In expected Florentine fashion, the fisticuffs are where the film comes alive, although to his credit, the heart-swelling moments don't fare too badly either, thanks to ageing star, Banderas - even if they’re not that heart-swelly.
But, we don’t watch Florentine’s film for the way they pull our heart-strings. It’s a fact that nobody shoots hand-to-hand combat like the Israeli helmer, particularly in the DTV realm, and it’s the bone-crunching, teeth-gnashing, dizzying displays of combat that set his films apart.
Fight choreographer Tim Man (Ong Bak 2 and Ninja: Shadow of The Tear) gets the most out of the films star, Banderas, who is more than holding his own in a realm dominated by the martial arts pros like Scott Adkins and Michael Jai White. In fact, the Latin heart-throb looks like a seasoned veteran, moving with an unbelievable amount of fluidity and confidence in an arena he’s never stepped in to before. He’s convincing, to say the least, and Florentine’s style leaves no room for wannabes or body doubles (step aside, Seagal) so when Banderas looks at the lens after a flurry of movement and action and it’s actually him, you can’t help but want to pat him on the back.
When the story's culprit is finally realised it is, in an unexpected twist, justified behaviour. The best bad guys are always doing it for the right reasons; they never think they are evil, but too often lazy scribes let banality and the route of less resistance take its course and deliver one-dimensional baddies, rubbing their hands with glee in the shadows. ACTS OF VENGEANCE, thanks to Matt Venne’s tight, if unremarkable and surprise-free, script, gives its culprit an extra, appreciated layer.
As good as anything Florentine has done and a little more refined around the edges, ACTS OF VIOLENCE continues his upward trajectory, further cementing him as, arguably, the best action director in the DTV world right now.
Fun without being essential, by any stretch.