A rogue soldier turned outlaw is thrust into a relentless fight with a corrupt sheriff, his obedient deputies, and a dangerous drug cartel in order to protect his sister and her young daughter.
I equate Scott Adkins to Chuck Norris from the 70s and 80s and Jean-Claude Van Damme from the 80s and 90s. But where Adkins stands taller than his predecessors, and not just in height, is that he can genuinely act. While Norris and Van Damme will always be amongst my favorites in this particular genre, both were as wooden as the planks of wood they used to clobber their adversaries with. Adkins is proving himself more than capable of taking over their moniker and what’s more, he can play a likable good guy and, from time to time, a deplorable, diabolical bad guy. He has charisma, is wholly entertaining, and holds a blackbelt in Taekwondo and Kickboxing. He is also trained in Ninjutsu, Judo, Karate, and Jujutsu, to name but a few so the man is the real deal, no wire stunts or stand-in stuntmen here.
As the story begins, Colton MacReady (Scott Adkins) is in Mexico. His sister Angela (Caitlin Keats) has shacked up with a deadbeat, Walt (Jake La Botz), who, come to find out, has ties to the Mexican cartel. When he steals some money from them, hoping they won’t notice, naturally, they do and in retaliation, they kidnap Colton’s niece Hailey (Madison Lawlor). Colton makes his way down south, finds out where she is being held, kills a lot of bad guys and manages to bring his niece safely back to Arizona. What Colton doesn’t realize though, is that one of the men he killed, was the nephew to the head of the cartel, Fernando Garcia (Tony Perez) and in the ensuing chaos, he inadvertently takes a flash drive that contains all of the cartel’s information, bank accounts, contacts, crooked cops, etc., and they want it back.
After returning Hailey to her mother, Colton sees Jasper (Nick Chinlund), the local sheriff, unexpectedly pull up to Angela’s house, wanting to know where he is. As Colton hides out back, Angela informs Jasper she hasn’t seen him in years and in no time, the cartel turns up on their doorstep, taking Angela and her daughter hostage, threatening to kill them if Colton doesn’t return their flash drive. With Jasper in the cartel’s pocket, he sends his two deputies after him, resulting in a bloodbath after which Colton makes his way back to the house in full protective mode, ready to take on the cartel headfirst.
There is absolutely nothing original here, every action star has made this sort of movie throughout their career but we watch it because we want to see despicable, loathsome bad guys get their comeuppance and who better to deliver it to them than Scott Adkins? And deliver he does. Mr. Adkins is in top form here as he sends bad guys through windows, door frames, walls, and pretty much anything else that gets in his way. He even has the audacity to steal a once-celebrated scene made famous by Chuck Norris in his 1978 actioner “Good Guys Wear Black,” in which he jumps into the air as a car comes racing towards him and pulls off a flying sidekick through the driver’s windscreen, breaking his neck. Granted, Mr. Adkins’ scene is somewhat more up-to-date but it was obviously inspired from that earlier film.
“Close Range” has everything an action fan could want; car chases, shootouts, a western-themed soundtrack, and even the hero riding off into the sunset on a motorbike. Granted, while a bike doesn’t have the same authenticity as a horse, it does the job.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD January 5th
For more info about James visit his website at www.IrishFilmCritic.com