, when it comes to drama in a Florentine film, it's usually short-lived before it could fully settle in and give us characters we can wholly identify with. As a result, we're often left with cookie-cutter characters who have very few dimensions to them, and the same goes for this movie with Chinlund and co-star Jake La Botz serving somewhat as mild exceptions.
The climatic scene near the end of the thrid act is a bit of a mess as well, unecessarily drawn out to a good two minutes when it could have been much shorter, and ultimately playing out in way that's become a little too gimmicky. It's not the only time Florentine has used this approach and it has worked in the past, but 27 films later, it's become a little bit exhausting and less forgiveable.
There's not a lot of room for poignance or full character development in Close Range. It's mostly straight forward and fast in most parts that will keep you watching and guessing with fight sequences that never fail, and a few good actors who deliver. On that note, Adkins is still a work in progress while his screenfighting prowess continues to earn him his praise. Round or flat, he gives the fanbase a protagonist worth staying curious about for further consideration, and for what it's worth, I hope that consideration leads to something.
For now, we have Close Range, a film that doesn't really have much room to work with in its script while giving you what it can to present a decent action thriller worthy of a rental or purchase. The action is ample with shootouts and a few car chases. Moreover, Marinas definitely has an actor in him and can sure throw a party together for some of brutal fisticuffs and a few bloodier, stabbier moments. He's got it in him and I hope he gets the career growth he so deserves.
As for the rest of the film, generally, the title says it all and I'm gonna leave it at that.
Whether you go into director George Nolfi's new movie, Birth Of The Dragon, for its martial arts action or any historical substance you can scrape, if past reviews and reactions have anything to say for it, its unlikely the film will be as fulfilling in its delivery. The film was assailed by critics after debuting in Toronto late last year and even moreso when the film's trailer arrived introducing what some feel is a tone-deaf transposition to film based on the legendary contest between two iconic athletes, one of whom would soon ascend to greatness in the years ahead.
That moment was the very fight between fledgeling action film hero Bruce Lee and Shaolin martial artist Wong Jack Man, etched in history as a fight between two distinct ideologies for which the outcome remains a recorded mystery to date. Front and center is American-born Hong Kong actor and martial artist Phillip Ng (Once Upon A Time In Shanghai) making his Hollywood debut opposite actor Yu Xia (Mojin: The Los…
I think it's safe to say you know your movie sucks when you not only screw the rights holders whose name and content you base your unsanctioned film on, but when said rights holders join the chorus of critics panning your movie from literally every angle of the internet. That is the level of achievement you have reached if your name is George Nolfi and you've directed a film called Birth Of The Dragon, long hyped to be a hopefully legendary homage to Bruce Lee, the late founder of Jeet Kune Do and patriarch of American martial arts movie fandom.
Spring and summer have been much ado with acclaimed director Miike Takashi, now making waves at Fantasia this summer following his most recent theatrical Japan release, Blade Of The Immortal back in April from Warner Bros. Japan. Its Cannes premiere in May led to some terrific news for folks in North America tracking the film and with none other than Magnet Releasing snagging the rights for a U.S. release to be announced.
As of Sunday, that date has officially been set for a theatrical release on November 3. Starring actor Kimura Takuya and actress Sugisaki Hana, Blade Of The Immortal is adapted for the screen by Oishi Tetsuya and centers a young woman who, following the murder of her family and devastation of her dojo at the hands of a bloodthirsty martial arts school, desperately seeks vengeance with the help of an afflicted, immortal swordsman with a vendetta of his own. Also starring are Fukushi Sota, Toda Erika, Ichikawa Ibizo, Tanaka Min and Yamazaki Tsutomu. Blade Of The Immortal…