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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Debt Collector

November 14, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
The Debt Collector

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #484: The Debt Collector

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never wanted to put on a suit and tie for any reason, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number four hundred and eighty-four, I take a look at the action drama The Debt Collector starring Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor, which hit home video in June of 2018.

The Debt Collector


The Debt Collector, directed and co-written by the great Jesse V. Johnson, really isn’t an action movie. It has action in it and it has one of the top modern action stars as its lead, but it isn’t the knockdown, drag out, guns and explosions and fighting romp that you expect it to be. Instead, The Debt Collector is a surprisingly poignant drama that goes in directions you can’t predict ahead of time. It’s a real deal unique movie watching experience.

The flick stars Scott Adkins as French, a down on his luck martial artist in dire need of money. His martial arts studio is seriously in the red, he has no insurance, and he’s behind on his apartment rent. In order to make some quick money, French asks one of his students, Mad Alex (Michael Pare), if he can hook him up with his boss Tommy (Vladimir Kulich), a notorious local loan shark. French doesn’t want Tommy to give him money, though. French wants to work for Tommy, collecting money and whatnot for him. Alex tries to tell French to stay away, that working for Tommy isn’t easy. French insists. So, after beating the crap out of a guy named Roger (David William No) and his two henchmen, French goes to see Tommy. Tommy gives French a speech on what it means to work for him, and French agrees to Tommy’s terms and becomes one of his “collectors.” Tommy tells French to get a nice suit and to meet up with his partner the next day, an old pro named Sue (Louis Mandylor).

So French shows up for work wearing a new suit and finds Sue nursing a serious hangover inside a sweet old Cadillac that Sue loves more than life itself. Sue isn’t wearing a suit. In fact, it looks like Sue hasn’t showered in days. What the hell is going on here? Tommy implied that his operation was “classy.” As soon as they meet, Sue immediately dislikes French and the idea of working with him. Sue doesn’t have the time or patience to break in a new guy like French. However, since Sue works for Tommy and respects him, he’ll give French a shot.

So Sue shows French the ropes in the debt collection business. To say that it’s a rough business would be a serious understatement. On his first day on the job, French gets shot at, beat up, he has to beat the crap out of several people, and he gets his suit ripped. French also has to watch Sue have sex with the girlfriend of one of the people they have to collect from. That’s just messed up, man. I mean, French is the guy wearing the suit and trying to be classy. Why isn’t he the one banging random hot women on the job?

At the end of French’s first day he’s beat up, in pain, and seriously questioning why he got involved in this debt collection business. I mean, he knows why he did it. French needs quick money now and this is the only way he knows how to get it. And he knew, intellectually, that debt collection was going to be rough and that there would likely be violence and nastiness and he was going to have to beat the crap out of some people. But he didn’t think it would be as nasty and awful and terrible as it actually was. French will stick it out. He doesn’t have a choice. But will he survive it?

French’s second day is pretty much exactly like his first day. French and Sue travel around the city, make collections, and, on occasion, beat the crap out of people and engage in some truly nasty violence. French and Sue also take a trip with Tommy to a strip club owned and operated by Barbosa (Tony Todd), another notorious local crime boss. Tommy and Barbosa have history (they’re friends, or what counts as friends in the terrible world of crime bosses and shit), and, as such, Barbosa asks Tommy for his help. Well, Barbosa hires Tommy to take out Conor Mulligan (Jack Lowe), a guy that Barbosa claims messed with his money. And when you mess with the money of a crime boss, bad stuff tends to happen to you. Tommy sends French and Sue after Conor.

As French and Sue track down Conor, they find out that Conor may not be the “bad” guy Barbosa makes him out to be. Everyone French and Sue run into about Conor claims that he’s a great guy. If he’s such a great guy why would he mess around with Barbosa’s money? Why would Barbosa want him taken out? French doesn’t like this job at all. Sue isn’t too keen on it, either, but he knows that questioning the necessity of a job isn’t his job. Sue’s job is to do what Tommy asks him to do. If Conor needs to be taken out, Conor will be taken out.

So French and Sue continue looking for Conor. They travel to a sort of hippie commune place where Sue ends up smacking around a woman. French won’t do that, but he does try to get the information he needs from the smacked around woman. French eventually gets the necessary info and he comes up with a plan to finally find Conor.

