Starring: Gary Daniels, Vannessa Vasquez
Director: R. Ellis Frazier
If you squint, Gary Daniels looks a bit like Daniel Craig. He has the same slab of a face, the same impressive way of filling out a short-sleeved shirt. Persona-wise, though, he’s more akin to Vinnie Jones – thin-lipped, tightly-wound, and only really at one with the world when he’s firing a gun or jamming his elbow up somebody’s nose.
Daniels plays Cole, a DEA agent who heads south of the border to Tijuana when his ex-wife, Sarah, goes missing, presumed dead, and his brother, who ran off with her, is the prime suspect. Except that it turns out that Sarah, who is an intrepid journalist, has been working on a story about a link between the cartels and a high profile businessman campaigning for mayor. Teaming up with Gracie (Vannessa Vasquez), a plucky photographer, Cole sets out to find out what’s happened to her.
It all unfolds as you might expect, although perhaps with less sparkle than you might hope. The script is plodding and can’t resist a cliché when one presents itself, and the same might be said of R. Ellis Frazier’s direction. There’s a bit of banter between the scowling hero and his plucky sidekick, but it never really hots up. The quieter scenes give the impression of having been thrown together quickly in one or two takes, and it’s clear that the bulk of the shooting schedule went on a handful of set-pieces. These are pretty watchable, although you can tell you’re dealing with a limited budget when the baddies spray the sides of buildings with bullets and not a single hole appears.
Still, the Mexican locations are nice, and Daniels – an ex-kick boxing champion – clearly has potential in this kind of action role. He clobbers opponents in a convincing manner, without breaking into a sweat, and you feel sorry for the rather lardy Latino extras who have to go up against him in the fight scenes. No doubt he’ll be graduating to bigger and better star vehicles before long and jamming that elbow of his up much more illustrious noses.