The action duo of director Isaac Florentine and martial arts actor Scott Adkins are back with this very straightforward action packed fest that once again shows why this is one of the premier teams in action cinema today.
Upon arriving to Mexico, former soldier Colton MacReady has plowed through members of the Antibalas Cartel to rescue his niece, Hailey. When he frees her, he unwittingly has possession of a flash drive that has proven vital to the cartel. The cartel boss, Fernando “El Jefe” Garcia, wants the flash drive and will get it at any cost. He has learned that Hailey was the daughter of Walt Reynolds, who had worked for and apparently betrayed the cartel. When Garcia contacts corrupt sheriff Jasper Calloway about the incident, Calloway is shocked to learn that Colton, who knows Jasper, was responsible for the mess in Mexico.
Upon returning home, Colton is preparing to take his sister Angela and Hailey away from the chaos as he senses that something is wrong. However, when first Jasper and then the remaining members of the Antibalas Cartel arrive at the MacReady farm, Colton must go into hiding. While Angela and Hailey are held captive and Walt, who has ratted out Colton, is shot dead for not knowing the location of the flash drive, Colton begins his one-man assault against those who have arrived. For some of the members, it’s business. For others, it’s personal.
The team of Scott Adkins and Isaac Florentine means fans will be in for an action treat. Their alliance has been around for twelve years, since their first team-up, Special Forces, and one can clearly say that if there is one director who clearly succeeds in making Adkins look fantastic on the screen, it’s definitely Isaac Florentine.
For their latest collaboration, the films opens with a very interesting definition of a samurai and a ronin, which is a masterless samurai. Now, one would wonder what does this have to do with the film? It actually has an interesting meaning due to Adkins’ character of Colton MacReady. Colton is clearly one who has the skills of a soldier, but has gone his own path, thus making him a “ronin”. However, there is one thing that clear that means the world to him and that’s his family. One would expect a character like Colton not to show any emotion except rage and anger. However, when his niece brings up a memory from the past, a rare smile does come out of Colton.
While Colton is the tough hero of our film, there are two major villains of the film. First, there is the mastermind “El Jefe” Garcia, played by Tony Perez. Garcia truly is the sly yet dangerous businessman who cares for his nephew when he falls victim to Colton. The other villain is quite an interesting figure and it is in the form of corrupt sheriff Jasper Calloway, played with uneasiness by Nick Chinlund. The reason the performance is said to be uneasy is because Calloway is a somewhat complicated character. He is seen talking to his son on the phone, showing a nature that like Colton and Garcia, has that care about family. However, he has vices and it is because of those vices that he becomes a goat of sorts for Garcia, despite his attempts to not want to join yet is forced due to threats.
The film’s title can be said to be more akin to the action of the film. In terms of action, this is quite a different Adkins we are looking at here. Usually known for his acrobatic style of kicking ability, the fights in this film are actually something fresh as they involve more “close range” or “close quarter” combat. While Ross Clarkson, Florentine’s usual choice of cinematographer, was absent from this film, he found an excellent replacement with Tal Lazar, who had lensed the banned Vietnamese action film Chinatown. Lazar shows some excellent sweeping motions for the action and in some cases there tends to be a Clarksonian-vibe to some of the fight scenes. Stunt coordinator David Wald and fight choreographer Jeremy Marinas really showcase a different side of Adkins with some amazing knife fights and Krav Maga-like moves along with some nice gunfights mixed in. Look out for an excellent fight between Adkins and Marinas himself, who plays cartel member J.J. “Loco” Cruz. Seriously, that is his name as it is introduced in the film along with a two-on-one duke em’ out that ends pretty cringeworthy for one of the thugs.
Close Range offers a fresh mode of action for Scott Adkins as he favors more of a Krav Maga & knife style of fighting rather than his usual style of kicking skills. However, under the direction of Isaac Florentine, the lense work of Tal Lazar, and the stunt team leadership of David Wald and Jeremy Marinas, this is definitely one of the best action films of the year with Adkins playing a different kind of “ronin”.
WFG RATING: B+
XLrator Media presents a Bleiberg Entertainment production in association with Company B. Director: Isaac Florentine. Producer: Ehud Bleiberg. Writers: Chad Law and Shaun Dax Taylor. Cinematography: Tal Lazar. Editing: Irit Raz.
Cast: Scott Adkins, Nick Chinlund, Caitlin Keats, Madison Lawlor, Tony Perez, Jeremy Marinas, Jake La Botz, Julian Cesario, Jimmy Chhiu, Ray Diaz, Craig Henningsen, Anthony L. Fernandez, Robert Dill, Scott Evans, Randy Hall, Dennis Ruel.