Scott Adkins is cinema’s reigning B-movie badass, and he again teams with his frequent director Isaac Florentine (Undisputed II and III, Ninja and Ninja: Shadow of a Tear) for Close Range, a neo-western in which the star displays his gifts for leaping in slow motion, roundhouse-kicking bad guys in the face, and stabbing crotches with belt-buckle blades.
Adkins plays an ex-military loner named Colt MacReady (because, you know, he’s ready for action) who rescues his kidnapped niece from Mexican drug lords and then must re-save her when those cartel villains show up in Arizona looking for an invaluable flash drive stolen by Colt.
That flimsy plot isn’t enough to sustain even the film’s fleet 85 minutes. Fortunately, Florentine pads his material with one combative set piece after another involving anonymous adversaries (who are pointlessly, hilariously given actual names), all of them marked by Adkins’s use of lethal martial-arts-ish moves and by handheld camerawork that captures mayhem in lucid, up-close-and-personal long takes.
Like its star, whose facial expressions range from grimaces to scowls, Close Range is a one-note throwback infused with the spirit of Bronson’s, Stallone’s, and Schwarzenegger’s most brutal Seventies and Eighties kill-’em-all sagas. It’s as unsubtle as a boot to the head, but its dour-and-campy lo-fi style is far preferable to the spastic flash of its big-budget genre compatriots.
Directed by Isaac Florentine
Opens December 11