Savage Dog (2017)

Posted in Reviews by - July 31, 2017
Savage Dog (2017)

Stuntman-turned-director Jesse V. Johnson uses the relatively untapped cinematic backdrop of the fallout from the first Indochina war for this efficient Scott Adkins vehicle. Set in 1959, North Vietnam has become a post-war political hotbed and final outpost for a disparate group of European extremists, brought over to defend the French colony against the Viet Minh forces and the rising tide of communism. Ex-Nazis and war criminals command over a jungle refuge, clinging onto their increasingly fractious authority. Adkins does a good turn as a boxing, bomb-making Irish republican who winds up in a colonial jail and used as the star fighter in a lucrative militia-run combat ring. He strips to the waist in puddles of mud to kick the shit out of a succession of heavies in a bid to buy back his freedom, settle with his new squeeze (a saintly if underwritten role for Crouching Tiger 2 actor, JuJu Chan), and relax into some form of normality. A former SS colonel has other plans, however, and his idyllic vision is shattered, causing him to go on a particularly grisly quest for revenge. Armed with a machete and automatic rifles, the final act shows Adkins as a fully blown sadist – feral, even, and without honour or glory. Johnson’s moody aesthetic and use of slow motion lends a John Woo élan to the native setting, and certainly helps to elevate the film despite its low budget. He also gets strong performances from his supporting cast; notably the real-life fighters Marko Zaror – playing a nasty Spanish fascist known as The Executioner – and retired UFC star Cung Le as a corrupt general who gets to show his stuff in a zesty duel with Adkins near the end.

Savage Dog is released in US theatres on 4 August and on VOD and iTunes from 8 August via XLrator Media.

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