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El Gringo (2012), and Scott Adkins’ first job ever in which he seems to be having fun

September 16, 2013

MY CALL:  Not good and not too bad, but definitely refreshing to see Adkins clearly having fun with a character that isn’t serious-as-cancer like his other roles.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCHDesperado (1995) and The Rundown (2003).

If I was directing Scott Adkins (Undisputed 2 & 3, The Expendables 2, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, Assassination Games) there are two things that I wouldn’t want him to do: 1) use guns or 2) try to act.  But director Eduardo Rodriguez (the man behind the dare-to-be-great upcoming sequel-remake Fright Night 2) asks Adkins to do a lot of both in this movie.  I think Eduardo Rodriguez thinks he’s Robert Rodriguez and that Adkins is a young Antonio Banderas–clearly neither come close.

What we get here is a gringo’d-up Desperado with ambitious filmmaking devices, one-liners and humorous scoring with none of the truly awesome–but a good dose of just plain fun.  The gun play simply doesn’t deliver, the women don’t come off strong at all (although the character Anna is clearly meant to be a tough Salma Hayek type), the blood spilling is inconsistent and unimpressive, the stunts largely suck, and Adkins doesn’t throw nearly enough kicksOkay, now I’m an Adkins superfan and I should probably admit that, for me, “enough kicks” would constitute as many kicks as Scott can possibly execute during his screen time with a break every few minutes for an elbow.  There were some fights that could have been awesome, but the choppy filming and even choppier editing completely masked all of Adkins’ often superhuman skill.

Adkins plays a fish-out-of-water in Mexico with no name (like in Desperado) and a bag with $2 million dollars.  Naturally no one likes him because he’s a gringo, the local bad guys find out what’s in the bag, and Adkins must do everything he can to keep his nameless character alive. That’s the story.  That’s really all that’s worth saying.  Oh, wait, and Christian Slater (Guns, Girls and Gambling) is in it.  There–that’s everything now.

Like in Desperado or The Rundown, Adkins eventually finds himself fighting the whole town.  Fight sequences and bad ass maneuvers normally filmed and presented to us on screen in singly cut shots are done in 3-10, during some fights I felt like I was seeing 30 cuts in the time I could blink 30 times.  It really makes it hard to appreciate the action.  Some techniques (like super fancy kick-disarms resulting with the gun in Adkins’ hands) were done in slow-motion and just a few cuts, which felt more appropriate and enjoyable.

For all the things that were awful about this movie, it really could’ve been great.  All it would have taken was a better director (not necessarily more expensive–just better at this kind of movie), a few well-trained stunt men for the fights and a stronger female costar.  The harder our director tried, the laughably worse things became.  For example, there’s a fight against a big really tough, otherwise normal looking guy, and Adkins is getting his butt kicked.  When he discovers his foe’s “weakness” is obsessively keeping his hat clean and on his head, he swiftly defeats him by exploiting this nervous tick.  DUMB!

Even as a Scott Adkins superfan or an action movie buff (who isn’t concerned with budget) I’d recommend skipping this unless you are, too.  Maybe you love all of our Dolph Lundgren Bad Movie Tuesday reviews like In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds or Retrograde …then this is probably for you!  Adkins has his moments when he tries and to be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson– often falling understandably short (not everyone can be The Rock)–but all the things you normally love about Adkins like his acrobatics, fast martial arts choreography and jump-double-spin kicks have been turned down from an “11” to damn near mute.  However, some positive points can be found in the humor, like when Anna hoists her boobs in Adkins’ face while she dresses his wounds using her bra and panties as tourniquets.  Adkins clearly had a lot of fun with this role…even when he didn’t have boobs in his face.

Yup.  That’s Yvette Yates…and she’s distracting!

I guess it’s nice that we got to see Adkins fun action star personality a bit.  His roles are normally dead serious and cold as ice.  I just wish we had a better director to preserve his other action star-centric talents.

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