The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

EL GRINGO (2012) ***

Scott Adkins. The man continues to be the most underrated action star of the new millennium. Mainstream audiences got to see a glimpse of what Adkins can do in The Expendables 2 this year. But if you really want to see what he’s all about, you need to check out his DTV action films. El Gringo is Adkins’ latest flick and if you loved him as Boyka in the Undisputed movies, you’re gonna love him as El Gringo.

Adkins plays an undercover agent who narrowly survives a shootout in the middle of the Mexican desert. After walking in the blazing sun for hours, he happens upon a small town where it’s seemingly impossible for him to get a drink of water. As it turns out, the citizens have been instructed not to talk to gringos by the drug dealers who run the town. Predictably, Adkins falls for a sexy bartender and he eventually decides to help clean up the streets.

A lot of people are going to confuse this with the Mel Gibson flick Get the Gringo, just because they have the word “Gringo” in the title. That’s okay though, because they would make a great double feature. Like that film, El Gringo features some great action beats, including a terrific shootout in the streets of the town and a memorable bit involving Adkins popping out of a trunk. And since Adkins is the star, the flick contains several well done martial arts sequences as well.

However, some of the action sequences are nearly undone by a lot of needlessly amped up editing. Adkins has a potentially great fight with a henchman named “El Jefe”. It starts off just fine, but the comic timing of the fight (El Jefe stops fighting Adkins every time his hat falls off) is almost ruined by the jarring editing; not to mention the pointless whooshing and whizzing on the soundtrack that accompanies each edit. I could’ve also done without the unnecessary graphic of character names popping up every time a new character is introduced. (Dragon Eyes, the previous After Dark Action Fest movie I reviewed, also suffered from the same thing.)

That’s okay though because the overall tone of the film is quite fun. (It often feels like a pseudo-Spaghetti Western version of Quick Change.) And the running gag of Adkins trying to find a glass of water is often very funny. I also dug the cheesy post card graphic that pops up every time someone said, “Acapulco”.

Adkins gives a great leading performance. Previously, he had been playing the strong, silent types. El Gringo is a good opportunity for him to lighten things up a bit and show he can play an easy-going likeable guy. Christian Slater also provides solid support as the dirty Fed that’s on Adkins’ trail.

Sure, it has some pretty bad editing (and runs on about ten minutes longer than it probably should), but El Gringo is a lot better than the usual DTV action fare. There are enough ingeniously staged action sequences here to make El Gringo worth the plunge. If anything, it’s further proof that Scott Adkins is the real deal.

Tags: action, e, kung fu
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