Ten men took away his life. Now ten men will pay with their's. Ryan is left for dead, but returns to his old ways for one last revenge trip. And it's going to be bloody!Ten men took away his life. Now ten men will pay with their's. Ryan is left for dead, but returns to his old ways for one last revenge trip. And it's going to be bloody!Ten men took away his life. Now ten men will pay with their's. Ryan is left for dead, but returns to his old ways for one last revenge trip. And it's going to be bloody!
One of a growing number of British action movies, Ross Boyask's follow-up to 2004's Left for Dead revisits many familiar themes but shows a great deal of maturity. Left for Dead was dense with action but was easily forgotten, but there's something about this film that lingers.
Made for genre fans by genre fans, Ten Dead Men has much in common with equally gritty British action flicks such as Underground and The Silencer, as well as the likes of Ultimate Force, a vehicle for UFC fighter Mirko Cro-Cop Filipovic.
Brendan Carr stars as Ryan, a reformed gangster whose darkside is reawakened when he returns, apparently from the dead, to avenge the murder of his girlfriend. It's a good set-up and the supernatural element is commendably underplayed.
Carr seems a little young to play the role but gives it his all. Like Arnie in The Terminator or Kurt Russell in Soldier, Ryan is almost entirely a physical presence, a force of nature. His lack of dialogue keeps the viewer unsettled and he's impossible to relate to. But that seems to be the point.
Aside from the action the most notable feature of Boyask's film is the use of voice-over. The contribution of fan favourite Doug Bradley is this film's greatest asset and unfortunately it's also the biggest weakness. As The Narrator, Bradley explains the story and speaks for the hero, but this is intrusive and seemingly added only to give cohesion to some of the more throwaway sequences. Bradley's voice too often distracts. Unfortunately it's an interesting idea that only highlights shortcomings in the structure and execution of the story.
That criticism aside there's much to praise. Boyask's bold non-linear approach is intriguing and there are an inventive variety of shots, which compensate for an overuse of freeze frame and fade to black devices. Aside from the diverse camera-work, the Cage Rage and speedboat sequences add some nice production value. Plus, you can't help but be amused by the incongruous presence of Lee from one-time pop sensations Steps.
Most importantly this is an action movie and Ross Boyask delivers some solid action with the help of experienced Hong Kong stuntman/action director Jude Poyer. His quick edits get maximum impact from some brutal martial arts action and stunts. Standout set-pieces take place in a garage and a derelict house, as the plot builds steadily in intensity toward a satisfying climactic duel with Transporter 3, Dead or Alive and Black Mask 2 heavy Silvio Simac.
Shot on digital video, a format popular not only with budget-conscious filmmakers but also the likes of Michael Mann and Mike Figgis, Ten Dead Men is best described as art-house action. A restless and fragmented experience with some memorable moments that may disappoint those expecting Hollywood production quality but will entertain and intrigue those with an interest in action films and independent film-making.
- Dec 12, 2008