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There are so many martial arts films out these days. It seems that
every country has finally woken up to the wonders of one of the best
genre of films ever produced.
And here we have the UK's first entry which I am happy to report ROCKS HARDER THAN OZZIE ON SPEED.
I caught this film at a special screening in Cannes about 2 weeks ago and was surprised by the quality of acting and the speed and pace of the action. It's a low-budget Digital movie. That much is true. But the scope is simply amazing making US action films seem like they have been neutered.
The story is a simple revenge stick. Williams, an assassin for crime lord Kincaid, is betrayed and Left For Dead, by his erstwhile colleagues. Keslo, a promising kick boxer, has his career cut short after refusing to throw a fight for Kincaid's men. Together they must team up to take down the criminal empire that holds their city in a vice like grip.
With a cast of relative unknowns (Salvage has been in several UK films but none that have made it across the pond) The pace of this film is break neck it never stops to take a breath which means that by the end you are totally exhausted.
Leads Salvage & Prior cut a dynamic team (although with one it's obvious by the weight fluctuations that the film was shot over a long period of time!!!) and really kick butt. The villains are evil, the women double crossing and the big bad is a very scary man.
Something else that shocked me was the simply superb humor than ran throughout the film. It was that right balance so that it didn't seem out of place.
But its the action that counts and thats what this film has... smashing up a car? Check. A 20 min opening assault with guns, knives, baseball bats (one of the films most shocking moments involves Foiadelli's unhinged 'Taylor' getting medieval on a bad guy with a bat) and insane stunts? Check. A huge finale? Check.
In lost count of the death toll (over 50 in the first 10 mins) but the producer/director team of Hobden/Boyask never stopped coming up with new and inventive deaths. Special note must go to the middle Dojo fight which see's a perfect kill Bill inspired moment and another 30 people bite the dust (kincaid must have a clone factory producing all these disposable henchmen).
God I loved this film. This is the sort of film that 80's genre legends like Avedon, Rothrock and Hues used to make. A Proper No Retreat No Surrender type film with a film Noir edge and that gritty British streak that made films like Get Carter (the original) so god damn great.
I haven't seen a film that made me this excited in years... yes it has it's faults. Yes it's far from perfect in places. The quality of the digital transfer is occasionally shaky. And a couple of the support cast seem misplaced. But it didn't matter. The film entertained.
Okay, yes I'm slightly biased because I love martial arts films... But god damn didn't you hear me NONE OF THAT MATTERS.
The screening room laughed, booed, cheered and broke out in a cold sweat as the twists came thick and fast. A (over) packed screening house of 75 people gave the production team a standing ovation at the end. When does that ever happen? On a side note the music to this film is superb. It's like a Sergio Leonne cross with 28 Days Later. It also has music by a host of break through US and UK Hip Hop Artists. I'm told the CD will not be released which is a shame as the music really lifted the film.
It's out in the US on DVD through York entertainment in August. Catch it. Watch it. Buy it.
JUST SEE IT!!! NOW!!! No really... why are you still reading this. Go out and get this film.
This film is definitely worth the watch... The action is superb and
considering the small budget the producer/director have done an amazing
job and i think actually looks like something with a greater budget.
The whole experience was a good one and met a lot of top people. don't disrespect this film unless you have seen it. I think this film will only be truly appreciated by those with an interest in martial arts of some kind.
This film is an all British film too which must be a good thing. If we had a million dollar budget imagine what may have been achieved!!!
watch out for it.. should be hitting the shops soon.
In the opening scene of 'Left for Dead' the low budget roots of this homegrown, self-funded British action film are painfully obvious. Thankfully the ambition and love of the genre that the filmmakers have clearly injected into the project are infectious and within minutes all its flaws are forgotten. With its straight-forward, engaging revenge storyline and numerous energetic and accomplished fight scenes 'Left for Dead' is a kick in the head for a genre that has come to rely too heavily on special effects and wire-work. Few filmmakers at this level of funding would even attempt to make such an elaborate, time-consuming and large-scale project, especially in a country in which genre films in general are a rarity, but the finished film stands as a testament to their success. The spirit and inventiveness of this back-to-basics action film puts some of the most expensive and explosive blockbusters to shame and needs to be seen to be believed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Can a British crew make an action film with Hong Kong sensibilities?
Watch Left for Dead and you'll see.
In the vicious city Hope, Kincaid is the boss. He rules with an iron fist and employs soldiers with lethal martial arts skills to make sure no-one encroaches into his territory. Williams is Kincaid's best hit-man. His wife was brutally killed years ago and rage used to fuel his jobs but now William's feels empty and wishes to leave this lifestyle behind. He agrees to do one last job but Kincaid can not let him retire. At the end of the mission his two colleagues, Dylan and Taylor, turn on him and try to finish him off. Needless to say, they leave him for dead. Kelso is a professional kickboxer who's life is ruined when he defies Kincaid and doesn't throw a fight. Forced to leave Hope his only way to make a living is to get involved in illegal bare knuckle fights. Williams soon discovers it was Kincaid who ordered his wife to be killed and decides he wants pay back. He teams up with Kelso and the two go back to Hope to get revenge.
