Russian Raid [AKA Russkiy Reyd] (2020, dir. Denis Kryuchkov)

A former soldier hires mercenaries to help him with his revenge plan. Interesting if not wholly successful attempt to remake/localise Gareth Evans’s The Raid. It starts slow with some lazy sub-Tarantinoisms, but gains confidence and panache over time, plus Ivan Kotik is an unusual action star in the making.

Here’s the trailer.

Mortal Kombat (2021, dir. Simon McQuoid)

VFX laden film reboot of the now tired violent 90s video game where good and evil martial artists with special powers battle to the death. Checkbox ticking fan pleasing fap-along! Visually pretty in places – but the dull gaps between fights will quickly exhaust your brains and patience!

Welcome to Sudden Death (2020, dir. Dallas Jackson)

An ex-forces security guard takes on hi-tech thieves during a basketball game. Straightforward DTV reprise of the 1995 Peter Hyams/Van Damme minor action classic: Michael Jai White is as charismatic as ever, and while the movie’s not great, it delivers lo-fi fisticuffs, some OK jokes, and a couple of neat ideas.

Here’s the trailer.

The Yakuza (1974, dir. Sydney Pollack)

A former detective returns to Japan from the US: an old friend’s daughter under threat. Neither quite a neo-noir, an action thriller or a study of overseas crime syndicates, The Yakuza tries to be all three with variable results. Slow, but interesting, with flashes of a darker, better, and more violent film lurking.

Here’s the trailer.

Army Of One (2020, dir. Stephen Dunham)

An ex-special forces soldier takes on the matriarchal backwoods criminal clan who killed her husband. Effective DTV vehicle that maximises limited resources, showcasing Ellen Hollman well. Plenty of unpretentious fisticuffs fun: sharper script and direction, and this would have been a minor classic.

Here’s the trailer.

Legacy of Lies (2020, dir. Adrian Bol)

A former MI6 agent’s past comes back to haunt him. OK DTV actioner from the reliable Scott Adkins, with decent fight choreography and some pizazz in the direction. Secrets and double-crosses as per, though there’s couple of interesting script wrinkles. No gamechanger, but fans will be happy.

Here’s the trailer.

The Debt Collector 2 [AKA Debt Collectors] (2020, dir. Jesse V Johnson)

French and Sue go to Las Vegas on the promise of a payday. DTV martial arts comedy-thriller sequel that’s a cut above. The mix of bickering and bar fights as before, though there’s some panache in the direction, the action choreography, and the chemistry between the leads. Recommended for genre fans.

Abduction (2019, dir. Ernie Barbarash)

Two men work to find missing family members; an interdimensional conspiracy is revealed. Modest Vietnam-set martial arts action with an SF/fantasy twist. No dafter than, say, Doctor Strange, but interesting to see attempted at this budget level. Very competent fight choreography is the selling point here. Ignore the poster; nothing to do with the movie!

The Old Guard (2020, dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood)

Near-immortal warriors induct a new recruit, while being hunted for their DNA. Patchy superhero-ish flick from a graphic novel. The film can’t decide whose story this is, telling the veteran’s and the newbie’s, rather than focusing. The result is overlong and slow, but with strong moments, a badass declaration of love, and some solid action.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) [AKA Birds of Prey / Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey] (2020, dir. Cathy Yan)

Harley Quinn, now no longer enjoying The Joker’s protection, is both the target of vengeful Gotham criminals and embroiled in a quest for a diamond. Dayglo spinoff of Suicide Squad with some verve in its playing, direction, action choreography and design. It wants to be a female-led Deadpool, but is let down somewhat by an under-par script.