urban lockdown dvd cover

Directed by: Andrew Thatcher

Starring: Andrew Thatcher, Stephanie May, Adam Hopper, Michael Newey, Pedro Juarez, Daniel Simpson

Within a small isolated town is housed the country's largest privately-run, maximum security prison. When a mass breakout occurs, the inmates easily overpower the local authorities and make the town a no-go area. One man, ex-CIA operative Rick, must sneak into the town to rescue his sister...

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A few years ago, I reviewed a film called Charity Hurts, a micro-budget action comedy in which a young man discovers that the number of charity workers knocking on his door every week were in fact part of a giant extortion ring. The film was made by amateurs dedicated to putting fogether the best possible film they could. Also shot for less than no money, the film showed a lot of innovation and promise. Now the director and star, Andrew Thatcher, is back with another micro-budget movie. Whilst still amateurish in nature, the film does have a more complex narrative structure.

Shot for virtually no money at all, Urban Lockdown features a cast of amateur actors giving up their spare weekends to shoot scenes where and when they can. The film's plot allows for a loose structure in terms of locations, and having the henchmen wear masks means that cast members can play multiple roles.

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Andrew Thatcher does pretty well as an actor, better as a martial artist, with a host of good moves (especially his kicks). He finds a good balance between cutting a swathe through loads of henchmen and coming up against more formidable opponents.

The film's best dramatic scenes are centred around Rick's sister, played by Stephanie May. She had testified against the film's main villain at his trial, and when he organises the escape from prison and the takeover of the town, he has revenge at the forefront of his mind and sends one of his main henchman, Shane to bring her to him. Shane, meanwhile, has other plans for her, and the film's best moment occurs in her bedroom as she's menaced by this psychopath.

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Shane is also an interesting character. As mentioned above, he's not content being a lackey and strikes out on his own, playing the good guys and bad guys off each other for his own gain. Its a shame that the actor playing him was unable to finish the film - the original plan was to have Shane face off against Rick for the climax but that had to be re-written, bringing in a psychotic General who is more of a hinder than a help to the good guys.

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Urban Lockdown is proof that a lack of finance isn't necessarily a barrier to making an entertaining film, just a strong vision, some talent and a will to succeed.

7 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)