Welcome to the Punch [IMDB]
Directed by Eran Creevy
Starring James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough
Over the last few years there has been a big rise in the number of action-oriented American productions filmed in the UK, from Fast and Furious 6 (2013) to Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015). This is just the latest in the country's many contributions to action cinema, which have also included the James Bond series and work of Vic Armstrong, perhaps the greatest stuntman of all time. However, precious few action films can be called British productions because the UK film industry has traditionally focused on drama and horror films. Recently, British genre cinema seems dominated by a seemingly endless tide of miserable low-budget crime films starring the likes of Danny Dyer and Vinnie Jones.
Up-and-coming British director Eran Creevy sought to change that with his 2013 film Welcome to the Punch. Having had success with the BAFTA-nominated microbudget crime film Shifty, Creevy secured the support of executive producer Ridley Scott and set his sights on something much more ambitious: a London-set action crime film strongly influenced by Hong Kong cinema and the works of Michael Mann. Sadly but perhaps not surprisingly, the film failed to attract all that much attention – but with Creevy's next effort being released this year, it definitely deserves another look.
Thief (1981) [IMDB]
Directed by Michael Mann
Starring James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Robert Prosky
My first experience of Michael Mann's work was seeing Heat (1995) several years ago. It was one of those rare films which impressed me tremendously right from the first viewing, and it's even grown on me over the years to the point where it's one of my top ten films. None of the Mann films I've seen subsequently have impressed me quite as much, but I always welcome the opportunity to catch another one.
I picked up Arrow Video's 2015 release of Mann's first theatrically-released film, Thief, in an excellent HMV sale. The five discs I bought are the first ones I've owned, but I've rented around ten of their other releases and they are all superb. Arrow may just the best film distributor operating in the UK right now, and their release of Thief is the perfect way to be introduced to this fascinating early work by Mann.