When conversation leans towards the icons of modern day kung fu cinema, few people look towards British shores for names. However, Scott Adkins’ life seems to be the quintessential martial arts success story: a testament to how determination and hard work can truly pay off.
Born in the English town of Sutton Coldfield, Adkins discovered martial arts in the form of Judo when he was ten years old. Combining this new found passion with his love of movies, he began to look up to stars like Bruce Lee and Jean Claude Van Damme, opting to train hard in an attempt to emulate his idols. After being the victim of a robbery at the age of thirteen he took up Tae Kwon Do in an attempt to insure it wouldn’t happen again (which, in of itself, sounds like a movie plot).
Fast forward a few years, via drama school and some roles in British soap operas, and Scott Adkins has become a favourite of martial arts fans and has been instrumental in the “new wave” attitude to fight choreography. Many of his films combine a gritty, more realistic approach to combat combined with the complex and showy kicks of “tricking.”
Having starred in a number of cult favourites, including the fantastic Undisputed franchise, he’s also seen minor mainstream success with films like X-Men Origins: Wolverine (he played the butchered version of Deadpool previously layed by Ryan Reynolds) and, more recently, The Expendables 2. And his popularity continues to grow.
A recent Adkins Tweet (which has since been deleted) revealed that he recently auditioned to play the latest incarnation of Batman in Zack Snyder’s sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel. A Caped Crusader with a real background in martial arts? Let’s hope he gets thew part! Although, if he doesn’t, he has hinted that Undisputed 4 is in the early stages of production.
So from humble beginnings to martial arts sensation; let’s take a look at some of Scott Adkins more explosive performances.
1. Universal Solider: Day of Reckoning
Over the years, the Universal Soldier franchise (can you believe the first one was made in 1992?) has cast a number of martial arts stars in key roles. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White, Dolph Lundgren, Andre Arlovski and, most recently, Scott Adkins, have all added their brand of actiob to at least one of the six films.
The latest outing, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, sees Adkins take the lead as he goes up against the reunited Van Damme and Lundgren. Here, he fights Arlovski in a baseball bat swinging one-on-one that’s enough to make Casey Jones retire from crime fighting.
2009’s Ninja was an attempt to harken back to the cheesy ninja films of the 80’s. Sadly, the film wasn’t well received by fans despite featuring some really solid fight work.
One of the later fights sees Adkins going up against a constant onslaught of henchmen. Containing visual similarities to Tony Jaa’s bone crunching fight from The Protector and Bruce Lee’s dojo fight from Fist of Fury it’s certainly a memorable scene in an otherwise lackluster movie.
3. Undisputed 2
Undisputed 2 featured the first appearance of what is, arguably, Scott Adkins’ most loved character, Yuri Boyka. Boyka is a Russian prisoner who climbs to the top of a prison food chain by becoming its champion fighter.
While the film had somewhat of a generic plot, having Larnell Stovall on choreography duties and featuring a showdown between Adkins and Michael Jai White, the film became a true milestone for western martial arts cinema.
The opening fight is basically a breakdown of what Scott Adkins – or Yuri Boyka – is capable of and makes for an introduction that’s pretty hard to forget.
4. Undisputed 3
In a move nobody expected, Yuri Boyka ends up as the protagonist in Undisputed 3: Redemption. This time Adkins is pitted against a number of martial artists and stuntmen, including Ilram Choi and legendary Capoeira exponent, Lateef Crowder.
But it’s the introduction of Chilean powerhouse Mark Zaror that ups the ante in this third film. In a seven minute final trade-off, Boyka is forced to utilize his entire repertoire to fend off the 6′ 3″ South American.
Undisputed 3 showed that Scott Adkins could easily carry the weight of a film on his shoulders and, with his ability for on screen fighting and solid acting, somewhat launched him into the limelight.
5. The Expendables 2
We all know how The Expendables franchise works. Take some of our wrinkliest actions stars, throw in a batch of nostalgia, season with a sprinkling of hyper-violence and, depending on who you ask, you have a winning recipe.
While the first film packed most of its martial arts action into Jet Li’s scenes, the sequel added both Jean-Claude Van Damme and Scott Adkins as the two lead villains, multiplying the potential for some great brawls.
While most fans of the genre would typically pine for Scott Adkins facing off against Jet Li in the finale, the film actual pits Adkins against Jason Statham (who’s a surprisingly convincing on screen martial artist). The result isn’t all too shabby with Adkins putting in most of the fancy footwork.
6. Special Forces
Three years before Undisputed 2, director, Isaac Florentine, worked with Adkins on a film called Special Forces. It was a low budget, straight-to-DVD production that, in hindsight, acts very much as a precursor to their later collaborations; featuring Adkins’ trademark brand of kinetic action and jaw dropping moves.
7. The Tournament
The Tournament, despite starring well respected actors like Robert Carlyle, Ving Rhames and Kelly Hu, fell under everybody’s radar upon its release. It’s essentially an assassin versus assassin (versus assassin and so on) film with Adkins once again adopting a Russian twang to play Yuri Petrov, a seemingly generic hitman with a fondness for big guns and…um…beards?
In a rare “man versus woman” scenario, Adkins beats the hell out of Kelly Hu with a barrage of pretty great kicks before being rather unfairly disposed of. Although more of a second tier role, Adkins stands out as one of the more talented performers in the film.
8. Becoming Boyka
Not a fight in the traditional sense, but it’s worth noting how hard Scott Adkins actually fights in order to stay in top notch physical form. Interestingly, his training is based in the modern techniques of MMA, which probably helps quite significantly in making him a more well rounded fighter.
Determination has definitely been a key theme in Adkins’ life as I can’t imagine seeing Tom Cruise putting himself through such punishment for one of his roles!
So what do you think? Does Scott Adkins deserve his cult superstar status and are you excited about the possibility of him being the new Batman? Drop us a note and weigh in!