Left for Dead is a guilty pleasure. Its one of those films that shouldn't be any good but something makes you enjoy it. Its got a few flaws; the story is a bit clichéd, some of the acting is a bit woolly, the editing is a bit choppy with continuity being a bit sparse in some places and it's a little too long with some of the action being a bit repetitive.
But its still a really enjoyable film.
All its flaws can be forgiven as soon as you find out Left For Dead was only made for £10,000. It looks a bit scrappy but it easily looks like it was made for 10 times that amount.
If you're looking for an action film that's stuffed full of Martial Arts, good stunts and is made by some home-grown talent then Left For Dead is the film for you.
I don't normally DO action or martial arts films. I'm a girly girl. But
every so often you have to relent and let the boyfriend watch something
'Left For Dead' was it. He followed the production of this in magazines in the UK like Impact and Combat. We had a double bill of this and Richard Jobson's 'Purifiers'.
Comparing the two is like chalk and cheese (although they both share similar actors and stunt men and where made around the same time). One is interesting. Enjoyable. Fun. And exciting. The other is The Purifiers.
Left For Dead surprised me. As I said I don't normally DO action or martial arts films. But this was a fun movie, enjoyable and not badly put together for an independent action film.
If you have the choice of watching one or the other Left For Dead is the one to go with.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the fictional city of Hope the notorious gangster Kincaid (Adam
Chapman) is king. Ruling the underworld with an iron fist, and with an
army of trained enforcers at his call - nothing and no one stands in
One of his top men is Williams (Glenn Salvage) a hardened mercenary, left emotionally hollow after the death of his wife, he carries out Kincaid's punishments with ruthless efficiency and unquestioning loyalty. That is, until one day, he discovers that Kincaid has set him up whilst on a job and consequently decides to defy him - big mistake. For his transgression Williams suffers unspeakable violence at the hands of one of Kincaid's other henchmen - the psychotic Taylor (Adrian Foiadelli) and, as the title goes, is left for dead. Upon recovery he meets Kelso (Andy Prior) who had a promising boxing career cut short by Kincaid after he refused to throw a rigged fight and subsequently had his hands smashed by him. Deciding that enough is enough the two join forces and hatch a plan to bring Kincaid and his organisation to its knees - let battle commence!
Privately funded by cult action director Ross Boyask and produced by award winning filmmaker Phil Hobden, Left For Dead was made over a period of two years and finally secured a limited UK cinema run in 2004 and a wide DVD release earlier this year after a very successful debut at the Cannes film festival.
So what of the film itself? Well as far as action goes any self-respecting film fan will not be disappointed. Both Prior and the incredibly versatile Salvage display martial arts skills that would give Bruce and Jet a run for their money. Both do all their own stunts and make the fantastic fight sequences that much more real by seemingly appearing to actually connect with every punch and kick that they throw. Of note is the superbly choreographed car park dust up and the brilliantly wince-inducing ass kicking finale played out in Kincaid's lair.
In addition Boyask's direction shows a sure hand and his camera-work is, at times very inventive indeed, making good use of silhouettes and shadows to create a real 'Sin City' kind of feel to the film. Foiadelli's writing is inspired, injecting a nice sense of black humour to proceedings that makes one fondly remember the salad days of Tarantino and Shane Black.
There are some areas that could of been improved though. Notably in the editing. There are a few scenes that go on far too long and could have done with trimming by a few minutes. Also its way too violent in places and in some areas goes completely over the top in some of its brutality.
Performance wise its a bit of a mixed bag - Salvage is impressive as the hero and can certainly deliver a decent one liner on cue, Prior is a tad wooden and certainly needs some acting lessons, Foiadelli isn't bad as the sadistic nutter Taylor - but could of benefited from reigning in allot of his madman screaming and swearing, and been a tad more on the subtle side to boot - cant fault him for effort though. Chapman is the standout however, chillingly effective as Kincaid, bad to the bone, and so damn nasty that throughout I found myself desperately willing Salvage to get his revenge over him when they meet in the films incredible 'fists at dawn' denouement - which frankly has to be seen to be believed.
So overall I found 'Left For Dead' a highly enjoyable movie. Yes its a bit rough round the edges, but it exhibits a refreshing rawness (rare in films today) that superbly adds to the dark atmosphere that Boyask and Hobden have created. Fair play to the lads, as they've shown some serious balls here, it takes allot to make a movie in this day and age and to have done such a professional job as they have here gives me allot of hope for the future of British action cinema.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Independently produced, low-budget movies exist for several reasons.
