Directed by Jesse V. Johnson.
Starring Scott Adkins, Louis Mandylor, Vladimir Kulich, Vernon Wells, Marina Sirtis, Mayling Ng and Ski Carr.
A pair of debt collectors are thrust into an explosively dangerous situation, chasing down various lowlifes while also evading a vengeful kingpin.
It seems about that time again. It’s time for another collaboration between Jesse V. Johnson and Scott Adkins. From their first team up in Savage Dog, an enjoyably brutal action film set in Indochina in 59, to Accident Man, The Debt Collector, Triple Threat to outdoing themselves with one of the action highlights of 2019 in Avengement, they’ve been more than productive since 2017.
This brings us up to the latest team up, Debt Collectors (sequel no.1 in the Johnson/Adkins train). The first film was an enjoyable old school action film loaded with fights and introduced us to French (Adkins) and Sue (Louis Mandylor).
The sequel begins with French working as a cooler in a shitty dive bar, and with persistent warnings from the owner (legendary stunt man and Johnson stalwart, Nils Allen Stewart) that he should stop wrecking the bar every time he has to remove troublemakers. Trouble makers start trouble of course (because no action film ever shoots in a bar without shit going down) and Frenchy bulldozes the place with stuntman noggins. He also spots a familiar face watching…Sue, assumed dead after their last outing but very much alive and needing to retrieve 3 debt collections. Reluctantly Frenchy is dragged into the new caper, where not everything is quite as it seems.
There’s a certain heart warming comfort you get with the Johnson/Adkins combo. You’re not going to be left short changed if you’re an action fan. So does Debt Collectors deliver? It most definitely does. The original did what it said on the tin and did so very well. The sequel even more so, with aplomb. It really harks back to those great 80’s buddy up films and fun is the order of the day. Yes, you’ve seen this before, it’s pure Shane Black formula, but it’s done very well. There’s a real magic to the Adkins and Mandylor double act. The script sizzles (from Johnson and Stu Small), the lines are sharp and they hit the bullseye with the kind of regularity that you’d get from one of Black’s double acts. Like the first, the film allows Adkins to flex some comedic timing and of course with ample opportunity to unleash his physical prowess too. What I really like about the first film and even more so this, is the opportunity for Mandylor to be front and centre to an extent, and he’s superb. Again, he’s the heart of the film.
Throw in a great supporting cast too, with Marina Sirtis, Vernon Wells, Vladimir Kulich, Ski Carr, and Mayling Ng all getting (and taking) an opportunity to shine. The film is beautifully shot in widescreen (which I hope is still retained by the time it hits VOD). Some western tinges in Sean Murray’s score are also a nice touch. The film will largely stand alone, but there are a few nods back to the original, so it’s advisable to check the first film before seeing this one. The marketing title itself, because it doesn’t overtly suggest ‘sequel’ to the uninitiated may bring up a little confusion here and there, but nothing that will leave you completely dumbfounded.
Fans will be most interested in the action of course and that definitely delivers. There’s some great throw downs which don’t just happen for the sake of it, and also have some nice comical touches in them too. The highlight is a brawl that has more than a passing nod to They Live, and makes Roddy Piper and Keith David’s scrap look like a game of pat-o-cake that got out of hand. Likewise there’s a carnage laden shoot out which is enjoyably old fashioned in a time where too many action films are overrun with CGI or a fascination with unbroken takes or obtrusive camera movements (Extraction I’m looking at you).
Another success on the Johnson and Adkins bandwagon, Debt Collectors is the best action film of the year so far and it does what it does incredibly well. It never forgets that which perhaps too many DTV action films have in recent years, that these can be fun, and boy is this one a whole heap of fun.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has a number of films out on DVD/VOD around the world and several releases due in 2020, including The Witches Of Amityville Academy (starring Emmy winner, Kira Reed Lorsch) and Tooth Fairy: The Root of Evil. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see here.