Wednesday, November 11, 2015

This, I Demand! Close Range

While the era of big screen high kicking and martial arts ended in the 90’s with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal going straight to video, director Isaac Florentine and athletic star Scott Adkins have been keeping the genre alive. After well received efforts like the Undisputed sequels and Ninja series, Florentine and Adkins are back with Close Range, a low budget action fest bound to please hardcore fans. A modern day spaghetti western, the Chad Law and Shane Dax Taylor scripted flick finds the bearded and mean mugging Adkins as Colton MacReady, an AWOL soldier who rescues his kidnapped niece from a powerful Mexican cartel. MacReady accidentally comes into possession of a flash drive containing sensitive material and becomes the target of a well-armed hit squad complete with freeze frame introductions for guys who will get real dead, real soon.

After an office set opening sequence that sees Adkins dispatch of multiple goons via kicks, knees, joint locks and multiple stab wounds; the action shifts to a secluded farm house. The setting highlights the low budget while showcasing bounds of fist, feet, blade and bullet infused mayhem. There’s plenty of impressive stunts like jumping on and over a moving car and running up a wall while a truck crashes into it. The fights have evolved from Undisputed’s overlong kickboxing style matches into Mixed Martial Arts infused scraps with chokes, throws and acrobatic grace. It’s all impressively choreographed but looks incredibly staged, hearkening back to Floretine’s overly hyper work on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers franchise. But with so much Boom Boom Boom but not much heart, it's hard to stay overly invested. Adkins has displayed more physical chops if not the charisma of his idol Jean-Claude Van Damme but does well enough looking tough and grunting dialog in between fight scenes. In true 90’s throwback fashion there’s a nonsensical shirtless scene to show off Adkins’ time in the gym. Familiar faces Nick Chinlund (Con Air) and Jake La Botz (Rambo) lend credibility to the barely there story as we wait to be pummeled by the next action overload. Get punched in the face and stabbed in the nuts December 4th when Close Range hits theaters and VOD.

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