19th Mar2021

‘400 Bullets’ Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Andrew Lee Potts, Jean Paul Ly, James Warren, Steven Blades, Spencer Collings | Written and Directed by Tom Paton

It seems like just 57 days ago that I was writing my review of G-Loc, starring the ever so awesome Casper Van Dien (who I got to meet on set by the way, so we are pretty much best friends now) and I wondered for the most briefest of moments how long it would be before Paton was back on set. Turns out that ship had sailed and 400 Bullets was coming out! After making the move from the potato fields to an actual physical soundstage with Goldfinch Studios, Tom and his DOP (and soulmate) George Burt decided to put bricks and mortar to the relationship that had been building with producer Steve Mosley as they built their own studio.

We have seen this team tackle post apocalyptic, vampires, elder gods, a timey-wimey staircase and space colonization… So I guess it was high time we added some all out butt-kicking action to the repertoire with 400 Bullets.

Noah Brandt (Andrew Lee Potts) is tagging along with a bunch of Army Black-Ops soldiers, the mission is to transport some serious weaponry and computer guidance chips through a Taliban infested region of Northern Afghanistan. When the convoy is attacked Noah is shot and fatally wounded but manages to find safety in a lightly manned outpost where he finds Rana Rae (Jean Paul Ly) a mild mannered kickass Ghurka. Now the Two men must fend off all attackers as time is running out and they begin realize that the Taliban are not the only incoming threat.

Well it is about time we got an all out balls-to-the-wall action film from this director and what better way to do this than bring in one of the best up and coming martial arts/action movie talents out there – Jean Paul Ly. No doubt you will have seen my review of Nightshooters where he super-impressed the hell out of me, then I caught Jailbreak on Netflix and it was fairly obvious we are dealing with a new action star.

Pairing him up with Andrew Lee Potts, who at this point has pretty much done it all, is a stroke of genius for me because Potts is the name and rightly so drives the film forward but Ly is the unassuming star that propels it. The relationship and chemistry built between the two over the 90-minute runtime is undeniable and harkens back to some of the 80s/90s mismatched buddy movies; of course it also helps when you have natural flowing dialogue written by a Joss Whedon fan. Throw in some very well cast supporting roles and you’re on to a winner.

As a fan of Guy Richie, I recognized James Warren as one of those hard men in hard man roles, which is fine I guess but for me this was a role that Warren was able to run with and not only show the hard man villain side but he has some really cool villainous dialogue and just gets to be a bit of a sh*tbag (who doesn’t love that). I hope this is a gateway into more prominent roles for this man.

The folks behind 400 Bullets are a team I have been following for a while now and while I loved seeing them go a bit bigger with G-Loc it was great to see them dial it back for 400 Bullets and really concentrate on doing what they do best, while honing some new skills. The stunts and fight choregraphy for this movie are impeccable and the final showdown is absolutely gorgeous. While it may not go as long or be as fluid as The Raid, the hits land just as hard and the moves look just as sexy. You can tell all three of our main guys are throwing hands and I was into it.

There is not a lot else I can say here other than it’s great to see an accomplished flick such as 400 Bullets coming from a group of British film makers. George Burt’s cinematography is better than ever, as he treats us to some outside of the box gnarly angles that immerse you right in the thick of it. Darren Le Fevre and Spencer Collings stunt work and choregraphy just keeps getting better and better as they solidify their partnership; and here they have utilised Jean Paul Ly in a beautiful slow build to a brutal crescendo to great effect. Then there is Max Sweiry with that sexy score… it’s safe to say Sweiry always pulls it out the bag!

I do feel like I just gush over Paton’s movies but truthfully there aren’t many directors at this level that are able to wear as many hats as this guy does and still smash it. There is a lot less dialogue here than I have come to expect from the man, he certainly lets the action do the talking this time around. I will admit when I looked at the cast list I was a bit miffed not to see the usual ragtags, but here we have further proof this director knows how to cast and how to get the best out of that cast.

I don’t know if this is my new favourite “Tom Paton Universe” movie, to be honest I need to watch it again but it is a huge recommend and anyone who loves some solid martial arts action with an accompanying solid story needs to check out 400 Bullets as soon as possible. Independent British cinema is steam rolling its way ahead and this Ddirector is one of the guys at its forefront.

***** 5/5


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