Close Range Blu-ray Review

Scott Adkins is a great fighter in a bad movie

Cut through to the few Scott Adkins fight scenes and Close Range might prove successful. Adkins, paired again with Isaac Forentine after 2013’s exemplary Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear, produces some extended brawls. Their organic feel mirrors the best of Hong Kong’s martial arts spectacles – wide angles, long takes, hard hits.

Close Range brings guns to this fist fight though. Mexican cartel members sway rifles wildly toward their target, summoned into the story for their ability to act like Star Wars Stormtroopers. They can’t hit anything. Ammunition appears infinite. It’s soon realized Close Range is killing time to reach feature length.

Under the violence are the formalities of a chintzy Western – the loner on the run from corrupt sheriffs and outlaws. Adkins’ feisty kicking talents are drowned in a downpour of Z-grade tough guy dialog, set off by contemporary cinema’s thinnest MacGuffin – the info-stuffed flash drive.

Colton (Adkins) escapes through dry scenery until Close Range settles into a ranch house for the final 20 minutes. The stand-off is pitiful, an exchange of gunfire which is neither necessitated by an already thin narrative or that exciting. Close Range has no quit in its system even as it tanks its own entertainment value.

It’s quick to set expectations, drawing in action aficionados with visible skill behind the lens.

That leaves ten or so minutes of choreography as the take away. Adkins kicks and stabs with the best of ’em, lighting up an otherwise tepid feature concerning itself with corruption. Close Range is wise to open with a splendid master shot involving multiple opponents for Adkins. It’s quick to set expectations, drawing in action aficionados with visible skill behind the lens. Credentials cannot be questioned.

Missing though are critical story functions – Florentine and his action-specific writing team wither when character development is needed. Nick Chinlund’s small town cop Jasper Calloway is a special failure by the film’s close.

No one leaves Close Range any different than when they came in. Female cast member Madison Lawlor stays a damsel in distress and Caitlin Keats’ tough wife routine leads nowhere; neither performance is allowed room away from archetypes. The same goes for Chinlund and the typecast cartel members who are so indistinct, they’re introduced by on-screen text.

This leaves it all on Adkins, who while spry when fighting, lacks the charisma to propel a narrative this dull. He’s not an interesting talker, or not enough so to carry this helplessly padded yarn. Close Range is B-level cinema with an A-level eye for martial arts – all 10 minutes of them.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Close Range Blu-ray screen shot 9

Digital cinematography produces a clean source for this Blu-ray to work from. With the exception of some muddy establishing shots of the various mountain ranges, Close Range excels in clarity. Definition reproduces facial definition without issues such as noise hampering the quality. Each frame is precise.

Any faults lie with the color correction, delivering a pale, plain-in-appearance film, lurking in stale blues and oranges. Flesh tones are dry or non-existent. A few shots with clear exterior lighting do allow a touch of saturation. Even these are whittled down.

Close Range has few other concerns. Black levels are never a challenge. The film is shot primarily under well-lit staging. Contrast is hearty even if the color zaps dimensionality. Xlrator pulls off their encoding duties without any artifacts.

Video ★★★★☆ 

While the DTS-HD offering is in 5.1, it would appear Close Range was mixed for stereo. The few effects which slip into the surrounds are a surprise once in the mix of gunfire which holds firm to the front channels. Bullets fire and connect only within the forward soundstage. While accurate – gun position is mirrored perfectly – action staging is sonically flat.

Two car chases follow the same pattern. Vehicles pan through the stereos, ignoring any motion off camera behind the listener. LFE is removed too, aside from the soundtrack. Even with the focus on spreading audio to the sides, dialog is strict in its center placement. Clear and well balanced, but centered.

Audio ★★★☆☆ 

Trailers are the minimal bonus feature.

Extras ★☆☆☆☆ 

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.