As someone who spends too much time watching low budget action movies in the hopes that I find some shiny diamonds in the rough, nothing makes me happier than stumbling upon an unexpected gem. Every once in a while, a movie comes along that’s truly special that no one seems to be talking about, and all I want to do is scream its name from the rooftops. Nightshooters is one such movie. Not only is it a freaking treat, it’s also the best action movie to emerge from the UK in years.
The set-up is simple. A group of filmmakers are making a low budget zombie movie in a derelict building. That is until they witness a brutal gangland execution and incur the wrath of the criminals who carried out said murder. Naturally, the bad guys want the crew dead, which forces our heroes to use their technical skill and knowledge to survive.
Fortunately for the crew, their stunt man, Donnie (Jean-Paul Ly) is a martial arts expert, while the other members of the crew are able to use their smarts to devise a strategic plan in order to fend off their pursuers. Chaos ensues as bullets fly, limbs are snapped, and blood is shed.
The concept of a film crew in peril has been done before. However, when it’s executed properly it can give even the most sadistic movies some heartfelt gravitas. Much like Why Don’t You Play In Hell? and One Cut of the Dead, Nightshooters is a genre flick that also serves as a love letter to independent filmmaking, even if the long shooting days and shoestring budgets make for a miserable experience at times. Some of the movie’s funniest moments revolve around the crew bickering with each other because their own film is causing them grief, and the ensemble all give fantastic performances.
Despite being a simple action romp, Nightshooters gives all of its main characters their moments to shine. Not everyone makes it out of this nightmare alive, but by the time the proverbial poop hits the fan, every character has been given enough meat and personality to warrant our support and emotional investment. You’ll care about these people, but you’ll also find their plight to be quite exhilarating.
That said, writer/director Marc Price (Colin) ensures that the antagonists some show-stealing moments as well. Tarker (Richard Sandling) is a highlight as the main gangster who feels lifted from an old school Guy Ritchie crime caper. He and his goons are responsible for the film’s most hilariously crass and obscene dialogue. Furthermore, they’re all so good at being bad that they ultimately become lovable in their own right. Even though they’re scum.
Of course, we’re here for the action and the movie doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The secret weapon is Ly, an extremely talented martial artist who lends both his ass-kicking abilities and action choreography expertise to proceedings. As a result, the fight scenes are hard-hitting, thrilling, and brutal — which is exactly how they should be. Ly burst onto the scene in 2017 and blew our minds with the criminally underseen Jailbreak, and while Nightshooters is destined to also float under the radar, it’s further proof that this guy is the real deal. It’s only a matter of time before he’s being mentioned in the same breath as contemporary action royalty like Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais.
I really can’t praise Nightshooters enough. It’s an absolute blast that does more with a micro-budget than most Hollywood actioners do with the mega bucks. Price’s yarn doesn’t rewrite the rulebook by any means, but he’s delivered a top notch martial arts comedy that delivers on the carnage, personality, and heart. Don’t be surprised when it blows your mind to smithereens and leaves you grinning from ear to ear.
Nightshooters is now available on disc and to stream on Amazon Prime in the UK.