Review: Savage Dog (2017)


Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror have a really, really bloody rematch! And Keith David!!

 

Starring Scott Adkins, Marko Zaror, Cung Le, Keith David, Juju Chan

Fight Choreography by Luke LaFontaine

Directed By Jesse V Johnson

Savage Dog is a period film set shortly after the French Indochina War in 1959 tells the story of Martin Tillman, an Irishman and displaced soldier, spending his days as a prisoner of Von Steiner, a sadistic jailer who pits Tillman into a series of martial arts fights with various opponents for money. When not fighting, Tillman spends his time in prison being visited by a local flower girl, Isabelle(Chan). When pressured by a British government official, Steiner releases Tillman, but since Tillman is still a wanted man, he chooses to hide out at a local bar run by Valentine(David) and also the home of the flower girl, where a romance blossoms, but as it happens in action films, Steiner brings Tillman back, but when Steiner and his henchmen go after his love, Tillman goes on a rampage to ensure Steiner never bothers anyone ever again…

It’s nice to see Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror leave their comfort zones and do a period film, and the production values looked great on what had to be a small budget. The story is well done, with, for a change, the villain Steiner being a more well rounded character, with his own motivations, and surprisingly, regrets. Scott Adkins is good here, but, from an acting standpoint, isn’t much of a stretch from most of the characters he plays. The same goes for Marko Zaror, but he is actually a more chilling villain here than in his other bad guy roles. He’s a real bastard here, and I want to see more of him in this mode. Keith David is KEITH MOTHERFU&@!ing DAVID! He’s the spice that makes ANY film better, and he brings his patented coolness here as both the star and narrator. He’s so cool he gets to dispense with a solid rule of cinema that isn’t supposed to be broken. But he can do that, ’cause he’s Keith Motherf&%^!ing David. Cung Le is okay here, but his character gets to real development until his final lines in his fight with Adkins. It made me wish the film had done more than mention his viscous general’s backstory.

The fights here…Let’s get to that.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s brutal. Like they watched the The Raid 2 and said “Hold my beer.”

The blood flows like a river in this film, and I have to admit I’ve never seen the like. You know, like watching a guy get shot with a shotgun in the face point blank. Twice. Or even what Scott Adkins does to Marko Zaror at the end…I can safely say I’ve never seen an action star at ANY level do what he does! It was shocking, but really hearkens back to the title of the film.

The fights are technically well done toward the beginning, but with the exception of a quick fight with stuntman/actor David No, I was really marking time until we get to the main event: Scott Adkins versus Cung Le and Marko Zaror. The Cung Le fight is short, but Le acquits himself well here as the choreography matches his strengths as a martial artist but not at the expense of having Adkins take the petal off the gas, so to speak. It’s a good fight that’s only marred by how cheaply the film ends it, but now we come to the true event, the Undisputed 3¬†rematch between Adkins and Zaror, and it’s great. First with weapons, both men show why they are awesome, moving fast but their movements are precise, and that knife Marko had…I would NOT want to get stabbed with that sucker. But then the weapons go away.

And then it gets REAL.

The director knows what you want. The fight choreographer knows what you want. Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror sure as HELL know what you want. And they made sure you get it! The fight is everything I was wanting it to be. So help me they put on a clinic in beautiful kicking of every kind. And the music with the furious violin playing during it? Holy hell they hit the sweet spot. The fist work was well done, and the fight lasted exactly as long as it needed to given the story and characters.

Bravo, Jesse V Johnson. Bravo. Now do it again!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

One of Scott Adkins’ best films. Marko Zaror establishes himself as a great villain, and Keith David does Keith David things. Bring on the sequel!

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One Response to “Review: Savage Dog (2017)”

  1. Ann Hayden Says:

    Thank you, Finally somebody else who got it. I thought this film was awesome too. Loved the martial arts and always love it when the guys get a chance to stretch their acting muscle as well. You don’t need CGI to make a great movie just talented actors and a great director. Great job guys!!

    Liked by 1 person

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