REVIEW: REDEMPTION

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CAST
Don Wilson (Cyber Tracker)
Chris Penn (Resevoir Dogs)
James Russo (Public Enemies)
Cynthia Rothrock (Undefeatable)
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
400px-Redemption-2002-Taurus92-3When a drug bust led by policeman John Sato (Wilson, Bloodfist series) goes wrong and costs the life of a fellow officer (Cynthia Rothrock, Above the Law), he’s driven from the force. Desperate, he accepts work from a small-time gangster (Chris Penn, Reservoir Dogs) and develops a bond with him. As a new underground deal goes down, he must decide where his priorities lie and whether he is a cop or a crook.You could argue that in casting his performers as actors rather than fighters, director Camacho was showing respect to his ensemble by playing them beyond their stereotype…but that doesn’t make the film’s decisive lack of butt-kicking any less disappointing. In addition to the aforementioned names, the kicking cast includes Richard Norton (City Hunter), Peter Cunningham (No Retreat, No Surrender), Steven Vincent Leigh (Ring of Fire), Eric Lee (Weapons of Death), and even small-time action hero Sam Jones (Flash Gordon) and pro wrestler David DeFalco, and yet, in the course of 86 minutes, there are only three fight scenes (it pains me to refer to them as such), the same amount of shootouts, and one lousy car chase. Half of the aforementioned cast doesn’t so much as throw a punch. The stale gunfights showcase the single laziest application of the “shaky camera” filming technique: instead of swinging and jerking the camera around randomly to at least simulate excitement and suspense, the cameraman merely rocks the camera from side to side as though mixing marbles. Yes oh yes, the action scenes are definitely a shot in the bucket.
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Okay, so maybe the movie was supposed to be more of a cops & robbers morality outing than an action flick. Some effort has obviously been made on the story, and for what it’s worth, the production values are passable and Chris Penn has at least one very strong dramatic scene wherein he’s ambushed by his underworld competition. The rest of the cast, however, is not as talented: Don and Cynthia have a limited chemistry between themselves but don’t bring out anything beyond the mundane in eachother; police captain James Russo (Public Enemies) uses this movie as an opportunity to see what overacting feels like; and Carrie Stevens (The Backlot Murders) as a prostitute trying to go straight deserves punishment for the most passively bad performance I’ve seen in a while. There’s also a rather embarrassing scene wherein the movie tries to show how conflicted John is about working for a gangster via a montage showing him chatting with Chris Penn, hiding his money under two pillows on his couch, and walking down the street looking grim; obviously, this sounded better on paper than it looks in the movie.

There’s absolutely no fun or excitement to be had from this one.