What do you get when you toss “Die Hard” and “Home Alone” into a blender with a sledgehammer-wielding St. Nick and a naughty list’s worth of kidnappers? The answer, of course, is “Violent Night”!
As the holiday season’s last action blowout, “Violent Night” brings the talents of 87 North Productions and Reel Deal Action together with a heartwarming story of a grumpy Kris Kringle made jolly again by one cheerful kid’s belief in him. Butt-kicking, of course, comes as standard, and a-plenty in this Yuletide tale…
David Harbour portrays Jolly Ole’ Santa Claus, with John Leguizamo playing the villainous thief, “Mr. Scrooge”. Jason Lightstone is played by Alex Hassell, with Beverly D’Angelo playing his mother Gertrude, whilst Cam Gigandet plays Morgan Steel.
Alexis Louder plays Jason’s estranged wife Linda Matthews, with Leah Brady in the role of their daughter Trudy. André Eriksen plays Gingerbread, and you have Edi Patterson playing Alva.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and Santa Claus is embarking on his annual trip around the world to deliver gifts to all the children on the nice list.
When Santa arrives at the Lightstone residence, he expects to simply leave his gifts for their young daughter Trudy and head back up the chimney, only to find himself fighting a band of heavily armed thieves, whose gun fire frightens off his reindeer.
Santa soon learns that the mercenaries, under the leadership of the ruthless Mr. Scrooge, are intent on breaking into the Lightstone’s family vault.
With the Lightstone’s held hostage and Scrooge’s team presuming the unexpected opponent in the house to be a simple bodyguard, it’s up to Santa to pull a Christmas miracle out of his sack of toys to save the day!
“Violent Night” is all About the Christmas Spirit
For as much of a change of pace “Violent Night” represents from what audiences expect from a Santa Claus movie, the film doesn’t drop the magic and cheerfulness in the way that something like “Bad Santa” does.
“Violent Night” is very much a fantastical Christmas movie with a tone not unlike “The Santa Clause”, but what’s different is the characters and how they look at Christmas.
In his stellar performance as a crotchety St. Nick, David Harbour’s Santa questions whether there is too much bad and greed in the world for his magic to have any effectiveness anymore.
With how acerbic and dysfunctional the Lightstone family is (aside from the Christmas cheer-filled Trudy), it’s hard not blame him for his crisis of faith.
Mr. Scrooge is a Three-Dimensional Villain
The always entertaining John Leguizamo also gives far more humanity than you might expect to Mr. Scrooge, an antagonist shockingly similar to his namesake.
He might curse like a sailor and drop anyone standing in his way like a bad habit, but underneath his mercenary goal is a child scarred by a painful past that he blames Christmas and Santa for.
Almost everyone in “Violent Night” is on shaky footing with their Christmas spirit, but Mr. Scrooge’s is all gone for reasons that have made him into a monster.
Santa Claus is a Warrior (literally)
To make Santa into a magical version of John McClane, “Violent Night” does one of the most original Santa change-ups yet by rewriting his backstory to make him a former Viking in the middle ages. And if ever there were a Santa with the strength of a Viking, it’s David Harbour’s Father Christmas.
As cliché as the “John Wick” comparison might be becoming, “Violent Night” earns it with the visceral, and punishing fight scenes of Santa breaking out every improvised weapon he can to battle the mercenaries. And to say “Violent Night” is versatile in the first half of its title does not do it justice.
“Violent Night” is an Action-Packed Christmas Bonanza!
“Violent Night” makes you feel the hits of Santa brawling with bad guys, cue balls in a sock, and a Christmas tree star being just two of St. Nick’s deadliest weapons in one of the movie’s outstanding fight scenes.
With a little of Santa’s own Viking history at play, a sledgehammer and a pair of ice skates become weapons of war right out of “The Raid” in the movie’s incredible shed showdown between Santa and a dozen henchmen.
Trudy, coordinating with Santa through her early Christmas gift of a walkie talkie, also gets in on the action with some “Home Alone”-style traps that are FAR more realistic in the damage they actually unleash.
For all its bloody carnage, including the emotional side of its final smackdown, “Violent Night” is hardly a downer on the concept of Christmas spirit. “Violent Night”, like Santa himself, just feels it must be defended at all costs.
“Violent Night” tells an R-rated Santa Claus fable with all the holiday season warmth you’d expect and all the action-packed fun you crave.
David Harbour’s performance as a more cynical Santa is just the kind of change-up to give “Violent Night” the perfect St. Nick novelty, and the action scenes correspondingly slam relentlessly hard.
For those of you on the naughty list, be advised that Santa is perfectly willing to take the gloves off like he does against Mr. Scrooge and his minions. For everyone else on the nice list, sit back and enjoy the holly jolly Christmas fun of “Violent Night”!
- “Didn’t somebody ask for a bat or a sword, or a Maletov cocktail?!” – Santa (searching through his sack for a weapon to fight the team of thieves with.)
- “Traitor!” – Santa (after a mechanical Santa turns on, altering one of Mr. Scrooge’s associates to his presence.)
- “I think my whole s****y life’s built up to this moment, because when I kill you, this whole god**n holiday finally ends. Whatever it takes, Christmas dies tonight” – Mr. Scrooge (expressing his hatred of Christmas to Santa.)
- “Now Dasher, Now Dancer, Now Prancer and Vixen, On Comet, On Cupid, On Donner and Blitzen! Come on you beautiful b*****ds, we’ve got some work to do! Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!” – Santa (to his eight, tiny reindeer.)
Soundtrack: “Santa, Are You There?”
- The movie had its premiere on October 7, 2022 at New York Comic-Con.
- The movie was filmed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, from January to March of 2022.
- In addition to appearing in the movie as members of Mr. Scrooge’s team, Cha Lee-Yoon, Phong Giang, and Can Aydin of Reel Deal Action were fight choreographers on “Violent Night”. All three were in the German martial arts action movie “Plan B”, with Cha and Phong also appearing in “One Million K(l)icks” and “Skylin3s”.
- Jonathan Eusebio was also the movie’s stunt coordinator, having previously been stunt coordinator and fight choreographer on the “John Wick” movies.
- Cam Gigandet holds a black belt in Krav Maga.
- John Leguizamo has also studied with Shifu Shi Yan Ming at the U.S.A. Shaolin Temple in New York City. Check out our in-depth interview with the esteemed Shifu Shi Yan Ming right here!
- Tommy Wirkola’s previous movies as director include “Kill Buljo”, “Dead Snow”, “Hansel & Gretal: Witch Hunters”, “Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead”, and “The Trip”.