21st Mar2013

‘El Gringo’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Scott Adkins, Christian Slater, Petar Bachvarov, Valentin Ganev, Sofía Sisniega, Yvette Yates, Michail Elenov, Israel Islas | Written by Jonathan W. Stokes | Directed by Eduardo Rodriguez

el-gringo

El Gringo is the latest movie from After Dark Films’ new action division which, like its horror branch, releases low-budget action movies both cinemas and direct to DVD. It’s also the second film from the company to be directed by Eduardo Rodriguez, following his well-received Dolph Lundgren starrer Stash House. But unlike After Dark’s horror releases which have been sadly lacking, the action movie strand is far superior – in a lot of ways surpassing Hollywood’s current action film output and successfully capturing that same lightning in a bottle that made early 90s action movie so great: in fact After Dark Action are the new PM Entertainment, just with better budgets! And if I tell you that some of the names behind the movie include Isaac Florentine, Courtney Solomon and Scott Adkins himself that should be enough to get you even more excited right?

As with the first After Dark Action release, Dragon Eyes, which was a retread of the classic Kurosawa movie Yojimbo, wrapped in Grindhouse stylings, El Gringo – as it’s title suggests – is very much in the spaghetti western vein. Only it’s spaghetti western on steroids, with some of the best gunfights I have seen in the genre. Frankly I knew Scott Adkins was one hell of a fighter as I’m a huge fan of his oeuvre, but who knew he could made shooting people look so cool and do it with what’s looks to be so little effort? In fact there’s a prolonged town-wide run-and-gun fight sequence mid-film which sees Adkins take out a hope heap of gang members with without so much as breaking a sweat and as if they couldn’t make what is an already exhilarating sequence any better, most of the bloody deaths are all done using old-school blood squibs not CGI..!

Following the spaghetti western tradition, there’s not much (at least in terms of story) to El Gringo. A mysterious un-named stranger (Adkins) crosses the border into Mexico with a bullet in his arm and $2.3 million in cash, looking to head to Acapulco and retire on the beach after faking his own death in a drugs bust gone wrong. But passing through the sleepy town of El Fronteras news of his arrival, and his money, quickly spreads. Finding himself under sudden attack from thieves, gangsters and desperados – not to mention one particularly corrupt cop (Slater), he discovers that executing his plan is easier said than done.

Yet whilst the film may be short on story, El Gringo more than makes up for it in action and style, I’ve not had as much fun watching a spaghetti western EVER and director Eduardo Rodriguez could really teach Tarantino a thing or two. OK, so Django Unchained may be a period piece and El Gringo is a neo-Western, but its clear from watching the film that Rodriguez knows what made the original Italian westerns so great and amps that up to eleven. With a frenetic pace and only a brief let up in action so Adkins can get his leg over – who wouldn’t want a chance to have sex with the gorgeous Anna, played in an incredibly sultry style by the gorgeous Yvette Yates (easily rivalling Salma Hayek for sheer sexiness)? – the film is the definition of balls-to-the-wall action and once again (like Undisputed 3, Ninja and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning) only serves to cement what I’ve said all along: Scott Adkins is one of the best action stars working today.

Easily pissing over Mel Gibson’s recently, and similarly-themed, flick (which itself was known as Get the Gringo outside the UK) El Gringo is, in my opinion, an unmissable film for action movie fans and is without a doubt one of the best action movies I’ve seen this year. The film is out now on DVD from Koch Media.

***** 5/5

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