Ever since Brit action star Scott Adkins announced plans to adapt his dream project for the screen, and planned to co-write, produce and star, action fans were keen to see the results. First printed in early 1990’s comic Toxic! – based on a character from a series of strips by Pat Mills (Judge Dredd) and Tony Skinner – Accident Man makes for highly original source material. As a starter, it gave Adkins and co-writer Stu Smalls a blank filmic canvas from which to work, building a new live-action universe according to their vision.
In this movie, Mike Fallon (Adkins) is the Accident Man – a stone cold assassin whose trademark involves making his calculated ‘hits’ look like accidents. When his ex-girlfriend is dragged into the London underworld and murdered by someone from his own crew, Fallon is forced to rip apart the life he knew in order to avenge the one person who actually meant something to him.
Developing the film was already an interesting move for Adkins, having built his career headlining indie martial arts movies helmed by collaborators like Isaac Florentine, and supporting roles in major releases like The Expendables 2, Zero Dark Thirty and Doctor Strange. This showed him taking the reins as a filmmaker and creating his own vehicle from the ground up, based on a comic he always loved and a character he knew he could play.
Once the rest of the team was announced, things got even more interesting. Enlisting stuntman and rising filmmaker Jesse V. Johnson (Charlie Valentine, Savage Dog) to direct, the supporting cast was added with Ray Stevenson (Thor, Punisher: Warzone), Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite, Undisputed II), Ray Park (Star Wars: Episode I, X-Men), Amy Johnston (Lady Bloodfight, Female Fight Club), Ross O’Hennessy (Game of Thrones, The Bastard Executioner), plus dramatic support from David Paymer (Payback, Get Shorty), Perry Benson (This is England) and Ashley Green (Twilight). The fights would also be handled by Adkins’ regular choreographer, Tim Man (Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, Eliminators, Boyka: Undisputed).
Soon enough, they were filming in London and the surrounding areas, and things were kept relatively quiet. A highly ambitious production, it was shot on the typical schedule of an indie film, and fortunately they had a team conditioned to such a working pace.
Despite the immense work bringing this project to the screen, and being shot on a lean budget with limited time (just 24 days) and resources, the finished product is very much worth the wait. Drawing on its arsenal of raw talent, Accident Man is a fresh, inventive and darkly comic star vehicle for Adkins and undoubtedly one of his best films and roles to date.
Portraying the anti-hero so well (as we know from Ninja 2 and the Undisputed sequels), Adkins is backed up by colourful performances from actors we haven’t seen represented quite this way before. From White and Park playing a funny, bickering (but deadly) double team, Mick and Mac, to Johnston’s small but memorable (psychopathic) role as Jane the Ripper, there’s a fresh spin on old conventions and typecasting. Stevenson also holds a commanding presence as Big Ray, the bellowing boss of the assassin syndicate. The unravelling carnage and sly humour is played out with punchy dialogue and a very British flavour, represented in part by quickfire gags, slang and some characteristically English sights and sounds, namely the locations, fashion and music.
Needless to say, the action is a major ingredient and it runs consistently well. Combining the physical skill you’d expect, the ruthless efficiency of these characters is shown through some hilariously violent beatdowns, through Fallon picking fights with “scumbags” to settling painful scores with old colleagues. Highlights include a two-on-one showdown with Adkins vs White & Park, and Adkins vs Johnston. The fight scenes are fast, complex, highly intricate but feel believable within the extreme skillset of these characters. Tim Man once again does a fine job in the action design and shows another range to Adkins’ diverse style. The fights are amplified by epic, bone-crunching sound design and understated, subtle music which enhances the dramatic beats of the action.
Being a fan of Jesse V. Johnson and his directorial career, he has created another gritty and retro inspired outing – readily seen in the story themes, ensemble characters (and their quirks) and a somewhat ‘classic’ style. If you look at Charlie Valentine or Savage Dog, they could be straight out of the 1970’s or 80’s and pay no mind to being trendy. I look forward to his upcoming Adkins collaborations in The Pay Up and Triple Threat, as well as The Beautiful Ones with Ross McCall.
Arriving on DVD (no Blu-ray in the UK sadly), the film can be enjoyed with some short but decent extras, including the featurettes, “Assassin’s Roll Call” (introducing the cast), “Violent Ballet” (breaking down the fight action) and an insightful writers’ commentary with Scott Adkins and co-writer/lifelong friend, Stu Small. As always, I’d love to see more, but at least we get some insight and it’s not relegated to a bare bones release.
In hindsight, it’s been a great journey to witness running full circle. I had the privilege of hosting the Accident Man panel at MCM London Comic Con back in 2017, which was awesome. And, of course, I featured Adkins on the cover of my first book Life of Action. UK fans also had the opportunity to see the UK premiere on the big screen courtesy of The Fighting Spirit Film Festival, with Adkins meeting fans and taking part in a Q&A. It was an excellent event and the film played exceptionally well on the big screen.
So, by sticking to their vision and keeping things authentic, these guys have achieved something pretty rare – a fresh adaptation of untapped source material, delivered on an indie budget (outside the big studio machine) with very positive results. The movie deserves to be supported, seen and championed, so that the industry recognises value in these projects that exist outside the mainstream. Plus, this deserves a follow-up chapter for the next, violent adventures of Mike Fallon.
Accident Man is out now on DVD and Digital from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment