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Whenever I’m stuck for something to watch, I turn to Scott Adkins. His movies are my cinematic comfort food and whenever a new one gets released, it feels like a major event worth celebrating. His latest wild outing, Savage Dog, just showed up on Netflix this weekend so I decided to give it a watch. And now, as a result, I’ll be bringing you a weekly Scott Adkins column to be published every Sunday. Enjoy.
In Savage Dog, the West’s greatest living contemporary action star Scott Adkins plays Martin Tillman, an ex-IRA member now residing in a prison run by Nazis and Viet Cong somewhere in Indochina, 1959. But he’s a headache to control, so they decide to release him after three years of a six-month sentence. But not before they offer him a chance to work for them in future making money beating the snot out of people.
Following his release, he finds peace and solace in a nearby village with his love interest and a wise old barman played by Keith David, whose smooth voice once again proves to be even more comforting than Morgan Freeman’s. However, eventually Tillman agrees to take the Viet Cong prison Nazis up on their offer to make some money competing in their local fighting rings. For awhile everything is going well… that is until the inevitable shit hits the fan, anyway, forcing our hero to embark on a one man mission to kill all wrongdoers. Things get bloody.
The Scott Adkins diet is all about finding satisfactory comfort food, and even at their most generic, his movies tend to be serviceable popcorn flicks. The actor is such an enigmatic screen presence and world class martial artist. He’s also adept at handling weapons like a trained assassin, which only helps us buy into the characters he commonly plays. Savage Dog falls into that mid-tier level of Adkins vehicles; not his best, but still above average and a very fulfilling meal. Why do I keep comparing Adkins movies to food? Because they’re tasty, that’s why.
What’s a fairly paint by numbers plot anyone who’s familiar with DTV action movies will be accustomed to already, Savage Dog benefits from letting the blood pour and vengeance unfold with aplomb. If you want to spend 90 minutes of your life witnessing carnage unfold through a series of hard-hitting, well-choreographed, brutal action set-pieces, it’ll hit your sweet spot. If that doesn’t sound like something that appeals to you, I don’t think Adkins is the actor for you.
But Adkins is an actor with understated emotional depth; it’s easy to buy into the struggle his character’s face because he plays them so straight and convincingly. We tune in to see him overcome the odds stacked against him as it gives us a cathartic thrill. This delivers in that regard, and when it’s all over it felt like another worthwhile adventure spent with our hero at hand.
With Savage Dog, writer-director Jesse V. Johnson has crafted a revenge fairytale that knows understands its audience and caters to our needs. The film is lifted by the conviction of its lead star and Keith David being as storied and reliable as ever. The baddies are rightfully slimy and disgusting and we want to see them get their ass handed to them, and our hero makes sure they get their just deserts. Overall, Savage Dogs is an Adkins diet helping worth ordering from the menu.
Johnson and Adkins are a pairing with the potential to do great things together. I can’t wait to see their upcoming collaborations. Like Isaac Florentine before him, Johnson is shaping up to be a maverick director in the field of direct-to-video action fare, and I’m happy to have his movies in my life.