Comic book movies have definitely grown the past couple of decades. Gone are the low budget affairs of yesteryear with Hollywood simply trying to capitalize on a fanbase to get their return of investment. Nowadays, mostly thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they have become big budget affairs that are constructed to have as much mainstream appeal as possible while still trying to mostly stick to their comic book roots.
That’s not a bad thing. But because of this, Hollywood has decided to only focus on the more well-known comic book franchises when adapting something into a big blockbuster film. I kind of miss the days when we would get comic book movie based on more obscure titles. If we only got films based on something like The Avengers from Marvel or Superman from DC, we wouldn’t have cult classic gems like Mystery Men, The Rocketeer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, my personal favorite, The Punisher starring Dolph Lungren way back in 1989! The last is cheesy as hell but a very guilty pleasure of mine.
Because of the state of comic book movies these days, I didn’t even think that they still made B-movie films based on them anymore. Nor did I think that, if I did see one today, I wouldn’t find them enjoyable anymore. Thankfully, there is one film I recently came across that proved me wrong on both counts.
That movie is Accident Man.
Accident Man stars Scott Adkins as Mike Fallon, a highly trained assassin who has a particular gimmick when it comes to killing people. Instead of simply performing the assigned hit and covering up his tracks to make the murder unsolvable by the authorities, Fallon goes through extraordinary lengths to make his kills look like simple accidents. When the love of his life is apparently murdered, Fallon figures out that one of his fellow assassins did the hit and goes on a quest to find out who it is.
Okay, so the plot isn’t anything to write home about as it’s your typical revenge story. In fact, it does come off like the poor man’s John Wick. It doesn’t really have any big name stars in its billing. And you probably have never heard of the Accident Man comic series. I know I hadn’t prior to researching the film!
So what makes this comic book movie any good? Well, the film’s quality is basically greater than the sum of all its parts. The overall concept is good. Basic, but good. The entire “accident man” gimmick is mostly an excuse to give our protagonist all the skills needed to be an expert assassin who’s capable of holding his own in a fight. We do get a couple of scenes where we do see him perform assassinations but I really wanted to see more as the ones we did get were very creative and a credit to the writing team.
While I did mention the people in this film are far from Hollywood A-listers, you will notice a couple of faces if you watch a lot of martial arts movies. Scott Adkins has had some bit parts in some high profile movies like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the Expendables 2 and Doctor Strange. But direct-to-video martial arts fans will recognize him from films like the Ninja series and the later Undisputed movies. Michael Jai White has bounced around the martial arts film world and you might remember him as Spawn way back in 1997 but he’s been in a ton of low-budget action films like the recent Netflix’s Welcome to Sudden Death. I also have to mention that Accident Man has the phenomenal Ray Park who you non-action movie buffs may remember as Darth Maul from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Oh, and don’t forget Amy Johnston, a prominent stunt woman but did star in a few martial arts films in the past.
Why do I mention all of these guys? I do it to try to get you to comprehend how utterly fantastic the fight scenes are in Accident Man! In all honestly, this has some of the best fight scenes I’ve seen for a long time! All the moves looked well-choreographed but still came off realistic. Some of the hits seemed like they really hit hard. They didn’t rely on any special effects or any wire work as far as I can see, which makes them really impressive.
But the best thing is how the fights are edited and framed. No shaky camera to obscure what’s happening. The camera always focuses on the action while framing all the action right smack in the middle of the screen. There are no cuts in the action so everything flows together smoothly. Slow motion is used to accentuate a dramatic move and its not overused. Did I mention they didn’t use shaky cam? Because if I didn’t, it bears repeating!
Sure, you do get the same kind of action in John Wick but you kind of expect to see some phenomenal action scenes and amazing hand-to-hand combat in a big budget action flick like that. But to see something with this caliber in a direct-to-video film like this? That’s really something!
But just because a film has really good fight scenes, that doesn’t mean I’ll give it a pass if everything else is terrible. Remember when I said Accident Man has a very basic premise? Well, that may be true but there’s just an overall sense of style and an understanding of what makes a comic book movie feel like a comic book movie. You’ve got the super stylized characters, each with their own personal gimmick and outrageous personalities. You have this fantasy premise that has just enough realistic elements to seem almost believable. It has a dark idea but it’s filled with humorous nods and even some cheesy elements. It just comes off as super cool and everything you would want in a comic book movie.
But the best thing about Accident Man is you can tell that everyone involved is doing their best to put out the best product possible. Everyone on screen is giving the best mix of cheesy and badass performances I’ve seen in a while. A lot of the credit does have to go to Scott Adkins as his gruff voiceover where you can hear his internal thoughts is very stylish and cool because, while that’s how he normally speaks, it just fits with his character and the overall tone of the film.
The only real caveat I can think about Accident Man is that the film is kind of violent and some adult themes. There are some bloody scenes here and a whole lot of swearing so be warned if you’re going to watch this with your kids, thinking it’s a wholesome comic book action film. It definitely is not. However, a lot of the violence is actually rather cartoony. I already drew some comparisons to the John Wick films so I would definitely say it’s on that level, at least.
The sad thing about Accident Man is that not many people know about it. That’s such a crying shame! It’s one of the cooler martial arts films I’ve seen in a good while and I wouldn’t have even known about it if I hadn’t stumbled onto it by pure happenstance. And it just so happens to be based on a comic series hardly anyone has read. If you have a chance to see it, I do suggest that you do watch Accident Man.
Have you seen Accident Man? What other lesser known comic book or martial arts films do you feel need more recognition? Let me know in the comments section below!