02nd Dec2020

‘Knuckledust’ VOD Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Moe Dunford, Kate Dickie, Gethin Anthony, Alex Ferns, Jaime Winstone, Phil Davis, Sebastian Foucan | Written and Directed by James Kermack

Right spoilers on my verdict out of the way first…. I keep saying a lot lately that we are smack dab in the middle of an independent movie surge in the UK, with some truly fantastic directors, actors, producers and DOPs all standing up and being counted. Whatever your genre you can find something for you – from quality horror with the Shudder lockdown movie Host, straight up sci-fi with Tom Paton’s G-Loc, a sports drama with Sam Gitten’s vehicle Break or martial arts action with Kung Fu Matty’s Tribal: Get Out Alive… One other independent UK movie that I managed to check out recently that fits the same category is Knuckledust. Honestly, I was intrigued by the cast, the synopsis and that poster above which has a real late 90s early 00s direct-to-DVD vibe to it, in all the best possible ways! And being a video shop clerk many moons ago this only further excites me. Let’s dive right into Knuckledust, a movie that as I write this still has me smiling and thinking about what I just saw.

Club Knuckledust is an elite underground Fight Club that houses some of the Baddest Hardest bastards on the block. Tonight it is about to be raided by a Police Special Task Force. What they find is seven levels of holy hell full of dead bodies with only one man still standing… Hard Eight (Moe Dunford). With Hard Eight in custody and word that a sinister government official is on his was to take custody Chief Inspector Katherine Keaton (Kate Dickie) has the runtime of the movie to figure out what the hell went down. Is Hard Eight a bloodthirsty killer or the lone survivor of a massacre. Keaton has a hundred and one questions but with every answer comes more questions. What the hell happened tonight in club Knuckledust?

Moe Dunford! That’s it… That is all I have… Enjoy!

Seriously, Moe Dunford is bloody excellent as Hard Eight and is the sheer embodiment of this hyper-surreal, almost neo-noir, action thriller. From the get-go he looks the part, walks the part and – as the movie goes on – smashes the part. I was a big fan of his role as Aethulwulf in Vikings but here he is flexing his acting muscle to the max. Fighting, shooting, one-liner dropping and monologuing throughout. This was possibly my favourite leading male performance of 2020.

Knuckledust is set in a mega-stylised version of real life and James Kermack has crafted a super sexy vision for the screen. What starts out as a bone-crunching fight flick, quickly turns into an investigative noir, with its tongue firmly in its cheek taking itself just seriously enough. Drawing on all the best parts of Richie, Rodriguez or Tarantinoand slapping a pulpy graphic novel tinge on it; then rounding that out with a killer soundtrack with a touch of sexy synth and bonkers out-there set pieces making this one of the most “international” British movies I have seen in a bit.

Acting all round is spot on with Gethin Anthony (Game of Thrones) being a scene stealing son of bitch at every turn, looking like he just stepped out of Miami Vice. Phil Davis (Face) putting in a turn as an aging hit man proving he’s still got it. Jaime Winstone (Tomb Raider) is a bright light and brings that Brit brashness, she impressed me here. Sebastian Foucan (the free runner at the start of Casino Royale) is fantastic as Tick Tock and provides one of the fighting highlights of the movie. I am loving seeing Alex Ferns (Chernobyl) popping up in loads of stuff lately, I loved him In 2003s Man Dancin’ and think it’s about time he had his moment.

This brings me to Kate Dickie… I am a fan and she rarely lets you down (we will forgive The Last Jedi, that was the movie not Kate). Sharing equal billing with Dunford she lights up the interrogation room with some great dialogue and the chemistry between the two is on point.

I think James Kermack has done something special here and has a cracking cast that know what this movie is and what it wants to be. The fight choreography is a country mile better than what I was expecting, with an emphasis on the films elevator fight – which was frantically brutal; and the gimp-suit clad ninjas in the corridor that was gleefully reminiscent of THAT Old Boy hallway fight, only replace the hammer with a dildo. The visual even turning to a side view much like that movie which A) took me by surprise and B) looked great.

From the first frame to the last Knuckledust knows itself and in turn knows the audience that is going to take to it. I loved just about everything they threw at us – intelligent one liners and a complex script with a well told narrative. Bursts of neon, splatterings of blood, flashes of guns and even inserting some animation in their to further conjure up that graphic novel, comic book, feel.

I can’t recommend Knuckledust enough. It’s an entertaining, balls to the wall, funny as hell, SUPERB way to spend 105 minutes. Gimme a sequel James Kermack; I have my eye on you!

***** 5/5

Knuckledust is released on VOD in the UK on December 11th 2020.

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