They act as a jump-start for fledgling talent. They offer something for
a niche audience that's not deemed suitable for mass consumption.
They push film convention to extremes. Encompassing all of these traits is Left for Dead, one hell of an action movie that gives the people what they want and what the people want is more guns, more swordplay, more high-kicking martial arts, and more bloody mayhem all around.
Although not without faults, I've got to hand it to the folks behind Left for Dead. They've created a monster of an action movie considering their limited means. Most importantly, they've managed to make the most out of their medium, the indie film, by pushing the action to extremes while maintaining an engaging plot. Left for Dead is like a modern, British equivalent of a Shinji Fukazaku yakuza thriller and classic Hong Kong kung fu movie in one, where the violence is intense and the fighting practically never stops.
The film the term 'So bad it's good!' was invented for. This film has
all the hall marks of a very bad 80's action movie. The kind of film
that was frequented by Jeff Speakman, Michael Dudikof and Jeff Wincott.
The kind of film you rented because the cover had ninjas and fighting
drawn so badly that it looked more like your grand ma than Chuck
The kind of film where the good guy gets shot, kicked, stabbed, beaten, blown up and yet still manages to take down the bad guys army of 200 highly trained soldiers.
The kind of film that had a name like 'American Ninja', 'The Perfect Weapon', 'Ninja Exterminator', 'Invasion USA', 'Eye Of The Tiger', 'Kick Boxer' and 'Missing In Action'.
The kind of film that I always chose at my local video shop over the higher budgeted star driven studio fair. The kind of film that, well, that I love so much.
Don't get me wrong. Like the films mentioned above (and the many I have failed to mention), this isn't a masterpiece in terms of production value, acting or (sometimes) editing or direction but in terms of bang for buck well this film does what it says on the tin. In spades.
And lets face it I never watched Segal movies for the character development or plot. I watched them because I knew, just for that hour and a half, that I'd get to see some tubby white guy kick the crud out of a bunch of bad guys in inventive and fun ways.
But the strange thing is, for all its faults and over long running time, this film does just what I wanted. It offers an 80's styled action film that is true to the genre and superb fun to watch.
So, in short, if your idea of a good film is Citizen Kane, Remains of the Day or Notting Hill this film is not for you.
If however, like me, you grew up on a staple diet of action movies, body counts and ninjas then you 'Left For Dead' is that rare find a butt kicking, head stomping 80's styled action romp that makes for almost 2 hours of mindless fun, bloody, guts and over the top martial arts moves.
LFD is the most unwittingly hilarious film I have seen for ages.
The painfully long opening scene is a dialogue-free killing spree peppered with pantomime deaths and schoolboy-like 'Aieee!' shrieks of terror.
An inexplicable (bad) fake-American narrator intones low voiced nonsense by way of introduction to 'the streets' (or a Brighton industrial estate to be precise).
Some of the overly-serious hard man facial expressions make Eastenders Mitchell twins look like Pacino in Taxi Driver.
The laughs just keep coming. A scene where two henchmen receive a stern ticking off by the yellow teethed grimacing boss reaches surreal heights of humour. In the background a man is chained to a fence and is being teased by a WWF looky-likey bloke pulling cartoon character baddie faces and pointing at him threateningly. This goes on all through the overly long scene.
After our hero has been shot, he makes it back home to his flat where he fumbles in his bathroom cabinet, crashing amongst deodorant and other jars. The same shot of a blood stained hand, shaking and crashing (its owner out of shot) around the cabinet is seen twice within a couple of minutes. What was he thinking of ? This is no time for a shower.
Budget Jackie-Chan-meets-Bugsy Malone (without the songs) Worth a watch for the laughs alone.Heading for the so-bad-its-good genre.
Thank god for Amazon. Their recommendations meant that whilst I bought
the risible Purifiers, I also managed to get a copy of this far
superior feature film.
WIlliams is an Assassin. kelso a kickboxer. Betrayed by crime over lord Kincaid they team up and kick some serious butt.
Lead Salvage does a solid job (any one else think he reminds them of Segal?) and new comer Andy Prior was very good as the role of the young Kelso.
But its the bad guys that excel here. From Adam Chapman's Kincaid to Adrian Foiadelli's Taylor, the bad guys add real menace.
But the action. Oh the action. I guess this is where these films live and die. And unlike other UK action (ahem!) film The Purfifiers (which shares many of the same cast and crew) this film had action in spades.
Okay maybe too much action at times but this film, which I read online was made for under $25k (the same as clerks) has more action that you can shake an action shaped stick at.
And death toll. At least 200 people die, and in reality maybe closer to 300.
This is a violent, dangerous film. And a joy to watch. For a film that offered little (low budget, no stars, first time director etc) it delivered far more than The Purfifiers and it's million $ budget, Lord Of The Rings star and ex-rock star director.
Def worth the money!
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