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Review Sniper a.k.a. Sniper Unit a.k.a. Ju Ji Shou (2020): The return of B action flicks is in full effect!

genre: action, gun fu

In the Eighties and Nineties, action films were huge. If you already had seen the few latest A titles. You had a whole library of older films to browse through (this is in a time where empty video boxes had the most amazing and cool covers ever. Rarely did they represent what truly was in the film because they were designed for you to pick them up and rent. Most of the time you did. Did we get angry for the film not delivering? Honestly, I think even the real bad ones had some kind of entertainment value. You could sense that the producers did have good intentions but usually lacked the budget, star power or skills to turn them into real magic. Still, I would argue that there definitely is some magic there. Like the A titles I consumed these as many as I could. It was easier, because back then there weren't as many as there are now. And if you think about it, that is quite weird. Because while the quantity of produced films certainly has quadrupled, how many of them are proper action flicks? Not that many. Enter China. To me it seems that China or at least some film producers in China want to provide in this market. This is the only explanation I could find for Sniper Unit.

So why do I think this? Well, first. All the actors in the film are relatively unknowns. They do have some kind of presence, but I would be surprised if you would recognize them. Yet they are joined by a couple of Russian actors and Edward Redmond ( a black actor) who does a pretty good job with the material that is given. It is made sure that every soldier present in the film are equals skilled wise. Was it really necessary for the military team to be diverse? I mean are there actual teams like that in China? I highly doubt it. Now, I know that some of you might be dismissing this as propaganda. I think these producers just trying to make low budget action flicks that are appealing internationally. 

Have they succeeded? Yes and no! I think it's obvious they want you to like the story and the characters. But with lack of real development or more compelling story there is not that much to care about. I mean I did to a certain level but was I really invested? No, I don't think so. In fact I wished the film was a little shorter since it focused too much on the dynamics between the team leader and hotshot (rookie) sniper. And that would have been fine had something be done with it. But no, at one point the hotshot who had been a little defiant suddenly is on board and acceptant of his new responsibilities. The acting was decent but I wouldn't blame you if you will remember the actors or their characters. To be honest, that is perfectly fine. Because all that matters is the action. It might not be high grade but it's good enough to get excited and be entertained. Most gun fights are intense and brutal. I wished the combat was a little more choreographed and therefore a little more dramatic. But that is just me hoping for these new filmmakers to follow the conventions of old school heroic bloodshed since that for me is the most awesome. 

I applaud this production and do hope this is a trend that will continue since my craving for good action flicks has never diminished. And do want better action than Scott Adkins or Seagal offer at the moment. Sniper Unit shows what can be achieved with very little. Adkins should be able to do a whole lot better. Perhaps he should team up with these Chinese production companies. 

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