ABDUCTION (2019) review

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17 years after they co-starred – at the very beginning of their respective careers – in one of the worst films of all time, Tsui Hark’s Black Mask 2: City of Masks, Scott Adkins and Andy On are back together, this time in a Chinese straight-to-vod executive-produced by Roger Corman, no less. Behind the camera is Ernie Barbarash, whose output includes the bad (Cuba Gooding Jr vehicle Hardwired), the middling (Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicles Assassination Games and Pound of Flesh) and the solid (Michael Jai White vehicle Falcon Rising and another JCVD, Six Bullets). Fortunately, Abduction falls into the latter category. It follows Quinn (Scott Adkins) a man who following the kidnapping of his daughter in 1985, wakes up in 2018 Saigon, having not aged one bit, and with vague recollections of fighting inter-dimensional beings. To find his daughter, he teams up with Conner (Andy On), a soldier turned enforcer whose wife was just abducted by the same beings, and with Anna (Truong Ngoc Anh), a doctor who’s the only one to believe them.

With its unpolished screenplay, cheap locations (downtown Saigon and some abandoned warehouses), inconsistent cinematography, cheesy CGI and brazen use of bright green hues to signify the otherworldly, Abduction has the unmistakable – and oddly comforting – feel of an early-2000s straight-to-DVD. Yet for all its limited means and ambitions, it’s a solidly entertaining little thriller that keeps scoring minor victories. Adkins and On’s low-key but sturdy chemistry is one of them: the two of them are among the finest screen fighters working today, and both growing as actors. The former in particular is on very fine form here, displaying heretofore unsuspected comedic skills: he’s always been fine at deadpan and punchlines, but to see him wandering wild-eyed around Saigon, creeping out passers-by by angrily stuttering at them, or repeatedly slapping himself while trying to explain his plight to a doctor, is a novel and welcome sight. We’re used to thrill at the perfection of his martial arts delivery, but now he can make us laugh too?

Martial arts, by the way, are copious and choreographed with typical excellence by Tim Man. Both Adkins and On get many opportunities to shine (On in particular gets to dispose of a dozen henchmen across stairs and hallways in glorious fashion), until they face off against each other at the film’s climax, a fine match-up that’s over too soon but nevertheless does them both justice. Ernie Barbarash captures the plentiful scuffles unobtrusively. The plot is consistently cheesy but modestly engaging, playing like a crossover between an episode from The 4th Dimension and one from Métal Hurlant, with an inspiredly disturbing coda.

Long Story Short: A cheesy but solidly entertaining and occasionally surprising little thriller that benefits a lot from the sturdy presence of Scott Adkins and Andy On. ***

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2 Comments

  1. ashiusx

     /  May 4, 2019

    LOL, I can’t believe you called ”Black Mask 2: City of Masks”, one of the worst films of all time. It has been years since I’ve seen it but I remember enjoying somewhat as a dumb b movie as a kid. It was definitely a step down compared to the first one which wasn’t even good in the first place.

    Reply
    • Haha if you watch Black Mask 2 again, let me know if you think it holds up from your memory. I have a feeling you won’t enjoy it that much as a grown-up ^^.

      Reply

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