Bodyguards & Assassins, Dragon Eyes and Man with the Iron Fists ass kicker Cung Le stars in and produces this brutal revenge tale that despite suffering from the usual negative points that plague modern direct-to-DVD action films (over-editing nonsense, not enough time given to the action scenes, dodgy acting) is a surprisingly hard hitting and engaging saga of vengeance. Le plays John, a recently returned from war soldier who is having a hard time readjusting to everyday society. Gifted in the art of the fight he comes to the rescue of Tanya (Evigan) one night when she is being rough housed by a group of men. Dispatching of the attackers with brutal efficiency, John doesn’t realise he’s just eliminated three of the top heads of a local Aryan gang. Said gang is headed by the not-so-sane Hollis (Lundgren) who retaliates in excessively violent fashion: burning John’s family alive. Devastated by this, John uses his solider skills to hunt down Hollis and his gang and make them pay.
While on the surface A Certain Justice is your standard gunning for revenge action film there is actually a lot more going on than one might first think. A very dark and brutal film rather than just a straightforward action flick, A Certain Justice doesn’t shy away from showing the underbelly of society and the disgusting characters that dwell in it. The violence, while not always overly graphic, is often brutal and the characters inhabit a world that is full of the worst scum: pimps, drug pushers, paedophiles and rapists. In fact, the filmmakers perhaps push it a bit too far with trying to cram in every kind of scumbag into one film meaning those just looking for just some straightforward action thrills may be disappointed.
While the narrative does threaten to buckle under its wealth of characters (there are just a little too many subplots going on) it is refreshing to see several of the bad guy characters regretting their actions and choice of life (in Vinnie Jones and Gianni Capaldi’s low rent criminals) not to mention realising they haven’t got a chance against rampaging soldier John. As John, Cung Le also makes for a refreshingly believable one man army as he looks the part and certainly impresses in the action scenes: this (much liked the underrated Dragon Eyes) is a nice leading man vehicle for the former UFC fighter. Lundgren also impresses (despite his often hilariously awful hairpiece and moustache!) as the thoroughly evil Hollis obviously relishing the chance to play bad.
On the downside the filmmakers just can’t seem to get away from pointless editing tricks and an unnecessary use of slow motion. There are too many tricksy editing gimmicks cluttering up scenes of drama and action that are just not needed. Also, too much slow motion is used in the fight/action scenes and the end action blowout could have been sustained a tad more to justify the build up to the inevitable violent showdown. Still, for the most part A Certain Justice reins in all its problems just enough to deliver a dark story of revenge and gives several action stars a bit more to chew on in-between the brutal action beats. Not bad at all.
A Certain Justice is out now on DVD in the UK, released by Signature Entertainment.
Review by Andrew Skeates