What is the plan? Wait until the next day, go to where Conor is (and they know exactly where Conor is), and do their job. So French and Sue head to Conor’s hideout (I don’t know what else to call it). And when they get there The Debt Collector becomes a different movie. French and Sue are no longer just doing a job. Suddenly, French and Sue ignore everything they’ve done the last two days and try to be men of honor. Will they succeed?

I didn’t expect The Debt Collector to be as emotionally hard hitting as it turns out to be. I was expecting more of a straight ahead action flick, something a little more fun. The first half or so of the movie suggests that that’s what we’re going to get. Adkins is in badass goofball mode and Mandylor is the grizzled, wise old guy trying to show his new partner the ropes. The people they collect from are hapless buffoons. And the bit where Sue has sex with the woman is a riot because you just don’t expect to see that kind of thing. When Tony Todd’s Barbosa shows up, though, the movie’s tone shifts a bit and The Debt Collector starts to get nastier. And the last fifteen minutes will leave you with a lump in your throat. My God, I wasn’t expecting to feel what I felt at the end. I won’t tell you what happens because it’s worth experiencing fresh, but, man, it’s devastating. It’s also what makes the movie great and one of the best movies I’ve seen in 2018.

I also wasn’t expecting Louis Mandylor to steal the show from Adkins. Mandylor’s performance as Sue is nothing short of phenomenal. He’s a grizzled badass who just wants to do his job, no questions asked. He has a life outside of the debt collection business (he has a girlfriend and a past as a low budget movie actor that he’s sometimes recognized for and he’s kind of proud of. There’s a great scene where he finds a poster for a movie he did where he played a ninja and we see just how much Sue liked that part of his life). He doesn’t want that life to collide with his day job. This may sound presumptuous and ridiculous to some of you, but if The Debt Collector had a wider theatrical release and a major advertising campaign behind it, Mandylor would be in the Best Actor Oscar race. He really is that damn good in this movie. Just amazing stuff.

Oh, and what the heck is going on with the sweat on Sue’s shirt? It’s constantly changing. Is there some hidden message in the constantly changing sweat stains?


Adkins also does a terrific job as French. Despite being a martial arts badass and having a military background, French is really just a regular guy, a small business owner just trying to make ends meet and failing at it. The scene where French tries to explain his financial situation to his landlord is probably Adkins at his acting best. Adkins also has good buddy chemistry with Mandylor and their scenes where they’re driving around Los Angeles and talking about their lives show that Adkins is more than just a guy that can knock you the fuck out. Although, I have to say, the opening fight scene in French’s martial arts studio is a showcase for what Adkins can do when he has to beat the crap out of three guys at the same time. The dude is awesome.

Vladimir Kulich does a great job as Tommy the crime boss. Tommy is smooth and dangerous and loves his cigars. His final scene will actually make you cheer. And Tony Todd is at his sleazy best as Barbosa. Barbosa is just an awful, awful human being and Todd makes you despise him. For an actor as naturally charismatic as Todd, that’s a testament to his considerable acting ability. The man can do anything.

Michael Pare isn’t in the movie all that much (he has like three scenes) but he does his usual bang up job as Mad Alex. His “I was banging your wife” joke is one of the most disgusting things you’re likely to hear in a movie this year. The great Marshal Hilton pops in as a priest who also happens to be an arms dealer (a whole movie could probably be made about that priest character). And David William No is hilarious as Roger, the guy that really wants French to sell him his martial arts studio. And be on the lookout for fight choreographer/stunt coordinator Luke LaFontaine as a henchman towards the end of the movie.

And speaking of the fight choreography, every fight we see in The Debt Collector is brutal stuff. Adkins supplies his usual martial arts greatness, even when he’s in a knockdown, drag out brawl with two huge guys that could probably crush his skull with one punch. Mandylor also shows that he can mix it up when he has to. He isn’t a martial artist, but he shows that Sue isn’t a guy you want to mess with.

The Debt Collector is a terrific action drama. It isn’t the movie you expect it to be. It ends up being something else entirely. And it’s terrific. Easily one of the best movies of 2018. You need to see The Debt Collector. It’s an absolute classic.

See The Debt Collector. See it, see it, goddamn see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 5.

Explosions: One. Sort of.

Nudity?: Yes, and it’s quite exquisite.

Doobage: California, a full on three-on-one brawl, apple eating, rent problems, cigar smoking, coffee and ice cream, mild racism, a foot chase, some really poor shooting, vehicular assault, attempted car stealing, a head-on-collision, a street beating, brass knuckles, two gigantic henchmen, wall punching, guy gets thrown through a wall, suit ripping, off screen kneecap busting, a video store, head smashed through a car window, boobs, eye gouging, sex out in the open, a four-on-two street beating with sections in slow motion for some reason, lunch, strip club hooey, guy shit, toothpick to the eye, glass bottle smashed across the back of the head, head-butt to the face, face slapping, wedding ring hooey, multiple life stories, elevator hating, a big surprise, shotgun hooey, multiple body shots, and a shocking ending,

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: A giant public mural of Jesus, David William No, Scott Adkins, Michael Pare, Michael Pare eating an apple, Vladimir Kulich, Vladimir Kulich smoking a cigar, Scott Adkins outing on a suit, Louis Mandylor, a half-eaten cheeseburger, an old Cadillac, scenes of cows in a slaughterhouse in black and white, Scott Adkins calling a woman a bird, white walls, a video store, Scott Adkins talking about ninja movies, a numbering system that makes no sense, Louis Mandylor talking about low budget movies while acting in a low budget movie, Marshal Hilton, guy shit, Tony Todd, talk of the best way to get into a place, life stories, Luke Lafontaine, and a big question about steak.

Best lines: “You know, French, I like you,” “I said get your shoes off my mat,” “You want to fight me? I want to fight all three of you cunts,” “Don’t thank me, French, it’s not that kind of job,” “And get yourself a nice suit. You have to look professional if you want to represent me,” “Well, isn’t that just fucking peachy?,” “Have you ever driven a car like this? I’ve never seen a car like this, mate,” “Is that gun? No, Trista, it’s a pistol!,” “We’re supposed to be debt collectors, eh? We didn’t collect anything,” “One man’s ten is another man’s five, I guess,” “You done with your hissy fit?,” “Wipe your face, you look like a vampire,” “You a ninja fan, eh?,” “Fuck you, Gordy. That’s right, fuck you, Gordy!,” “This suit cost me 89.99, tie included!,” “You better smile if you’re going to talk to me like that,” “I thought I told you to get a nice suit?,” “Is that a limey accent and a frog name?,” “For fuck’s sake!,” “Jesus Christ, does everybody in this town have a bodyguard?,” “I’d keep off the drugs a bit if I were you, eh?,” “Conor has a heart of gold,” “Do me a favor, don’t judge me, tenderfoot. Fuck you,” “So what’s your story, Frenchy?,” “What the fuck are you doing here?,” “Can you please sit down, Mr. French?,” “That was the right thing to do, Sue, you know that, right?,” “French, I warned you it’s a dog eat dog business,” “Tommy, we’ve got history,” and “Do cows have a good life before they’re turned into steak, Daddy?”

Rating: 10.0/10.0


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Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1


The Marine 6: Close Quarters: The latest The Marine once again stars The Miz, and this time he’s teaming up with “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels in order to take on current Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch, who is either the leader of or part of a band of criminals that have kidnapped a young girl for some reason. I’m still amazed that The Miz is still “The Marine,” especially after the disaster that is his first The Marine, The Marine 3: Homefront (check out my review of that flick here). And bringing Michaels into the series is interesting because, well, outside of the few Christian movies he’s made he hasn’t shown any interest in acting that I’m aware of. How will he fit into this? And Becky Lynch? I can’t wait to see this. And I will review it at some point. Not sure when but it will happen.


Blood, Sweat, and Terrors: This is an anthology movie featuring nine short films with action and horror elements a plenty, although I’m not sure what that means. Are they all action horror shorts, or is there a mix? You know, some action, some horror, some both? The great Daniel Bernhardt directed one of the shorts, and Paul Sloan apparently appears in one of them. You rarely, if ever, see action anthologies, so I think this is something I’m going to have to see at some point. Anyone out there see this? Is it any good? Is it one of those anthology deals that’s hit and miss? Again, I definitely want to find out.


The Meg: I saw this giant fucking shark movie starring Jason Statham and liked it quite a bit. It has a good cast, decent enough special effects, and one of the biggest, maybe even the biggest, killer sharks in movie history. There were complaints from plenty of people involved in the movie that it wasn’t bloody or nasty enough (I believe Statham said something about that), but I thought it had a nice balance of high end adventure and nasty creature stuff. What the heck is the sequel going to bring us? Because you know there’s going to be a sequel. The Meg made a fortune all over the world. Anyone else out there like this?


