Female Fight Squad (2016)

 Female Fight Squad
(2016)- * * *

AKA: Female Fight Club

Directed by: Miguel Angel Ferrer 

Starring: Amy Johnston, Dolph Lundgren, Sean Faris, Levy Tran, Courtney Palm, Rey Goyos, Folake Olowofoyeku, Jeanette Samano, and Chuck Zito

Rebecca "Bex" Holt (Johnston) just wants to leave her former life as an underground Punchfighter behind. She now works at Waggin' Tails animal pound and dreams of moving to another animal sanctuary in Africa. However, when she's approached by her wayward sister Kate (Palm), and she tells Bex that she owes evil Punchfighting promoter Landon Jones (Goyos) $125,000, Bex is forced into a tough spot. Moving from L.A. to Vegas to help Kate, she ends up training not just her, but her fellow female fighters Winter (Olowofoyeku), Lisa AKA Spring Roll (Tran), and Gaby (Samano). Meanwhile, Bex reconnects with figures from her former life, such as old flame Potter (Faris) and trainer Zeke (Zito). But on top of everything else, she must iron out the issues with her wrongfully-imprisoned father (Dolph). Can Bex train and punch her way out of all her personal issues and demons? Or will another approach be required? Find out today...

In the pantheon of like-minded films such as Fight Valley (2016) and Chokehold (2019), Female Fight Squad is perhaps best of the three. It's even on par with fellow Johnston outing Lady Bloodfight (2016). It's certainly a heck of a lot better than Brawler (2011). If you like any or all of the above titles, you'll most likely warm to FFS. The look of the film is professional-low budget, so it's no strain on the eyes. Johnston is well-cast for a number of reasons: her fighting moves are top notch, her acting is improving, and she legitimately looks like she could be Dolph's daughter.

There are some classic and much-loved cliches on display here: not only does Bex not want to fight but eventually does, so do the FFS not want to listen to her sage and masterly advice. They initially mock and ridicule her for some reason, but, of course, they come around to her way of thinking. It's all very reminiscent of Cynthia Rothrock in American Tigers (1996). The Punchfighting goes on in the back of an import/export warehouse, and the FFS are all a ragtag, multi-ethnic Benetton rainbow. Bex's boyfriend is played by noted Himbo Sean Faris. His status as a Himbo, first noticed in The King of Fighters (2010), remains unchanged here.

But going back to actors who have markedly improved, we have one of Chuck Zito's best roles we've seen to date. He practically steals the movie, just like he did with Redline (1995). But for slightly different reasons. Now, on to the Dolphiness of this outing. He's not in it all that much, but, to be fair, he's not the main character. Perhaps they shot this around the time of Riot (2015), because he was stuck in jail in that one too. He gets a nice fight scene and a handful of decent moments. To be even more fair to the Dolphster, even the gals of the FFS aren't in the movie as much as you'd think - and it's called Female Fight Squad! The focus, naturally enough, is on the Bex character and her struggles.

It all comes to a head as Bex has to fight her way to Landon Jones, and then there's the inevitable final showdown with him. It's here that the movie really shines and there should have been more of that sort of thing. That being said, it's all done in a slicker way than you might expect and the drama is not bad, if it is a bit standard. It would have been a cool addition if Jones had an evil underling (or two or three) that Bex had to fight her way through in order to get to the big boss. But, still and all, Female Fight Squad is solid and entertaining.

In the end, fans of Punchfighting, Dolph, and Amy Johnston will get the most out of this, and they - and others with adjacent interests - are encouraged to check it out.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, DTVC!


I Am Vengeance: Retaliation (2020)

 I Am Vengeance: Retaliation
(2020)- * * *

Directed by: Ross Boyask

Starring: Stu Bennett, Katrina Durden, Joe Egan, Phoebe Robinson Galvin, and Vinnie Jones

Professional toughguy John Gold (Barrett) is tasked with finding a baddie named Sean Teague (Jones), and then transporting him to a military prison. It seems Teague was once on the side of the good guys, but he went bad. He now has a team of mercenaries guarding him at all times. But Gold has a team with him as well, and it's going to be an all-out brawl to see which side will be victorious. Adding to that volatile mix is wildcard Jen Quaid (Durden) who just wants revenge against Teague for personal reasons. Who will be vengeance? Who will get retaliation? Find out today...

If you watch I Am Vengeance: Retaliation, you realize that by 2020, it's quite possible that all action plotlines have been done before. It's probably hard to come up with a new framework that would allow for people to punch, kick, and shoot each other. IAV: R does not in any way attempt to reinvent the wheel. While it's not the most original idea in the world, it's still far better than similar outings such as Contract to Kill (2016) and Cartels (2016).

The reason for this is that, if you're looking for it, IAV: R reveals a sly, tongue-in-cheek humor that lets the viewer know that they're self-aware. There's just enough of that so that the movie is more palatable than its competitors. Yes, there are plenty of stupid and silly moments, but that's the name of the game. You shouldn't expect anything else.

There are the fun cliches we all know and enjoy - John Gold is initially reluctant to take on the mission, but his handler tempts him by saying if he does it, he'll "wipe his slate clean", Teague went rogue and now both sides have to "assemble a team" to fight each other, there are plenty of warehouse-set beat-em-ups and shootouts, and, of course, John Gold is the strong, silent type who goes into a strip club and kills first and asks no questions later. There's more that we could name, but then you'd have no reason to watch the film.

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation doesn't skimp on the action, you have to give it that. Additionally, it's 79 minutes before the credits. There's also a notable meathead, Gunnar (Egan). So you get your Stu Bennett and Vinnie Jones on, plus some impressive female fighters in there with the Kate Lynch (Robinson-Galvin) and Jen Quaid characters.

