‘Av: The Hunt’
Stream it on Netflix.
Anyse (Billur Melis Koc), an unfaithful wife, is caught by her husband Sedat (Ahmet Rifat Sungar) with her lover. After Sedat executes the man, Anyse flees to her family in Turkey, only to find that she has disowned them. She must hide in the forest and must kill Sedat and the men who are helping him if she hopes to survive.
The simple survival story in Turkish director Emre Akay’s Av: The Hunt bears a passing resemblance to Ted Kotcheff’s First Blood and Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge. As in those movies, Anyse uses her ingenuity to take down her opponents one by one. Koc gives a tangible performance: the exhaustion on her face is as important as the dialogue. The lived physicality she brings with her fuels the film’s unrelenting energy. And yet it’s the social commentary of a woman wielding machetes and guns at her toxic patriarchal society that allows Av: The Hunt to be as politically relevant as it is compelling.
Typically the best action movies have at least one great chase scene. Spanish director Daniel Calparsoro’s vibrant Centaur is almost one long, continuous pursuit. Based on the novel “Balancé Dans les Cordes” by French writer Jérémie Guez, the plot unfolds smoothly: Rafa (Àlex Monner), a promising professional motorcycle racer, is about to sign with a big team. But Natalia (Begoña Vargas), his daughter’s mother, is in big trouble: the police have confiscated a large stash of drugs from Carlos (Édgar Vittorino), a ruthless gang leader, and Natalia has to pay.
To save her, Rafa makes a deal. Rafa will smuggle Carlos’ narcotics past the cops on his motorcycle. But he becomes addicted to the amphetamines that the gangsters offer him so he can drive 24/7, jeopardizing all of Rafa’s plans as he loses favor with the racing team. How can he hope to break free?
In response to this question, Josu Inchaustegui’s cinematography, which uses immersively mounted shots on motorcycle windshields and long takes, is matched in intensity only by the sharp background noise of roaring engines and slippery pavements. Each high-speed chase that weaves across freeways turns Centaur from a familiar tale of a good man accidentally crossing the finish line into a visceral and technical achievement.
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When Jimmy (Matthew Lawrence), who is traveling to the coast to scatter his late brother’s ashes, pits at a gas station, little does he know that the woman behind the counter, Natasha (Danielle C. Ryan), is fearless Killer – until an assassin tries to assassinate her: In a single move, she pulls out a shotgun and shoots the killer dead. Natasha is on the run from her underworld ex-boyfriend Ellis (Kevin Joy) and decides to elope with the overly helpful Jimmy.
Director Shane Stanley’s smug road trip might just be a manic-pixie dream girl story gone awry — Natasha claims she suffers from multiple personality disorder — but the big fight scenes, which rely on WWE-style body slams, are lending some muscle in this romantic action flick. As does Ask (Dawn Olivieri), the woman who accompanies Ellis on his hunt for Natasha. Olivieri brings a femme fatale presence to this serious film. During the final freakout, as Natasha weaves through a legion of assassins, it’s Ask’s presence that gives “Double Threat” a bold combination of compassion and attitude.
“A Fistful of Revenge”
Stream it on Netflix.
As a sequel to the Netflix series Wu Assassins, Roel Reiné’s supernatural take on Fistful of Vengeance thrives on big action beats. Kai (Iko Uwais), an heir to ancient magical powers, joins forces with Lu Xin (Lewis Tan) and Tommy (Lawrence Kao) in Bangkok to search for the killer of Tommy’s sister Jenny. When biotech billionaire William Pan (Jason Tobin), a descendant of Pangu, a god-like being now trapped in two talismans, approaches the team with the identity of Jenny’s killer, they think they may finally get revenge. But they soon discover William’s true intentions: he wants to conquer the world by reuniting the talismans and gaining Pangu’s power.
Fistful of Vengeance offers the kind of large-scale entertainment you’d hope for from an action film, where absurd logic takes second place to scrappy combat. Tight choreography, shot in slow motion, mixed with magical endings that see Kai shoot lasers out of his hands, give this gleefully silly revenge tale an equally beguiling crowd puller.
Robert (Sam Song Li) and William (Roy Huang) are mismatched brothers trying to run their family business after the death of their father. Wanting to put aside their sibling rivalry, William plans a brazen birthday prank for Robert: He hires a band of thugs led by Chad (also the film’s writer and director, Seth McTigue) to kidnap his brother. However, Williams’ plans go awry when the gang actually holds Robert and demands ransom. Now William risks losing everything if he hopes to make things right.
With “Take the Night” McTigue creates a visually daring suspense game. The film’s opening shot, a captivating shot, shows the nervous criminals driving toward their destination. The camera stays on them as they jump out of the car, knocking Robert to the ground and throwing him in the trunk. These nerve-racking scenes are accompanied by the parents: the brothers not only miss their father, but also Melissa (Grace Serrano), the quiet migrant secretary of her family business, longs to see her son again in Mexico. How do you fill the void left by a missing loved one? This personal level mixed with the heist format makes McTigue’s thriller a powerful and meditative adventure.