Look past its title, and watch this.
Over the course of the past couple years, I have discovered a hidden gold-mine of pretty terrible B movies, but with excellently stunted and choreographed action, better than 99 percent of blockbuster films out there, aside from those Keanu Reeves movies everyone loves so much. The best I have found of those include actor/martial artist Scott Adkins. Among such movies are ‘Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning’, and ‘Boyka: Undisputed’, and his most recent collaboration with director Jesse V. Johnson, ‘Avengement’ is his best film yet.
‘Avengement’ has everything going against it: the terrible title for one, its straight to video on demand and Blu Ray status, but it manages to occupy that space of films that are better than what it got relegated to.
Avengement is about escaped convict Cain Burgess (Adkins) a man who finds himself with the entire inmate population hell-bent on killing him. It details the events that led him to the pen, surviving prison itself and getting transformed to a completely different person by the end of his stay. The film also stars Craig Fairbrass as Cain’s brother Lincoln, and Thomas Turgoose as the comedic relief of the film.
Now, the thing that makes me admire this film the most is Adkins himself. While an incredibly talented stuntman/martial artist, he is incredibly lacking in the acting department, and he has even admitted that himself in interviews. After watching so many of his movies, this has to be his best performance yet. While the transformation is pretty cheesy, his character Cain is what makes the entire movie, with his physical appearance becoming more and more “tough convict”, grill and all. It is certainly much more interesting material that I have seen him be given, and he has taken advantage of that.
In addition, there is the action, and it is brutal in this one. It has a couple moments of near gag-inducing violence, and the rest is so entertaining, and especially because it isn’t Adkins simply doing his stunts, it's him actually embodying a character legitimately well. Every single one is well filmed (with only a couple poor cuts), and more importantly, the climactic action scene has a sense of earned catharsis: something that is truly important to make an action flick stand apart.
I also have to give credit to Fairbrass and Turgoose. Fairbrass is absolutely perfect for the role he is given, and is a perfect opposite to Adkins as well. Turgoose is just naturally funny every time he shows up.
The only real problems I have with the film are ones that come with the territory. While Adkins has improved by miles, many people may not buy him just yet as a full blown actor, but as a person who has seen too many of his films, he has improved drastically and I have to give him kudos for that.
All in all, ‘Avengement’ is better than it has any right to be. Its script is strong, its fights, while not as perfect to a T like the Wick movies are brutal and punchy, all while Adkins gives an incredibly fun performance, with Morricone-esque 70’s crime music playing in the background. Film critic Joe Bob Briggs put it best when talking about the term B movie: that it inherently implies the film is lesser than whatever ‘A’ is. I guarantee however, that Avengement in terms of action and of plain quality, is better than its label and is worthy of any action fan’s time.
Edited by Adam White, Joelle Conway