Directed by: Marc Price
Starring: Adam McNab, Nicky Evans, Rossana Hoult, Jean-Paul Ly, Kaitlyn Riordan, Richard Sandling, Karanja Yorke, Mica Proctor, Daisy Aitkens, Nicholas Aaron, Doug Allen, Marcus Shakesheff, Hung Dante Dong
In an old abandoned office block which is scheduled to be demolished in the morning, film director Marshall Keane has assembled a skeleton cast and crew to film some pick-up shots for his low-budget horror movie, Dawn of the Deadly. As they begin filming, they accidentally capture on film a gangland execution taking place in an opposite building…
I'd been wanting to see Nightshooters for a long while now. The trailer was brilliant, and word-of-mouth has been nothing but amazing. I waited for ages for the official release, then a snafu meant I had to wait a few weeks longer. It'll come as no surprise that when it finally arrived, I all but ripped open the package and slotted the disc in almost immediately. As I settled back to watch the film, however, I started to wonder whether my pent-up anticipation might mean the film wouldn't meet my now-inflated expectations…
I needn't have worried. Nightshooters exceeded anything I could have hoped it would turn out to be.
Nightshooters plays on many different levels, starting off as a workplace comedy and descending into visceral horror, before entwining both threads with kick-ass martial arts scenes. And what's more, it succeeds in delivering each facet.
Adam McNab plays Marshall, a film-maker desperate to finish his film, coercing the essential cast and crew to join him on a night-shoot . He has his star, the once famous Harper (trading stories about getting hit by Scott Adkins), Harper's stand-in stunt double, Donnie, Oddbod the soundguy, Ellie the fx guru, Jen the producer and Kim the assistant. Together they are trying to film a couple of extra scenes for Marshall's zombie movie. The situation and witty dialogue are a sharp dig at the trials and tribulations of making low-budget movies (let's not forget Marc Price's first film was Colin, a low budget zombie movie shot on an i-phone!).
Things quickly turn ugly when the crew realize what is happening across in the next building - crime boss Tarker (who happens to run the demolition company) is dishing out some retribution on a rival gangster and arsonist. This is a really good, tense and horrific scene involving some great props. Realizing that there are witnesses, Tarker sends his men across to silence them.
Luckily for the crew, Donnie knows kung fu! What follows is a great fight sequence as Donnie lays into the gang of thugs sent after them. There are some novel camera angles, used to try and capture as much action onscreen as possible, as Jean-Paul Ly basically John Wick's a whole bunch of bad-guys, forcing the survivors to retreat and regroup.
The fight scenes are all really great, and definitely stand up to anything produced in Asia or the US at the moment. The camera-work is smooth and the editing allowing the fights to flow, ensuring we witness every element of some very complex choreography. Jean-Paul Ly's Donnie takes the Jackie Chan route of almost receiving as much punishment as he's dishing out. In fact there is one scene where, realizing he's outmatched, just runs away mid-fight! When has that EVER happened in a martial arts film?
Jean-Paul Ly has had a great year with the release of Jailbreak and his small role in The Take Down, and now this, and I am expecting big things from him in 2019. However plaudits also need to be handed to his opponents. The film delivers some great villains. Working for Tarker are O'Hara (surely an Enter The Dragon shout-out?), Chilemba and Axel. O'Hara is the intelligent right-hand man, who gets knocked around in a couple of great crowd-pleasing scenes. Meanwhile, Axel (Hung Dante Dong) proves to be as good a fighter as Donnie, and getting into one of the film's best fight scenes, which results in an audacious fatality. However it's Chilemba (Karanja Yorke) who provides the best villain. I'm pretty sure Chilemba doesn't talk throughout the film, his evil actions speaking louder than words. The camera-work surrounding the character, the little tics and beats to his body language, give him an aura of menace and mystique.
The obvious comparison for Nightshooters is The Raid, as Gareth Evans’ movie was also set in one oppressive location. However the awesome thing about Nightshooters is that if you were to remove the various fight scenes, you'd still have a compelling horror/thriller in the style of Judgement Night or Trespass. The plight of the rest of the crew is also very compelling as they try to avoid being caught - luckily Ellie the fx girl is able to rig some A-Team style surprises along the way!
The action is great throughout the film. Not only are the fight scenes outstanding (to a certain degree I had to keep reminding myself that this is a BRITISH production) but the various pyrotechnics, makeup fx (some very visceral, nasty moments) and gunplay all add up to make one of the best action movies of the year.
Without them this would have been a solid horror/thriller about a film-crew in the wrong place at the wrong time. However the fight scenes elevate Nightshooters to another level altogether, producing one of my favourite films of 2018.