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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.
EXCLUSIVE: Muay Thai champion and emerging film multi-hyphenate, actor Vincent Soberano is on deck to add to his directing repetoire with least two big-budget films going forward: Action-packed high-seas military/naval techno-thriller, No Man's Waters, and romantic action comedy, Three Poles. The films will hail from Soberano's Cinefenio Film Studios, designated as co-productions with Origin Pictures Beijing, and a South Korean production company with the Philippines serving as a major production location with local film crews to be hired.
The news comes in the wake of a robust week for the Filipino filmmaker whose business in Beijing saw him host screenings for his two recently-completed titles, tournament revenge action thriller The Trigonal, and dystopian survival novel adaptation, We Are War. Both were showcased for a rousing audience of major distrubutors and executives, adding to a growing list of career milestone 'firsts' for a Filipino filmmaker, his latest de…
EXCLUSIVE: Emerging director, actor and martial artist Vincent Soberano is hot on the campaign trail for his current film slate this week in Beijing. With at least two of his upcoming releases now privately showcasing in Beijing for an audience comprised of major Hollywood and Chinese industry executives and distributors therein, it's a milestone to marvel at with Soberano now hailing as the first Filipino director to be privy to a screening of this kind.
Not for nothing either, as the footage speaks for itself and those who've seen last year's teaser trailer for Blood Hunters: Rise Of The Hybrids would likely stand in accordance. Since then, the eight-time world Muay Thai champion's craft behind the lens has only continued to grow and with none other than latest of one of the aforementioned two titles now readying for a local theatrical release this May with martial arts revenge thriller, The Trigonal: Fight For Justice. An underground fighting circuit run by an intern…
Actor and action star Donnie Yen is maintaining his high profile at Filmart in Hong Kong, including a pair of titles currently being sold under Hong Kong’s Mega-Vision Project Workshop that list Kam Ka-Wai's Big Brother and Tanigaki Kenji's Enter The Fat Dragon. Both have made headlines quite a bit in the past year in addition to several others that are also being shopped at Filmart while the latest is just breaking out of Asia by way of Emperor Motion Pictures.
For this, we turn to a recent teaser poster circulating ahead of production for Call Of Heroes helmer Benny Chan action thriller, Crossfire. The project is being hailed as a big budget spectacle that will star Yen as a former police inspector who travels to South America to rescue his kidnapped wife. The title stand among a bustling raft of films hosted by EMP with Dante Lam getting first billing for another spectacular military action spectacle to follow up his previous successes in Operation Mekong (2016), and Opera…