Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Heavy Action: ACCIDENT MAN

by Patrick Bromley
Goddammit, I thought this was going to be the one.

Everytime I watch a new Scott Adkins movie, I hope it's going to be movie that finally does everything right and gives me exactly what I want from who might be my favorite current action star. It has yet to happen. I thought Accident Man was going to be it. The movie had a great trailer, is based on a comic, is directed by Jesse V. Johnson, an accomplished action director of Savage Dog and The Package fame, is co-written by Adkins himself (his first screenplay credit), and features a literal dream cast of DTV action stars: besides Adkins himself, there's Ray Park, Michael Jai White, Ray Stevenson, and Amy Johnston (Lady Blood Fight). All of the elements are here for Accident Man to be the best Scott Adkins movie to date. And it's really fun! But it still falls short of its potential greatness.
Adkins plays Mike Fallon, a professional assassin who specializes in making his hits look like suicides and accidents. He's part of a collective of assassins working out of a bar owned by Big Ray (Stevenson), a London criminal who taught Mike everything he knows. When Mike's ex-girlfriend winds up dead and possibly mixed up in the dealings of Milton (David Paymer), the American businessman who contracts all of the hits, Mike teams up with his ex's new girlfriend (Ashley Greene) to tear down the London underworld and find out who ordered the hit. Of course, this brings down the thunder of every hit man and woman in the city, including pretty much all of Mike's former associates.

Accident Man is a movie trapped between wanting to really deliver the goods of DTV action (which, I assure you, consists of a specific type of fight choreography and cinematic approach) and wanting to be a "real" movie, meaning it too often gets weighed down in plot and expository sequences. The whole film has a strange structure, actually, first introducing us to the major characters via montage before settling into the story proper, then taking an inexplicable (and quite lengthy) detour into Flashbacktown to show us how a young Mike first met Big Ray and got his start. It's completely unnecessary backstory that hardly informs who Mike is as a character nor his relationship with Ray, which is also more or less incidental to the story that's being told. It feels like the sort of thing that's included because it was part of the comic book, or because the filmmakers were inspired by the structure of Kill Bill. Sure, it helps create a relationship with them through shared history -- especially when it's pretty much the only developed relationship in the film -- but I also don't know that it's the draw when we buy our ticket.
The draw, of course, is the series of fight scenes, and that's where Accident Man earns its keep. Any action movie that features an extended three-way fight between Scott Adkins, Ray Park, and Michael Jai White is going to be worth seeing for that alone. It does not disappoint. Adkins continues to demonstrate why he's the most exciting Western action star of the modern age, combining athleticism with a physical power rarely seen in a star of his speed and agility. That he's also incredibly handsome and a pretty solid actor -- a claim that couldn't be made of all the action greats of the '80s and '90s -- places him several notches above his would-be competitors. It's a bummer that director Johnson so often opts to use slow-mo to showcase the amazing things Adkins can do, as it both diminishes the impact of his abilities and disrupts the rhythms of the fight scenes. Otherwise, the action choreography (by Tim Man and team) is quite good, brilliantly executed by the cast. This is yet another movie that confirms that Amy Johnston, an amazing athlete and fighter with leading lady beauty, should be a giant star. She's like the female Scott Adkins. They should make so many movies together, preferably where they play lovers who beat people up. Please. I need this.
The best Scott Adkins movies work either because they're good movies that just happen to benefit from starring Scott Adkins (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning) or because they strip all of the inessentials away and leave just the basics of action cinema (Ninja & Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear). Accident Man walks a weird middle ground, committing to neither ideal. It's more accessible to an audience of non-#HeavyAction fans, while the fights themselves should hopefully please us HADHs,* but I wish the pendulum swung a bit further in one direction or the other. Maybe Adkins has reached the same mid-point that plagued guys like Van Damme and Seagal in the '90s, when commercial success led to a run of movies that neutered the purity of their earlier work but the scripts they were getting still weren't quite good enough to function as just actual movies. Don't get me wrong -- I like Accident Man. At the same time, I can't help but watch it and see all the ways I could have been a movie I love. See it for the fights. See it for the cast. See it for Scott Adkins.

*Heavy Action Die Hards

10 comments:

  1. i was expecting this review from you :)

    i was interested in this, but now i'm not sure. will probably watch it eventually because of Adkins

    have you heard about Triple Threat. i saw a trailer on the blu-ray of The Villainess the other day. it look very cool.

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  2. I had a ton of fun with Accident Man. It's like an action version of a blatantly obvious Guy Richie knock off. I felt like everyone was having a lot of fun making it and that transferred through the screen. Everyone was great in it especially Adkins and Stevenson.

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  3. I liked this one, but it's not top tier Adkins for sure. I read an interview with Adkins where he said one of the reasons for the lengthy flashback was to allow him and Tim Man more time for second unit fight prep while Johnson directed the flashback. Doesn't make the flashback more effective, but it is a nice illustration of the difficulties in doing high level action in a movie with no time or money.

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  4. So, it was very fun. On par with what's expected with the genre.

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  5. if i had to watch only one Scott Adkins movie in my life, which one would it be? what is the best Adkins?

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    1. Ninja: Shadow of a Tear? Or maybe Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning.
      Those are the best imo, but I've only seen a handful of his movies. He's supposed to be really good in the Undisputed movies as well, but I haven't seen them.

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    2. The Adkins holy trinity is Ninja 2, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning and Undisputed 3. All are great but I think Undisputed 3 is the closet to pure distilled Adkins. He's playing his best and most famous character, the fights are stellar, and Marko Zaror plays the villain . That's where I would start.

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    3. I completely agree with these three picks.

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    4. i already saw Universal Soldier Day Of reckoning, and is one of my favorite of the last few years

      but i will check out the other 3 movies

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    5. BTW, Ninja 2 = Ninja: Shadow of a Tear (2013). Same movie. It's the follow-up to Ninja (2009), which was pretty great too, but lacked some of the action choreography "punch" the 2nd one has.

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