The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got. And check out my book, Chad in Accounting, over on Amazon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Avengement (2019)

This was actually my nominee for the 1000th post, but when I put it out there for suggestions and saw some other great candidates--and also decided based on one that I would be going in another direction--I chose to spotlight the movies people nominated, and left this one out to do on my own. In addition to my review, you can see what our friend Mitch at the Video Vacuum thought; and we featured this on a podcast episode some months back with our friend Simon from Explosive Action.

Avengement has DTVC favorite Scott Adkins as a guy who escapes from prison after he's let out to see his dead mother before she passes. His plan is to get revenge on the people he puts there, so he holds a pub hostage and waits for the guy he wants to show. While he's waiting, we learn his story through a series of action-packed flashbacks, featuring some intense fight scenes by Adkins. All this leads to one big fight at the end. Has his time in prison prepared him to take on this many crazy English gangsters at once?

I have this as one of the best DTV flicks in recent memory. I can't remember something that's generated this much buzz and delivered in such a strong way--Black Dynamite is the only one that comes to mind, and that was almost ten years ago. First and foremost, they take the fight scene to this level of extreme, brutal art, that is fantastic to witness. Adkins underpins all of it with his combination of skills and extreme get-after-it-ness (I couldn't think of another word to describe it) that he throws into the role. Decisions on things like telling the movie in flashbacks, which usually feel gimmicky and contrived, worked here for me to keep it from feeling like every other prison flick. This is the Adkins you came for, and hopefully it'll only get better from here.

I recently gave my list of top DTV stars when I was on Cam Sully's Jacked Up Reviews podcast, and I put Adkins at 9. One could make the case that that's too soon for him to be in the top ten; others may say why only 9? I think he still has some work to do--and you wonder how much of it will continue to be in DTV with flicks like this, though I would put something like Recoil ahead of it, and unfortunately Daniels never made the jump to the big screen, so we'll see. Either way, Adkins is generating a lot of heat, and I feel like this is that movie where you say "this guy gets it," and as a fan of the genre, that's really all we can ask for.

This is another collaboration Adkins did with Jesse V. Johnson--and the third we've covered here, along with Triple Threat and The Debt Collector. As someone who started out in the stunt world, he's come over to directing with varying degrees of success, but I think this film allowed him to showcase exactly what he can do with the DTV action film, especially when paired with a talent like Adkins. Another former member of the stunt world who directs is Art Camacho, and all of his aren't perfect either, but if Johnson can approach Camacho's career, I think for us as fans, we couldn't ask for anything more.

In addition to Adkins, we had Craig Fairbrass as his brother. I think he's always great as the English heavy who adds a little bit more to the role. Whereas like a Vinnie Jones character might slam a guy's head in a car door, and you're waiting for that payoff of him doing it; with Fairbrass, you know his character would do it too, but we're satisfied with just the fact that we know he'd do it, if that makes sense--we don't need him to actually do it for that same Vinnie Jones payoff. I also liked Nick Moran for the same reason, and the two together form a combination that really works in offsetting Adkins's brutality without us feeling like they're any less sinister. Finally, we had Louis Mandylor again, who has become something of a Jesse V. Johnson mainstay. What I like about that is when a director can pull someone in they've worked with for a small role, they tend to nail it better. Ask Albert Pyun about all his mainstays. It's little things like that that can make or break a DTV film, especially when the margin for error is smaller.

Finally, because Adkins is all scarred up in this, I wanted to post a picture of him not scarred and with his hair intact for my former pod co-host Jamie, and everyone else out there that finds Adkins the dreamiest. It would be interesting to know which is worse for people when it comes to Adkins: making him affect an American accent for a role, or scarring his face. For me, it's just slightly the former, so scars over American accent.

Right now this is on Netflix, along with a lot of the Adkins/Johnson catalog. Get after it and make it happen. As Simon said when he was on the podcast, this is one of those that you show your friends who aren't into DTV, and they're like "I had no idea a DTV flick could be this good." I don't know where I'd put it on my best ever list, but it's definitely my favorite DTV flick since Black Dynamite. For the podcast episode, you can follow the link on the left-hand side to choose which platform you want to get it from, then look for episode 64, Avengement.

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1 comment:

  1. This film was so great I could easily watch it again right now!