(Original Publication Date: March 3rd, 2018) By: John M Jerva

Review: BATTLE DRONE

Starring: Louis Mandylor, Dominique Swain, Daniel Southworth,  Natassia Malthe, Oleg Taktarov, Jason Earles,  Richard Alan Reid and Michael Pare

Directed By: Mitch Gould

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Louis Mandylor is a hard working man with films like Escape From Ensenada and Larceny also starring Dolph Lundgren out as we speak, the actor also can be seen in the upcoming highly anticipated action-thriller The Debt Collector from director Jesse V. Johnson which teams him up with action star Scott Adkins. Mandylor isn’t done there however as Netflix has just unveiled the new sci-fi action pic Battle Drone (also called Battle Of The Drones) which sees Mandylor playing a bad ass merc who must go up against an army of unstoppable killing machines. The film is a spectacular indie sci-fi action film that is sure to delight fans of the genre!

I have to admit, I really didn’t know much about this film and what I did know came from viewing its iMDB page. It literally came out of nowhere as Netflix premiered it on their service on March 1st. There was no trailer or any kind of advertising for the film so I was literally going in blind which suited me just fine. What I got was an awesome sci-fi action film in the vein of Predator and The Terminator with breathtaking action and enjoyable characters that you become vested in. Battle Drone is a wonderful surprise and it deserves to be seen by an audience that will truly appreciate what it has to offer.

In Battle Drone, Mandylor portrays Vincent Rekker who was once a captain in the United States military but when his country betrayed him, Rekker took his special skills to the private sector and became a mercenary where he assembled an elite crew to do secret jobs that no one wants to talk about. They are, of course expendable, so if they ever get caught,  it would not be a good thing. Enter Karl Kess, played by the great Michael Pare. He is an arms dealer but he likes to think of himself as a diplomat and with a coup forming in Europe, the US wants to back rebels trying to free the country. Kess wants Rekker to travel to Chernobyl where a secret cache of weapons is being stored which could be used to help the rebels. Rekker at first is skeptical but he agrees and he and his team of daredevils set off for the vacation spot with a unit of CIA chaperones led by Alexandra Hayes played Dominique Swain who doesn’t like Rekker very much. Once there, Rekker and his team discover that they have not only been betrayed but they now must fight for their lives against an army of unstoppable killing machines who want nothing more than to eliminate all of them with some extreme prejudice.

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Battle Drone comes to us from stuntman turned director Mitch Gould who is an expert stunt professional in the industry with films like US SEALs 2: The Ultimate Force, Ultaviolet and The Rundown as just some of his credentials in his years of experience. Gould is also known for helming the 2009 film Hellbinders which starred Ray Park. Battle Drone has been a long going production having started in 2013 but the film is now finished and Netflix has gobbled it up for all to enjoy. Gould knows what the audience wants and he gives it to them in spades. This is another clear case of why stunt professionals make the best action directors. They just know what looks good and screen and how to shoot the action and Gould has a great future behind the lens. it’s important to note that Gould also penned the script and while the plot is not new, he breathes new light into a genre that has been around for years.

Mandylor’s elite unit  consists of Natassia Malthe (Bloodrayne 2) as Valkyrie, Jason Earles as Dax, Richard Alan Reid as Kyle Blackwood, UFC and Sambo champion Oleg Taktarov as Grigori Romanov and Daniel Southworth, who starred with Gould in US SEALs 2, as Shiro. Southworth, an accomplished martial artist, on screen fighter and stunt professional, serves as the film’s fight director as well. The rest of the cast includes Swain, Pare, Steve Pound and Robert Reynolds as General Callahan. 

What makes Battle Drone enjoyable is that it knows what it is. It’s a lower budget take on Predator and that works because of the chemistry between its stars and the action set pieces which are well choreographed and fast paced. The film uses the concept of bullet time which became successful with The Matrix films and this lends to an even more kick ass feel to the excitement. The film opens with a great action sequence and after some time to introduce characters and establish plot, it’s off to the races as the film never lets up with the death and destruction.  Southworth’s choreography is first rate and pulse pounding and i will be looking forward to what he has to offer in the future. 

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The synthetic androids that are the main antagonist of the film are bad ass and they are truly a force to be reckon with. They don’t go down easy and our heroes certainly have their work cut out for them if they are going to survive. There have been many films done in the past that have killer machines as their plot and where Battle Drone succeeds is the drones themselves. They mean business and I for one would not want to tangle with them. 

Mandylor, who is a great actor, is in fine form as Rekker and make no mistake, this is his movie. He carries it on his shoulders and proves to the audience that he is one of the industry’s leading men of action. Mandylor oozes charisma and that is clear from the beginning of the film. Watching this film has even gotten more excited to see him in the upcoming The Debt Collector. 

The rest of the cast is great as well with the always welcomed Michael Pare playing Kess the arms dealer who hires Mandylor. Pare is one of those actors that makes any scene he is in that much better. Dominique Swain, who is best known for playing John Travolta’s daughter in Face/Off, is great as the CIA agent Hayes. Damsel is not in her vocabulary and she keeps up with the boys just fine. It was great to see Daniel Southworth again as he has always been one of my favorite on screen fighters. With his role as Shiro, he gets the chance to shine once again in the action scenes and he has also crafted some superb action that you will want to rewind. The rest of the cast, especially Mandylor’s crew play off each other well and it definitely brings depth to a film whose plot has been done a million times before. 

These types of films are hit or miss to say the least but I am happy to report that Battle Drone hits the target and does it with a flair that is missing from a lot of these indie action films. Battle Drone knows what it is and it plays off that nicely to bring genre fans a 93 minute adrenaline rush that in some ways is much better then what you would see on the big screen. Mandylor is in true action hero mode and he is the main reason the film succeeds. Just like his character Rekker, he is a professional and he gets the job done. Battle Drone is a classic case that you don’t need a lot of money to make a good action film, you just need to know what you are doing and the cast and crew deliver. Hopefully my review and others advertises this movie enough so people will see it because it deserves an audience. It’s not a perfect film but it delivers the action goods. Battle Drone is an epic indie action blast and you should do yourself a favor and check it out on Netflix now!

VERDICT: ACTION-FLIX APPROVED!

Battle Drone is now streaming on Netflix.

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Official Trailer

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