Stuntman and fight choreographer turned writer and director Jesse V. Johnson's third collaboration with English martial artist Scott Adkins was 2018's THE DEBT COLLECTOR, a superior DTV action crime-thriller. Adkins plays French, an ex-paratrooper and martial arts instructor who becomes drawn into the criminal underground as a debt collector when his dojo is affected by financial troubles. Johnson's energetic script fizzes and crackles as the action escalates but it's the chemistry between Adkins and his partner Sue (Louis Mandylor) that really elevates this to classic status.
The Debt Collector
Dan: welcome to bad. Dad's film review. I never do this for his
Reegs: during the midweek or aren't we?
oh, I like that though. That's a good way
Sidey: Yes, we are doing, we're doing a mid-week. Which is traditionally what we do first. Yeah. And regs, you pick this one. It's a, it's a dude that you've mentioned before in the pod, and I'd never seen anything of him. Scott Adkins. And the movie was the debt collector.
Dan: Screamed budget from day one for moment. One
Reegs: if you cast your mind back to our direct to video special.
that we did the best movies, not released in theater. I did actually mention this movie and I saw that it was on Netflix this week. And I thought, oh yeah, I'll treat the guys
Dan: It is to the debt collector. So it instantly
had that feeling of no one you've ever seen has been in this film. No one you've ever seen has been associated with. Any kind of performance before at this level?
Reegs: well, Scott Scott Atkins was in one of the Marvel movies. He got beaten up by a Dr. Strange, his Cape
Dan: You just kind of had that feeling from, from early doors.
Reegs: I suppose the Genesis to this, right.
The background to all this that makes it interesting is that the director is a guy called Jesse V.
Johnson. He's an English guy and he worked as a stunt man and stuff coordinator for some pretty big movies. Charlie's angels, Mars attacks, planet, of the apes, Starship troopers, war of the worlds and his debut job was as a stump man on total recall the case. So this guy has been there and done it. And he, after working as a stump and he decided to make his own Movies. And he's, he's hooked up with Scott Adkins, who was an English mixed martial arts guy who, who has been trying to crack it in Hollywood for a little while. What what else is interesting is Jesse Johnson is the nephew of legendary stump, man Vic, Armstrong. He, Yeah, he was a Harrison Ford's stunt. . double four.
Dan: that regs.
You don't have to explain it.
Reegs: It was Harrison Ford stunt double for the Indiana Jones. First three movies Timothy Dalton stunt Dublin flash Gordon. George lays and B's in the skiing scenes in that one. And Christopher reads is double for Superman one and two. He did the jumping from the horse to the tag. The Indy does. in one of the It's like voted one of the top stunts of all time. So they come from a long pedigree of, of stunt fight coordinators and they usually make more fight heavy movies than this. This one was a little bit more plot-driven than your typical director video affair.
Pete: well, all of what you just said, that rigs it didn't amount to a decent.
Dan: I would, I would go against that, Pete and I say that I really fucking enjoyed this. I thought it w yeah, it really
Pete: Oh, w I will tell you off when you said that there was nobody that any, that you recognize that the the fellow that played candy, man,
Reegs: Tony Todd,
Pete: was it? It,
Sidey: Todd warrior.
Pete: him. I'm pretty sure after candy, man, he didn't do a great deal. And now this is where
Reegs: did county man too.
Pete: Well, he did, he did two, maybe even three on they rebooting that.
Reegs: Yeah. It's a really underrated movie. Actually. There's a lot of interesting themes in that one Now the midweek, And one
Pete: If it's better, it's better than this.
Reegs: Yeah. Pete, Pete's recording remotely this week. If you want to find out how and why please listen to the Friday episode where it will all come out in the intro
Pete: It's exciting.
he does sound like he's recording in a tin can, that's why
Sidey: so back to the movie, when it, when it started and the dialogue started, it had a feel of it being done.
Dan: You want to fight
Sidey: from English into English, which was a sort of strange phenomenon.
I quite enjoyed it.
Dan: Well, I must admit the writing is what held it together for me as well as the very matter of fact,
Funny acting by by Atkins really liked him. I was, I didn't like him for that. Yeah. 15, 20 minutes. And I, I was just sizing this out and thinking about where's this going?
Fucking, no, it started off like Mr. Miyagi or something of what this is. This is scraping all the bottom at about. Yep. But then it takes a turn in a twist and there's some. Some good characters in there
Reegs: Well, let's, let's talk about that as they
come in, because you're right. It does start off in a dojo, a great place for a martial arts film to start dojo. Scott Adkins is training Michael who is also one of the other actors. You may
Dan: it's got a three man walked down, reservoir, dog style down the street, as it follows these three heavies going into the dojo, demanding that he sells his lease because he's going out of business anyway. And they weren't.
