Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Debt Collectors: Scott Adkins is Back in Business

Whenever an anti-hero gets talked into doing “one last job,” it is always a mistake. In this case, it is really three last jobs, making it three times worse. Frankly, French knows it is a bad idea to get back in the collections business, but he has been really scuffling since the last film, so he lets his old partner Sue talk him into an ill-advised trifecta in Jesse V. Johnson’s The Debt Collectors, which releases this Friday on VOD.

Things were looking dicey for French at the end of The Debt Collector [singular] and even worse for Sue, but somehow, they both pulled through. Their old boss Big Tommy told them to lie low after their fatal shootout with Barbosa, the gangster, so it is ironic he now wants them to collect Barbosa’s old debts—too ironic. In fact, they are being set up by Barbosa’s vengeful brother, but it will take the knuckleheads a while to figure it out.

Of course, the three collections are particularly hard cases. One of them is played by Vernon Wells (a fan favorite from The Road Warrior and Commando), so you know he must be tough. Basically, Johnson and co-screenwriter Stu Small follow the successful formula they established in the first film: French and Sue (but mostly French) bash away at the vigs’ henchmen, taking a good pounding themselves, until the debtors finally pay up. However, there is probably a greater sense of danger this time around.

Arguably, the first outing had a lighter tone, which is why we would even compare it to a lot of Elmore Leonard films, including Get Shorty. The new (plural) installment is a bit heavier, but Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor still have terrific bickering-bantering-brawling buddy chemistry, as French and Sue, respectively. Obviously, Adkins has all kinds of moves and muscle, while Mandylor looks like grizzled gristle personified.

Vladimir Kulich remains aptly steely as Big Tommy while Wells, Marina Sirtis (from Star Trek Next Gen), and Mayling Ng add flare as various collection-related antagonists, but the film misses a central villain with the flamboyance Tony Todd brought to the original Debt Collector.

Regardless, it is always entertaining to watch Adkins kicking butts (and heads). He has already made a number of films with Johnson and Mandylor, so presumably they have a solid working relationship—at least it certainly looks that way on-screen. This is definitely a meathead movie, but it delivers. Highly recommended for fans of Adkins’ martial arts films and wise-cracking knock-around gangster movies, The Debt Collectors releases this Friday (5/29) on VOD platforms, including iTunes.