Savate may not be for everyone but Isaac Florentine proves why he’s one of the best action directors in the business with a story that’s a little different with some nice homages to Spaghetti Westerns and 3:10 to Yuma.
Plot: 1865. A young French officer, travelling the U.S. in search of the murderer of his best friend, gets involved in a struggle between poor farmers and a rich landowner. To help the farmers, he offers them his “Savate” (French kickboxing) skills.
Review: Isaac Florentine directs Olivier Gruner, R. Lee Ermey, James Brolin, Ian Ziering and Ashley Laurence in this genre crossing action flick.
It’s a Spaghetti Western mixed with a martial arts tournament movie and is a helluva lot of fun. The fact that’s it’s apparently based on a true story makes it all the more fascinating, although I don’t know how much is really fact.
I’m a big fan of Isaac because as soon as you see his name as director, then you know you’re going to get some great fight scenes and a story that moves along at a great pace.
This isn’t a slow-burn Western but it literally has a fight scene about every two minutes so it kept me glued from beginning to end. Olivier Gruner has always been an underrated action star and fights similarly to Jean-Claude Van Damme.
He’s the mysterious stranger Joseph Charlegrand in this movie and manages to be cool and likeable, but also sympathetic. He is also a master of Savate (French kickboxing) who rarely meets anyone to match his skill… expect for one man: Ziegfield Von Trotta (Marc Singer), a German sadist who relishes the suffering of others. When he kills Charlegrand’s best friend he vows vengeance and you just know they will meet again for a violent finale.
Sadly I think Singer is the weakest link of the film as his monocle wearing villain is more pantomime than intimidating. You may recognize Singer from the TV Series V, which I grew up watching. He was better in that…
What ensues is Bloodsport: The Western and we even have the legendary Donald Gibb in a supporting role as one of Charlegrand’s supporters; he believes he can save the town from the evil rich dude Benedict, played with relish by R. Lee Ermey.
The majority of performances are actually pretty decent with Ermey stealing the show.
Ian Ziering is an odd choice for one of the leads but it ends up not being a huge role; he’s surprisingly alright as the honourable farmer Cain Parker, determined to keep his land.
I have to admit for always having a bit of a thing for Ashley Laurence ever since she was in the Hellraiser movies but her character is a little bit annoying and always trying to talk people out of fighting. Shut up, this is an action movie so they’re gonna fight.
The story is rather predictable as you know fine well that Cain will die and Charlegrand will end up with his wife as they fancy each other straight away.
I also had a problem with Ziegfield Von Trotta coming back in the end in one of the more clichéd moments, which happened in pretty much every 90’s action movie. He was clearly dead; I mean, he got stabbed in the eye, then impaled in the chest… but wait, he still manages to get up to raise his gun at Charlegrand while his back is turned, before being gunned down by Mrs. Parker (Ashley Laurence).
Isaac clearly shows his love for the Spaghetti Westerns with a very Ennio Morricone-style score, close ups of the eyes and several showdowns.
Like I said, it’s well paced and fight scenes are well done and as a huge fan of Westerns and martial arts, then it won me over immediately.
Overall, Savate may not be for everyone but Isaac Florentine proves why he’s one of the best action directors in the business with a story that’s a little different with some nice homages to Spaghetti Westerns and 3:10 to Yuma.