Fistful of Vengeance movie review (2022)

“Fistful of Vengeance” immediately overwhelms viewers with an ostensibly tongue-in-cheek voiceover recap of where the first season of “Wu Assassins” left off: Tommy (Lawrence Kao) tells a horny “jiangshi” energy vampire that he and two buddies, the super-powered assassin Kai Jin (“The Raid” star Iko Uwais) and their ride-or-die buddy Lu Xin (Lewis Tan), have traveled to Thailand to avenge Tommy’s dead sister Jenny, whom they all loved. Why Thailand? Because they traced ancient material from an old piece of stone to a Bangkok night club. And after killing some jiangshis, they quickly fall in league with shady tipster William Pan (Jason Tobin), an entrepreneur who can briefly stop time, command a private army’s worth of mercenaries, and also shoot glowing balls of energy out of his hands.

Pan has information on big-time crime boss Ku An Qi (Yayaying Rhatha Phongam), but he also has his own agenda. That’s not a spoiler, but rather an obvious bit of subtext given that Pan only introduces himself after he shows introduces himself using a video about his corporate outfit that includes the line: “We’re not just looking to the future, we’re looking to shape it.” There’s a little more emotional baggage weighing down this featherweight plot, but it ain’t much: Tommy hooks up with sassy local guide Preeya (Francesca Corney) while Lu Xin spars and then sleeps with Interpol Agent Zama (Pearl Thusi).

Everything in this scenario chugs along with perfunctory A-to-B efficiency and a general lack of imagination. There’s some above-the-waist nudity in one scene, a little gore throughout, and a few desperate “f” bombs scattered here and yon. A bunch of scenes are filmed with unremarkable color lens filters (this scene is amber; this one’s blue-ish, etc.) And there’s no chemistry between the main leads, which is especially unfortunate since Lu Xin tells Zama that “I can taste when you’re lying” right before they kiss while Preeya smooches an unsuspecting Tommy as soon as they meet up just to “get that over with.” These chummy jokes seem to write themselves, but most don’t really land: after driving a car through a glass door, Lu Xin quips “door says push, not pull.” Nobody laughs. “What?” he adds for balance.

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