The Debt Collector (2018)

Posted in Reviews by - January 01, 2020
The Debt Collector (2018)

As Jesse V. Johnson matures as a filmmaker, his action movies have become a lot more laden with dialogue, breathable characters, and even a touch of pathos. He is capable of making the sort of nuanced observations that are more akin to indie filmmaking than your average beat-’em-up. This is his third film in a row with the king of the low-budget fight films, Scott Adkins, working on a story which was first mooted in the early 2000s. Its a male buddy premise outlining a weekend in the life of two hired enforcers for a low-level crime boss, and it plays out like an easy, slightly meandering road movie with pockets of ultra-violence and Tarantino-like reportage. Jesse and Stu Small’s script combines the vitriol of Accident Man with a touch of Statham-like attitude for Adkins’ ex-military character, French, with Martial Law star Louis Mandylor playing Sue, a dishevelled hoodlum with a heart of gold who punctuates the film with moments of great drama. Jesse’s vision of suburban Los Angeles is seeped in a woozy, atmospheric haze which is very effective; its full of classic American cars cruising lazily along sprawling freeways, drive-thru restaurants and opulent, tree-lined suburban streets. Beyond the swimming pools, supermodels, mansions and palm trees lies a life of vice and crime, and the duo find themselves at odds between their wavering moral compass and getting the job done. Adkins brings out the fisticuffs when required – and that’s a lot of the time – but without the likes of Tim Man supplying the fight choreography, don’t expect the sort of wild martial arts action you would find in his other collaborations with Jesse. In fact, it’s not really a martial arts film at all. It is, but it’s also a lot more, and there can’t be many directors working in DTV nowadays who can make that claim.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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