26th December 2018
A film crew led by stuntman Donnie come to witness a Gangland hit and have to fight for their lives to survive the night.
Jean-Paul Ly, Rosanna Hoult, Adam McNab, Nicky Evans
The Raid meets Snatch in Marc Price’s latest film Nightshooters, a delightful action/comedy romp that’s as ludicrous as it is entertaining.
Whilst the cast and crew of an independent film shoot in a derelict building, they accidentally witness a gruesome double murder and must fight for their lives to survive the night. Luckily for them, the talents of their martial arts actor Donnie (Jean-Paul Ly; Jailbreak, Viking Siege) and resourceful special effects technician Ellie (Rosanna Hoult; Captain America, Kill Your Friends) may help them overcome the ruthless but cumbersome group of gangsters led by Tarker (Richard Sandling). But what nobody knows, with the exception of irritable director Marshall (Adam McNab; Something Happens Here), is that the building is rigged for immediate demolition come sunrise.
Nightshooters begins like an ensemble comedy: we are introduced to the cast and crew of the martial arts zombie film “Dawn of the Deadly” as they bicker and squabble whilst setting up their next shot. Sound recorder Oddbod (Nicky Evans) continuously pops his lips together to check the acoustics of the room, star actor Harper (Doug Allen; The Firm) refuses to give up his phone, and coffee girl Kim (Mica Proctor) is unable to produce anything hot and appetising. It’s a smart, well-written opening that contains many astute observations and lots of laughs. Therefore, we are instantaneously given half a dozen characters to root for and engage with. No mean feat indeed, but writer/director Marc Price pulls it off without breaking a sweat.
After an impeccable set-up, Nightshooters doesn’t waste time before diving feet first into its kung-fu action led by Jean-Paul Ly. Notably influenced by the recent successes of The Raid and John Wick, Marc Price knows to shoot the action wide and with long takes, letting us see the choreography and all of its hard work. It becomes more impressive still when you learn that Nightshooters was shot in just 17 days, with some fight scenes having to be rehearsed over Skype calls. There is a giddiness to this action which must be attributed to the somewhat improvised nature of the scenes. So whilst it might not be as polished as the aforementioned films, the action in Nightshooters has a more gratifying homemade feel, and therefore succeeds in being compared to its arguable superiors.
There is a harmony between action and comedy for the majority of this film. Jokes land like a swift right-hook witnessed in the previous punch-up, and a certain gag involving freezing cold coffee had me in stitches. It’s also leaden with expletives, but the actors sell it well and they all time their lines expertly. The pace is fast and relentless, hoping from action to quips without ever feeling tiresome to create a truly joyous experience and something that’s a pleasure to watch.
So imagine my surprise during the final act where a major tonal shift rears its head. The major incident, that I shall not spoil, transforms Nightshooters into a much more serious film; a straight thriller with high stakes. It does succeed in this alteration, however, I can’t deny that I enjoyed the finale significantly less now that the spontaneous action/comedy combo was gone. It didn’t work for me as I couldn’t find myself connecting with the characters that I once loved. Their personalities and bickering dynamic having been stripped away, leaving an ending that felt acceptable, but somewhat hollow.
Technically Nightshooters is a perfectly adequate film. The original soundtrack by Adam Langston is suitably punchy and sentimental when needed. Cinematography may not be particularly memorable (the films low budget can be seen visually here), but the drab setting of a desolate building thankfully never becomes tiresome. I did find the sound effects during the fight scenes to be too exaggerated, although whether this was intentional I’m not sure, but it was a slight distraction for me.
After such a shot of cinematic adrenaline, it’s unfortunate to say that the ending left me feeling disappointed. But Nightshooters never crumbles under the weight of my complaints. It’s a low budget picture with big ambitions, one that’s thoroughly entertaining and a true showcase of a growing filmmaker.
Brilliant melding of action and comedy
Hilarious ensemble cast
Talented director to keep an eye on
Tonal shift makes the finale disappointing
Distracting sound effects