Black Lotus

A man who exists in the shadows as much as possible, shadows into which he stepped more fully five years previously following the death of his commanding officer and best friend five years ago on a mission in Hamburg where he disobeyed orders to save hostages from being executed, ex-special forces operative Matteus Donner has returned to his home city of Amsterdam to clear his conscience with the widow of the man he feels he failed to save.

The reunion with Helene understandably awkward, Matteus is unexpectedly embraced by her daughter Angie as a link to the father she barely remembers but there are new shadows gathering, Helene’s new husband Paul a cryptocurrency financier who is indebted to gangster Saban, recently stung by an Interpol operation and looking unfavourably on a fifteen million Euro discrepancy in his portfolio and a possible mole in his organisation.

Directed by Todor Chapkanov from an undemanding script by Tad Daggerhart, action thriller Black Lotus principally serves as a vehicle for kickboxer Rico Verhoeven, a flexible slab of sculpted meat topped with a handsome face who is obliged to display lethal proficiency with his appendages and a variety of weapons while simultaneously befriending and protecting young Angie (Pippi Casey) who is kidnapped in order to exert pressure on stepfather Paul (Peter Franzén).

With The Resurrection of Charles Manson’s Frank Grillo serving as Saban, a man so nasty as to not only threaten to torture and kill a child but to verbally abuse the head chef of the restaurant he has purchased as part of his evil empire, and his enforcer Ber played by The Last Kingdom’s bearded man-mountain Magnus Samuelsson, any subtleties of character or complex plot mechanics take second place to violence and explosions.

Members of a wider crime league known as “the Association,” described as “the NATO of organised crime” by Interpol agents Shira (Rona-Lee Shimon) and Fischer (Kevin Janssens), following a successful dockland drug bust the pair are determined to break their hold on Amsterdam but are hampered by their own ineptitude, not thinking to place any form of protective security around Helene (Marie Dompneir) and Paul even when they known to be targets.

Matteo’s backstory adequately shown in the prologue, Black Lotus is interrupted by flashbacks which only further slow a pace which already swerves between workout montages, bloody revenge murders playdates with Matteo, Angie and her dog, an attempt to soften his character which seems incongruous given the genre in which the film exists, though with the hero pursuing the villains by bicycle it can at least claim to not only be true to the setting but also unbound by the expectations of action movie convention.

Black Lotus will be available on digital download from Monday 19th June



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