VENDETTA: Oh It’s The Big, [Mostly] Bad Show Tonight

by Ryan Lewellen

Sometimes, you just have to take a chance on a straight-to-video (well, it had VERY limited theatrical distribution), action movie. Vendetta, by all appearances, was exactly the kind of project worth my time. It’s helmed by up-and-comers, The Soska Sisters (American Mary), starring Dean Cain and Paul “The Big Show” Wight, and it is supposedly kinda/sorta based on/inspired by what MIGHT be a story from the Punisher comics. Cain’s character is an unlikely stand-in for Frank Castle, but I can’t quite make sense of how this story works in that universe. That’s the least of this film’s problems, and despite its many promising qualities, there just isn’t much to love about this brutal low-budget actioner.

Mason Danvers (Cain) has finally put away notorious criminal cave troll Victor Abbot (The Big Show). Thanks to a shady technicality, however, Abbot is quickly freed, and without pause, heads to Danvers’ home and beats the detective’s wife to death. Abbot makes no effort to flee the scene, is locked up in a facility where he already has friends in high places, and it seems he will comfortably serve a short sentence without any fear of Danvers’ retribution. How silly, because Danvers no longer has anything to lose. He guns down two of Abbot’s affiliates in the proper district, which sends him to the same prison as his tormentor, and swiftly begins killing his way to the gigantic crime boss.

The setup is fine, and this completely cliché genre exercise begins with potential. The writing is solid at first, and the script establishes the Danvers couple as a likable pair. So, watching Mrs. Danvers bite the dust is emotional and hard to watch, but once we enter the prison, an irritating lack of ingenuity rears its ugly head. Every overused line in the book is plucked for dialogue: “You should have killed me when you had the chance!” “This ain’t over.” “I’ll be seein’ you real soon.” and many others fill out the banter to a mind-numbing effect. The creativity is also absent in the Post-Fight Catchphrase Department, featuring such frustratingly pointless lines as, “You’re done”. Like my mother always used to say, “If you don’t have anything ridiculous and over-the-top to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all.” As far as the plotting is concerned, what could have been an exciting political power struggle just doesn’t provide enough surprises or character development to keeps things interesting.

As should be expected from “The Twisted Twins”, Vendetta boasts a high body count and several gallons of blood in accompaniment. Although some might consider some of the kills creative, or at least the sound design visceral, the repetitive nature of the action scenes takes a toll on the viewer. Dean Cain walks into a room where some unidentified character is doing his thing, they briefly tango, and Cain’s character kills the crap out of the faceless bad guy. There is a LOT of death in this movie, and very little of it is entertaining or significant in any way.

For the most part, the cast of relative unknowns is adept enough in its craft. Dean Cain is particularly convincing as the hardboiled detective, boiled harder after the loss of his wife. Paul Wight is quite convincing in the area of violence, as should be expected of a performer from his primary arena, and one can see the evidence of some greater acting chops about to grow, as well. On the other hand, Michael Eklund, in the role of the warden (a character whose design is so confusing in so many ways) is merely doing his best Daniel Plainview impression. It’s a good impression, but the clarity of his source of inspiration is irritating and out of place.

I can’t understand how the Soska team came up so short on the imagination front. There is enough aptitude here to show this film was made with care, and it’s certainly not total garbage, but it’s so trite and bland that I couldn’t possibly recommend it to anyone who has yet to see Predator, or First Blood, or some other action masterpiece. Skip this one, and hold out for another Soska work made from the duo’s own screenplay.


Way more entertaining than the feature, the supplemental material is brief and quite funny. The MAKING OF VENDETTA feature, has about 90-seconds of conversation about the film on the whole, and the other 10 minutes are spent solely discussing the violence. No cinematography, score, or any technical aspect — just blood. There is another fun piece, A BIG TRANSFORMATION, about Paul Wight’s acting abilities — short, but sweet. Finally, A HAUNTED LOCATION offers a pretty neat little short about the haunted-in-real-life prison where they shot the film in Canada. Very interesting and funny.

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