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Imagine my excitement when I found out that Loren Avedon, one of the absolute best American martial arts stars, was assuming his first prime film role in 14 years...and then imagine my disappointment when I realized it would be alongside Jalal Merhi, one of the most consistent letdown stars of any nation. My bias against Merhi was justified in this case, because this is one cruddy action movie. I won't be surprised if it's never gets more than a digital release.
The story: A CIA agent-turned-photographer (Merhi) is drawn in to a final mission by his old partner (Avedon).
The fact that this movie exists at all is a bit of a surprise: while Loren had never fully abandoned his action roots, Jalal had stated years ago in an interview that he was done with the genre. I have to say, I wish he had held himself to that, because the film offers little reprieve from its numerous deficiencies. For one thing, the production looks pretty darn cheap, both in its setup and the actual quality of its recording material. This is a genuinely disappointing, given that Merhi used to raise millions of dollars to make his movies look as good as Hollywood productions but now can't even match Steven Seagal's output. It really demonstrates the poor state that indie action filmmaking is in, these days.
Then again, movies like CONTOUR (2006) prove that though inventive writing and physical talent, good martial arts movies can be produced on micro-budgets, but in both of these cases, RISK FACTOR fails. Writer Jim Murray doesn't do everything wrong - the meat of the film is a conflict between two factions of villains, and the movie does a good job of juggling which is the lesser evil - but aside from the weak ending, the plot provides little investment in its character and eventually becomes boring. Similar things can be said about the fight scenes, the ten of which are all poorly-shot and poorly edited. It's of no surprise to me that Jalal Merhi provides such lackluster exhibitions, but it breaks my heart to see someone as graceful as Loren Avedon fumbling around like this.
I can't recommend this feature to anyone. While other action heroes have been doing their best to stage viable comebacks, the stars of this film lag way behind. Get your kicks and punches elsewhere.
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