They they've got a whole load of different dojo's that they want to take over. And I also say your traditional style is not, you know, so they're bigging up his style by saying nobody wants to follow this traditional style anymore. They want our generic brand of karate. He doesn't like it. They insult him by. Putting their shoes on his mat. And then he says, you've got to leave or I'm gonna kick you off. And they fancy the fight. So we get to see him fall.
Reegs: It's a decent fight. Isn't it? I mean, That's some of the stuff that I like you can tell, these guys are stunt men.
and. In the fight scenes are done so that the camera is part of the action. It's choreographed in the action. It's not choppy. It's really well-rehearsed, there's Some inventive moves in this. They don't, there's not so much of the like extraordinary wire flipping and that sort of thing. It's a much more grounded in realism style fighting
Sidey: I think it's the, the second one. I might've even been the first one that they go to when they're doing the debt collecting. And I got the feeling that the set was built, you know, very deliberately so that you could be thrown through various stud walls and stuff like that. yeah,
Dan: W which, which it kind of goes on and, and does, so basically the, the guy's going to lose his dojo. He's got no money, so he needs to take another job. And he's just proven to one other chap who watched him kick the ass of these guys that he's got what it takes and he, this guy can get him an interview with a local mobster.
Yeah. And he could become a debt collector, which is then what he goes to do.
Reegs: They're sent by Tommy they're given this list to go and collect debts, although it's never actually said like that they call the media. which I, it made me chuckle. And so they've got this, this list of names and he gets, he picks up a partner, a guy called Sue who is played by an actor.
I'd never heard of Louis Mandela. He's the brother of Costus Mandalore, who was in the saw franchise. Never heard of this guy. He's an X-Box Who's got a coupe Deville that he's too hung over to drive himself all the time. this is a great character. I, and him and Atkins together. have got brilliant chemistry.
Dan: FA fantastic chemistry.
They really do. I mean, I ma. Name Sue, like, you know, I just thought that was such a clever way to through it. So between them both, you're absolutely right weeks. The chemistry holds this together because these two actors just play off against each other fantastically and they give you all the laughs and all the kind of believable moments in it.
As far as this film goes, because it is one of those films that.
Has poetic license as an action film in Hollywood does to do unbelievable things. People get up. And after being cracked over the head by a bottle or in the, in the face with a lump of wood, there's something they're getting up.
Obviously they're not in real life. This all adds to it. And it's some really great fight scenes, some really great action scenes. And as they go through with this collection, yeah. Of debts that he has for the weekend, his partner to test them out, test the ground. Is this guy any good Susan old hand, it is, if an alcoholic he's really, really good at what he does.
And he's got absolutely no scruples about doing anything it takes to get the money. Whereas French is actually. A nice enough blokey east. He wouldn't smash somebody in the face if he thought he could just all the money out their hand.
Reegs: Well, he does, he does wrestle a bit with the morality of what he's doing. He's a paratrooper and he does rationalize it away and expiratory prison. He That's where he got his skills.
sort of thing. and he does rationalize it away sort of, but, but he's part of the journey. is his moral journey around it as well. I do like some of the nice little touches. Like he turns up wearing a suit on the first day, cause the boss tells him. to, And then he immediately gets into like, a sort of running chase with these
Reegs: guys and a fight wearing it.
Yeah. really cheap like two And yeah, just slipping all over the place in his shiny brokes there's quite a sort of that feel of somebody trying to capture a Tarantino type vibe of these small time crims, but there's just enough charm in it. That it, it works
Dan: for me. I really say 10 minutes in. I was thinking this is going to be uttered.
Sidey: yeah, it was a bit the same, actually.
Dan: I've watched it twice since then.
Sidey: Have you read it?
Dan: I'll watch it. I watched it through with a boy as well, and, and he w he really enjoyed it.
We watched that one as well. So that goes to show how much I enjoyed this movie, which was a really pleasant surprise, because as they go through these different collections, there's a number rated on each of the collections, depending on the amount of violence. Each person would, would be asked to be given.
Sidey: I can't believe a gangster would lend money with unfavorable
Dan: is unbelievable.
Sidey: but the way that the film works is almost like a computer game in it. You know, it levels up every time, you know, the, the billions get bigger and they, you know, comedically like double the size of our
Reegs: Atkins spends a fair amount of the movie getting beaten
Reegs: which is also interesting for a leading man.
