Directed by Emanuele De Santi
Distributed by Necrostorm
In the dystopian city of Heaven Valley, the streets are ruled by corrupt cops under the control of heavily disfigured crime boss Denny Richards. When Denny and his crew make the mistake of burning alive a woman unable to pay back a paltry debt in time, they find themselves facing a world of pain at the hands of her grief-stricken husband — the eponymous Adam Chaplin (director De Santi also taking centre stage).
You see, so completely overcome with anguish and rage, Adam has made a deal with a demon that promises to bestow upon him the power to attain the vengeance he so desires. Living inside a wound on his shoulder, the impish entity occasionally surfaces (in a nice touch, causing a spurt of blood which paints an upturned cross when it lands) to offer words of support, damnation, and to just scare the living shit out of victims about to have their heads quite literally punched in. Actually, “punched in” might just be too light a term – how about obliterated, pulverised or smashed into paste. There’re no two ways about it, and if this description sounds up your street, then you need to see this right now: Adam Chaplin is an ass-kicking gorefest of astounding magnitude.
Heavily influenced by the visual excess of manga strips and anime, director De Santi mimics some of their kinetic style with surprising aplomb considering the obviously limited budget here: A snarling grimace, a tilted foot, and a lightning-fast camera whip sees Adam move from the front of his enemies to the back, while they sputter in the foreground before succumbing to their blood-spraying demises in pitch-perfect recreation. Similarly impressive visualisations include a striking image of Adam walking through rainfall and a spectacular looking apocalyptic finale.
The focus here is absolutely on the violence, though, and there are quite honestly scenes of mayhem like nothing you have ever seen before as an almost seamless blend of CGI, prosthetics, and razor editing combine with Necrostorm’s “HABS” blood polymer to create explosively splashy, toe-curling scenes of carnage. Jaws are punched off, limbs broken, fists smash through torsos, and one seriously unlucky dude is rendered pure wall decoration by Adam’s flying haymakers. De Santi’s world here is one rendered a hive of the corrupt and villainous, with almost everyone except Adam sporting various prosthetic disfigurements similar to Ryan Nicholson’s Hanger — all damaged, unsightly fodder for his crusade. The final battle alone is a barrage of such over-the-top bloodshed and bodily demolition that it almost single-handedly overcomes the narrative issues that unfortunately plague the rest of the flick.
You see, while the spraying gore and flying limbs coat the sets, they also mask much of the emotional character of the story. Entering in, we’re already in the midst of Adam’s possession and search for Denny; meanwhile the storyline meanders amongst thinly-drawn side characters as it struggles to truly piece everything together. A few brief flashbacks fail to expand as much as necessary on past events to put the audience firmly on Adam’s side, and while it’s easy to become lost amidst the pure spectacle of the violence on show, a brilliant, and surprisingly moving, bittersweet final moment prods at an emotional core that director De Santi is obviously capable of pulling off but just somehow couldn’t bring to consistent fruition.
Still, like the bastard child of Fist of the North Star and The Darkness delivered in an abattoir, Adam Chaplin is crazy as hell and absolutely guaranteed to have splatter fans howling with shock and delight at every turn. If grand bloody spectacle isn’t your thing, you’ll want to stay away, but for those of you who love to marvel at gory movie magic and enjoy the thought of watching a super-buff dude punch bad guys’ jaws straight off their faces: Get your coat on, it’s gonna be a wet one.
Necrostorm’s own DVD release of Adam Chaplin sports a few (very) short behind-the-scenes segments that include a breakdown of the “HABS” (Hyper-realistic Anime Blood Simulation) technique employed by the studio along with a glimpse at some of the animatronics and prosthetics during creation, a visual breakdown of a shot employing a mix of practical effects and CGI, and a look at some of the film’s main characters in comparison to their original concept art. In a strangely hilarious turn, the longest extra on show is actually one that focuses exclusively on director/star Emanuele De Santi pumping iron in the gym, set to a high-octane soundtrack. The dude has some muscles on him – one could imagine a few heads being ripped off there without the aid of special effects! What’s on offer here isn’t poor by any means but suffers immensely due to levity, with an extended look at the gore effects feeling like a particular missed opportunity, not to mention the lack of interviews with De Santi (or a commentary, perhaps).
The trailer takes the disc home, while rounding out the complete package is a brief excerpt from a comic book entitled Adam Chaplin: Shanty Town Massacre ,which makes a nice little excerpt from something that unfortunately doesn’t seem to have made it to print in a complete format – and that’s a shame, as it would likely make for an entertaining read.
4 out of 5
2 out of 5