Let’s face it, the days of seeing b-action films on the big screen are over. Luckily, most of us have pretty big screens at home. Streaming Fury is a weekly column in which I scour streaming platforms for hard-asses and the explosions they casually walk away from.
I love covering bigger profile films like EXTRACTION, but this column was really created to hunt down movies like REVENGER, a Netflix action film that has received basically zero press and kicks a ton of ass.
This isn’t an exemplary action showcase like The JOHN WICK films or THE NIGHT COMES FOR US. This has a much stronger throwback feel to it, old school but cut down to the bone and nearly perfected.
To that end, REVENGER has more of a premise than a story. There is an island, out there somewhere, filled with convicts from a dozen different countries. They are dumped and whatever happens next is up to them. One day a new guy appears, wrapped in a straight jacket and donning a Hannibal Lecter mask. Immediately thugs try to take him out, but he kills them all with just his feet. He doesn’t just kick, either. He gets some good face stomps in there as well and even manages to snap a couple limbs.
This is our hero, Yul, a cop infiltrating this prison to kill the incarcerated bad guy who murdered his wife and child. That’s it, that’s the whole film.
If there’s a downside to REVENGER, it’s that the film doesn’t really care about its rich setting. We’ve seen prison islands before, but not that often and there is a ton you can do with it. REVENGER doesn’t give it that much thought. There aren’t many people on it. They fall into either the good, peaceful tribe or the villainous tribe. There’s no world building or politics; it’s basically just an excuse for an island setting free of cops, cars, guns and civilians.
What it does have, however, is a ton of fighting, led by Bruce Khan. If you don’t know that name, don’t worry. He’s only been a few things, the highest profile of which is Jackie Chan’s THE MEDALLION. I hope to see him more because he’s incredible. Older and more stoic than you’d expect, Khan’s fighting style is all about quick efficiency. He really likes to be done with a guy after two or three hits, and he frequently uses this skill to clean out whole rooms of thugs really fast. It’s hard to tell if he’s a good actor because he barely speaks or emotes, but as a cinematic fighter, he’s great. I also really like him because he and I appear to be balding in a similar fashion.
The film is not totally free of narrative touches, but like the fighting, everything is so understated - save for the broad comedy that occasionally pops up. The good guys have a team of fools as their leaders, and they’re all pretty silly. Yul lost his wife and daughter; he befriends a mom and her kid. The fact that he arrives alone in a straight jacket indicates everyone is introduced to the island that way, therefore anyone who lives past their first moments must have some skill (though I admit I’m doing a little work for the movie on that one).
But again, this is all about the action, and if you’re the kind of person who catches new Scott Adkins movies looking for hidden DTV action gems, you’re going to enjoy this one. I knew I was in love when they introduced an evil lady to inevitably fight the cool mother character Yul befriends. But I wasn’t prepared for their battle to be a fun Spy vs. Spy cat and mouse game with bows and arrows. Meanwhile, the nature of the violence isn’t all that graphic, but then Yul headbutts a guy to death. It’s all pretty great. Unless you don’t like action movies, in which case you will fucking hate it, and I question why you clicked on a movie called REVENGER in the first place.