One Shot (2021)

Posted in Reviews by - November 01, 2021
One Shot (2021)

Taut, enveloping, and very well crafted ‘one-take’ action film which absolutely delivers on its real-time premise. The technique has been explored in Hollywood in recent years in the Academy Award-winning Birdman (2014) and 1917 (2019). The sheer audacity of indie filmmaker James Nunn and martial arts star Scott Adkins (who last worked together on 2016’s Eliminators) to even attempt to do a similar thing on a comparatively minuscule budget is worthy of your admiration; the fact they actually manage to pull it off is nothing short of miraculous. There are shades of Extraction star Chris Hemsworth in Adkins’ Jake Harris – a bearded, roughed-up Navy SEAL in camo-gear brandishing a machine gun and a hunters knife. He leads a team onto a prison island to escort a CIA agent (Ashley Greene Khoury) who has been sent in to question the suspected mastermind behind a planned terror attack on the US capital. The SEALs are soon forced into a gun battle when insurgents invade the island – led by French UFC fighter, Jess Liaudin, who is excellent in the baddy role. You spend most of the film’s 90-minute runtime trying to spot the cuts, while simultaneously being amazed at how seamless it all looks. Unlike 2020’s Crazy Samurai Mushashi – an admirable failure which attempted a similarly audacious concept, featuring an unbroken 77-minute fight scene – this film manages to achieve its desired effect without ever lacking conviction or scrimping on the action. It zips from dialogue sequences to gun battles, bombings, knife fights, interior and exterior locations, interrogations, chases and punch-ups. The roaming, reactive camera fully immerses you in the action, complete with effective framing devices, including gun battles which are made to look like first-person shooter games and lingering close-ups which make the acting feel more vital. It also lends the film a documentary feel – and thanks to a pulsating electronic score, the tone effectively shifts between being at times bleak, sinister, and poignant. When it gets physical – and we see flashes of Tim Man‘s brutal fight choreography – we remember why Adkins is still one of the best in the business at delivering punishing pugilism (his albeit brief face-off with the UK’s hardest-working henchman, Lee Charles, is a bone-breaking delight). Most DTV action films would struggle to achieve even half the levels of intensity that this film delivers. In a word: wow.

One Shot is released in cinemas and on-demand in the USA on 5 November 2021, courtesy of Screen Media Films.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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