Following on from my previous movie summaries, this is my March 2023 review. Overall, I watched 23 new movies this month, taking the total for the year to 70!
I started the month off by watching a bunch of movies featuring action star Scott Adkins. I was unaware of his influence as a martial artist and stuntman, let alone leading several relatively low-budget action movies. It was interesting to see his skills on show and how he improved as an actor over the years. It also made me appreciate other action stars who command screen presence, such as Jason Statham.
A tough hitman, who makes his hits look like accidents or suicide, in a gang of hitmen, each with his own style. When his ex is killed, he looks for those responsible.
Accident Man 2
The Accident Man must beat the top assassins in the world, protect the ungrateful son of a mafia boss, save the life of his only friend and rekindle his relationship with a father figure.
The Debt Collector
A classically-trained martial artist goes to work as a mob debt collector. The job seems easy enough, until a client drags him deeper than could ever be anticipated.
After years of assaults on him in prison, convicted felon Cain Burgess escapes for avengement on those responsible.
The first movie I watched was Accident Man where he plays a hitman. It is a British bargain-bin version of John Wick; an elite assassin underworld, assassin-on-assassin action and an assassin’s safe house – not a glamorous hotel but a dingy dive bar. It is very tongue-in-cheek; there are crude jokes and it all feels rather misogynistic. With that being said, it is a fun action movie, with decent fight scenes and a funny range of characters.
The sequel loses something in moving from the cold and dark streets of the UK to the seaside sights of Malta. Starting with a familiar setup and teaming up with a bumbling old friend, there is some terrible CGI, but it doesn't affect the cheesy nature too much. The fight sequences are impressive and the sequel leans into the absurdness with a little more comedy. Some fight scenes suffer from fatigue, cutting between two fights that hinder the flow a little. Overall, this is exactly like the first; a fun action movie, with decent fight scenes and a funny range of characters. I'd watch a third movie.
Next up was The Debt Collector, where Scott Adkins teams up with a veteran debt collector to learn about the business. Each encounter turns into an opportunity to showcase his fighting skills, but it is the interplay between the fresh-faced novice and the experienced but dishevelled pro that is the most interesting. The fight scenes have a sense of fun and stay fresh throughout. However, the final gun shootout feels out of place in the predominately hand-to-hand combat movie. The cinematography is good enough and, although poor in places, the acting is serviceable. This is a decent gritty all-around martial arts-based buddy movie, with good chemistry between the two leads.
Based on how the first movie ended, I was surprised there was a sequel. The Debt Collector 2 isn't as good as the first. The fight scenes are unmemorable and the screenplay is generic, with a paint-by-numbers formula. The highlight action sequence was between our two leads as their relationship is strained to breaking point. The chemistry between Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor is the best thing in the movie, it's just a shame about the movie itself.
Jesse V. Johnson, the director behind both Debt Collector movies as well as the first Accident Man movie, also directed Scott Adkins in Triple Threat and Avengement, which were both released in 2019. Triple Threat stars a bunch of martial arts specialists, including Tony Jaa, and the fights are very impressive – especially the conclusion. It's a decent low-budget action movie, where the sequences take precedence over the plot.
Avengement was my favourite of the Scott Adkins' movies I watched (followed by Accident Man) and he clearly had fun with the character. A meek boxer turns into a formidable adversary during his extended stay in prison. Escaping and holding those who put him there hostage, we learn about his transformation and motivation with brutal flashbacks. It all comes to an end with a violent brawl in a pub. It feels like a low-budget early Guy Ritchie movie; simple yet effective.
I also watched Legacy of Lies, which was a poor low-budget generic spy action movie. I honestly can't remember much about it.
Eclectic Best of the Month
A Man Called Otto
A grump who's given up on life following the loss of his wife and wants to end it all. When a young family moves in nearby, leads to a friendship that will turn his world around.
Enjoying an all-inclusive beach, when a fatal accident exposes the resort's perverse subculture of hedonistic tourism, reckless violence and surreal horrors.
Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story
Competitive skating icon as they try to make space for themselves in the world of pro sports and build a more inclusive skate culture.
Triangle of Sadness
A fashion model celebrity couple join an eventful cruise for the super-rich.
Tom Hanks stars as the titular character in this Hollywood remake of a 2015 Swedish film. A Man Called Otto was darker than I expected, with multiple suicide attempts shown in an intimate and disassociative way. Although there are some amusing moments, this shouldn't be treated as a comedy, with some dark themes covered. There are many ups and downs, with some curveballs, but the community comes together with the inevitable conclusion.
Infinity Pool is the director Brandon Cronenberg's latest gore-infused movie. Although it didn't have the same impact as Possessor, it featured some interesting ideas, diabolical characters and his signature gruesome photography.
I didn't know anything about Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story, but this documentary really surprised me. It is such an emotional and poignant story of personal discovery and following your true self even if that means sacrificing the potential pinnacle of your career. I could only hope to have the same strength Leo showed in this story.
The best movie of the month was Triangle of Sadness, fresh from receiving three nominations at the Oscars and winner of the Palme d'Or – the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival. Ruben Östlund directs this on-the-nose satirical farce with a straight on-the-nose matter-of-fact look at the absurdity of wealth and survival. There were scenes which made me retch – just like the characters on screen – and others roll my eyes. The introduction seems a little dry, but once on the yacht, things turn up to eleven. The concluding act on the island turns the roles on their head. It felt a little drawn out in places and the ending was disappointing, but overall the movie works so well on so many levels.