If you follow my website, then you know that I’m one of the biggest Gary Daniels fans out there. Ever since the late 80’s, Daniels has been one of my top three all-time action stars and to this day, there are few that could move like he could and still does. Once the DTV action market died up in the new millennium, Daniels stepped out of the spotlight for a little bit but has since been working steady with appearances in films like Forced to Fight, Skin Traffik, The Expendables and now Bring Him Back Dead which is out now on DVD and Digital. Even though this is a lower budgeted film, it still is great to see the British kicking machine headline an action pic with a role that oozes anti-hero from the get-go. Unlike Daniels’ earlier efforts in the 90’s, his role of Alex is more hardened and damaged. He’s a bad man doing bad things for what is revealed to be the most righteous of reasons and here director Mark Savage delivers a slow burn crime thriller in the vein of Reservoir Dogs combined with the signature action of Gary Daniels who leads the way from start to finish.
First of all, let me tell you that I love the title. Bring Him Back Dead has an awesome retro action feel to it just like this year’s Every Last One of Them starring Paul Sloan. You know what kind of movie it is with this kind of title and even though the movie suffers from a sluggish first half, things get rolling a little as Daniels is let loose to do his thing and do it like it’s 1995 all over again. Daniels also has some serious supporting cast firepower as The Debt Collector’s Louis Mandylor lends his usual gravitas to the proceedings as the man who wants him dead at all costs.
The movie opens as a jewelry store heist goes seriously wrong when one of the culprits starts shooting innocent people. Killian (Ryan M. Shaw) is the mad dog with a quick temper and itchy trigger finger and his screw up gets one of his comrades named Geoff (LeJon Woods) shot for all their troubles. With the injured Geoff in tow, the robbers make their wat to a cabin in the woods which is the safe house as the mastermind Trent, played by the always game Louis Mandylor, arrives to see that the shit has truly hit the fan. Everyone wants paid so they can flee but Trent has bad news in that they all must wait until the buyer arrives to deliver the money for the diamonds they stole. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with the hot-tempered group which also includes Lisa (Katie Keene), Hayden (Chris Torem) and Zarina (Zhuzha Akova). Daniel Baldwin is also featured heavily on the promotion for the movie, but his screen time adds up to mere minutes and truthfully, I forgot he was even in the movie until he popped up towards the end.
Much yelling and finger pointing hampers the day for all involved and it is Alex (Gary Daniels), the getaway driver, who keeps a calm head as we learn that he has his own ulterior motives for the diamonds. Alex eventually sets his plan in motion, drugging the crew, and he and Lisa make off with the loot as the others sleep it off. You can bet that the crew is pissed when the awake and find out that Alex has made off with the bounty and this leads Trent to unleash them as he orders everyone to bring Alex back dead. The chase is on as the hunted becomes the hunter and Alex turns the tables on his former partners using his deadly skills to stay alive so he can complete his mission which turns out to be a righteous one.
Make no mistake, Bring Him Back Dead (again, I love that title) is a lower budgeted affair and it shows in the sluggish pacing and subpar visual effects. Now, I say that as if it’s a bad thing but having a lead like Gary Daniels is the saving grace as he and Mandylor elevate the film above what it could have been. Daniels, who is sporting his 90’s trademark long hair here. hits the bullseye in all his scenes and he really brings an aura of mystery to his role of Alex. We know that he is a bad man and he’s damaged but for reasons I won’t spoil, he is doing what he’s doing for a very good reason. He’s still bad and that is evident as he heartlessly dispatches all that come for him with a merciless barrage of slo-mo martial arts moves that only he can deliver. Keep in mind, the movie takes its time to get to the good stuff and even when it does, it’s sporadic at best but dammit if I don’t give it a pass because it’s the British Kicking Machine doing what he does best.
Bringing up the rear is Louis Mandylor and I must say that he is one of today’s cinema’s most underrated actors as he always kills it in any movie that he’s in. Mandylor has done it all from comedy to action and when he’s involved, the material is that much better for it. As Trent, Mandylor also brings layers to the role as he is in charge of a group of bad people but there’s more to him than meets the eye. Trent is thrust between a rock and a hard place as Alex’s betrayal has put him in a tight spot as he must now find Alex and the diamonds before the mysterious buyer arrives. There is also something going on between him and Lisa which adds even more drama to the proceedings.
The film is a definite slow burn, but it works well off its motley crew of thieves and there’s enough twists and turns along with double and triple crosses to keep viewers interested before the credits roll and if you can get past the fact that this is a lower budgeted film with a tight filming schedule then you can see why I give it a pass. Sure, it was frustrating as I waited and waited for Daniels to break out his hand-to-hand arsenal but when he finally does, it’s worth it to see him deliver like he has done countless times in the past. The only other problem I had with this film, is just like The Gardener, which also starred Daniels, I wanted more of what I came here to see. The action sequences are also show clearly and coherently with the camera panning back so we can see Mr. Daniels strut his stuff. His altercation with Hayden is a standout and the best scene to showcase Daniels at his bloody best. Genre fans would also like to know that there are also some truly violent finishes to the fights, and it does get messy when all hell breaks loose.
The second half action all culminates with a final showdown between Alex and Trent, and it delivers even though it’s essentially over before it starts. Mandylor moves well with Daniels, and we all know that Louis has action cred so this particular fan would have liked to have seen more from the altercations. The ending goes on a little longer that it should have as more twists are revealed and I must say that I laughed a couple times with all that was happening onscreen.
All in all, Bring Him Back Dead won’t win any awards and the slow burn pacing will certainly put off a lot of fans but for all of us that want to see Daniels relive a little of that 90’s DTV action magic, it’s worth it at least in my book. Daniels gets to get down and dirty and we are treated with some show stopping kicking combos that are always a highlight. Louis Mandylor delivers as always and he looks to be having fun as he always does, and the rest of the cast does the best with what they are given. This isn’t a true action film in the sense that it’s loaded with it but when the fighting does hit, it’s serviceable most notably because of the star we all came to see. Give it a chance and don’t go in expecting a lot and you might just enjoy what it has to offer.