You can’t have failed to notice the, reasonably recent, uptake in Chinese, Japanese and Korean actors in US-based movies, not a bad thing, now we can see them in smaller films too.
You can’t accuse Edge Of Fear of trying, it certainly does that, however it never quite manages to achieve the lofty goals it sets itself, succumbing all too often to clichés and Hollywood tropes and, perhaps the worst crime, of just being far too laborious to watch.
Patrick, Shen Lin (“Qui ai jia qi”, “Beginning Of The Great Revival”), and his wife Laura, Zhu Zhu (“Cloud Atlas”, “The Man With The Iron Fists”), are two Chinese doctors on vacation in the USA to see their friend in his log cabin.
Robert Patrick (“Last Rampage“, “Terminator 2”) meanwhile is staging a jail escape with his merry gang, freeing a Mexican boss, Robert Knepper (“iZombie (TV)”, “Prison Break (TV)”). Things don’t go quite according to plan and they all end up walking through the woods whereby they happen upon the previously mentioned merry little three-some.
Things escalate quickly and the host Mike, Rockmond Dunbar (“Prison Break (TV)”, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”), is killed and Patrick ends up with a knife in the chest, just below his heart.
The next hour is the, rather slow, tale of how Patrick, still with knife in his chest and absolutely no combat training or apparent ounce of anger in him (something that’s commented on a few times), manages to overcome these invaders, all seven of them.
Director Bobby Roth is an experienced man, mostly on television with things like “Prison Break” and “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.”. He handles the camera well-enough, though things can get a tad ‘floaty’ at times.
However, whether it’s down to Roth or writers Scott Barkan and Gregg Zehentner (both: “Dawn Of The Friend (Short)”), from a story by Daxing Zhang (“Kung Fu Hero”, “Troll: The Tale Of A Tail”), I’m not totally clear (I suspect a little of all), but the pacing of Edge Of Fear is way-off.
Shen Lin stumbles his way through the film, never picking up any weapons, despite being put in the garage by the gang, and barely says a word after the first half-hour.
Robert Patrick tries to do menacing, something we know he can do, but when all your doing is walking from room to room and shouting at someone over speaker phone (yes really), it doesn’t quite cut-it.
Knepper is underused and the gang are just fodder of which, rather bizarrely, the most used person, Worm, Andy Mackenzie (“Bosch (TV)”, “True Detective (TV)”), mutters barely a sentence throughout.
There’s a complete lack of tension, which may have something to do with almost total lack of any sort of soundtrack. You are, at times, quite literally watching Shen Lin stumbling about a large log cabin, like a drunk-man, with no sound. Like some odd-ball silent slapstick movie, with raspberry coloured blood.
In summary we have: little dialogue, action that is mainly ‘accidental’, a light-touch story with little characterisation and virtually no soundtrack. If this review reads like a mauling, then know it’s not how I intended it to. It’s just that Edge Of Fear has very little, fear that is, and it’s not near the edge of anything.