Dave Wain’s essential breakdown of this week’s cavalcade of straight-to-disc treats. Step inside the DTV Junkyard…
You have to agree that Scott Adkins has been the best thing to happen to DTV action movies in a long, long time. The forty year-old Brit has been in some of the most kick-ass actioners to grace the lower reaches of your local video store in recent memory, and if you were after a handy jumping on point then look no further than Isaac Florentine’s voluptuous pair of accomplished double-bills; Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing (2006) and Undisputed 3: Redemption, as well as Ninja (2009) and Ninja: Shadow of a Tear (2013).
That said, the Midlands-born mountain of machismo has had a (thankfully) small number of stinkers, namely that awful cut-and-shut job, 2 Guns: Zero Tolerance (2015), while accepting the lead in a chapter of the annoyingly popular football hooliganism franchise, Green Street 3: Never Back Down (2013), had me scratching my head in bemusement. Coincidentally, the latter shares the same director as Adkins’ latest straight-to-video offering, and although ELIMINATORS is far from sitting in the doldrums of direct-to-video hell, it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Adkins’ Boyka-based brilliance.
Adkins stars as Thomas McKenzie, a highly trained former DEA agent, hiding in a witness protection program in London with his daughter. His world is turned upside down though when a group of thug’s break into his home in error, and he is forced to kill them. His arrest exposes his true identity to the criminal underworld, including mob boss Cooper (James Cosmo), who is McKenzie’s arch-enemy AND father-in-law. Cooper sends top assassin, Bishop (Wade Barrett), to kill McKenzie and the two battle it out through the streets of London.
There’s a lot to like about Eliminators, and it certainly comes with the DTV Junkyard seal of approval. Having said that, the two seven foot tall, bright neon issues I had with the movie are purely down to two flights of far-fetched-fancy from writers Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby (See No Evil 2 (2014) and 12 Rounds 3: Lockdown (2015)). Firstly, the notion that McKenzie gets outed by a gang of hoodlums who break into his home in error after writing the street name down incorrectly; “You want Kingsbury Avenue? This is Kingsbury Green!” – I mean, what are the odds? However, this does carry the one plus point of hearing Adkins shout at full volume, “LOOK AT THE UTILITY BILL!”
Secondly – and I quote from the synopsis here – “Cooper sends top assassin Bishop to kill McKenzie”. Top assassin. Top. Assassin. I think Bishop seriously needs a visit from the local Trading Standards department, or at least an immediate revision of his job title to the rather more accurate ‘Mediocre Assassin’. As a bad guy, you’d hope that Bishop would instil fear in you during every second of screen time, but alas Barrett, despite trying his best, is more in the realm of hapless henchman.
Putting the negativity to one side though, director James Nunn deserves great credit for the location work here. Too often we’ve seen direct-to-video fare uprooted to Eastern Europe, but Eliminators is resolutely British, and with some awesome sequences set within the nation’s capital city, like a couple of cool car chases and an immense bit of cable car combat, London is close to being the star of the picture. Adkins, as always, put his soul into this which helps to overlook the minor gripes with plausibility, while it’s always great to see a cool character actor like James Cosmo chewing some scenery.
Flawed but fun, Eliminators is fine way to check out of reality for ninety minutes, but for action movie royalty like Adkins, I just wish it had that extra bit of quality to take him to the next level on the podium.
Jailbait has to be one of the more head-scratching movies to come out of the The Asylum in recent years, although credit to them for single-handedly trying to relaunch the Women in Prison genre. I only mention this as an aside, as I’m sure that curio will soon drift off to B-movie obscurity, but two of the people behind that feature – Jared Cohn and Gabriel Campisi – have teamed up again for LITTLE DEAD ROTTING HOOD, an immensely funky title to which the movie doesn’t quite live up to.
For years, the old woman in the woods has secretly kept the wolves of the forest at bay. When the woman dies, the creatures suddenly attack the residents of a nearby town. As more people turn up dead, the townsfolk discover something far more sinister than wolves lurking in the woods, and begin to wage a bloody battle against the ruthless creatures. As the wolves start to overrun the town, only the woman’s granddaughter holds the key to stopping the bloodbath before it’s too late.
As an Asylum devotee, I have to admit it’s cool to see them mix their output up lately away from the continuous conveyor belt of Mockbusters and Sharknado’s – pleasing though they are. With quality releases like Flight 1942 (2015), Zoombies (2016) and Eric Red’s Night of the Wild (2016), they’re beginning to curate a catalogue that could well change the haters to believers.
Little Dead Rotting Hood is a very well made slice of DTV, with a cast led by the ever so laid back Eric Balfour (Haven), and rounded out by some great TV-movie regulars like Patrick Muldoon, Heather Tom and Marina Sirtis. The sporadic wolf attacks place the film firmly in R-rated territory, which is a welcome departure from the PG-13 standard for The Asylum, and the gore and bloodletting come with a frequency that should keep even the most ADHD-leaning horror fans focused. By shooting the movie at Rene’s 50’s Town in California, Cohn manages to get a really appealing small-town vibe to proceedings, and while any feature of this magnitude is prone to shortcomings in the budget, there’s a lot to like about this flick.
All of this week’s discs were released in the UK on the 20th February 2017
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