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As much as I love movies that find actors flipping through the air like poorly-animated action figures, sometimes I just need some dudes in a room beating the crap out of one another. I don’t care how much money you have in your budget, computer-generated effects can’t replicate the intensity of two people engaged in well-choreographed hand-to-hand combat. When I’m in the mood for something brutal and realistic, I always hit the indie film circuit.
Directors Shaun Piccinino and Jason Sanders 2012 action flick “The Lackey” is an unassuming low-budget endeavor that delivers everything you could possibly want from the genre. All of the fight scenes contained in the flick are top-notch, and provide the same level of thrills you’d find in Jason Statham’s best efforts. What’s even more impressive is that the movie gets better on repeat viewings. I honestly cannot recommend it enough.
Co-writer and co-director Shaun Piccinino stars as Jude St. Clere, an alcoholic lackey who does various odd jobs for host of different criminals around the city. If someone needs their head kicked in, then this is the guy you call to get the job done. However, St. Clere soon finds himself in over his head when two rival gangs start competing for the same turf. Although he usually doesn’t have a problem putting himself in harm’s way, Jude’s perspective changes when he discovers that he has a six-year-old daughter. As the war on the streets heats up, our hero accepts an offer that will help him provide for his child well into the future.
Don’t let the sentimental aspect of “The Lackey” lead you to believe this is some sort of touchy-feely movie with a deep, meaningful message. Jude’s quest for redemption is certainly admirable, but it’s not the centerpiece of the feature. Although the story certainly helps move things along, it’s those sudden bursts of violence that keep you glued to the screen. The movie unfolds with the energy of an early Guy Ritchie flick, complete with colorful characters, slick dialogue, and a sleazy underworld setting. It’s familiar territory, but Piccinino and co-director Jason Sanders work wonders with the material. Piccinino’s narration is also spot-on.
The filmmakers did an admirable job of stretching their $300,000 budget to the breaking point. Although there are a few moments when the film’s budget pops onto the radar, they are very few and far between. It’s clear that some of the shoot-outs are using CGI muzzle flashes, but it’s really small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. Chances are you’ll be too rattled by Jude’s ability to kick a major amount of ass to really care that some of the effects a tad wonky. Honestly, everything else is nailed with such precision that these rough patches immediately fade into the background. As they should, of course.
In short, “The Lackey” is a solid piece of work. Directors Shaun Piccinino and Jason Sanders, along with co-writer Steve Pisa and the cast and crew, have crafted a fantastic old-school action flick for a fraction of Michael Bay’s manicure budget. The fights are solid, the acting is strong, and the story is engaging enough to carry you through till the very end. And while I’d love to see a sequel, I’m perfectly happy with the way the storyline was wrapped up. “The Lackey” proves you don’t need millions of studio dollars to make a bristling, white-knuckled crime thriller that delivers the cinematic goods. This is an impressive endeavor all the way around. See it as soon and as often as you possibly can.
Shaun Piccinino, Jason Sanders (directors) / Shaun Piccinino, Steve Pisa (screenplay)
CAST: Shaun Piccinino … Jude St. Clere
Vernon Wells … Mr. Dechlan
Nick Belardes … Dimitri
Rickey Bird … Sonny Fingers
D.T. Carney … Big Leo
Jeremy Dunn … The Russian
Guy A. Grundy … Grundy
Mark Magid … Jean Baptist
Larry Wang Parrish … Alfred