In recent years, action cinema has shifted to a simpler approach focused on choreography, as shown in films such as these. John Wick series (soon to receive its fourth chapter) and The Raid: Redemption. For audiences, this style has been remarkably fresh after years of “shaky camera” style used in big-budget action films, with an emphasis on highly trained actors in fairly realistic fights and gunfights.
However, what audiences don’t realize is that this particular style had already been around for years in an unknown part of the action genre: the direct-to-video movie. Although the style is not seen in the theater, directors, for example Isaac Florentine, Jesse V. Johnson and John Hyamsworking with actors like Mark Dacascos, Scott Adkins and Marco Zaror (all three have made at least one appearance Wick series so far, counting Chapter 4), have been perfecting their craft for the direct-to-video market for decades, as evidenced by their long filmography.
10 Acts of Revenge (2017)
Rotten tomatoes: 55%
Antonio Banderas is a lawyer who finds his wife and daughter murdered by an unknown assailant. After a brief mourning, she takes a vow of silence and seeks revenge, refusing to speak until their killer is found.
Critics were divided in this film directed by the Florentians. Some praised its strong acting (including Banderas, Karl Urban,Paz Vega and Robert Forster), its thoughtful themes and its idiosyncratic use Meditations of Marcus Aurelius as a plot device. Others, however, criticized the weak action by Florentine’s standards, its essentially clichéd nature as a revenge thriller, and the paradoxically dialogue-heavy script.
9 Universal Soldier: Day of Retribution (2012)
Rotten tomatoes: 56%
After witnessing the death of his wife and daughter in a home invasion, a widower (Adkins) finds himself on the trail of an army of cybernetic supersoldiers led by the charismatic figure of Colonel Kurtz (Jean-Claude Van Dammein a stunning late-career performance) that promises to free them from the bonds of their existence.
Hyams’ film was divisive with critics upon its release. Reviews praised and condemned its almost ludicrous levels of violence (so much so that the film was initially given a terrifying NC-17 rating) and its hyperkinetic, almost psychedelic style in equal measure. Despite this, however, Day of Reckoning has found a cult following and is loved by action movie fans.
8 Savage Dog (2017)
Rotten tomatoes: 71%
In this Johnson-starrer, Adkins plays an ex-prisoner and boxing champion in pre-Vietnam Indochina, who survives by engaging in fights for the amusement of the local lords. After his release, he finds himself drawn into a world of violence, and the tragedy prompts him to seek bloody revenge (and ultimately cannibalism, in one particularly shocking moment) on the former Nazi commander responsible.
Wild Dog It faced criticism for its relatively thin plot, with events thrown together seemingly by chance to justify showing Adkins brutalizing people. However, it attracted praise for its fight choreography, Adkins’ strong screen presence and the shocking brutality of the ending. Additionally, its unique setting was often cited as a strong point in its favor.
7 Debt Collectors (2020)
Rotten tomatoes: 82%
In this sequel to the previous one Debt collectorAdkins and Louis Mandylor Play as French and Sue, a gangster duo tasked with collecting the debts of criminal organizations with fists and feet. After French loses his new job as a bouncer, Sue takes him back into business, and what starts out as a seemingly easy job turns into a fight for their lives.
This film was widely praised for Johnson’s strong direction and choreography, as well as Adkins and Mandylor’s chemistry. However, they criticized that it took a darker tone than its predecessor, with the extended Lethal Weapon –esque torture sequence in the third act. It also drew mild criticism for feeling repetitive in a sea of Adkins-directed live-action films, with little distinguishing itself from the others.
6 The Debt Collector (2018)
Rotten tomatoes: 83%
Adkins has left behind French, a gym owner and martial artist, in his accounts. Desperate to stay away, the mob becomes enforcer, led by Sue (Mandylor) in the art of extortion; eventually, a job goes awry, and French and Sue are forced to become a cohesive couple and fight for their lives.
The film was praised for its throwback sensibility, with critics comparing it to the films of Walter Hill. He was also praised for his creative use of various locations (including an office-turned-arena and a memorable scene in a moving car) in his choreography. However, it received some criticism for its low budget and relatively slow pace.
5 Accident Man (2018)
Rotten tomatoes: 83%
Based on a comic by Pat Mills Judge Dredd, this film follows Adkins as a professional killer who specializes in making murders look accidental. When his ex-girlfriend is killed in a break-in, he quickly realizes that it was a professional success, and embarks on a bloody quest for revenge. Wick-esque world of killer nightmares.
Accident Man he praised his fight scenes, saying they are some of the best in Adkins or Johnson’s filmography. In addition, it was praised for its narrative ambition, sometimes resembling a standard action film more like a Guy Ritchie or Danny Boyle film. However, it was also criticized in positive reviews for Adkins’ weak dramatic performance, along with unpleasant misogynistic humor.
4 Revenge (2019)
Rotten tomatoes: 84%
While being released from England’s most brutal prison to visit his dying mother, a petty criminal (Adkins) evades his guards and seeks revenge against his former associates, who betrayed him and put a bounty on his head.
Revenge it was widely praised for being an unusually powerful and complex dramatic performance by Adkins. bronsonesque neo-noir film in a surprising way. In addition, the animal brutality of his fight scenes, including almost five minutes They live-esque bar brawl, was considered a highlight. Upon its release, the film was often cited as the best collaboration between Johnson and Adkins.
3 Closer (2015)
Rotten tomatoes: 86%
When drug cartels and corrupt cops invade his ranch, a man (Adkins) must use his martial arts skills to protect his family in this relatively simple film directed by Florenti.
Reviews of the film were positive, describing it as Adkins’ demo reel rather than an actual film. However, as Adkins demos, Close range it’s quite effective, he uses his martial arts talents a lot, with such skillful direction by Florentine. The chemistry between the two as an actor-director duo was often highlighted as a major strong point of the film.
2 Hell Hath No Fury (2021)
Rotten tomatoes: 93%
In this World War II film directed by Johnson, Nina Bergman plays a French woman accused of having an affair with the Nazis; Captured by a group of American soldiers, his only hope of survival is to be taken to a Nazi-owned gold mine abandoned by SS officers (Daniel Bernhardt) was accused of being a partner.
Hell hath no fury It received very strong praise from DTV standards for its brutal and gritty tone, strong lead performances, and incredible stunt work. In addition, its brevity felt like a breath of fresh air in an increasingly bloated cinematic landscape. However, the film’s smaller cast drew criticism for their uneven performances, and the film was often noted as a cheesy throwback to World War II B-movies rather than a serious historical film.
1 Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear (2013) – 100%
Rotten tomatoes: 100%
In this 2009 sequel directed by the Florentines Ninja, Adkins, of course, plays a ninjitsu master who reunites with an old friend (Kane Kosugi) to seek revenge after the death of his wife.
Although it has been criticized for not having a lot of land beyond the previous one, Ninja II almost unanimously praised the toughness and technical skill of his action scenes. Adkins, in particular, received praise for his physicality and screen presence, with his performance noted as a significant improvement over the original film. The film was also noted for its visually impressive budget, benefiting from location filming in Thailand.
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