Abduction (2019)

As I might’ve mentioned once or twice before, Scott Adkins has really been on a roll in his recent movies with director Jesse V. Johnson. But let’s not get too comfortable. He’s got a new one coming to DVD tomorrow called ABDUCTION. It’s not of similar quality, but I had fun with it, and it’s something different for him. The cover just shows him with a big gun, so I assumed it was a COMMANDO deal with him rescuing his daughter from kidnappers. Yeah, pretty much, but the kidnappers are aliens! Or inter-dimensional beings? I think inter-dimensional beings. Forgive my ignorance.

So no, it’s not a remake of John Singleton’s 2011 movie starring Taylor Lautner. I also got it mixed up with another upcoming Adkins project called SEIZED, which I have confirmed is a different movie, an Isaac Florentine joint where a daughter and son are kidnapped, presumably by humans.

I don’t think I can say ABDUCTION is Adkins’ weirdest, because there’s always UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING, a far more atmospheric, moody and hard-hitting movie, better on every level. This one is literally a Roger Corman production and has the bland glossiness and chintzy digital effects I associate with the SyFy Channel. But it’s definitely not generic. It has a hell of an opening that immediately dunks your head in the craziness and takes its time before letting you take a breath. I was into it.

The first person we see in the movie is my Twitter friend Big Mike Leeder, wearing a leather apron, looking like that dude from HOSTEL, pushing a cart of bodies. He and they all have little glowing spider-shaped devices on the backs of their necks. Another guy lines the bodies up and pulls the spiders off one-by-one with a mechanical claw. And we see that there’s one body down the line without a spider, awake, and he’s Scott Adkins. Well, I guess his name is Quinn. But he’s played by Adkins.

He gets up and makes a run for it, finds a room with a bunch of cages and one of them has his daughter Lucy in it, standing, alive but unresponsive. He fights some people whose eyes flash green, gets punched through a brick wall by a faceless hooded being (Daniel Whyte, THE TWINS EFFECT, TRIPLE THREAT), emerges in a strange world with fantastical castles, falls into water, surfaces in a fountain on earth, climbs out, looks around, eventually figures out he’s in Vietnam!

It’s partly an amnesia movie. He doesn’t remember who he is at first. Even if he did I don’t think he would know how he got to Vietnam. Something weird is going on here, it’s like a Twilight Zone episode. He doesn’t speak the language, and has developed a horrible stutter, which goes away for a bit when an old lady slaps him. For a while he has to slap himself to communicate, then he gets in a fight and it seems to permanently cure him.

He wanders the streets trying to get help but only frightening people. He steals a hilariously garish jacket covered in cartoon characters. Something Ricky Baker from THE HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE might wear. He beats up some cops who find him sleeping in an alley. At a hospital he finally finds a doctor (Truong Ngoc Anh, THE WHITE SILK DRESS) who speaks English and who he slowly convinces of what’s going on. Or at least the parts of it he knows.

There’s another at-first-separate storyline about Conner (Andy On, BLACK MASK 2, TRUE LEGEND, ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI, BLACKHAT), an assassin who seems to strongly identify as a guy who wears a cool leather jacket. His wife Maya (Lili Ji, PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING) doesn’t believe him that this is his last job, meanwhile he’s being betrayed, blah blah blah. At first it seems boring because it’s more normal than what’s going on elsewhere in the movie, but then Maya gets kidnapped by the inter-dimensionals, and Conner proves to be a real take charge kind of badass in his quest to get to the bottom of it. I like the scene where Russian mobsters ambush him at home and tie him to a chair and he asks, “You guys want some tea? Some snacks?” There’s a nice moment where he asks about his wife, the mobster doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he sort of does the Larry David staredown before declaring, “Okay. I believe you. Because you think you have me.” Then, obviously, he escapes the chair and fights them with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Eventually the doctor runs into Conner at the same fountain that Quinn came out of, witnesses some weird phenomenon, and decides to introduce them to each other. They team up but there’s one part where Quinn gets controlled by one of the spiders so that there can be a fight scene between them. Also there’s an old guy who built a machine that detects things that disrupt the natural flow of chi or something? He knows what these beings are and it has something to do with chi and feng shui.

The fight choreographer is Tim Man, who was also behind NINJA II, BOYKA: UNDISPUTED, ELIMINATORS, ACTS OF VENGEANCE, ACCIDENT MAN, THE HARD WAY and TRIPLE THREAT. There’s plenty of good movement and some spinning of staffs and what not, but it comes across more stagey and with less impact than most of those I just listed. A little more Power Rangers-y. There’s even some whooshing sounds as the fists swing around. I’m not complaining.

Where Adkins is allowed to shine is in stretching his acting range a little. The stutter is unnecessary but he has some tics and ways of hunching his shoulders and stuff that’s both convincing and unlike anything I’ve seen him do before. He’s constantly having to communicate with people who don’t share a language with him. And he conveys alot without dialogue but without it being an inward character like a Boyka. He just happens to be alone and not have someone to talk to.

This one is directed by Ernie Barbarash, whose movies I guess I’ve been watching for decades, because he was a producer of AMERICAN PSYCHO, he wrote CUBE 2: HYPERCUBE (which I reviewed for The Ain’t It Cool News in 2002) and he directed CUBE ZERO. But I learned his name from ASSASSINATION GAMES (2011), the movie that teamed up Jean-Claude Van Damme and Adkins as co-leads. He also did 6 BULLETS and POUND OF FLESH with Van Damme and FALCON RISING with Michael Jai White.

