Savage Dog, 2017
Indochina-1959. A lawless land controlled by criminals where Vietnamese warlords and European war criminals hold the power. The Den Dhin Chan Labour Camp is the worst prison in the land, run by a quartet of four dangerous men. It is here that a European former boxing champion, Martin Tillman (Scott Adkins), has found himself. He’s survived the prison by taking part in the illegal fight game which sees wealthy criminals gambling on the outcome. With Tillman due for release – and planning on returning home – the corrupted souls who control the jail will do anything they can to keep him locked down and making money for them. But when all that Tillman holds dear is taken away in a vicious act of violence, he will be forced to walk the road of vengeance and unleash the ‘savage dog’ that dwells within….
In an interview with Impactonline.co, January 2017 Scott Adkins says on playing the character Martin Tillman: “Martin is one of these characters that doesn’t say much. He plays his cards close to his chest. He’s a tortured soul. I’ve played this type of character before, but it suits me well. The fights in this film are more realistic than most of my other films. We’re not doing so much the long takes or the flashy techniques; we’re trying to be more brutal and gritty because that goes with the story that we’re trying to tell and the character I play. It’s hyper violent in a fun way. It’s something that I enjoy. It’s cinematic and violent.”
As the film is set in Indochina in the 1950s, Adkins observes: “A white guy doing martial arts in the ’50s doesn’t necessarily make sense, but my character Martin is living in Indochina, so we’re saying he’s had some experience training with some Thai fighters, so we’re mixing some old school boxing techniques with some sort of Thai boxing techniques.”
The films fight choreography is handled by Luke LaFontaine, a veteran screen fighter himself whose credits include Charlie Valentine, The Beautiful Ones, Alien Agent and The Last Sentinel with Johnson, The Masked Rider TV series, Martial Law and Welcome to the Jungle/The Rundown with The Rock.
“You’re gonna get a really tight and engaging story,” Adkins promises. “It’s something different, set in a time period that you’ve not quite seen before for this type of movie. It’s got strong characters and it’s got some great action. I’m very happy to be working with Luke LaFontaine the fight coordinator. He’s bringing something interesting to the fights. Luke has done a stellar job.”
On his co-star Marko Zaror, he states, “Marko and I worked on Undisputed III together. He’s an incredible martial artist, and one of the best in the business in screen fighting. We’re quite similar in many ways.”
The actionelite.com had an interview with Vladimir Kulich where he revealed some more details about the movie.
"Yeah, it’s gonna be great ; I’m not just saying that because you’re supposed to say that about everything. I’ve done over 20 films and about 25 TV shows; now that’s not to say I was the star of any of these TV shows but I’ve done them. What I’m getting at is I’ve worked with a lot of directors and this guy Jesse V. Johnson blew me away. He’s related to the legendary stuntman Vic Armstrong and he really is a great stunt guy who understands camera movements but like Richard Harris he’s also a sensitive guy. He wrote what I think is an amazing script especially for the character Steiner that I play because this guy is kind of a classic, nasty ex-Nazi hiding out in Indochina in 1954. He’s tormented because he has an illegitimate daughter and trying to make peace with her while running a work camp. So he’s this tough guy who runs this penal colony but he’s also trying to be sensitive about his daughter and it’s all causing him this great torment."
"In comes Scott Adkins’ character who plays an Irishman (an IRA guy) hiding out because he’s got people after him. He’s actually a really good fighter so Steiner uses Scott Adkins’ character to fight and to make money. We’ve also got Cung Le who is a real martial artist and he’s my right hand man who cleans up my messes."
"We also have a really cool guy called Keith David who was the voice of all those documentaries so I was just so happy that they got him because a lot of the movie got narrated by him. So why not get the best narrator in the world to do the movie? So you’ve got the best narrator from all the Ken Burns documentaries (who also acts in the movie). You’ve got Scott Adkins who I think for a martial artist is a really good actor (laughs). You’ve got the guy who could play Bond in the lead; you’ve got JuJu Chan from the Crouching Tiger sequel who in the eyes of Asian investors is worth a lot. They are able to put a lot of money into the movie from their side and she’s also a very good actress who was also surprisingly born in Boston.
We’ve also got Marko Zaror who is the funniest guy; he doesn’t drive and he doesn’t know how to get to the set so he’s using Uber (laughs). I ended up giving him rides and the worst thing you can do is get Marko Zaror into your car because he’ll start talking about how you should eat. No Sugar, no sugar, no sugar; he’s teaching me how to ferment milk! So it’s a very interesting movie to work on."
What can we expect in terms of action? I hear it’s done without CG…
I think because Jesse knew we are doing an action movie with fight sequences in 1954, you’re not going to have Bruce Lee doing triple axles in the air. You’re gonna have whatever the heck it was that they had. I have a black belt in Okinawan karate which I got when I was in Montreal. I got that because I was growing too quickly, I was uncoordinated; I was 6ft 5 at the age of 15. I thought it would be good for my coordination and since I was a fighter it was good to have. So I understood all of those basic movements for all of those martial arts. I think Tae Kwon Do became popular in the 80s so we all of a sudden started getting all these spin kicks and all that. Even that is still a very simple form of martial arts and I think anything after that is Hollywood.
I’m personally sick of watching people do all of these things which are completely unrealistic. It was fun for a while because it’s a nice visual but when everybody does it for the whole friggin movie I start falling asleep. But if you bring it back to a character driven one on one like the cage fighters, it’s a very simplistic form of fighting. You watch these fights and you get engaged in the character. First of all you’re a fan of one fighter or the other even if you don’t care about anybody you’re just attracted to one of the fighters. So you kind of start pulling for them which I think Jesse has done with this movie. He’s made it character driven where they’re gonna fight and it’s not gonna be crazy, unrealistic movements. It’s gonna be a soulful force which you can see in the actor’s eyes with one or two kicks, a chokehold, etc. and it’s exciting because you’re going to care about the person.
I kept saying that during The 13th Warrior; I was like “guys, it’s called The 13th Warrior and you killed off 7 of them but you didn’t establish them so nobody is going to care who they were!”
So their death is meaningless, nobody cares; if you had established each character and it wouldn’t take a lot to give them a scene where you get to know them a little bit then when this character is killed off and you’re engaged as the audience. Jesse did that and created specifics for every character in the movie. So every time somebody shows up you know who he is and you either like him or you don’t like him. So it’s a character driven 1954 period piece set in Vietnam.
Would you say Steiner is a full on villain or are their different shades to him?
Oh he’s definitely the villain; basically Steiner is based on an Austrian character called Otto Skorzeny and if you look him up you’ll see he was a paratrooper. When Mussolini was arrested they had him on a mountaintop towards the end of the war; so Otto Skorzeny comes in with 15 gliders and 80 paratroopers and invades the mountain to rescue Mussolini. He puts him on a little plane and sends him back to Berlin so he was known for doing heroic things which were most likely embellished as time went on. Skorzeny got captured at the end of the war and put in a concentration camp and they interrogated him to see who was a war criminal. They were going to execute him because he put on American uniforms and infiltrated the American side. Then a British Commander said that they had done the same thing so they gave him something like a 10 year sentence and a year and half later he broke out. He had 5 of his paratrooper buddies dressed up as US MPs in a jeep and he took off for Spain and nobody bothered going after him again.