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B-Movie News


There’s an unseen, “lost” George A. Romero movie!: There was news about this lost movie not that long ago via Romero’s widow, but there were no details. It was just a “lost” movie. Now, via this story over at Bloody Disgusting, we now know that the lost movie in question is a 60 minute movie called The Amusement Park, it was shot in 1973, and that it’s about ageism.

We also know that there’s a foundation called the George A. Romero Foundation that’s trying to raise the necessary funds to restore The Amusement Park and eventually release it. Romero nerds will no doubt flock to see it, and I’m sure movie nerds in general would be interested in seeing it, mostly to see why the movie was lost for so many years. And then, maybe, we’ll find out why we’ve never heard of this movie until now.

Now. Four plus decades later. How the hell can a Romero movie just disappear? Why didn’t it appear on imdb or in Romero histories in print and on the internets? Where the hell has this movie been all this time?

Hopefully, it doesn’t take long for this lost movie to get released. I, like tons of other Romero nerds, am curious about this and want to see this. Will we get a trailer at some point?


Joe Bob Briggs set to start hosting weekly double features on Shudder in 2019!: I haven’t seen anything “official” official about this, but, while listening to the recent Post Mortem podcast interview with host Mick Garris, Joe Bob let slip out that he will likely start hosting weekly double features on Shudder starting in March 2019 (check out the podcast here. Garris does a bang up job with all of his podcast interviews. All of them).

Now, we know that Joe Bob has the Thanksgiving themed “Dinners of Death” four-movie marathon coming up next week, on Thanksgiving night, and that there will be a Christmas special in December, but the weekly double feature thing is amazing news. Will it be on Friday or Saturday nights? Will it be like the old days, where Joe Bob just cranks out new material week after week, or will it be like a “regular” TV show, where we’ll get thirteen weeks of new shit or something?

Again, as I’m writing this, as far as I know, there has been no “official” announcement about this from Joe Bob or Shudder. There are other new podcast interviews with Joe Bob out there that I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet that may supply details. I don’t know. But if this is really, really, really happening and Joe Bob is, indeed, back, this is the news of the year. It’s amazing.

Anyone out there hear anything more about this? Anyone at all?


Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2


Final Score: This sort of Sudden Death/Under Siege 2: Dark Territory riff has Dave “Batista” Bautista starring alongside James Bond, Pierce Brosnan, and the Punisher hisself, Ray Stevenson. It’s apparently about a badass ex-soldier (Batista) having to take out a gang of terrorist kidnappers who abduct his niece at a soccer match. Batista’s low budget output has been pretty decent, and this looks no different. I think I may rent it first, though, just to make sure it’s as awesome as it looks. Definitely going to check this out at some point, too.


The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time: I still haven’t watched this sixth and final Sharknado movie, which is apparently all about time travel and whatnot. I’m thinking that it could show up in this column come January. I’m a fan of most of the Sharknado movies (the first and fourth movies are a tad lacking) and love that it’s a franchise, something we don’t see enough of in the low budget movie world. And now, with this franchise over, what will be the next one? Will we even get another low budget franchise? I’m sure the fine folks at The Asylum are working on it, and I think it’s right to say that we’re all looking forward to whatever the hell they have coming. I know I’m anxious to find out what’s next.


Beyond the Sky: This low budget sci-fi horror drama features Peter Stormare and Dee Wallace and is all about UFO and aliens and shit. People are making a documentary about aliens and UFO’s, disproving them, and somehow, I guess, they end up finding out they’re real. I really don’t know what to make of this movie. I do want to see it, but, yeah, I’m thinking it’s a rental first. Because, really, what the hell is this about? I like the title.


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Next Issue: Baffled! staring Leonard Nimoy!



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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

The Debt Collector

Scott Adkins– French
Louis Mandylor– Sue
Vladimir Kulich– Tommy
Tony Tod– Barbosa
Selina Lo– Sandy
Michael Pare– Mad Alex
David William No– Roger
Marshal Hilton– Priest
Jack Lowe– Conor Mulligan

Directed by Jesse V. Johnson
Screenplay by Stu Small and Jesse V. Johnson

Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Archstone Distribution

Not Rated
Runtime– 95 minutes

Buy it here