So, for a modern-day actioner done on a low budget, I Am Vengeance: Retaliation stands out amongst the crowd.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddy DTVC!


Zero Tolerance (2015)


Zero Tolerance
(2015)- * *1\2

Directed by: Kaos

Starring: Kane Kosugi, Nina Paosut, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Dustin Nguygen, Scott Adkins, and Gary Daniels 

When a girl named Angel (Paosut) turns up dead, Bangkok cop Peter (Boonthanakit) travels to Ho Chi Minh city to track down her estranged father, Johnny (Nguyen). Together, the two men go back to Bangkok and proceed to search the seedier areas of the city in search of answers as to Angel's death. Along the way, characters such as Steven (Adkins), Sammy (Daniels), and Kane (Kosugi) come and go, but will the mystery of Angel's death be revealed?

Well, we had to see this movie for the cast alone. While Adkins and Daniels don't share any scenes together (and there's a good reason for that that we will get to in a moment), they are both here, as is Kane Kosugi, action stalwarts all. And while the film is reasonably professionally directed and shot (if some scenes are underlit as many modern films tend to be), it loses focus and direction a lot of the time. It also could have used a heck of a lot more action, but that makes sense, because...

If the presence of Scott Adkins in the film seems a bit out of joint, there's a very good reason for that. Apparently, Zero Tolerance started life as a film called Angels (2012), and you can still see this version if you want. It was a passion project for director Kaos, and more of a drama. Then some of the money people told him that this Angels movie, as good as it may be, would be a tough sell in the film marketplace. So footage with Adkins was integrated into the pre-existing Angels film, and a total re-edit was done, and in the end a completely new film was fashioned called Zero Tolerance.

Just exactly why this movie is called Zero Tolerance, we don't exactly know, especially because few movies can compete with the awesome Robert Patrick Zero Tolerance (1994). So, if you name your movie after a superior film, you're just asking to look worse by comparison. Nevertheless, there are some bright spots along the way, such as Peter's young tot of a son proclaiming, "the lead singer of our band sucks!", the classic warehouse deal gone wrong featuring some of the Adkins footage, and Gary Daniels's wild Hawaiian shirt. This seems especially at odds with the intense dramatic performance Daniels gives, which ranks highly as one of his best acting moments ever. Yes, we would have liked some classic Daniels fights, but at least he got to shine in the drama department.

Director Wych Kaosayananda, alternately known as Wych Kaos, or, in the case of his Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever (2002), simply just Kaos, has been working with fan favorite Mark Dacascos a lot lately, in such films as The Driver (2019) and, of course, One Night in Bangkok (2020), which also features Kane Kosugi. Despite the...interesting...history regarding Zero Tolerance's editing process, he manages to turn in something watchable. But that's all. It's not great and there are a lot of problems here. So, in the end, it's probably a one-time watch for Adkins and Daniels fans.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up by our buddies The Video Vacuum and  DTVC!


Eliminators (2016)


(2016)- * * *

Directed by: James Nunn

Starring: Scott Adkins, Wade Barrett and Lily Stubbs

A man known only as Thomas (Adkins) is living somewhere in the suburbs of London with his young daughter Carly (Stubbs). Thomas works as a security guard and has a solid middle-class life. All that is interrupted, however, when a gang of none-too-bright toughs break into his house, assuming he has some hidden drugs stashed away somewhere. It turns out that the no-goodniks got the wrong address - in more ways than one. Thomas's combat skills come out and the baddies are done for.

The story makes the national media, Thomas is arrested, and Carly goes into state care. It's revealed that Thomas is a former US Fed who was put in the witness protection program. Now that the baddies know who he is, they send "Europe's most ruthless assassin" after Thomas, a sinister man named Bishop (is it Stu Bennett or Wade Barrett? No one really knows for sure). Now, with the police, the gangster baddies, and seemingly all of London against him, can Thomas use the skills he developed in his former life to get his current life back? He has to find Carly before it's too late, but will he?

Not to be confused with the Eliminators from 1986, this Eliminators sees fan favorite Scott Adkins reunite with director James Nunn after Green Street 3 (2013). Based on this track record of their work history together, it shows that Nunn knows what Adkins fans will like and expect, and he delivers that. Eliminators is well-acted, well-shot (if a bit dark at times), and the action scenes are high-quality stuff. Movie highlights include the two brawls between Adkins and Bennett/Barrett, and the fights and chases in London at night. Good usage is made of some UK locations.

As is typical for action films, the hero has both a daughter he has to save and a hidden past. Adkins makes both of those storylines work well. Plus, it's an improvement over Legacy of Lies (2020) and Abduction (2019), which aren't really at the top of the Adkins must-see list. While Adkins looks somewhat like Ben Affleck this time around, the three main characters - Adkins, Barrett, and the cop on their trail - all look very similar. They have similarly-shaped heads and similar hair. If Adkins had more beard stubble, they could almost be triplets.

The drama in between the action scenes provides the emotion for the film, and productions from the UK seem to excel at this sort of thing. Of course, this is contrasted by the wrestling moves of Barrett, which are quite evident in his fighting style. Director Nunn went on to direct more wrestlers in other WWE Studios productions such as The Marine 5: Battleground (2017) and The Marine 6: Close Quarters (2018). How many installments are there in The Marine series? No one may ever know...

In the end, while Eliminators becomes a bit more standard around the hour mark, we would still recommend it, especially to Adkins fans. While certainly not perfect, it delivers the goods in a lot of ways and provides some good, solid DTV entertainment for 95 minutes.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, DTVC!