A few years ago Magnolia/Magnet Pictures came up with an interesting project. The framing device was a group of thieves who sneak into a house they plan to rob only to find a dead man sitting in a chair staring at a TV set connected to an old VHS player and tons of tapes around it. They watch the tapes and each one presents a different story. That movie was called, appropriately, VHS. Each episode in the anthology was directed by a different director and they worked well together. It was followed by 2 sequels and another series THE ABCS OF DEATH. Now a new movie follows in that tradition, not focused on horror so much as action and it does it amazingly well.
BLOOD SWEAT AND TERRORS presents 9 different stories. I should say vignettes since none offers a complete story beginning to end. None of the stories connect with one another and there is no framing device on hand here but it doesn't matter. What does matter is that it offers the chance to see 9 directors show what they can handle. Most come off as tremendous with only one that felt lacking to me. Imagine if you will the sequence in a movie you wait for, the climactic fight scene where the top dogs battle it out with maybe 3-5 minutes of exposition to set the story. That's what this movie is like.
The first item on display is EMPIRE OF DUST directed by Adam Mason. It features a man battling his way through what looks like a brothel. Why? No clue. But he does so, shooting and fighting until he comes upon a supernatural element and that's when things get weird, as if they weren't before that.
Next up is AWESOME RUNAWAY directed by Benjamin De Los Santos. A prisoner is beaten and then injected with a truth serum. He escapes his bonds and fights his way through a series of enforcers until he reaches a door to escape. Or does he? This is by far the weakest of the films on display with not only terrible acting but some really bad fight sequences as well. When you can see punches missing their mark that's a bad thing.
Third in line is JACOB'S WRATH directed by Alexandre Carriere. This is a good one bouncing back and forth between a post-apocalyptic world and the present where a prisoner is being escorted. An older man in the PA world is armed with a lacrosse racket and seeking out a specific opponent. On the present a man is waiting for a prisoner to be moved with murderous intent on his mind. Both are actually the same story but presented in different places, perhaps what takes place in the first is how things in the second are seen through the man's eyes? A good discussion starter there.
Fourth is FLOW by Shelagh Rowan-Legg. This is the funniest one of the group and still gets plenty of action on display. Two female freedom fighters are set up in a location on the battleground and discuss various items like who forgot to pack what. For instance one only packed enough tampons for a single person and both are experiencing their periods at the same time. This makes for some serious anger issues when combat follows.
EXPRESS DELIVERY by Beau Fowler is one of my favorite entries here and features the most and best action sequences. A professional hitman in a slick looking suit has captured a long haired and unkempt man and held him in his trunk. Sitting beneath a bridge he contacts his employer to let him know the package is there and waiting. Except as the second man explains to him he is the real package and the target. The two begin a hand to hand battle to rival much of what we've seen in recent years coupled with a few humorous tidbits as well.
TURNCOAT by Will Gilbey presents us with two home invaders who capture the home owner, tie him up and begin looking for something specific. It turns out the two are actually cops and the one is looking for evidence of his wrong doing the man possesses. Just who is the turncoat in the story isn't revealed at first.
GET SOME by Adam and Joe Horton combines horror, action and humor to make one of the longer and better entries here. In the future a virus has affected the world and turned many into zombies known as "outsiders". Cities are surrounded by areas where these creatures live but people have to have entertainment, right? Up for the challenge is thrill seeking social media star Hunter Smith who drives a car rigged with two chainsaws mounted on his front bumper and a crew that accompanies him as he fights and kills these creatures. With him this time out is Dr. James Forest, a man who believes we can communicate and work with these creatures rather than kill them. Guess which one's right. Smith's catch phrase of "Let's get some!" will be something fans of this film will be quoting.
Nest is Olaf Svenson's OLGA, a revenge tale plain and simple. A young woman enters a restaurant where a mob boss holds court. It isn't long before she's taking on his goons and handling them with ease. She presents a story from his past, one where he forced a young girl to choose who would live between her mother and her father. Now she's back to exact her revenge.
Last up we have FETCH by Danial Bernhart. Told in the old school private eye mode Fetch is a character who owes his ex-wife money, drinks too much and takes a beating while facing down bad guys. He's currently looking for someone for a wealthy couple. This takes him to several leads eventually landing up in a garage where the bad guy du jour has a vast army of goons to try and take him out. Plenty of action and several good laughs in this one make it a nice way to end the film.
Now while it may seem I've revealed far too much about each of these stories it really doesn't matter. These shorts are not about story so much as they are about style and about giving each director a chance to show what they can accomplish in the most important part of an action film and that is action. With the exception of the one I noted each one does an amazing job here and if nothing else should be hired on by some studio to man the second unit attached to action pieces for the next Tom Cruise movie. Each one is that good.
If you love action and aren't looking for a movie length film to enjoy where you can walk in an out pausing a film and still enjoy the next piece then by all means get this one. I wasn't sure what to expect and found myself loving it with each story. Enough so that I know I can go back and watch this one again over and over and still have a great time. My guess is that you will too.
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