Castle Falls isn’t the DTV flick of the year that it’s inspired pairing teases, but its a solid little actioner that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
DTV action cinema’s greatest star Scott Adkins teams up with the legendary Dolph Lundgren (who also directs) for Castle Falls, an incredibly cheap-looking but casually satisfying little bit of fun. Adkins plays Mike Wade, an ex-fighter and drifter who finds himself working for a demolition crew preparing to topple the abandoned Castle Heights Hospital. Meanwhile, Lundgren is mopey prison guard Ericson, who’s struggling to pay for his daughter’s (Lundgren’s IRL daughter Ida) cancer treatments and who learns from an inmate that a cache of millions in drug money is stashed somewhere in the ruined hospital. Third-party Deacon Glass (Scott Hunter) is a vicious drug dealer who thinks the money belongs to him. I’ll give you three guesses where this is going.
This is obviously an extremely low-budget production, the kind of thing that looks like it was shot at friends’ houses and a single reusable set of a couple of hallways. And COVID protocols surely made this a bit of a chore to shoot — many scenes notably feature people standing carefully apart while delivering their dialogue. Nevertheless, Castle Falls manages to set up a bunch of dominoes and knock them over quite economically; you don’t need much to make a convincing fight picture like this beyond a little ambition and some sturdy performers.
To that end, as already stated and easily predictable, Adkins is this field’s MVP, and he keeps getting better and better as an actor. Mike Wade is a down-and-out failure as a pro fighter, and the actor displays an unusual jittery lack of confidence here that’s pretty convincing. He also gets to use his real accent for a change. Lundgren is clearly relishing the opportunity to give himself some emotive business to do, stuff like breaking down in sobs or gravely regarding his sick child, and as the bad baddie, Scott Hunter doesn’t have to do much but sneer, but it helps that Hunter is a very high profile stunt performer and so he’s an excellent screen foil for the two seasoned frontmen. The film’s action, which occupies most of the last half of a brisk 89 minutes, is crisp and simple, and the bare-bones sets do a good job of making the action sequences’ geography seem that much cleaner. Castle Falls isn’t as splashy or intense as other recent DTV gems like One Shot and Hell Hath No Fury, but it’s still perfectly solid work from everyone involved.