When ONE CUT OF THE DEAD meets DIE HARD…
One of my greatest cinematic joys is sniffing out up and coming talent in the action cinema world and championing their great work. It is therefore my extreme pleasure to tell you that Nightshooters is one of 2019’s great action films and that rising star Jean-Paul Ly is someone you’ll want to keep an eye out for.
Coming on strong with a two-for-two record in Cambodia’s first international release Jailbreak, and now Nightshooters, Jean-Paul Ly kills as both leading man and fight choreographer. But where Jailbreak was very much a straightforward action showcase, Nightshooters actually has a lot going on — making it somewhat difficult to categorize.
Writer/Director Marc Price takes this opportunity to show off his skill set just as much as Ly does, and knocks this low budget project out of the park. Quite funny throughout it’s runtime, Nightshooters has a bit of an early Guy Ritchie vibe as a British gangster film loaded with potty mouthed crooks cracking wise. But before we meet any of those gangster types, we’re introduced to our protagonists: a zero budget film crew shooting a night scene in an abandoned high rise scheduled for demolition. As the various quirks of their crew and their film project are brought to light, we find ourselves quickly endeared to Donnie the stunt double (Ly), Ellie the plucky special effects pro (Rosanna Hoult), the pampered formerly famous star, the shortcut-taking director, the tech-focused sound guy, and so on. I guess any movie featuring a film crew as protagonists will have “love letter to filmmaking” overtones, but Nightshooters has a vibe similar to One Cut Of The Dead in that it seems our real filmmakers have crafted characters who make films and filled them with a real world knowledge of the filmmaking process that enhances the viewing experience and makes Nightshooters feel a little smarter as a result. It helps that our crew soon finds themselves fighting for their lives and needing to tap into every skill they have in their arsenals to get out alive when they’re discovered by a gang of hoods who’ve come to the same abandoned high rise project to kill off their latest victim.
Filmmaking, character based comedy, and British gangster tropes alone would make for a potentially very fun romp, but then Jean-Paul Ly’s fantastic action choreography are added to the mix to really make Nightshooters soar. Ly’s character Donnie is a world class martial artist… but he’s also just a guy trying to make movies who used to be an accountant. He’s never fought anyone to the death before and as Nightshooters plays out you’re never quite sure who (if any) of our protagonists are going to make it out alive. And while Donnie is fighting off gangsters left and right, our other filmmakers are using sound gear, SFX skills, and just plain pluck and bravery to try and stave off the bad guys. Our filmmakers have some genuine character arcs as they rise to the occasion to fight for their lives.
They also crawl around in air ducts a lot, crack a bunch of really solid jokes, and just generally entertain the audience wildly throughout the runtime.
The most exciting thing about Nightshooters is that while it is among the very best action films 2019 is going to offer, it’s also a fun gangster film, a solid comedy, and a knowing take on the world of film production. Sure, you occasionally feel the low budget of the film, especially with some blood effects and dodgy GCI explosions and the like. But that stuff is all easy to forgive when a great joke or fantastic martial arts set piece or genuine character moment comes along and smoothes over the rough edges.
Nightshooters is the kind of movie that gets me excited to watch the careers of both the writer/director and the star as they continue to ply their trades and grow their profiles. I highly recommend both Jailbreak and Nightshooters as showcases for Jean-Paul Ly and I know I’ll be seeking out virtually any project he’s attached to in the coming years. I’m also interested in checking out some of Marc Price’s other work as he captured the martial arts here with gusto and wrote a damn fine script as well.
This is a small film and its low budget is apparent often and throughout. Look past that, however, at the core elements of what it takes to make a hugely satisfying and consistently entertaining movie, and I think you’ll agree that Nightshooters is truly top tier action cinema being delivered to us at a fraction of the cost of a Hollywood blockbuster. Filmmakers and characters alike display a real grit, tenacity, and sense of humor to bring us massive entertainment in an inexpensive package.
And I’m Out
Nightshooters is available now on Region 2/B Blu-ray/DVD from Ascendent Releasing. It does not yet have a US distribution release lined up and someone should absolutely get on that immediately.