Co-directed by Giorgio Serafini and James Coyne, the men responsible for a few decent direct-to-video Dolph Lundgren movies, 2014's Puncture Wounds introduces us to a veteran of the Afghani war named John (Cung Le). Since returning home he's had trouble finding a job and has holed up in a low-rent hotel. One night he looks out his window and sees a young woman named Tanya (Briana Evigan) on the receiving end of some rough stuff courtesy of a trio of thugs. He runs down the stairs to play hero and sends one man to the hospital and the other two to the morgue. Tanya isn't happy about this, however, she tells him he doesn't know what he's done.
Well it turns out she's right. Tanya is a hooker in the employ of a man named Hollis (Lundgren), a crime lord who deals in drugs and prostitution. When he learns what John has done he has his right hand man, Vin (Gianni Capaldi), repay him in kind and before you know it his mother and sister have been burned alive. As Hollis sets out to continue his drug trade with some help from a British thug named Bennett (Vinnie Jones), John teams up with his amputee vet friend J.P. (Jonathan Kowalsky) to take the bad guys down once and for all. The only thing standing his their way is a cop named Terry Mitchell (James C. Burns)…
Fast paced and enjoyable if not particularly original, this is a solid straight to video action movie made on a modest budget. Cung Le gets most of the screen time here and while he doesn't have a whole lot of range, he handles himself very well in the action scenes. This guy has some pretty serious moves and he uses them well in this picture and it's nice to see him get a starring role after appearing in supporting parts in movies like Bodyguards And Assassins and The Man With The Iron Fists. The crew behind the camera are smart enough to give his character enough background information to make him interesting and enough of a personal investment in the situation that we can understand his plight, but at the same time they play to his strengths and focus on his ass kicking martial arts skills.
Dolph Lundgren is also in fine form here, playing likely the nastiest character he's taken on in his entire career. Hollis is a scumbag, a drug dealer, a misogynist, a rapist and a murderer and Lundgren, decked out here with long greasy here and a giant moustache, seems to be having a blast playing the part. Dolph also gets a couple of solid action scenes in here, culminating in the inevitable finale when he and Cung Le have to square off (oh c'mon… you know it was going to happen). Vinnie Jones plays… Vinnie Jones. He's not stretching as an actor here and he's kind of underused but he's fun to watch. Gianni Capaldi chews less scenery here than he has in his last two collaborations with Dolph and his work is all the better for it. Briana Evigan is also quite believable as the abused prostitute, you actually wind up feeling really sorry for her character in this movie.
So while the story borrows elements from First Blood and Rolling Thunder and is therefore not particularly original, it hits all the right notes you'd want from a straight to video action movie. The lighting in the movie runs too hot and the cinematography relies too heavily on shaky cam tactics but it's fast paced, reasonably well acted, plenty violent and generally solid entertainment for the less demanding action movie aficionado.
Puncture Wounds arrives on DVD from Lionsgate in a nice looking 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Because of the high contrast style that the movie was shot in, there are lens flares all over the place that detract from some of the detail but that's intentional on the part of the filmmakers and not really a flaw with the disc. This is otherwise a well authored DVD, though there are some minor compression artifacts in a few of the darker scenes the picture is clean and fairly colorful. This was shot digitally so there is no print damage to note.
The only audio option on this disc is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track. The audio here is fine, there's good use of directional effects in the action scenes and some solid placement of bullets and what not during shoot outs. The dialogue stays easy to follow and nicely balanced in amongst the effects and the score and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. Optional subtitles are offered in English SDH and Spanish.
Outside of menus and chapter selection, the disc includes a fifteen minute featurette that lets the cast and crew talk about how great this movie is, how interesting the characters are and how much they all enjoyed working on it. It's pretty promotional in nature but it is interesting to get to hear about how some of the fight scenes were put together. We also get a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Lionsgate properties and a code for a free download of a digital copy of the feature.
Puncture Wounds doesn't reinvent the wheel but it is a satisfying low budget action movie that benefits from some impressive fight choreography and a few solid performances from a couple of its cast members. It's fast paced and tense even if you can basically figure out exactly where it's all going after the first fifteen minutes. The Lionsgate DVD looks and sounds fine but the extras are weak. Recommended for B-grade action fans and Dolph completists, a solid rental for the curious.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.