The Movie Waffler New Release Review [VOD] - KNUCKLEDUST | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [VOD] - KNUCKLEDUST

knuckledust review
Cops question the sole survivor of a bloodbath at an illegal fighting club.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: James Kermack

Starring: Moe Dunford, Kate Dickie, Camille Rowe, Phil Davis, Alex Ferns, Olivier Richters, Jaime Winstone, Gethin Anthony, Sebastien Foucan

knuckledust poster

If you asked me to name my least favourite movie decade, the noughties would roll off my tongue. Aside from a few standouts like Zodiac, There Will Be Blood and the first two instalments of the Final Destination series, it was largely a decade of cinematic spam. In their dying days, video stores saw their shelves clogged up with awful British imitations of Guy Ritchie, whose own films were themselves awful British knockoffs of Tarantino. Eventually American filmmakers got in on the act with terrible action movies like Smokin' Aces and Lucky Number Slevin. You could easily locate such movies in your local Blockbuster because their covers always featured an actor trying to look tough while holding a gun in each hand. These movies were inevitably an insufferable hodge podge of sub Shane Black dialogue and poorly staged action scenes. Thank God they died out over the last decade.

knuckledust review

Or did they? Writer/director James Kermack seeks to revitalise this woeful sub-genre with Knuckledust, a film that fails to live up to its testosterone soaked moniker.

The title refers to Club Knuckledust, an illegal fight club where bare-knuckle brawlers beat each other to the death. As the club's sultry owner, Serena (Camille Rowe), puts it, she hires ex-military men "who won't be missed." Her latest acquisition is ex-marine Hard Eight (Moe Dunford), who is scheduled to fight Rawbone (Olivier Richters), a giant whose muscly frame towers over him. Hard Eight has been instructed to allow himself to be killed in the third round, or else his girlfriend, Chrissy (Amy Bailey), will be shot by the two hitmen stationed at her flat. This doesn't seem to bother Hard Eight, who pulls out a concealed pistol and plants a bullet between Rawbone's eyes.

knuckledust review

When the police arrive at Club Knuckledust, they find Hard Eight the sole survivor of what appears to be a massacre. As he is questioned by Chief Inspector Keaton (Kate Dickie), he spins a story of how he found himself at the club, and what exactly transpired. Meanwhile, nerdy tech guy Hooper (Dave Bibby) sifts through the club's CCTV footage in search of the truth.

What plays out is a cross between The Usual Suspects and a screen adaptation of some '90s sideways scrolling beat 'em up arcade game. Dunford's Hard Eight takes the Kevin Spacey role here of the unreliable narrator, and while the Irish actor is a charismatic presence, he's saddled with page after page of interminable exposition.

knuckledust review

Knuckledust's title suggests a martial arts fest, but the onscreen brawls are few and far between. More often we see the aftermath of such incidents, and when we do witness Hard Eight in action the set-pieces are generic and derivative, including yet another pale imitation of the iconic corridor massacre from Park Chan-wook's Oldboy. The overbearing hard rock meets electro score does its best to make us feel a shot of adrenaline but it often drowns out the dialogue (which may not be a bad thing in this case).

In place of muscular action, Knuckledust features a bloated ensemble of characters all suffering from verbal diarrhea. There are some talented actors at work here, but even the likes of Dunford and Dickie can't liven up this poorly paced snoozer. If you're expecting a slugfest, you'll be surprised to find a movie that's simply sluggish.

 is on UK VOD from December 11th.

2020 movie reviews