When you encounter a prison-set movie produced by the WWE and featuring its star wrestler Paul “The Big Show” Wight as a hulking villain, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. Despite having been directed by women — Jen and Sylvia Soska, also known as the “Twisted Twins” — Vendetta is far from a chick but rather is the sort of B-movie violent actioner that makes you feel your testosterone level rising as you watch it. Being given a limited theatrical release, it should attract devotees of the WWE’s unique brand of entertainment on VOD.
Dean Cain, looking quite a bit beefier than during his Superman days on Lois & Clark, plays the lead role of Mason, a hard-driven detective who, in the film’s opening scene, manages to finally nab his arch-nemesis Victor (Wight) in — where else? — an abandoned warehouse.
A brutally efficient WWE-produced programmer.
But as anyone who’s seen these sorts of movies knows, Victor is soon released on a technicality. Thirsting for revenge of the literal overkill variety, he immediately heads to Mason’s home and beats his wife (Kyra Zagorsky) to death, although not without getting caught in the process.
Mason naturally becomes unhinged, embarking on — you guessed it — a vendetta against the criminal who destroyed his life. His less-than-savvy plan involves murdering Victor’s bad-guy brother (Aleks Paunovic) and getting himself sent to the same prison where his quarry currently resides.
Cue the ensuing violent mayhem as Mason discovers that Victor is pretty much running the place. Getting involved in one violent altercation after another, the former cop quickly runs afoul of the sleazy warden (Michael Eklund, entertainingly playing the cheesy material like it’s Shakespeare) who calls Mason into his office after he’s sent one of his attackers to the hospital.
“You’ve created quite a predicament for me,” the warden chides. “What to do, what to do?”
The answer is pretty much nothing, as it soon becomes evident that the warden is in cahoots with Victor, who naturally wants to dispatch Mason as quickly as possible. Attempting to uncover the criminal conspiracy, Mason enlists the help of his former partner (Ben Hollingsworth), which doesn’t turn out so well.
The screenplay by Justin Shady offers no surprises, mainly serving as a springboard for the endless series of fight scenes in which Cain demonstrates that he’s become a serious movie badass. The Soska sisters, whose previous credits include the cult horror film American Mary, prove themselves quite proficient at staging the brutal skirmishes which inevitably lead to a climactic prison riot.
For all its formulaic aspects, Vendetta at least proves ruthlessly efficient, displaying no narrative fat and determinedly delivering the nonstop action its target audience craves. Cain delivers an impressively intense, highly physical performance and Wight, whose sheer massiveness is practically a special effect, proves an effective villain who’s certainly convincing as he puts opponent after opponent in chokeholds.
Production: WWE Studios
Cast: Dean Cain, Paul Wight, Michael Eklund, Ben Hollingsworth, Adrian Holmes, Matthew MacCaull, Kyra Zagorsky, Aleks Paunovic
Directors: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Screenwriter: Justin Shady
Producer: Michael Luisi
Executive producer: Richard Lowell
Director of photography: Mahlon Todd Williams
Production designer: Troy Hansen
Editor: Richard Nord
Costume designer: Aieisha Li
Composer: The Newton Brothers
Casting: Tiffany Mak
Rated R, 90 minutes