HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:74.5
When you see that a movie is produced by WWE studios, stars a professional wrestler (in this case Paul “Big Show” Wight), and is titled “Vendetta”, you pretty much know what you’re in for. That is, bad acting, lots of fisticuffs and writing that would make a 5th grader wince in pain. It isn’t that say that these WWE films are unenjoyable, not in the least. I get a ridiculous amount of pleasure out of the hammy acting and the copious amount of bloodshed injected into the 90 minute runtimes of these DTV and VOD films. Big Show is an enormous beast of a man, and watching him smash what seems like tiny little humans in comparison into the ground, is a complete guilty pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless. Directed by sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska, this is about the opposite of a chick flick as one could possible imagine. Soaked in blood and prison yard justice, the film doesn’t pave any new trails, but it manages to give enough bloody, bruised knuckles to satisfy that testosterone surge that happens every full moon.
Mason Danvers (Dean Cain) is living the high life right now. He and his partner, Det. Gainor (Benjamin Hollingsworth) have just captured Victor (Big Show) and Griffin Abbott (Aleks Paunovic) in an abandoned warehouse, and finally put their reign as crime lords to rest, or so they thought. Victor is let out on a technicality and ends up murdering Mason’s wife, brutally bludgeoning here to death with his bare hands. Back in the pokey isn’t enough though, as Mason decides that it’s time to take the law into his own hands. Gunning down Victor’s brother, Griffin, the now ex-cop is put into the same penitentiary as the man who murdered his wife (of course). It doesn’t take much intelligence to figure out what game Mason is playing. Good cop, bad cop, it doesn’t matter. He’s out to take revenge for his wife’s murder and doesn’t mind spilling a few gallons of blood along the way.
Things get dicey when Mason realizes that Victor isn’t the only enemy inside the walls. It seems that Warden Snyder (played by Michael Eklund, who hams it up like he’s in a Shakespearean play) has an arrangement with Victor Abbot, and despite that, is willing to play a little double agent with both Victor and Mason. Pitting one against the other, the two duke it out via Victor’s minions until the hulking crime lord realizes that a man with a grudge as deep as Mason’s just won’t be stopped. Aided by an ex-cop turned prison guard named Ben (Matthew MacCaull), our protagonist leaves a trail of bloody bodies throughout the prison until it leads to the man who’s put him in this predicament. Or shall I say “MEN”.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=51929[/img]“Vendetta” isn’t a good movie, but it fits nicely into the wildly violent and blood soaked lineup that WWE studios has produced for the better part of a decade. There’s shivs, bloody fists, brass knuckles made out of pipe clamps and screws, as well as Big Show (Paul Wight) himself just tearing up the place like a force of Nature. I used to watch WWE back in the day (and still do on occasions), but I completely forgot how BIG of a man the guy is. Weighing in at over 400 lbs and built like a Sherman tank, the man sports hands that look like dinner plates and has the ability to effortlessly toss people around like rag dolls, and uses those skills quite a bit in the movie. Dean Cain is looking a bit stockier than when he was playing Superman, but soon proves to be the movie version Billy bad boy as he does a decent enough job at scowling at the camera and spouting bad line after bad line in between fights. Michael Eklund is pure gold here, giving his line delivery like he’s in the middle of a Shakespeare monologue and gleefully eating up every bit of scenery that he possibly can.
There’s nothing revolutionary about “Vendetta”. It’s a straight forward DTV revenge flick, but the Soska sisters do a solid job at keeping the 90 minute film free of any expositional fat and uses the minimal dialog and plot to act as a springboard for the violent prison beatings that happen quite a bit. The actors have fun with their roles and don’t take themselves too seriously. The whole concept is just ludicrous (a cop in general population just doesn’t happen) and the inclusion of Ben makes no sense, but who cares. We’re really here to watch “Big Show” manhandle people and watch Dean Cain act like a bad boy prison killer. The film is appropriately dark and has a rather satisfying ending. This isn’t high art, but as a guilty pleasure film, it was much better than I was expecting. Especially with how awful the production values can be on some of these DTV flicks.
Rated R for bloody violence and some language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=51937[/img]Thanks to the miracle of modern HD digital cameras, even the lowest of budget films can look really good with a proper cameraman. “Vendetta” happens to look exceptional on Blu-ray, with an incredibly detailed and vibrant 1.78:1 transfer to home video. The whole movie is kind of grim and grey, but there are still plenty of primary colors to pop on screen. The bright orange of prison jumpsuits contrast nicely with the grey concrete jungle they’re enclosed within, and the navy blue of guard uniforms look deep and rich. Blacks are inky and full of excellent shadow detail, making even the solitary confinement room look good. Fine detail is fantastic, with every cut, bruised knuckle and bloody shiv visible to the naked eye. Sweaty men beating the tar out of each other has never looked this good, and I must say that WWE studios has really upped their game in the video department the last couple of films.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=51945[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track on disc is certainly every bit as aggressive as the big men with big muscle are on screen. Full of heavy bass and a wide dynamic range, it pummels you at every turn with the pounding score and thudding of knuckles against flesh. Dialog is crisps and tight, locked up in the center channel and no distortions anywhere. Surrounds are constantly active as the movie is basically one big prison brawl with limited quieter moments. Fists, knives, gunshots, they all light up the rears with plenty of noise. My only qualm with the whole track was that it sounded a bit too aggressive and un nuanced. Sure there is plenty of action and plenty of activity, but the fine detail and clarity that I was hoping for wasn’t there. It’s not a bad track in any way shape or form, it’s just a minor niggle that I noticed during my listening.
• The Making of "Vendetta"
• A Haunted Location
• A Big Transformation
Cheesy, brutal and not without a plethora of flaws, “Vendetta” acts as a serviceable action/revenge flick for those of you with the inclination for the lower budget world of DTV. It’s not going to be a 5 star movie, but despite the weak script, actually kept me rather entertained as a bloody diversion. Video and audio are certainly excellent for a DTV movie and there is even a decent amount of extras (usually most low budget movies are coming as barebones discs these days). I can’t recommend this with unequivocal praise, but you can do a lot worse if you’re looking for an evening of popcorn and death. Rental all the way.
Starring: Dean Cain, Michael Eklund, Paul "Big Show" Wight
Directed by: Jen and Sylvia Soska
Written by: Justin Shady
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Buy Vendetta On Blu-ray at Amazon
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