Dan: This is it for the first, his first day on the, on the job as first weekend. He gets abs, he gets sent in for all the bad bits of the job while Sue just sits in Shagun women. If he can drinking, if he, if he's not doing that and and send in the new boy in to square up the deals and take all the
Sidey: So does the kind of mediating in the he'll get the guy and there's usually, you know, the hired help, the, the body guards that get there to pretend vacate there.
The fight is going on while he's telling them you got to pay, but, you know, during the inadvertent commerce, the mediating
Reegs: it escalates until we get to the bad guy, Barbosa that Pete was talking about Tony. Todd. He wants them to find some Irish kid basically. And his girl seems to have something to do with this.
We'd already seen in an earlier scene, a bit of tension when they'd met the first time they eventually track the guy down, but it's his, he sort of begs them. He pleads them, not to do it. And then you realize why, because his daughter is there.
and This is quite a scene, actually, some good acting from, Louis Mandalore.
Dan: there, there is it.
The second half of this film gets better and better. I felt it as far as the acting goes. And as far as the interest in the story, because the character arc of, of the Of French. And so start to change a little bit and you can see French has influence on SU who would never go against the mobster, who would just take the money.
You'd punch a woman in the face. He would do whatever it took to get the money, get it done, but suddenly because of French, his influence, he starts to have a bit of a conscience and he doesn't want to beat this guy senseless in front of his kid. Partly because we learn as well that he has had a seven year old kid or an eight year old kid himself, which had got leukemia and passed away, I think was in it.
So it shared that. And then he'd seen this little girl.
You know, if anything could pull on the heartstrings of a hardened criminal debt collector, then it was the site of this little girl asking what these men were doing with her daddy and, oh, we're just playing, we're just playing. And, and he goes to reinforce that and says, you know, go and hide.
And w w we'll try and sort this out.
Reegs: so against really. the better judgment in a way, because they know that Barbosa wants this guy, they give him some time.
Dan: Yeah. They tell him to get out of town and anyway, the gal was already stitched in right up. She's already told them no, he's here and told Bob Bose and they know that if they're caught letting him go without getting the money.
Yeah. They're as good as dead themselves. So then they have to make this this big coal over wherever they are go back upstairs. They were between a rock and a hard place and they go and take on Barbosa then don't
Reegs: They do it's kind of Butch Cassidy and
kid style stuff. They have to go and take on this sort of army of MOOCs. They have got weapons. Suddenly there
are guns, which they haven't really been guns in the.
Dan: No, it all gets ramped right up. It's all fist and bottles before then. And now it's proper shooters and people aren't getting up again.
Sidey: pay, you may not have been a huge fan of this one then.
Pete: Well, right. So there were elements of it though. Firstly. Yeah, there was some, I thought some chemistry, decent chemistry between the two lead characters, French and Sue. That was that like Dan says, so what you said is like, they kind of held it together, but the rest of it seemed a little bit flaky for me.
It just seemed like the scenes. Yeah. Well, so just kind of like slightly ramp up in the stakes. It was just, here's another collection, another collection and other colors. And then ultimately the things I had
Reegs: You were disappointed in the amount of debt collecting that was happening in, in the movie, the debt.
Pete: it was more of like the repetition of, of the debt collecting, but then I've got, I, it left me with a few questions, like, first of all, like, so number one, the ending
Reegs: well, let's talk about that ending. can see it. It's quite something in it. You run us through.
Pete: Well, I'm not, I'm not necessarily going to toy. So it reminded me a little bit, like you said before that it looked, this looked like a didn't hit the mark Tarantino, either film or, or screenplay, maybe, you know, not necessarily because there was never going to be, it doesn't have to be the, the, you know, like the quirky, iconic Tarantino direction.
It can be. So let's say the end of true romance or something. know, like there's, there's a room upstairs and less that going up to it. And everyone that goes up to the room upstairs there's guns and people are getting killed and others are
Reegs: a good
Pete: survive. And you're, you're trying to sort of like root for some people over others.
I hadn't really kind of like jumped on board with, but Sue was like, he was, he was okay. French like the, the guy himself. I'm not a hundred percent sure about the acting. I think maybe it was, I didn't know if it was meant to be kind of like just deadpan or whether it was just like wooden. It
Reegs: have to say, as far as acting goes, I've watched a few Scott Adkins movies, And this is probably one of his best roles. I, it leans into his English nurse. I think this is probably closer to the like proper actual Scott Adkins.
Sidey: kind of thing.
