johnny strong in Sinners and Saints
In Sinners and Saints (aka Bad Cop in the UK), Detective Sean Riley (Strong) is a tough cop investigating a series of brutal murders in his hometown of New Orleans. But when a clue leads Riley to a troubled friend from his past, he'll uncover a shocking military conspiracy that triggers a war between local gangs and an international team of mercenaries - and in a city set to explode, nothing is more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose. Teamed up with a homicide detective (Phillips), Riley is a one man wrecking ball who'll stop at nothing to find the truth and bring about an end to the violence spreading across the city.
I've been a big fan of Sinners and Saints since first seeing it at a screening in Cannes back in 2010 where I called it my underdog favourite of the festival! The film has been long overdue for release so it was great news when the film was picked up by Anchor Bay and released in the US last year and finally gets a UK release now (albeit under a new name - I personally prefer the original title!). That aside, it's great to see it finally arrive and I can vouch it will serve up a generous helping of gritty, ballistically-insane action and tough, no-nonsense cop drama for fans of Narc, The Shield and others in this vein.
What we have here is an old-school, back-to-basics cop thriller with a grizzled, hard-as-nails cop following clues, tip-offs and suspects to the next lead - and leaving a flurry of shell casings in his wake. With a gritty, at times almost washed-out look, the film is extremely moody and paints a bleak, hard-nosed picture of the grim world these people inhabit. Not for the faint hearted, Sinners and Saints is a strong, violent movie and doesn't shy away from its subject. More genre films should be this gutsy!
Johnny Strong makes an excellent lead and having taken up supporting roles in titles like the original Fast and The Furious and Black Hawk Down, here he really gets a chance to shine as a leading man. With a great look and style, he totally embodies his character and even gets the opportunity to showcase some of his Martial Arts training, namely grappling and Jiu-Jitsu in some very nice fight choreography. The ensemble cast are strong and varied, featuring names like brothers, Costas and Louis Mandylor, Kim Coates, Tom Berenger and Jürgen Prochnow. It adds a nice depth to the drama and weight to an already impressive set-up. Director William Kaufman does a great job with the vision of the film, really capturing the flavour of this genre (other titles include The Hit List with Cuba Gooding, jr and the forthcoming One in the Chamber). Despite these points, the action is where the movie really kicks into overdrive and features plenty of jaw-dropping shootouts and some of the craziest, relentless gun action seen in a long, long time. Action choreographer Ron Balicki does a fantastic job here and delivers in hard doses, while keeping it real and holding the viewer on the edge of their seat.
If you like your cop movies with a lot of guts, action and still maintaining a strong sense of drama and realism, this is definitely one for you. It's a shame there aren't any DVD or Blu-ray extras (considering there were on the US release) but still, Sinners and Saints (aka Bad Cop) is definitely one to add to your collection.