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Review: VFW – “A synth and splatter filled siege movie full of adrenaline-soaked action”

Available on digital download now and released on DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK on the 6th April, Joe Begos’ seemingly instantaneous follow-up to the brilliant Bliss is a synth and splatter filled siege movie full of adrenaline-soaked action.

VFW stars Stephen Lang (Don’t Breathe), William Sadler (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), Fred Williamson (From Dusk Till Dawn), Martin Kove (The Karate Kid), Tom Williamson (All Cheerleaders Die), Sierra McCormick (Some Kind of Hate) and Travis Hammer (Twin Peaks).

In an Assault on Precinct 13-feeling near future, a synthetic drug called “Hype” is flooding the streets and those addicted to it will do anything to score. Dealer-gang leader Boz (Hammer) has a girl throw herself off the top of a building for the chance of a hit but doesn’t reckon on her sister “Lizard” (McCormick) taking revenge by stealing his entire stash of Hype and hightailing it.

Liz gets as far as a veterans of foreign wars (VFW) bar across the street which is quickly surrounded and cut off from escape. Luckily for her, though the bar is run and frequented by a greying group of ex-Army badasses including Fred (Lang), Walter (Sadler) Abe (Williamson) and Lou (Kove), as well as recent returnee from action Mason (Williamson). The leather and spikes bedecked gang of street punks attack and the oldies get tooled to up to protect Liz and see them off. The punks might want a fight, but they’re not ready for a war.

The action is immediate, intense, not shy and a hell of a lot of fun. Hot jets of plasma shoot right into the camera lens, dismembered limbs fly around, craniums are spiked full of whatever is handy, faces are caved in and Bill Sadler even gets hold of an angle grinder: this is a balls to the wall kickass throwback and Joe Begos is on fire conducting it.

The gore is all deliciously practical and danger and energy drenches a picture that also looks absolutely gorgeous and sounds rad too – Mike Testin’s cinematography, Josh Ethier’s cutting and Steve Moore’s score combining to create a pulpy and palpable dirty dystopia where life is hard and cheap but there are still some heroes left in the shadows.

Stephen Lang gets a couple of great monologues and is wonderfully permanently pissed off but still ready to do the right thing by Liz simply because it’s the right thing to do. Fred Williamson has been through worse and brings his signature cocksure could-kick-anyone’s-ass attitude – still carrying a physical threat and still a joy to watch busting heads.

William Sadler brings a humour and pathos to Walter that balances the group’s genuine dynamic and Martin Kove gives his Lou the opposite, a sly and wily salesman-type always looking for a way out and an advantage. With Tom Williamson providing youth and spark it’s a really well cast and loveable team that you will be glued to the screen rooting for.

VFW is a tough and grisly splatter-action siege and anyone who has ever said that “they don’t make them like they used to” is going to fucking love this one. Begos is an electrifying filmmaker and his style and sensibilities make him one of the directors that currently excites me most. I cannot wait to see what he makes next.

VFW is available on digital download now and will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK on the 6th April.

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