Married to Namiko (Mika Hijii) and expecting a child, Casey Bowman (Scott Adkins) finds his life in Osaka shattered when an unknown assailant murders his wife and unborn child. Filled with rage and prone to outbursts, he heads to Thailand on suggestion of family friend Nakabara (Kane Kosugi). Discovering that the attack on his family may not be over, he learns of a decades old feud between his wife’s family and that of a Japanese drug lord situated in Myanmar. Gearing up and on the hunt for revenge, Bowman heads into the jungle to find his wife’s killer.
Following up his modest 2009 feature, Isaac Florentine reteams with Scott Adkins for the continuing story of the American trained in ninjutsu, Casey Bowman. With a larger budget and with what looks to be a much longexr production schedule, Florentine crafts a much better looking, and much more action packed film than the last. Relocating to Thailand for the production, the exotic locale of Southeast Asia lends itself to more opportunity for action and that is where the film excels.
Handing over action choreography to the very capable Tim Man, who himself has an absolutely terrific fight scene with Adkins, the fights are tightly edited and blisteringly shot. Exciting and fully satisfying for screen fight fans, you’re not going to see many better, or more, fight sequences in film this year. Of particular note is a stellar end fight that features some great movement in hand to hand and an intricate weapon sequence which will stand out amongst any other martial arts film coming out these days.
The film, while action-packed, doesn’t really earn much points for storytelling or drama. Adkins’ Casey Bowman is much more of an antihero this go around and his character takes a much darker turn. Prone to violence, he’s much more emotional and troubled, but you never truly care whether he gets better, just that he finds his next stuntman to beat down. The finale also comes telegraphed from a mile away but there is a level of comfort in how true the film feels to its predecessors of the 70s and 80s.
While the film is hardly game changing cinema, Shadow of a Tear does know its audience and provides a level of fulfillment which will more than satisfy those looking for probably the best fight scenes of the last year. Scott Adkins and Tim Man are among my favorite on-screen fighters these days and they definitely deliver the goods this time around, so watch it for them and watch this film for some jaw dropping action entertainment.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Ninja, Force 5, and/or Yellow Dragon