Review: Debt Collectors (2020)

Starring Scott Adkins, Louis Mandylor, Mayling Ng, Marina Sirtis, Vladimir Kulich, Aaron Toney

Fight Choreography by Luke Lafontaine

Directed by Jesse V. Johnson

Debt Collectors is proof you can’t keep a good man down, even if he really should be dead! Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor return as French and Sue respectively, in another adventure directed and co-written by Jesse V. Johnson (Avengement, Debt Collector).

Some time later finds French, alive and well, now working as a bouncer at a seedy bar when Sue, whom he assumed was dead, walks back into his life, once again with a job, just as French loses his. So what’s the job? Of course they must pick up the debts owned by an unknown client. And of course that will involve a LOT of violence, which finds French right at home. However, Sue’s brush with death–twice–has him rethinking how he approaches his job, meaning he’s not really much for violence, but knows that deep in his heart French is, and together they go on a road trip to as far as Las Vegas to carry out their jobs, which becomes far more complicated than they planned once the identity of the client becomes known…

Debt Collectors is the exact right kind of sequel action film: one that feels like Chapter 2 of the larger story of French and Sue as they trek their way through the criminal underworld, barely hanging on to their morals. The story arc of the film questions what is their true nature? Have they fallen into the muck with the garbage or do they still have some humanity left? Once again Jesse V. Johnson gets the most out of Scott Adkins, who advances French from the guy who just “wants to get the job done” to one who may enjoy it more than he ever wants to admit. Of course this film hinges on the chemistry with Louis Mandylor, who does a great job as Sue, bringing a new dimension as a conflicted man who wants to stay out of the more brutal parts of the business but finds he must get his hands dirty even as this job digs up more of his past, especially in the form of Mal Reese (Sirtis), and old flame whose power in the underworld has grown during their time apart. Louis plays it just right here, with Sue’s normally smarmy confidence shaken as his past comes back to haunt him, in more ways than one.

The supporting cast also support the solid (and funnier!) script as Vladimir Kulich gets a bigger part in his return as Tommy, the go-between to Sue and the client. His story becomes increasingly more important as the film goes on, and we learn a little more about his relationship to Sue. We also get the imposing figure of Britt (Ng), the right hand woman of Mal’s, who is determined to get Mal’s money back. I’m convinced Mayling Ng would make a great James Bond baddie. There’s one wish I had for her character but I’ll get to that shortly. The cinematography and productions values are slick as Johnson makes sure we see every dollar on screen. Especially when it comes to the action.

Luke LaFontaine and Scott Adkins put together some great fights that fit the world this story is being told in. Much more grounded fighting, but still with fast-paced choreography that takes advantage of what the performers do best. For Scott, that’s pretty much everything, but Louis gets his chance to shine here as well, due to his own boxing and martial arts experience (he was great in Martial Law!) He gets a good fight scene with Mayling Ng (Lady Bloodfight) but it’s just too short! I really wanted to see them go at it. The great stuntman Aaron Toney also gets to brawl with both Mandylor and Adkins in a boxer vs boxer/ boxer vs. MMA fighter bout that’s terrific and I hope to really get to see a martial arts full-on fight between Toney and Adkins in the future! But that’s not the main event of this film. I was surprised by what it was: Scott Adkins vs. Louis Mandylor! That’s right, it took one film and the majority of the other, but we finally get that fight, one born out of who these characters have become, and the fight pays homage to one of the best on-screen fights of all time: the fight in They Live! between Keith David and Roddy Piper! It’s a funny fight but still as brutal as anything else you’ll see in this movie, and it’s the cherry on top.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

A worthy sequel that does something rare: it surpasses the original in almost every way. It’s a thrilling, often funny road trip of brutal bare-knuckle action that features Adkins and Mandylor as a great action duo. My question now is when can we get Debt Collector 3?