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Prodigal (Video 2009)
IMDB Rating: 5.5/10 from 16 votes
Release: 8 September 2009 (USA) /

Prodigal (Video 2009)

Genre: Action
Director: D.A. Jackson,
Stars: , , , , , ,
Synopsis: After being tortured and beaten within an inch of his life, ex-preacher Jacob Divine returns to his hometown in hopes of starting a new life. He soon finds comfort in the loving arms of his new wife and a rekindled relationship with his father, but this peace is short-lived. Confronted with the hostile resentment of his older brother and the violent attacks of a local drug dealer, Jacob must come to terms with his dark past or risk losing everything again. Written by Anonymous

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Critic Reviews

D.A. Jackson is a writer, teacher, and all-around religious man who has chosen the medium of action films to spread his Scripture-influenced stories, and in doing so has dragged the martial arts B-movie genre down to the extreme depths of the rest of the indie cinema scene. I'm not knocking his religion - heck, the story's one of the least offensive parts of this debacle - but seriously, the man ought to have the sense to know that his chances of obtaining fame via this vehicle were slim at best. He would've been better served to use his borrowed camcorder to make an audition tape and send it around to the studios - that would've at least saved him the money of producing and releasing a movie like this that absolutely nobody should be made to sit through.

The story: Years after preacher-turned-Special Ops soldier Jake (Jackson) left his life of killing behind for the sake of a woman (Danya Wilson), he's unexpectedly caught up in a drug deal being led by an old rival (Jefro Hoskins). Targeted by killers both amateur and professional, he will need to fall back on his martial talents to protect his family and himself.

Literally the only highlight the film possesses is its main star, so let's consider his strengths. For one thing, D.A. Jackson can do a great scowl, and does it in almost every scene of the movie. Just look at the DVD cover. So he's got that down. More importantly, he's a great martial artist and stuntman. I have no knowledge regarding his real-life experience, but at his best, the man's up there with Matt Mullins and Marko Zaror for raw prowess in both forms and acrobatics. In terms of stuntwork, he's even more notable. At one point, he climbs on top of a moving car and jumps onto another - twice. Earlier, he does the standard run-over-a-car-speeding-at-me but finishes it with a friggin' cartwheel off the trunk of the vehicle. In addition to his flying kicks and flipping, his eight fight scenes occasionally display a kind of brutal efficiency that reminds me of earlier Steven Seagal films - not always showy but almost always well-choreographed when it comes to individual moves. It's a shame that, like much of the rest of the movie, the fights are unsurely shot, over-edited, and have very little ebb or flow to them so they eventually begin to drag until you just wish it would end.

Jackson's good enough at supplying the kicks, but considering that he's also the film's writer and director, he's not very good at holding the audiences' attentions. The movie is divided into artsy "verses," but the placement of these is pretty random. The opening scenes in which Jake's past is explored are collectively five times longer than they should be, and the rest of the picture moves at a schizophrenic's pace - speeding forth at breakneck speeds, backing up at random, and slamming on the breaks at will. The ease of editing that digital film offers filmmakers these days gives rise to a lot of amateurish spur-of-the-moment inserts, like repetitive musical clips and a plethora of voiceovers more obvious than in any recent Seagal movie. The cinematography and filming quality is poor: it's all that the cameramen didn't just ditch their tripods and freehand it. Some of the characters are plain weird, like Jeff Hoskins' villain who gets upset because Jake is reading the Bible instead of drinking at one of their after-assignments parties. The film goes into total high-on-acid mode when, to escape a gang of murderous rednecks, Jake hops a fence and winds up in the middle of a backyard wrestling match being filmed by several masked weirdos, who immediately jump him, and he eventually needs to defend himself against a tall guy with a wobbly belly who swings a pair of nunchukas. You'd think something like that would at least be interesting in an absurdist sense, right?

If he were snatched up by a big studio and took some acting lessons, D.A. Jackson could conceivably replace Wesley Snipes in Hollywood's action department. However, as things stand now, this is hands-down one of the worst martial arts films I've ever seen played with a straight face. I haven't read Jackson's novels, but the man better stick to writing books for now because they can't possibly be as bad as this movie.

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