Thursday, 2 August 2012

VENGEANCE DAY DVD review

The debut film from Gareth Evans, director of The Raid, has just been released on DVD. But is it any good and does it show a taster of what was to come?



Short answer, no. This no budget thriller from 2006 is amateur beyond belief, and despite my best efforts to find an inkling of the stylish direction Evans showed off in The Raid, there's not a lot going for this film.


Starting with creepy camcorder footage of a gravelly voiced man making two men fight to death in an underpass, nothing in the rest of the film comes close to having the same effect. It's not helped by the following ten minutes containing no dialogue, and a cast made up almost entirely of non-actors with very little screen presence. Undergoing a major makeover in time for its DVD release, the film has had a re-titling from Footsteps to Vengeance Day and a DVD cover image that has nothing to do with the film.

The plot involves Andrew (Nicolas Bool) becoming part of Wales' criminal underworld, leaving his job in a pie factory behind when he's hired as a helper in finding subjects for horrific snuff porn movies to sell on the black market. Taken under the wing of the charismatic but bizarrely accented lead henchman, Paul (Mads Koudal), Andrew learns how to select victims to take part in deadly street fights recorded by the unnamed cameraman (Jared Morgan).

More than a little unpolished, Vengeance Day is shot on low quality video that varies wildly depending on the lighting. It's clear that this is the work of an unexperienced director learning his trade, and seen as an intriguing chance to check out the director of the Raid's early work, there's little of the style and action he would go on to show. As a directorial training exercise, this is a film that probably shouldn't have resurfaced out of Gareth Evans' own personal collection, but then, I'd be surprised to learn he had any involvement in its re-release.

There's a definite grittiness that's never more apparent than in its Taxi Driver meets A Serbian Film finale, but the film as a whole is a massive disappointment considering how much of a pleasant surprise The Raid was.


It's a film that's never better than its opening scene in terms of power, impact and style; and the poor acting from the non-professionals makes this film memorable for the wrong reasons. If The Raid is a stylishly choreographed brawl performed by an international cast of professionals, Vengeance Day is a drunken post-pub fist fight on a Welsh street corner. They really should have stuck with the original title as Footsteps sums it up quite well, really. Plodding.


Verdict




Special Features:
+ Scene Selection

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