This one stands out by being much stranger, if not better. I respect it for having a sense of humor (there are a couple good punchlines) but treating all the weird shit with total seriousness, never intentionally undermining it. I think there’s a specific mood you might be in some time that I could recommend this for, but I don’t know how to describe it, so you’re on your own. Good luck.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019 at 11:53 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

12 Responses to “Abduction (2019)”

  1. “A little more Power Rangers-y”

    I need this…

  2. I got this last week, ordered with a bunch of other films, including the Criterion set of Lone Wolf and Cub. Haven’t watched it yet, and will return to it later this week. I’m watching A Quiet Place and Hellfest today. Trying to get through the horror films I have pending. Finally got around to Hereditary yesterday (I’m not sure what to think about that film).

  3. This was out early on Viaplay and I quite liked it. A bit like a DOCTOR WHO episode, but a good one. Nice locations.

  4. “I think there’s a specific mood you might be in some time that I could recommend this for, but I don’t know how to describe it, so you’re on your own.”

    feels like a “Saturday afternoon slightly day drunk and I got a bunch of laundry to fold” kind of a movie to me

  5. I second the day drunk thing, but it’s more a “the wife’s at the gym and I got 80 minutes to kill” type of movie for me.

  6. Imma gonna see this, but not just for Scott, but cause Andy On has got a big role in it.

    He’s been China’s version of Scott Adkins for quite some time. In that he’s a talented actiony guy who’s career hasn’t taken off. But he’s been plugging away in supporting/villainous parts for years and just about always kills it. He’s had some injuries that set him back, and his Cantonese skills are terrible (back when that was important, now Mandarin takes you farther but he hasn’t been able to break out in Mainland films for whatever reason)but he’s actually a solid dramatic actor and an absurdly handsome man.

    He also kicked off his career with leading roles in a pair of expensive bombs which more or less permanently bumped him down to ‘Billed Fifth’ status. In fact his debut film was Tsui Hark’s berserk Black Mask 2, wherein he had the unenviable task of filling in for an absent Jet Li, his villainous co-star in that, billed about fifth or so was Scott Adkins in his first role of any substance. I guess that makes this film a reunion of sorts.

  7. I’m kinda surprised that Andy On has gone back to America, and act in more Hollywood films. I guess it was easier for him to get a foot in the door in Hong Kong, even though he wasn’t a martial art, and of course, his debut Black Mask 2, wasn’t an English language film so that helped him get the role.

    With the exception of Blackhat and Outcast he hasn’t done many English language films until Abduction. Abduction is also a Chinese film that is English language which I guess is something new (or maybe imdb is wrong by only listing China as the country of origin for this film).

    I’m also surprised that he hasn’t joined Daniel Wu in Into The Badlands. Both Americans working in Hong Kong. Both were in New Police Story. I guess there are enough Asian Americans to not needing to ask On to come back to America.

  8. Did the end of this one remind anyone of “Prince of Darkness”?

  9. Sean: I definitely got that vibe too with the ending, though the John Carpenter film I was hoping it would emulate a bit more is BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.
    I enjoyed all the same, though I’m biased since I’ve met Mike Leeder while vacationing in Hong Kong.

    Interesting to note the Shout Factory Blu-ray contains a Director’s Cut that’s about 8 minutes longer than the version I saw theatrically, which the disc bills as the Producer’s Cut. They’re all extensions of existing scenes, Scott Adkins gets a few more character beats, his hypnosis scene is longer, and there’s more exposition between the Chinese scientist and our heroes in his shop. One other extension helps clear up one little inconsistency after the hospital fight scene.

  10. Thanks for mentioning that Al, I completely forgot to note that it gives you two options at the beginning and (finding no explanation on the internet) I figured director’s cut was the one to go with.

  11. Saw this yesterday. Enjoyed it. Got the “Prince of Darkness” vibe from the ending as well.

  12. SEIZED is not yet available to buy or rent here but I found this other Scott Adkins child abduction movie on my local streaming service. I honestly had no idea it even existed, but after watching it, that is completely understandable.

    This is a really, really bad movie. It is embarrassingly bad. Having said that, the first half of it is weirdly engaging and entertaining. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was enjoying it. Like you guys pointed out, it leans into the weirdness, it has some humour in it, and it’s just fun. It’s especially fun to watch Adkins give his worst acting performance ever after he has been so great in other things recently. But the second half of this movie…holy shit it was painful. The ending was completely incomprehensible and it certainly did not help that it had some of the worst CGI I’ve ever seen. It went completely off the rails very quickly. I can’t really recommend this one unless you are a completionist that insists on seeing every Adkins joint.

    Coincidentally, I have been working my way through the Adkins Undisputed podcast and listened to the BLACK MASK 2 episode right after watching ABDUCTION. I nearly fell off my chair when he described the fight between Andy On and Adkins in ABDUCTION as an “all-timer”! Then again, he did announce in the first episode that his favourite JCVD movie is HARD TARGET so his taste is a bit questionable (though I assume he’s a commenter here and was purposely trolling me). I am still enjoying the podcast though and looking forward to the episodes where he covers Adkins’ actual good films.

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