12th Jun2020

Adkins Action: ‘Abduction’ & ‘Payback’ Reviews!

by Phil Wheat

Growing up action movies were, for me, second only to horror flicks as my go to genre. I used to scour the pages of Impact for news on the latest films and then pre-order the VHS at my local video shop – because yes, back in the day you could actually pre-order a video rental and I ALWAYS had to be first to rent my most-anticipated flicks! I mention this only because it was back in that era that the action movie star was king. Starting out with the likes of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, the VHS era gave birth to a myriad of action movie superstars: guys like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Jeff Speakman, Jeff Wincott and the queen of action films Cynthia Rothrock… all of whom carved out careers in what were – for the most part – direct to video films.

So why the history lesson? Well there’s a direct correlation between that period in action movie filmmaking and the CURRENT career of Britain’s own action super star Scott Adkins – who moved from bit parts on UK television to roles in martial arts films like Black Mask 2, and Jackie Chan’s The Medallion before taking the lead in DTV sequel Undisputed 2 and following it up with a myriad of lead roles in some of the best direct-to-market films around today – Ninja and its sequel, Eliminators, Undisputed 3 & 4, Triple Threat, Savage Dog etc.

Much like last summerr, when not one but THREE of Adkins movies were released in the space of couple of weeks, we have two of Adkins most recent movies, Abduction and Payback (aka Debt Collectors) coming to VOD on the likes of iTunes and Amazon. So we though we’d check them out…


Stars: Scott Adkins, Andy On, Truong Ngoc Anh, Lily Ji, Aki Aleong, Brahim Chab, Paul W. He,Philippe Joly | Written by Mike MacLean | Directed by Ernie Barbarash

Abduction stars Scott Adkins as Quinn, a member of a SWAT unit, who steps out of a park fountain in an Asian city with no recollection of who he is or where he came from. As he pieces together clues from his past, he vaguely recalls his young daughter, who has been kidnapped. Meanwhile, Connor (Andy On), a former military operative turned gangster-for-hire, discovers that his wife has also disappeared mysteriously in the middle of the night. These two men, with little in common, realize they must work together to find their loved ones and thwart their mysterious abductors.

Talk about something different! Abduction, on paper, sounds like your typical “revenge” action movie. What they don’t tell you is that the abductors of this film aren’t human! Yes, we’re in deep sci-fi/fantasy territory here as invaders from another dimension are abducting people from earth and subjecting them to control via weird scarab-like devices on the back of their necks. It’s another interesting choice of film from Adkins who has, honestly, never played it safe with roles – despite most of them being in action movies. He seems to enjoy exploring different characters within the genre, something he certainly does he, portraying not only a confused, panicked father but also a man who, early on, is not even in control of his own faculties. Adkins is not the only star of this film though. No, here he teams with Andy On – who Adkins worked with way back on Black Mask 2 – who is a cop on the trail of his lost wife, who has also been abducted by the inter-dimensional invaders. The duo team-up together, thanks to curious doctor Truong Ngoc Anh, who discovers Quinn has actually been missing since 1985!

Something of a surprising story, Abduction is let down by the script – which feels more like a series of inter-connected scenes. Perhaps that’s down to budget constraints (I’m sure the use of a lot of VFX would have eaten into that), or maybe the prior experience of screenwriter Mike MacLean, who’s only previous work was with Roger Corman on some of his Syfy channel monster movies like Sharktopus – films which were CERTAINLY just scenes of giant creatures slung together around a flimsy plot. But despite that Abduction is still a great sci-fi action film and one that offers something a little different for both Adkins fans and action fans, undoubtedly pleasing both. And points must go to the film for its superb use of Feng Shui and Chi to explain the invaders actions!

Abduction is out now on digital from The Movie Partnership.


Stars: Scott Adkins, Louis Mandylor, Marina Sirtis, Josef Cannon, Ski Carr, Charity Collins, Robert Dobson, Austin Durden, Jermaine Jacox, Vladimir Kulich | Written by Jesse V. Johnson, Stu Small | Directed by Jesse V. Johnson

A direct sequel to 2018’s The Debt Collector, renamed Payback for the UK market (no doubt so the distributor doesn’t give any publicity to their competition), the film sees debt collectors French and Sue back doing what they do best as they chase down various debts and debtors who owe money to their boss, Tommy. They’re summoned to Las Vegas to collect from a dirty casino owner, who happens to be a vicious ex-lover of Sue’s. Meanwhile, a notorious drug kingpin is on the warpath to kill French and Sue to avenge his brother’s death. Facing danger from all angles, the pair will have no other choice but to fight their way out of an explosively dangerous situation.

I’m going to be honest, I missed The Debt Collector when it was originally released. Now I did buy the film on iTunes but, to this day, I still haven’t gotten around to watching it. Which gave me some concern given that Payback is – even with the UK re-title – a direct sequel to that film. Luckily for me, and the distributors of this film, you don’t necessarily have to see the The Debt Collector to enjoy this one – plot points are referenced yes but nothing that’s so integral that you’re missing out by not watching the first movie.

A throwback to the buddy cop films of the 90s (though these guys are FAR from being any authority figures), Payback is an action comedy that blends the two genres perfectly, finding the balance between the hard-hitting action we’ve come to expect from a Scott Adkins / Jesse Johnson collaboration AND providing just enough laughs – particularly from Adkins, who seems to have been given a new acting freedom by using his own accent and not trying to hide “Scott Adkins” from the screen. And he has SUPERB chemistry with Louis Mandylor, someone who I’ve loved since back in the days of Martial Law on Channel 5 in the late 90s – which goes a long way to build a rapport with the audience too; especially given that their characters are somewhat shady yet we still need to root for them as underdogs.

Packed with plenty of fight sequences, Payback is not going to disappoint action movie fans and as such is a solid recommendation from me. The film is out now on digital from Dazzler Media.

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