Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday [AKA Accident Man 2] (2022, dir. George Kirby & Harry Kirby [AKA The Kirby Brothers])

Assassin Fallon is lying low in Malta, but trouble follows from London. A superior sequel, its simple story a set-up for an escalating series of well-shot and choreographed fight sequences balanced with slapstick violence. Deliberately cartoony, foregrounding a keen stunt team and solid location work throughout. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982, dir. Albert Pyun)

An orphaned prince, now a mercenary, battles the usurper who murdered his parents. Okay sword and sorcery flick with some ripe performances, daft ideas, and a commitment to rubbery gore and sweaty flesh throughout. The promised sequel – Tales of an Ancient Empire – emerged in 2010.

Here’s the trailer.

Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans (1987, dir. Jim Wynorski)

An outlaw warrior helps a princess regain her throne from an evil sorcerer. This self-aware sequel is an improvement from its predecessor, going for swashbuckling laughs and camp in equal measure. No classic, but it’s clear that there is a joke and that the cast and crew are all in on it.

Here’s the trailer.

Deathstalker [AKA El Cazador de la Muerte] (1983, dir. John Watson [James Sbardellati]) 

An outlaw warrior quests to reunite three fabled artefacts also sought by an evil magician. Tatty and at times po-faced sword and sorcery exploitation piece, albeit with intermittent amusing asides and a couple of fun lo-fi John Buechler monster effects. Three sequels followed.

Here’s the trailer.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022, dir. Tom Gormican)

A struggling movie star takes a personal appearance gig, finding himself in the midst of a CIA operation. Goodnatured meta Nic Cage flick, with the star gamely playing different aspects of himself. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, even if the flick wobbles trying to stick an action movie ending. It’s right about Paddington 2 though.

Here’s the trailer.

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022, dir. Taika Waititi)

Thor and Jane Foster reunite: a god-killing nemesis must be stopped. Self-indulgent fourth Thor flick (with added Guardians of the Galaxy): there’s some funny stuff, but way too much padding, and not a scintilla of drama or jeopardy. Still, Russell Crowe has fun as Zeus.

Here’s the trailer.

Memory (2022, dir. Martin Campbell)

A hitman with Alzheimer’s disease struggles to make things right. Odd mix of character drama and potboiler thriller: it doesn’t really cohere, but there’s pleasures along the way. A solid cast, efficient direction and cinematography, and very effective use of Nu Boyana production facilities all help though.

Here’s the trailer.

Day Shift (2022, dir. JJ Perry)

A down-on-his-luck LA vampire hunter races against time to save his family. Splashy hybrid of horror-comedy and buddy thriller: From Dusk Till Dawn and John Wick are key influences: the plot is an excuse to hang a series of fun fight sequences on. Scott Adkins and Snoop Dogg (it’s that kinda film) pop up for good measure, and there’s even a Hellzapoppin gag.

Here’s the trailer.

Lightyear (2022, dir. Angus MacLane)

A space ranger tries to rectify the error marooning his vessel and crew. Contrived Toy Story spinoff – purportedly the film spurring merchandise – that starts well and looks great throughout, hampered with a stupid plot reveal. Also, Buzz here isn’t the toy character. Some good gags and shoutouts, but an empty movie nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

The Gray Man (2022, dir. Anthony Russo & Joe Russo [AKA The Russo Brothers])

A CIA assassin is targeted for elimination: a global manhunt ensures. Very straightforward action thriller, heavily reliant on star charisma and on ‘splodey excess over much in the way of well-staged sequences. One-note throughout, with diminishing results over time.

Here’s the trailer