Castle Falls (2021, dir. Dolph Lundgren)

A failed MMA fighter, a desperate cop, and drug dealers converge on a building set for demolition where’s there’s cash stashed. It takes ages to get going, but there’s enough lo-fi action in the last 40 minutes to keep Adkins fans happy. The premise isn’t maximised, but there’s a sense of blue-collar necessity driving matters.

Here’s the trailer.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021, dir. Destin Daniel Cretton)

The son of an immortal warlord must face his father. Patchy and nigh-plotless superhero action-adventure origin story, drawing on allsorts. Incidental pleasures aplenty (a poster for Walter Hill’s The Warriors) but this is for fans of the character and Marvel completists only. Still, some fun details are to be found, and there’s one gleeful supporting performance.

Here’s the trailer.

Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021, dir. Sion Sono)

A captured bank robber is forced to retrieve a kidnapped woman for a gang boss. A post-apocalyptic samurai/western hybrid, using a Mad Max/Escape from New York structure for all kinds of digressions. It doesn’t all work (the script is the culprit here), but it looks great in a neon Terry Gilliam kinda way, and everyone seems to be having fun.

Here’s the trailer.

The Paper Tigers (2020, dir. Tran Quoc Bao)

Three middle-aged former martial arts students reunite to investigate the killing of their mentor. Straightforward but charming low-budget comedy with action elements: clearly a labour of love, there’s plenty to appreciate here, so the prospect of more from this writer-director is an appealing one.

Here’s the trailer.

Kate (2021, dir. Cedric Nicolas-Troyan)

A Tokyo-based assassin has 24 hours to get revenge on the yakuza chief who fatally poisoned her. The 1940s noir D.O.A., basically, as a stylised action movie. Okay as far as it goes, though the rote script and a fetishized approach to Japanese pop culture detracts from Mary Elizabeth Winstead badassery and intermittently-terrific action choreography.

Here’s the trailer.

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974, dir. Roy Ward Baker [and Chang Cheh])

In 1904 China, a visiting Van Helsing helps combat a Dracula-led vampiric uprising. The last pic of the Hammer cycle innovates through genre mash-up (and a deal with Shaw Brothers). It’s messy, but fun: martial arts showcasing, twists on undead lore, plus some location spectacle all helps.

Here’s the trailer.

Man of Tai Chi (2013, dir. Keanu Reeves)

A Tai Chi student is lured into an underground fighting circuit. And a very solid martial arts actioner this is too. As old-school as you like, with plenty of well-choreographed fighting and wirework, and a sense of respect for both the subgenre and the traditions it relates to.

Here’s the trailer.

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.

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.

Seized (2020, dir. Isaac Florentine)

A former agent’s son is kidnapped: a series of assassinations is the price of his freedom. It starts shakily, but this DTV spin on the Taken template soon gets motoring, with plenty of well-staged lo-fi fisticuffs and shootouts, good location work, and Mario Van Peebles charismatic in his villainy.

Here’s the trailer.