Scott Adkins and Isaac Florentine reunite once more for their seventh collaboration, the aptly titled “Close Range”. One of the best action directors in the business today, Isaac shows himself a filmmaker who thrives on minimalism with his latest effort, while Scott Adkins adapts his airborne fighting style to work within tightly confined spaces and well, a much more close range.
Scott Adkins leads the way as Colt MacReady, an Iraq War veteran with an Irish accent who comes to the aid of his niece Hailey and sister Angela, played by Madison Lawlor and Caitlin Keats. Our hero finds himself opposed by Mexican drug lord Fernando Garcia, played by Tony Perez, who comes across the border with a legion of henchmen, including Cruz, played by the film’s fight choreographer Jeremy Marinas. He has his own vendetta with Colt and our hero finds further opposition in the form of local sheriff Jasper Calloway, played by Nick Chinlund.
U.S. Army vet Colt MacReady lives under the radar, embittered into going AWOL after his experiences in the Iraq War. However, he refuses to turn his back on his niece Hailey after she is kidnapped by the Mexican crime boss Fernando Garcia, rescuing her from captivity before taking her back to his sister Angela. It turns out that Angela’s husband had embezzled from Garcia’s operation, with the drug lord retaliating by kidnapping Hailey.
Unfortunately, Colt has unwittingly made the target on their backs that much larger after inadvertently coming into possession of a flash drive containing vital intel to Garcia’s criminal empire. The drug lord hotly pursues Colt and Hailey to their Arizona home, and with the added assistance of the corrupt local sheriff in his pocket, prepares to wage all out war on their country homestead.
The track record of Isaac Florentine is certainly something for action filmmakers to envy. In his collaborations with Scott Adkins, the least well received he’s managed to produce are 2008’s “The Shepherd: Border Patrol” and arguably 2010’s “Ninja”, which are just good. Their strongest efforts, “Undisputed 2 & 3” and “Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear”, are among the best martial arts films of the 21st century. This is something that they’ve managed to pull off despite working with pretty damn frugal resources over the years. It’s really a testament to the true passion Florentine and Adkins (as real martial artists themselves) genuinely share for the martial arts, always mindful to give action fans what they love to see: that raw, ballistic, kick-ass edge.
Okay, “Close Range” is a B-movie actioner through and through and as such, it’s decidedly closer to the former end of that spectrum, however, with another director at the helm, those words would probably spell bad news. The opening action scene, with Colt single-handedly smashing his way through a third of Garcia’s henchman to rescue Hailey, delivers the goods all by itself, and is marvelously captured in a single unbroken shot (I can just see the hallway brawl in “Daredevil” tipping its hat approvingly in the corner!).
The opening fight also sets the tone for the action that makes up the rest of the film. In comparison to his gravity-defying portrayals of Yuri Boyka and Casey Bowman, Scott’s fighting style in the film is much more grounded with something of a Judo or Krav Maga feel to it, again, the title itself strongly suggests the close-quarter altercations he frequently has to wrestle with.
One face-off sees Colt taking on one of Garcia’s henchmen in a kitchen’s narrow pass between a stove and table opposite where he pulls off a cool, solid flying-knee strike for good measure. The tight confines he faces often sees him bringing a knife into the equation, which elevates the sense of adrenalin, danger and brutality.
In case you’re wondering, no, there isn’t a Guyver Kick in “Close Range”, it’s not even needed here. Considering the tremendous agility and athleticism Scott is renowned for, it’s a solid nod to his versatility as a martial artist and the creativity of Isaac and fight choreographer Jeremy Marinas to adapt their strengths to this different approach.
The only fight sequence to break the style mold is Colt’s duel with Cruz, with Scott and Jeremy getting to flaunt their kicking and grappling skills amid their respective assaults with a knife and a belt. Colt’s Judo throws and knife fighting skills further come into play in another battle towards the end; pitting him against two of Garcia’s henchmen at once, one of them being unfortunate enough to get graphically stuck right in the family jewels!
The title is also emblematic of the film in another way – namely, in how little the action ventures away from the inside of Angela and Hailey’s house and the area immediately surrounding it. With the sheer amount of gunfire Garcia unleashes on the secluded home, the whole latter half feels almost like a John Woo directed home-invasion thriller!
“Close Range” makes no bones whatsoever that its singular goal is to drench your screen and senses with combative chaos and mayhem and take names for ninety minutes and it gets the job done! Scott and Isaac adapt their usual style to the film’s approach of pulse-pounding action in tight confines with surprising ease with Isaac exploiting the tiny radius that is the film’s setting for everything it’s worth. In the currency exchange rate of action directors, his “good” is what the average action director can only hope to aspire to.
- Scott Adkins executive produced the film.
- Jeremy Marinas is a member of 87Eleven Action Design. Some of his credits as a stunt man include “Brothers”, “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”, “The Wolverine”, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, the upcoming “Kickboxer: Vengeance” and “Captain America: Civil War”. He also portrayed the MMA fighter who fights Tiger Chen in “Man of Tai Chi”.
- Dennis Ruel, who is a member of The Stunt People and director of “Unlucky Stars”, served as a stunt man on the film.