After Dark Films was founded back in I believe 2006, and its main focus was on horror, and created its own annual horror film festival. From what I hear the company became quite popular with horror fans. To be honest I haven't seen any of their horror films. Anyway after their early successes After Dark decided to branch out with the help of Lionsgate and SCFY it created After Dark Originals and After Dark Action, which brings us to El Gringo. One of its slew of action films it made that came out this year that include Dragon Eyes, Philly Kid, Stash House and Transit, but El Gringo was the only one that caught my attention after seeing the trailer. The trailer looked like a fun and entertaining low budget action film. I've never been afraid of direct to video or now DVD films, and many times they're better than many of the films released in the theater and El Gringo is one of those films.
El Gringo follows the adventure of a DEA agent only known as Gringo/The Man (Scott Adkins). You never get his real name and it works. The story isn't complicated as Gringo as he pulls up on a desert road and pops the truck and we found a wounded man bound in his truck. He asks the man where the nearest town is, and then blows up the car with the man in it carrying a bag full of money. Gringo heads into Mexico and finds his way to El Fronteras which is controlled by a local drug cartel who don't like tourists in their town and all the Gringo wants is to get out of the town. Things get complicated when his boss Lieutenant West (Christian Slater) comes looking for his missing DEA agents. Like I said the story is really simple and easy to follow, but also a good story that is entertaining mixing humor, with the drama and loads of action.
With the tiny budget of around seven million dollars and simple plot there aren't a lot of actors in the film and I'm sure the only one viewers will recognize is Christian Slater. Slater has found a way to keep his acting career going in direct to DVD films, and he does really well in them. He does a good job in his role as West. Is he a great actor no, but he is a good one who I think deserves more mainstream work. He'll get that in Stallone's 2013 Bullet to the Head. The star of El Gringo is Scott Adkins someone you've probably seen a lot but didn't know it. He's a martial arts expert and has worked with the Hong Kong directors like Yuen Wo Ping, Jackie Chan and Cory Yuen. He's also found work in England with their soaps. He played the masked Deadpool in Wolverine and working with actions stars like Jason Statham, Jet Li and Jean-Claude Van Damme. You can see why he's perfect to star in an action film, but I believe this was his first staring film role, and he does a great job perfectly blending his humor and serious lines. He's also charismatic and has a presence. To be honest I think he's a better actor then Jason Statham and from this film I'd say he's equal to or a better action star. Hopefully Scott will get more roles in future action films. With the small cast there aren't too many more people to talk about. There is the beautiful Yvette Yates as Anna. She does a good job as the bar owner who decides to help Gringo. She's a pretty good actress, but she truly is a beautiful woman.
Of course what is the highlight of El Gringo is the action. I know what you might be thinking how good could the action be with just a seven million dollar budget, but I think to now a day's film makers rely too much on CGI and special effects, and sometimes can look really fake. El Gringo doesn't have that benefit with its budget, and the director Eduardo Rodriguez. The action is gritty and close has realism to as the gun battles go on in the small town. There is realism to the film to as the many of the extra's performed their own stunts, and of course there is Scott Adkins the martial arts expert who does a superb job showing off his abilities.
After Dark Films did a great job with El Gringo which is a great pure action film with a simple yet decent story along with great action that is better than many of the films I've seen that are released in theaters, and hopefully a birth of an action star in Scott Adkins. I know some people might be hesitant with this direct to DVD film with a very small budget and very few known actors, but give it a chance. You don't want to miss out on a great pure action film.