It’s hard to bring a power fight to life on the screen. Faster, more energetic martial arts have a natural grace and fury, but sheer strength needs exaggeration. You need a budget for stuntmen who will go through tables, take a bump onto concrete, and the ability to show a punch in full glory. If you have none of those, you end up making Recoil.

Steve Austin wanders with this character, aimless and dry. There’s no purpose other than revenge, and yet this small town biker gang is far removed from the goons who bumped his family. He’s doing it because, uh, he’s a nice guy with a shotgun?

Recoil is the general small town revenge movie. Think Walking Tall only stupider. Austin’s starring vehicle is the type where the head of the meth-dealing bikers and FBI agents can’t connect despite the town being a single street in length. All sides have to find other things to do before the inevitable conclusion, which of course can only go one way.

Much of Recoil seems built upon the shoulders of its possible match-ups, i.e., MMA’s Keith Jadine vs. pro wrestler Steve Austin. That’s all well and good, while the end result is sort of like the payoff at the end of a SyFy Channel versus movie. Of course, Mega Python vs Gatoroid probably had more going for it.

This is a direct-to-video project sold entirely on who they get to adorn the box cover, nothing else. A series of blatantly obvious stunt doubles -including a (surely underpaid) guy who is set on fire- dull any of the fights. Then again, with Danny Trejo pushing 70, it’s not as if anyone thinks he’ll stand trading punches with Austin anyway.

It’s hard to say if there’s a point to Recoil, except the obvious financial gain for all involved. When it’s over, nothing has changed short of the funeral homes bank roll given the body count. Everyone goes their own way, there are no implied continued relationships, and there’s probably a stunt guy still on fire because they couldn’t afford fire extinguishers. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]

Vivendi punches out an AVC encode with a wobbly start. A forest sets a backdrop for Austin’s first act of revenge, the complexity of the foliage causing sharpening concerns. Short of some aliasing and a hint of flicker, any obvious tinkering falls to the wayside afterward.

This clearly digital production is fitted with a brazen contrast, a little too obsessed with washing out the screen while it searches for intensity. Recoil has to find it somewhere, and if it’s in the image, so be it. There’s minimal loss of definition, the film’s rather meek visual style sticking with stable close-ups and stern focus. Clarity afforded by digital photography adds to the extensive, mostly consistent facial detail.

Lost are the black levels, although even when they fail to hit their mark, noise is noticeably absent. The image isn’t overly smooth; it merely carries a crisp sheen. Little will come between the positives of digital filmmaking and the end result.

Saturation can take a backseat dependent on the scene. A dingy yellow takes over during a brawl between Trejo and a flunkie who failed to pay a debt. Outside, flesh tones have a natural, untouched quality and primaries still resonate. Nothing feels overly tweaked, even for style purposes. Much like the film, Recoil’s visuals are stylistically absent, although impact on general quality is nill. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

Talk about boring. This mediocre, sub-par, non-existent audio mix is a drag. Gunfire has never sounded so unexcited. Vintage films make it sound more impactful with stock studio sound effects. There’s no added bass, the highs are flat, there’s zero imaging involved, and a cheap echo effect isn’t going to salvage it.

Recoil is satisfied with itself just by processing dialogue, and it’s not doing anything with that either. There’s no attempt to mix it up, make it echo, and travel in any direction. Short of the pitifully generic score which will clone itself into the surrounds, not simply bleed out towards them, this might as well be a mono mix. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]

Sheer boredom continues the rampage through this dud with an eight minute making of, a scattered selection of deleted scenes, and a trailer. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Extras]

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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