It’s Superman vs. The Big Show in this brutal action film from the duo of Jen and Sylvia Soska, who show they can turn up the brutality in action as they do with their trademark horror films.
Detective Mason Danvers has finally completed the case he has been hoping to end once and for all. He has busted the Abbott Brothers, two notorious criminals whose size and brutal methods have plagued the city for so long. Danvers can finally relax as his wife Jocelyn has revealed she is pregnant with their first child. However, when he learns that due to lack of witnesses, the brothers have been released, Danvers’ world is upside down when Victor Abbott finds Jocelyn and brutally beats her to death. Victor is sent to prison but for Danvers, it is not enough.
Deciding he wants to get even with Victor, Danvers deliberately kills Victor’s brother Griffin and gets himself imprisoned at Stonewall Prison, led by Warden Snyder. Danvers finds out that Victor is in the prison as well as comes up with a plan to get his revenge. However, as Snyder warns Danvers to keep his nose clean, Victor sends various prisoners to deal with Danvers. Danvers finds himself fighting back and incurring the wrath of both Victor and Snyder, who are in cahoots to committing various crimes within the prison. When Danvers decides to play one against the other in a power game, he devises the ultimate vendetta to make things right.
One of the six films made by the partnership of Lionsgate and WWE Studios, this film continues the trend that female filmmakers can kick just as much butt as their male counterparts. Look at Kao Pao-Shu, who directed 1970s swordplay and kung fu films; Lexi Alexander, whose 2005 film Green Street Hooligans is hailed as a modern-day action-drama about soccer gangs; and even Patty Jenkins, who wowed audiences with her take on Wonder Woman. For this film, horror film fanatics Jen and Sylvia Soska prove they can handle action just as much as they can handle horror.
As fans of the grindhouse cinema, the Soska Sisters unleash their brand of brutality when it comes to the film’s action, taking Justin Shady’s screenplay and amps up the action and bringing a level of sheer intensity in the performance of lead star Dean Cain. Cain, who perhaps will be immortalized as one of the actors to play the iconic Superman, starts out as a detective who finds a sense of relief when he is able to finally capture the two criminal brothers he has been waiting to bust. However, as Mason Danvers, he goes from happy to angry and broken when his wife is viciously brutalized to death by one of the brothers. He spends the rest of the film in angry mode and ready to fight when needed.
In the role of the villainous Victor Abbott is Paul Wight, known to WWE fans as The Big Show. From his opening scene, Wight pulls off an impressive performance as one ticked-off criminal. While his WWE persona at times seems like a big goofy character, much like the one he played in the comedy Knucklehead, this is a welcome bad guy turn as he plays Victor as both a brutalizer and a mastermind as he sends various prisoners to deal with our ticked-off hero throughout the film. Michael Eklund is almost just as evil as Warden Snyder, who when the script calls for it, plays a sort of power game like Danvers tends to do in a sort of Yojimbo way in the opening of the third act.
Dan Rizzuto was fight coordinator on the film and brings his trademark grounded style of action to the film, meshing boxing with close quarters combat. While Paul Wight is known for his gigantic size, it is used very well when needed while Cain resorts to using move fluid movements. In one of the best moves in the film, knowing unarmed might not be enough, Cain is given a pair of belt straps with spikes put in the straps to defend himself. The finale may remind viewers of an amped up version of prison films that tend to end with a riot within the prison walls but done very well here.
Vendetta proves that Jen and Sylvia Soska can direct action with the sheer brutality that makes them two of the best horror film directors today. Dean Cain and Paul “Big Show” Wight are two ticked off people in their own deadly game.
WFG RATING: B+
A Lionsgate and WWE Studios production. Directors: Jen and Sylvia Soska. Producer: Michael J. Luisi. Writer: Justin Shady. Cinematography: Mahlon Todd Williams. Editing: Richard Nord.
Cast: Dean Cain, Paul “The Big Show” Wight, Michael Eklund, Ben Hollingsworth, Adrian Holmes, Matthew MacCaull, Kyra Zagorsky, Aleks Paunovic, Joanthan Walker, Dee Jay Jackson.