Close Range takes aim on DVD


British action star Scott Adkins and renowned martial arts director Isaac Florentine have teamed up again. This follows their well known collaborations on Special Forces (their first outing together), Ninja, Ninja: Shadow of a Tear and the popular Undisputed series, with the much-awaited Undisputed IV coming later this year. Before Boyka's return, however, they reunited on Close Range, a lean and mean actioner set in the spaghetti western mould that first inspired Florentine.

As seems to be the case with a lot of these releases, the film has belatedly made it's way to UK DVD following the international release, but better later than never! For genre fans, true action films like this showcase real physicality, always a good thing, and it's always a pleasure to see Adkins and Florentine work their magic, especially together.

So how does the latest offering measure up? In this story, while rescuing his niece from a dangerous drug cartel, ex-soldier Colton MacReady (Scott Adkins) unwittingly gets hold of a flash drive that the cartel will stop at nothing to get back. MacReady is then thrust into a battle to save his family as the cartel descend on his sister's rural home with a corrupt sheriff and a crew of deputies in tow. With his razor sharp skills at his disposal, MacReady takes on the cartel with fists, feet and a hail of bullets!

Shifting the action way from the ring-centric combat of the Undisputed films and the graceful weaponry of Ninja, Close Range takes a clear spaghetti western spin and offers our hero a generous supply of bullets to unleash upon an army. But that's not to say it substitutes the fighting as MacReady offloads plenty of brutal, close-quarters beatings against his adversaries. This is best showcased during the slick, single take opening sequence and again shows Florentine's talent shooting flowing, beautifully framed and continuous action without any cuts, better than any equivalent you'll see in a Hollywood movie. Check this out...

The fight choreography is strong and capitalises on every performer's exceptional talents and timing, with props going to 87Eleven's Jeremy Marinas for designing the varied action scenes. Adkins fans won't be disappointed, plus it brings something a little different to the mix. Adkins vs a truck, for example, is pretty inventive.

While setting its drama on a quiet ranch, the western influence feeds into the music, costumes, energy and action (even a "draw" style shootout scene) which again brings something fresh, a new take on a classic formula. For this reason, it marks a different chapter in the team's repertoire.

The film runs lean at around 80 minutes, with a tight script by action regular Chad Law (Daylight's End, Hero Wanted). And in true Florentine fashion, things are kept direct and concise, with the action always bubbling just below the surface. It would have been nice to see a bit more drama and background for this mysterious character, but as it stands, everything works. The performances are solid and enjoyable with Adkins relishing this type of anti-hero role, a martial arts "Man with No Name", and decent support from Nick Chinlund (Training Day, Con Air) in particular.

In short, the format we have is a brisk and unashamedly direct style of action we don't get too often now, more reminiscent of 70's and 80's cinema than what we have today. It feels a little out of time, by no means a bad thing, more like a nostalgic throwback to the golden age of action movies. With blistering, brutal fight scenes and plenty of enjoyable set pieces, Close Range delivers on its promise and does it with style.

Close Range is out now in the UK