Fred (Stephen Lang) is celebrating his birthday at the local VFW outpost, a bar that he owns, with friends. A safe haven from the violence and drug-filled streets of the city, the group of friends stay away from the epidemic of a drug known as Hype that reduces its users to aggressive zombie-like creatures. Their night is interrupted by the arrival of Lizard (Sierra McCormick) who is on the run from drug boss Boz (Travis Hammer) after stealing his drugs following her sister’s overdose. The veterans agree to protect her and they spend the night trying to stop the drug-fuelled minions of Boz getting into the VFW.
With Joe Begos (Bliss) at the helm, VFW is a fun and violent ride that pays loving homage to the much-loved grindhouse genre. Taking a simple, yet familiar, story and stripping everything back to focus on a battle between two opposing sides, VFW succeeds thanks to its simplicity. There’s no attempts here to be overly clever or deliver unexpected twists; the film is simply a violent, pulpy action horror with plenty of blood and guts on display.
VFW has rightly drawn comparisons to John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13. It’s true the two films have plenty in common but VFW is like a punk makeover of that classic. Begos injects his eye for visual flair into the whole film and he lines-up an impressive number of super violent scenes to satisfy gore-hounds. It never feels OTT and is all within the boundaries and expectations that the film establishes in the opening minutes.
The actors are all top notch and that all adds to the fun. All of the leads are well-known in the acting world and have impressive credits under their belts. Stephen Lang is in better shape than the majority of people his age and his presence on screen is always welcome. Cheers star George Wendt, Die Hard 2’s William Sadler, Karate Kids’ Martin Kove, Commando’s David Patrick Kelly and Blaxploitation star Fred Williamson all bring gravitas to a movie that likely would have been much less without them all.
VFW is a lot of fun. It’s not perfect by any means but it’s an entertaining romp that is likely to be a hit with genre crowds. Begos is really establishing himself a cinematic force and this adds another jewel to his crown following last year’s very well-received Bliss. While it may not be as smart as that film, VFW is none-the-less worth a watch and it’s best watched with a nice cold beer and a bucket of popcorn.
Cast: Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Fred Williamson, Martin Kove, David Patrick Kelly, George Wendt, Tom Williamson, Sierra McCormick, Travis Hammer Director: Joe Begos Writers: Max Brallier, Matthew McArdle Certificate: 18 Duration: 92 mins Released by: The Movie Partnership
VFW will be available on Digital Download from 9th March.