Director: Jen and Sylvia Soska (2015)
Starring: Dean Cain, The Big Show
Find it: IMDB
Heresy! As a fan of horror movies and the talent therein, it shames me somewhat to admit the fact that I am not a fan of the Sisters Soska. No member of the Twisted Sisters Army am I. That's not for want of trying - I've given everything they've done thus far a fair chance, but something about all of it has rubbed me up the wrong way, whether it's their overrated American Mary or unbelievably dull See No Evil 2.
I had no high hopes for Vendetta, then - the latest WWE feature helmed by the Soskas. When the best thing your studio has ever put out is the misogynistic Battle Royale rip-off The Condemned, audiences will tend to worry. Nevertheless, I like prison movies and I like the idea of the Soska sisters, so I decided to give this one a chance. Here, Dean Cain (yes, that one) plays a tough detective, pushed to breaking point when enormous criminal Victor Abbott (The Big Show) murders his wife. Launching into a vengeance fueled (but still illegal) killing spree, Detective Superman is arrested and locked up... in the same prison as Abbott, no less.
It's similar to the Jean Claude Van Damme STD feature Hell in that budgets are low and the action is restrained. Detective Danvers gets on about as well in jail as one might expect an ex-policeman to, being on the receiving end of several brutal beat-downs and dust-ups during his stay at the penitentiary. The (Big) showdown with Abbott is put off until the end, mostly while the screenwriters try to think up a way how Dean Cain could ever plausibly take The Big Show in a fight. Everyone else is just practice, letting Cain add a slightly chubby version of The Punisher to his superhero playbook (less good than his Clark Kent).
Vendetta is a fine addition to WWE Studios' film lineup, being one of the better movies they've yet released. As per a production house who tends to specialise in films about hench men punching each other in the head (plus really shitty slasher movies) it's not the most gender progressive - the only female in it gets one scene before being shoved unceremoniously into the refrigerator - so Orange is the New Black this ain't. As good a job as they do, it's a curious use of the Soskas' talents, who should by now truly be the heavy hitters that the horror community have always made them out to be. Taken on its own merits, Vendetta is just fine. As a WWE picture, it's above average. As a Soska movie, it's the one I've enjoyed the most. And that really shouldn't be the case.