Kill Kane (2016): No Budget Thriller With Vinnie Jones (Review)

Vinnie Jones in Kill Kane

Not having a discernible budget means little in the overall scheme of things.  “Kill Kane,” starring Vinnie Jones could have been an edge of the seat thriller.  Shane Meadows, for example, made the brilliant Dead Man’s Shoes (with Paddy Considine and Toby Kebbel) for a pittance and the film was unforgettable.

Director Adam Stephen Kelly, helming his first feature length film did not strike cinematic gold for a myriad of reasons. Kelly co-wrote the movie with Christian Sellers and Andrew Jones and this may well be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.

“Kill Kane” is a revenge film. Told haltingly via flashbacks and slow plodding scenes between all the characters. Vinnie Jones is P.E. teacher Ray Brookes. Ray is married with a wife and two kids. While out driving with his missus, the couple stop to consult a map. Brookes investigates some criminal activities in the industrial estate and witnesses a murder. 

His family are executed and only he survives after being induced into a three month coma. Ray wants revenge and he sets about getting it.

Jones as actor literally does best when he has little dialogue. (With the right lines and direction Vinnie can act his little cotton socks off, check out ABCs Galavant.) In this instance the former bad boy footballer manages to show a range of emotion. Although he could not cry, he came close and convinced me of his grief but not one tear was shed.

Sean Cronin was very effective as the cold and brutal gangster who carries out the hit on Ray and his family. Unfortunately the film has a lot wrong with it.

“Kill Kane” moves at a “molasses in winter” pace. At an hour and 14 minutes the film should have flown by. Unfortunately the pacing was so slow the film felt twice as long. The soundtrack was too loud, it felt as though the filmmaker wanted the sound to be very ’70s; harsh and clashing and intrusive.

Speaking of sound, the actors clearly looped or provided their online dialogue via ADR.  Lips did not match and the protagonists all sounded lethargic and bored.  The gangsters, and the DCI actually, all delivered their lines in a near monotone.  At one point, as the film was shot entirely in Wales, I wondered if they were speaking Welsh and the English was dubbed in. There was no proof either way except for those lips not syncing with the dialogue.

Another odd thing was the DCI having a shotgun handy in the boot (trunk) of his car. Britain has an armed response team and regular cops, even inspectors, do not carry guns. Shotguns are strictly regimented and must be locked in cases. It may have looked very good but is miles from reality.

“Kill Kane” was made with the idea that Vinnie Jones could carry a film.  This independent production must have felt it was a good idea and even though Jones is not a strong performer he could have made it work with better writing.

This English take on Michael Winner‘s Charles Bronson Death Wish” franchise may get better with a sequel or two but for now the film lacks so much.

For a myriad of reasons this film rates a 2.5 stars.  So many things conspired to drag this tale down, poor sound work, that included a too loud soundtrack, plus a snail-like pace just destroyed any chance this had of entertaining. On Hulu at the moment, watch this one  only if there is nothing else  to do. Sorry Vinnie, better luck next time.

The Antwerp Dolls (2015): New Vintage London Gangsters [Update]

Written and directed by Jake L. Reid (as Jake Reid) The Antwerp Dolls feels like a throw back to the 1980 cult classic The Long Good Friday…

The Antwerp Dolls: Courtney Winston and Jermaine Curtis Liburd

[Update] It should be pointed out that the “sound issues” covered in the review are from the online screener and will not be present on the general release DVD of The Antwerp Dolls. Jake Reid spoke with and explained the problem, so viewers will not “see” these when viewing the film. We apologize for any misconceptions raised by our review. Thank you.

Written and directed by Jake L. Reid (as Jake Reid) The Antwerp Dolls feels like a throw back to the 1980 cult classic The Long Good Friday (starring a young Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren and featuring a brief glimpse of pre-Remington Steele/James Bond actor Pearce Brosnan and a pre- Casualty Charlie  – Derek Thompson) With more than a nod and a wink to Guy Ritchie’s London underworld of colorful gangsters, this “new vintage” glimpse at crime in the capital is enjoyable if not a little disjointed.

In terms of tipping the hat to Ritchie, Reid uses a similar camera technique for filming actors shooting their weapons, a’la the 2008 film RocknRolla, where a small camera appears to be attached to the end of the gun for an extreme closeup of the actor firing the automatic rifle.

London gangsters aside, the plot, is for all intents and purposes a serious nod to all things Spaghetti Western, or to be more succinct, a variation on A Fistful of Dollars and its dividing two “families” to create havoc. While these villains do not kill each other off (Any further information is not forthcoming so watch the film.) there is a clear intention from a number of sides to do just that.

Tommy Callahan (Jason Wing) has made a deal with two brothers from Belgium who are taking great chunks of London real estate and they have attempted to pave the way with the local crime boss. Enter a group of lads, with inside information, who intercept the transaction causing all the parties to come unglued.

The first half of the film treads a little slowly as each player is introduced and backstories related. The Ferrino brothers, Ray and Max (Bruce Payne and Sean Cronin respectively) are showcased and their enforcer Marco, played with marvelous menace by Sebastien Foucan (Casino Royale, The Tournament) is shown as someone to be equally feared. 

Cally, aka Tommy Callahan (Wing), who appears to be a throw back to the days of “The Krays” a real “effing and blinding” type of mobster who may, or may not, be winding down his little empire, attempts to learn who has thrown a massive spanner in his works.

Jake Reid has managed to make a “low/no” budget film (the estimated production cost was £100,000  or $151,000) look very impressive. Using  guerrilla filming techniques and some special effects for gunshot wounds that look brilliant the film comes across quite well.

What Reid as writer does brilliantly  is to depict the mentality and personality of underworld characters. Their bluster, bravado and bullishness is almost overwhelming and each player in this crime thriller pointedly plays for the overkill factor, with the exception of the two “foreigners” the Ferrino brothers and the accountant.

American audiences might well be shocked at some of the language, the “C” word is really frowned upon within US shores, but the earthy coarseness of the patter is spot on in  representing the English “lower class” criminal fraternity.  The film features a bit more reality based brusqueness with its main characters and does not rely quite so much on what is becoming a sort of standardized exported British cinema “mockney.”

That said, there are stereotypes on offer,  for instance, Wing’s frozen visage; lips caught in a sort of half snarl, make his performance quite interesting and his delivery is pure “London barrow boy made good.”  There is a good cross-section of players, the posh totty accountant  Christy; who is a pure as the driven slush (played with cool conviction by Kate Marie Davies) and teeth-sucking Spacey (played with impressive authenticity by newcomer Jermaine Curtis Liburd) as well as “wide boy” Corey (Ashley R Woods).

At times the film does feel a little convoluted with too many twists and turns to take in. That said, the journey to the film’s conclusion is not a boring one and each character brings something to the table. As this is Reid’s maiden project, and one where Jake exceeds auteur status by also being credited as a stunt driver for the production, it is entertaining enough that one should keep an eye on this new filmmaker.

The Antwerp Dolls is a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars. There are a few issues with sound, with the score intruding in a couple of places and what seems to be ADR syncing problems.  Overall, the film keeps the viewer’s eyes glued to the screen and while some of the acting feels a little OTT, it does sort of fit the verse that Reid has created.  Keep an eye out for this one and give it a go.

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