Scott Adkins and Jesse V. Johnson make movies together at such a pace, it’s hard to keep up. Just two months ago, their collaboration with a bevy of actions stars, Triple Threat, came out. And now they’re back at it with the much different Avengement (I looked it up and it is a word). There’s really no downside to this continued collaboration and the rate at which it blesses us. For action fans, it seems this team can do no wrong, so they might as well do no wrong as often as possible.
Which is all to say Avengement is another solid entry in the Adkins/Johnson canon, one that shaves some of Johnson’s cheesier tendencies in favor of the grit found in Adkins’ Undisputed series (okay, not Jesse V. Johnson, but still) mixed with the bloodshed that made Savage Dog so exciting. If you’ve been waiting to see what this team is all about, here is another good entry point.
The story is beautifully simple. A scarred, silver-toothed Scott Adkins breaks out of prison and holds a specific bunch of gangsters hostage in a pub as he tells his long, complicated revenge story. We spend much of the film’s first half watching Adkins in flashback, transforming from a bright-eyed chump to the grizzled, violent super-monster we see before us. A petty crime lands him in prison, and after sustaining multiple assassination attempts behind bars, Adkins dedicates everything to hardening his body and mind to better fuck up his enemies. Which he does. A lot.
Similar to Bronson, Adkins becomes a character who only really expresses himself through war and openly invites as many battles as possible. As such, the film is filled to the brim with scenes of Scott Adkins beating the shit out of random stuntmen dressed up like prison inmates. Johnson abandons no opportunity to have folks spray fountains of blood out of their mouths, so get used to that imagery. In addition to all the punching, there is a good amount of stabbing and gunplay as well, all of it given ridiculously gory treatment.
Just as the prison scenes begin to wear thin, the framing story takes back over and we spend the rest of the film resolving the present tale, which is also very violent and gory. There is an odd theatrical note to the film’s setting and structure, as it really all boils down to an ass-kicker telling an audience a story, but don’t let that fool you. If you want bloody action, Avengement is the movie for you.
More than that, however, it’s a great showcase for Adkins. Despite his looks, Adkins works best as a character actor than a regular leading man. He seems to succeed most as either a cartoonish charmer or a grizzled beast, as in the aforementioned Undisputed films. This is definitely an example of the latter, but with a character equally infused with cynical humor that Adkins absolutely nails. To put it simply, if you’re in the bag for Avengement already, you won’t be disappointed with what you find here.