I do believe that actor and genre favorite Louis Mandylor might be seeking to overthrow Frank Grillo as the hardest working actor in action cinema. After all, just like Grillo, Mandylor seems to be popping in every other action film I promote nowadays. From his recent turns in such action fare as Battle for Saipan, Blowback, Bring Him Back Dead, Renegades, Breakout and Crossfire which just hit Digital and VOD as I write this, Mandylor is the new King of mean in Action Cinema. Let’s not forget his fantastic turn in both The Debt Collectors films alongside Scott Adkins. The two films were a classic example of making a buddy action movie work with great action, storytelling and chemistry between its two stars.
Now, I am here to review another upcoming Louis Mandylor action joint as he is set to star in the upcoming actioner Adrenaline from indie action filmmaker Massimiliano Cerchi, who like Mandylor, is no stranger to action cinema as well. The movie is not out yet, but I was fortunate enough to view a screener from the company for an early exclusive review. The two have come together for the collaboration which sees Louis playing the anti-hero role of John Slater (now that’s an action character name). Slater is a career criminal, and he sees his business in town interrupted by bad ass federal agent Victoria Travers played with fierce femme fatale tenacity by Constance Payne. I find it not a coincidence that the lead star’s last name is Payne as that’s what she inflicts in the tight and lean running time of 75 minutes.
Travers has a problem in that her European vacation has been ruthlessly interrupted by an underground ring of criminals who kidnap young children to harvest their organs to the highest bidder. Travers sees her husband shot and killed and her daughter taken hostage upon arriving in town. Her only option is to force Slater to help her get her daughter back and as he reluctantly agrees, the two charge headstrong into the night to run a gauntlet of criminals to find her daughter.
Like I mentioned, Adrenaline runs at a lean 75 minutes, and I feel that it helps a movie with this name as there is no filler to be head. From an opening action sequence which sees Travers take out an assailant with lethal CQB moves to watching Slater shoot, punch and kick a variety of underworld figures, there is no time to waste here as our two stalwart heroes only have a limited amount of time to find the little girl before she disappears forever.
I must tell you, and this is by no means a negative comment, but Adrenaline is a low budgeted affair that does have the usual suspect of issues including shoddy acting from supporting cast members, low scale action sequences (which are still exciting) and a running time that does limit character development. That’s OK though as Slater and Travers are as advertised and we could care less about the bad guys because they are just fodder for the killing. Louis’ equally famous brother Costas Mandylor (Sinners and Saints) turns up in a cameo role as Travers’ FBI field boss and owns the limited amount of time he’s on screen. Costas, like Louis, is an actor that elevates anything, and this is no exception.
Mandylor is such a great actor as he always goes all into any role he is doing. He’s intense, brooding, brutish and at the same time can drop a joke out of the blue and radiate a sympathetic trait at the same time. As Slater, Mandylor plays the criminal as an anti-hero who we all know is essentially bad but he’s not all bad. Slater does bad things in his life but not at the expense of innocents and when it comes time to help the FBI agent, he tussles with a host of baddies and executes some down and dirty combat moves to justify his existence on the planet and while seeking a little bit of retribution.
As FBI agent Victoria Travers, Constance Payne is the prime example of women can be just as tough as men. Sporting tattoos all over her arms and a mean streak a mile wide, the bad guys are about to regret taking her child as she personifies Hell hath No Fury. Travers dishes out her fair share of punishment including a quick and fast paced altercation in a pool hall that culminates with some very flashy MMA style moves. Slater and Travers complement each other and are the perfect duo for this taut affair.
Cerchi knows what he wants here as director and that’s a film that personifies its title. He has crafted a host of DTV action flicks that demonstrates what one can do with limited resources and people that will do anything to make a movie with blood, sweat and tears. Adrenaline is the name of the game and Mandylor and Payne are put through the ringer before the end credits roll and Cerchi orchestrates everything and essentially makes something in action cinema out of having almost nothing.
Overall, Adrenaline is just that. A movie that moves fast and offers up no excuses for what it is. Ther are no huge, bombastic set pieces but there is Louis Mandylor and Constance Payne dishing out some bad ass punishment. Know what you’re watching beforehand, and you might just have a solid time with this one. There’s enough fighting and beatdowns to satisfy genre fans and Louis Mandylor is always a recipe for an enjoyable action flick. Constance Payne is no damsel, and she lays on the violence just as good playing a scorned mother who wants nothing else but to save her daughter and God help those that get in her way. There will be naysayers out there and yes this film is far from perfect but ignore the flaws, plot holes and low fi budget and if you’re looking for 75 minutes of old school style DTV action, then look no further with Adrenaline!