A week after the Halloween celebration, Blood, Sweat and Terrors is due out Tuesday, November 6, 2018 through RLJE Films on DVD, VOD and digital platforms. Though, it is not strictly one long film. It is 9 action shorts, each handled by a different director and writer, compiled together by Justin McConnell (Skull World 2013, Minutes Past Midnight 2016). For example, Éric S.Boisvert (Turbo Kid 2015, Polyamory 3 2018) wrote and directed Olga in 2016 before it became a part of this film. The same goes for Alexandre Carrière and Jacob’s Wrath. The year 2007’s Fetch is the oldest one on offer, written and directed by cult Action star Daniel Bernhardt (Mortal Kombat Conquest series, John Wick 2014).
That said, there is plenty on offer. The year 2014’s Get Some is a Comedy about a post-apocalyptic TV show where host Hunter Smith (Warren Brown: Luther series) tracks down flesh-eating mutants alongside Dr. James Borans (John Hannah: Four Weddings and a Funeral 1994, Spartacus: Blood on the Sand series). While Jacob’s Wrath is about a father (Roc LaFortune: I’m Not There 2007. Beastly 2011) considering avenging his daughter’s death and dreaming about how he would do it.
Express Delivery has a bounty hunter (Sonny Louis: The Ringmaster 2016. Game of Thrones series) trying to keep his cover from being blown by a man called Swifty (writer/director Beau Fowler: Amber 2017. I Am Vengeance 2018). One segment could have punchlines, while the other could have hard-hitting drama. However, are they worth picking up all together? Are the golden segments worth putting up with the rough ones? Or maybe they are all golden, or all rough.
There are some definite standouts. Express Delivery won 36 awards for its action, screenplay, editing, and score, amongst others. Fowler even got some for his acting, which is not bad, depending on one’s taste for his Noo Yawk accent. The fight scenes definitely deserved their awards though. Express Delivery offers the best ones out of the whole package. Fowler is especially impressive with his strikes and Capoeira-style kicks, though Louis is no slouch either at getting his own swings in.
Likewise, Get Some might be the best of the comedy shorts. Directors Adam and Joe Horton (Chomp! 2011), alongside co-writer Simon Uttley (Alleycats 2016), delve into mock-reality TV with Get Some. It plays out like something one would see on Spike TV shortly after Armageddon. The world may have ended, but trash TV and Twitter hashtags live on. Brown’s Smith and Hannah’s Borans play out like an odd couple debating over whether the mutants are monsters or misunderstood. It is essentially a comedy take on I Am Legend, looking into Matheson’s themes alongside the knob jokes. Shame it does not so much end as stop.
Awesome Runaway, written and directed by Benjamin De Los Santos (Zombie Madness 2008), is about a man escaping an interrogation. Only he has been drugged with something that makes him seemingly unstoppable. It is in French, with English subtitles, though the short is not carried by its dialogue. If anything, its stunts and direction are what keeps it afloat. The camera follows the action a la 2005’s Tom-Yum-Goong’s hotel fight scene. While the action does not beat Tony Jaa, it still makes for an entertaining short. Bonus points for good visual effects, some bonkers comedy segments, and its twist ending.
Jacob’s Wrath is a muted affair compared to the previous entries. Runaway may have been bold, and Get Some cool, but Wrath’s colors are desaturated to near-greyness. Though, it serves to make some of the more symbolic parts stand out. The short has some interesting direction as it mixes Jacob’s fantasy with the reality. As a result, it says a lot more through its camerawork than its dialogue. For example, how Jacob related to his daughter Emily (Léa Roy: Wolfe 2018), and to her killer (Antoine Olivier Pinion: 1:54 2016), etc. Wrath sticks out compared to the rest as it is not a lively punchfest. But, it may be the best when it comes to drama and pure film-making.
That said, Fetch should please anyone with a taste for cheese. It is about John ‘Fetch’ Fetcher (David Leitch: Atomic Blonde 2017.,Deadpool 2 2018). He is a private investigator looking into a kidnapping case to earn enough to pay off his ex-wife Susan (Allison Dunbar: Criminal Minds series). So far, so film noir, even down to Fetch narrating the action. Fetch shows its age, or its budget, as it looks like a TV pilot compared to the other shorts. Still, Leitch does well as the downtrodden protagonist, and does very well in the fight scenes. It is corny, and dated, yet it is still fun to watch.
Five shorts out of nine is not bad when it comes to highlights. That is not to say the others are bad. Empire of Dust achieves Director Adam Mason’s aim in it being “Oldboy meets Hellraiser” as a gunman (Paul Sloan: Vigilante Diaries 2016, Green Book 2018) is haunted by the sins of the past. Likewise, Boisvert’s Olga offers a mix of Wrath’s drama with some strong fight choreography with its tale of revenge. Both are over so quickly.
Turncoat, written and directed by Will Gilbey (Rise of the Footsoldier 2007, A Lonely Place to Die 2011), tells a grittier story than Wrath. Though, it feels more standard – like a British cop show with a touch more blood. While Flow earned director and writer Shelagh Rowan-Legg (Measure 2015) 2 awards and 2 nominations on the film festival circuit in 2017; not bad for a comedy short about war and menstruation. Turns out its tagline has a double-meaning (“On the battlefield, blood will flow…”). The action and effects are not great, but it makes up for it in banter.
Overall, Blood, Sweat and Terrors is worth checking out on release. Its weakest entries still have enough going on in them to maintain viewer interest. While its strongest ones are entertaining for one reason or another. There are cheesy one-liners, both self-aware and otherwise, to go with some slick martial arts. The compilation also mixes smiles and frowns with its comedic touches and dashes of sadness. Though, some fizz out right when they should bang, the ones that do explode, do so very well. Thus, CrypticRock evens out its general score to 4 out of 5 stars.