The bloody action film “Vendetta” is proof that female directors can duke it out with the rest of the guys. Although it was produced by WWE Studios, which inspires images of giant men fighting each other in a ring, it was directed by The Soska Sisters who are long-time fans of the WWE. This shows throughout the movie, as there are many scenes that feel like a wrestling match, only with a lot more fake blood and props.
For anyone who only associates Dean Cain with 1990s show “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” his role here should come off as a surprise. Cain starts as somewhat of a hero in the role of Chicago cop Mason Danvers who puts away a particularly nasty criminal played by professional wrestler The Big Show, who stands at 7 feet tall and looks like he could crush a man’s skulls with one hand. The criminal, Victor Abbot, is due to spend many years in prison, but after a few key witnesses “disappear” he is back on the streets. The first things he does is pay a visit to Mason’s home to brutally murder his wife, who was of course pregnant at the time. Caught again by Mason, Victor goes back to prison with a big smile on his face knowing he has emerged victorious.
As the movie’s title indicates, Mason wants to have revenge, which he begins by murdering Victor’s brother and two of his henchmen. Despite being found guilty of a triple homicide, Mason still has enough friends in the justice system to be placed in the same prison where Victor is being held. The plan is to kill Victor the first chance he gets, and Victor would of course love to do the same to Mason, but each adversary has a few obstacles in their way.
For Mason it is Victor’s fellow inmates who all obey his orders since he is the prison boss. For Victor it is prison warden Snyder (Michael Eklund) who has the final say on everything that happens in the prison including who lives and who dies. The death of a cop, even a killer cop, would attract unwanted attention to his dealings inside and outside the prison so no one is to make waves. Unfortunately Mason intends to not only make waves but cause a hurricane inside the prison. Using his fists, handmade brass knuckles, and even a sink he puts everyone working for Victor in the prison morgue.
Overall this is a pretty simple premise, but as AC/DC once said “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It).” From the opening fight in a warehouse you see this is not one of those action films where characters get shot and don’t bleed. The Soska Sisters clearly have no problem with directing a brawl between a bunch of ripped guys as they beat each other silly.
As the hell-bent Mason, Cain’s job is to act intense and threatening for pretty much the entire film, which must have been difficult in the scenes when he is face to face with The Big Show, who towers over everyone like a rhinoceros. Then you have Michael Eklund as the immoral warden Snyder, who despite being a truly despicable character manages to stay likable, mostly because for some reason he seems to be channelling Daniel Plainview from “There Will Be Blood.” Imagine Daniel Day-Lewis saying the line “You nearly killed a man, with a sink no less,” and you will get the idea.
This movie is definitely a guilty pleasure, or maybe just a plain pleasure if you like your action movies raw with plenty of bloody violence.
(“Vendetta” is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray and available on VOD.)