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.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation (2020)

Ross Boyask, writer and director of this film, reached out to see if I would review it ahead of its release on June 19th. Based on how much I enjoyed the first offering, I was happy to give it a look. Let's see how it did.

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation picks up sometime after part 1 leaves off, with our hero, John Gold (Stu Bennett), still working on his own, only now in London. That's when his former boss Frost (Mark Griffin) finds him and recruits him for a mission: bring in his former commander Teague (Vinne Jones) who betrayed his team on a mission in Europe many years ago. There are a few catches though. One, he has to work with members of Frost's team; two, he has to bring Teague in alive; and three, there are other people out there who want Teague dead, not to mention Teague has his own mercenary team trying to extract him. Now Gold and his crew not only have to bring Teague in, but they also have to protect him. Will they be able to complete their mission, and survive in the process?

Like the previous one, I really liked this. It was a different paradigm, the first one being he's a lone man on the trail of vengeance, and this one he's working more in a group, which was something I liked. I think it's always good in a sequel to not do the same thing twice, and they didn't do that here. We also had more of Bennett's personality on display in this one, and the film overall had more of an offbeat feel, which I think made for a fun movie in a different way than how the previous one was fun. Just the same, we still had a solid action quotient, with some really good fight scenes. This movie definitely delivers and keeps the train moving from the first one. Well worth a watch for sure.

As I mentioned above, it was cool to see Stu Bennett's personality come out more in this one; we also still had that larger than life presence from the first effort, only now when it's combined with more than simply lone warrior out for vengeance, it becomes that much more enhanced. The only thing I would say about the team aspect of this one compared to him going it alone in the previous one, is we lose him for bits here and there as the team characters are developed, and with someone with a massive presence like that--similar to someone like a Dolph Lundgren--when they're not onscreen, it feels like something's missing. It's a small issue I had though when everything else was great.

A lot of this film feels like a natural progression from the first one, and the addition of Vinnie Jones as the baddie definitely fits that. This is the 12th time we've had him on the site, but usually his part is so small I don't add in a screen for him unless he makes a particularly memorable face or something. Considering the size of his part here, I felt I needed to give him his due and feature him in one of my three screens. In terms of a baddie, he's good here as just Vinnie Jones, but I do feel like we could've used a bit more of something from him before all this stuff happens, like maybe one early scene where he's making a deal and someone insults him, and he smashes the guy's head in a car door--or maybe he has a deal with a French guy and he gives him the "Gascoigne Treatment" in dispatching him after the French guy annoys him. The previous film did that with Gary Daniels and his gang, and it was a bit heavy, so I wouldn't want something that betrayed the offbeat nature of this outing, but maybe just something that fleshed out his baddie bona fides a bit more.

This film features what I think is perhaps the greatest call to arms in the history of cinema. Initially, Gold goes to find Teague with two of Frost's crew, and the rest stay behind; but when Gold and the other two run into difficulties, Frost decides it's time that he and the rest of the team to go in and support them. When he makes that decision, he looks at the team and says "fancy it?" I don't know that it gets more amazing than "fancy it?" Not "who's with me?" or "let's get the bastards!" or "let's go get our friends!" but "fancy it?" And I will say, I was all in, I would've run through a brick wall for Frost if I was on his team after that.

Among the other standouts, I really liked Katrina Durden as the daughter of one of Teague's former team, and Phoebe Robinson-Galvin as part of Frost's team who helps Gold. They had some excellent fights, both between the two of them, and against other characters. You could almost see a spin-off film featuring just those two in something--of course with Mark Griffin's Frost character back as well asking them if they "fancy it" to see if they're interested in taking on the mission. I also really liked Bentley Kalu as part of Teague's mercenary squad. His character was goofy in a lot of parts, but sufficiently badass enough too to make this offbeat actioner work. I'd say as a whole, the cast in this was great in making this work the way I think Boyask wanted it to go.

And with that, I think this is a good time to wrap it up. This will be available on VOD starting June 19th. I would also say, while you should go see the first one if you haven't yet, you don't need to have seen it in order to see this one and get what's happening, so there's no need to procrastinate. People are always saying "I just want a fun action movie," and I think this is the second time in a row that Ross Boyask, Stu Bennett, and crew have delivered that.

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