Dan: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I, it was looking at
Pete: it's it was, it was dead. It was dead pan. And, you know, like there was, it was quite, you know, it did make me laugh at times, but he, he, whilst he's obviously handy can completely look after himself. And he was in the side situations that he never expected to be in, but he, he sort of like maintained I dunno, like there was some, there was some quips and some lines, and I didn't hate this film by any stretch, but I just felt like it was, it was something that I think could have been done so much about.
It was actually quite interesting.
Reegs: But it would have been made for like two pound 50
and on the Goodwill of
wasn't a complete shoe string. I have to say the budget was 3 million.
Which is, you know,
Pete: But like,
Sidey: to me it didn't look gone, go happy.
Pete: Sorry, I guess that's why things like this, maybe they get made and then enough people like it for it to kind of get made properly. If you know what I mean? I don't know if that's where this will ever go. And I don't know anything about the sequel. I didn't watch the sequel. What questions that I had were sort of at the very end, like SU as far as I can tell is dead.
PR French gets out of there and is really badly injured. Pretty much like the film just ends
Reegs: Yeah, he, I think he pretty much dies at the wheel of his car. Doesn't it? Which does make the sequel a confusing proposition. But.
Pete: that contenders, please watch the sequel.
Reegs: It's not exactly out of the blue though. Is it because one thing that we haven't mentioned is that interspersed with the narrative that's going on, is black and white sequences of cows
being pushed through a processing plant.
It's not exactly subtle foreshadowing of what's
going to happen.
Pete: the cows.
Reegs: Well, they're just going through the grinder.
Dan: Yeah. They're being corralled into the Abbott's wall aren't they they're being
Pete: So is it better be more a metaphor for that? For the journey?
Reegs: Honestly, who knows let's be honest, right? Who, who really knows? I'm sure if you want to, you can attach all sorts of different meanings and significance to it. I liked that they swing for it and it doesn't quite come off. So what they made this movie for $3 million, hopefully it will make enough to make more because interesting, good characters.
I liked the fight scenes. There's a number of movies that I can tell you about. If you're interested that are in this collaboration that are a bit more fight heavy. Or some Different stylized things as
Dan: It was, it was the right in actually that I enjoyed, I liked the chemistry between the characters, particularly French in SU, but others as well.
Whenever there was a fight, there was a little bit of comedy within that. A little bit like lethal weapon, kind of fighting, you know, where Something just a bit more extraordinary happens and it's not you know, there's comedy, they grab things around them to, to aid in, in the fight and everything.
Yeah, we're really impressed with the writing it. And I, as I say, I watched number two and even the writing of that.
Sidey: is it friends together
Dan: introduce both these characters back into it, what they do.
Reegs: It's spoiler, they D they have a cracking
Dan: that they're never ever crack and fight, but it's, it's like, well, yeah, it's Hollywood.
And we just decided to bring it back because it was good the first time round.
Sidey: I would say that I did. I really did enjoy it. These sort of films, they do feel like they are an audition for something bigger. You know what I mean? It's everyone trying to, yeah. And that's what they are. They're trying to prove that they can do it.
And here we are where we can do this stuff. Napa is in a big film,
Reegs: And these guys are English guys. They're like seven or eight years older than us they've gone out there and they're just making stuff and it's, it's good
It's ambitious. It's entertaining. They're talented and come on the pod, come on, the pod sky kins
Dan: well, I'll tell you what.
Reegs: them and get them on.
Dan: genuinely be interested to chat to him and the writer I thought,
Reegs: Yes. Can I tell you, sorry to bang on but there's the, so they've got a few in their collaborations. The first one they did is this bizarre and I think brilliant one called Savage dog. It's set in Indochina in 1959. That was the first one they did. You might check that out.
That's on Netflix, close range is one. They did. And then there's the there's one called accident, man, which is like a
Reegs: He's Adkins plays a Hitman who stages, deaths that look like accidents. And he gets caught up in it, escalates and stuff. It's it's inventive stuff. Really good go and check it out if you're into this sort of thing.
Dan: Yeah. Pleasantly surprised. And I think, you know, for 90 minutes it's full of action. It will keep you interested. Maybe the first five or 10 minutes, you will. Maybe like me be a little bit apprehensive because it does look a little bit budget and it, you can see that it is maybe a bit of an audition for
Dan: but there's enough promise in this to say, wow, they've got something.
Even I made another one. And I think they will possibly go on particularly French and SU I think we'll see more. It
Reegs: he's gone sort of Mickey rock type
Sidey: Yeah, it does. Yeah.
So that's a recommendation then from all of us, even Pete,
Pete: Just about,
Sidey: no one said French and Saunders. I'm disappointed.
Pete: I was thinking of the whole time.