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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.
With the upcoming rollout or Jesse Johnson's The Pay Up, Accident Man and Triple Threat in his wake, leave it to action star Scott Adkins to help carry the mantle with word on the upcoming action thriller revisal, Sinners & Saints: Vengeance. Adkins will reunite once more with Chad Law-penned Jarhead 3: The Siege helmer William Kaufman who, in turn, reunites with actor Johnny Strong who led the initial 2011 revenge cop thriller.
The film aims as a stand-alone sequel which tells of a New Orleans detective who journeys to Moscow to avenge the murder of his partner at the hands of a syndicate enforcer with the help of an old war buddy, and the enforcer's lover. Law, whose writing credits also include Kaufman's zombie hit thriller, Daylight's End and Isaac Florentine's Adkins-led home invasion action pic, Close Range, is scripting with Saints And Sinners scribe Jay Moses ahead of the film's Bulgarian shoot this Winter.
I did a lot of work this weekend. So, don't be surprised if things slow down a bit for me this week. At best, I might be able to pace myself and keep going but a little me-time also suffices.
For now, at least you have this week's installment of the Hit List to relieve your boredom. Demos, goods to promote and much more are on the way starting with a fresh new batch of stunt and training reels ripe with great talent featuring Saidqua Bynum, Dan Mast, Evelyn Osorio Vacaro, Brandon Ly, Hong Berghof (more on her later), Tim Storms, Dina Cataldi, Clancy Petersen, Katie Schwartz, Taylor Castriota, Carlton Hoyles, Sia Alipour, and a 2017 reel celebrating progress over at New York's Breakfall Studios.
Moving forward, we have two new items to help push, and we start the most recent poster debut for actress and martial artist Bridger Fox's latest turn at the helm, Assassin's Curse. The new action short is well underway ahead of its forthcoming 10X10 Filmmaker Challenge prem…
Still to the surprise of many is the forthcoming second installment of the Escape Plan trilogy - Steven C. Miller's Escape Plan 2: Hades, following Mikael Håfström's initial 2013 hit pairing Sylvester Stallone with Arnold Schwarzenegger. A third was announced back in April and news this week now confirms the start of principal photography for upcoming threequel, Escape Plan 3: Devil's Station with Death And Life Of Bobby Z and 15 Minutes director John Herzfeld at the helm.
The new movie sees Stallone and actor Dave Bautista reprising their roles from a script by Herzfeld and screenwriter Miles Chapman which sees the two pairing up once again to break out one of their own from an inescapable prison. The two will be joined on screen by actor and martial artist Max Zhang whose credits span various facets in film from stunt double to principal actor with credits such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Soi Cheng's S.P.L. 2: A Time For Conseuqences (a.k.a. Kill Zone 2), and…