Action Movie Fanatix Review: Black Friday

Black Friday banner

The Warrior Has Been Chosen.

Starring: Gary Daniels, Christopher J. Stapleton, Ryan Kos, Christopher Janney, Markus Botnick, Larry Bagby, Matt Reithmayr, Paul Gunning, Tsuyoshi Abe

Director: Darren Doane

2002  |  94 Minutes  |  Rated R

“Murder for hire pays like you wouldn’t believe.” – Cranston

You know how gas stations and grocery stores have DVD racks that nobody ever pays attention to?  Well, I pay attention and on one road trip I stopped at a gas station where I picked up movies featuring Chuck Norris, Cynthia Rothrock, Mark Dacascos and four Gary Daniels movies.  All were about $3 a piece.  Screaming deals if you ask me.  Black Friday was one of those movies.

Dean Campbell (Gary Daniels) is a high powered attorney who finds his home and family taken hostage by fugitive nuclear terrorists.  Central Chemical Operations agents have surrounded his house and have asked for Dean’s assistance given the complex custom layout of his enormous mansion.  With little time remaining, Dean must choose between working with a government he does not trust or saving his family on his own terms.

From the moment Black Friday starts it just screams low budget.  The video quality and lighting are poor.  Way too poor for something released in 2001.  The opening credits also scream low budget.  The music is also way too overpowering for many scenes.  I was actually impressed with some of the bands they had here as I have been a fan of many of them for quite some time.  Stavesacre and Project 86 are bands that I have been in to for a long time and have never quite made the big time.  A movie like this certainly doesn’t help up the charts but it was cool for this fan to hear them here.

The beginning of the movie is very confusing if you are actually trying to pay attention to what is going on with the story.  It is very unclear if these are actually government agents or if they are the criminals in disguise.  The only reason I figured it out by the end was the on screen text that explains.  The story then gets really bogged down during a flashback that hopes to explain what is actually going on but only really makes it more confusing.  The storytelling really isn’t the best.  It is really a combination of poor direction and writing paired with a story that was too complex for this director to accomplish correctly on this budget.  It’s unfortunate though because there is an intriguing story in there somewhere.

The actors, while mostly not highly trained, do quite well.  It is somewhat obvious that they haven’t been doing this for too terribly long but they give it their best shot and I had a few laughs at the CCO Agents’ dialogue.

I found the action and fights to be really entertaining though there were still a few parts where the low budget really stood out.  At one point early on Campbell shoots two CCO agents and instead of having a true gun effect the screen just flashes white.  Another instance is actually very soon after the first, a guard attacks Campbell with a knife which is very obviously plastic.  The blade isn’t as shiny as real metal and wobbles around worse than the icicles in Batman & Robin.

The martial arts fights are the big highlight of Black Friday.  Stuntman Tsuyoshi Abe is credited as the choreographer.  I had never heard of the guy but he has a pretty impressive stunt filmography.  Gary Daniels is, of course, up to the task here as well.  Unfortunately we only get to see him use his skills twice throughout the entire movie.  The movie cover also shows Daniels wielding a katana and there is no katana to be found throughout the entire movie.

I enjoyed Black Friday but it is really a shame that it couldn’t have been made with a slightly higher budget and a more seasoned director.  It really could have been a DTV classic.  As it stands it is probably only for die hard Gary Daniels fans.