It’s been more than six years since stunt professional James Mark got the engine running for his 2018 debut, Kill Order. He kept his creative stride a second feature with crime thriller, On The Ropes, and with a continued eye for the chair, he’s looking to build on the world birthed in Kill Order with the new sci-fi thriller, Enhanced.
Enter brother and fellow stunt cohort Chris Mark who saw his acting debut in Kill Order which took more than five years to complete with a release. In addition to fight choreography, he switches gears for the narrative as the villain opposite starring Wolves and Goon 1 & 2 actor George Tchortov who leads the cast for the film’s hopeful release later this year.
For this, I managed to get into touch with the producers about the project, which, according to its plot, “follows a disenfranchised soldier and a super-power fugitive working together to stop a reality bending experiment that can wipe out humanity.” I was instantly curious earlier this month when I learned via social media that this was a sequel from a seperate producer on social media, and particularly since the Kill Order star was involved.
“James was born to be a director!” says producer Bruno Marino. “He comes prepared and deals with every situation like a consumate professional. Coming from the stunt world prepared him to make a natural transition into this genre and it shows. His skillset has refined by leaps and bounds since his last film and I have no doubt we will see him at the helm of a Hollywood blockbuster in the near future.”
James also has co-starring role in Kill Order which I spoke of in my review, in which his character sort of has a supernatural aura of his own. From the looks of things and as far as I can tell, we’re probably not gonna see that in this particular continuation, though admittedly it’s only speculation. The idea is still enticing nonetheless, so I’m open to surprises.
For now though, much more is ado with Chris back in action following his kinetic, high-energy debut as a force to be reckoned with.
“This film places Chris in a more prominent role than his past work.” says Marino. “He commands the screen with a strong presence and possesses leading qualities that resonate on screen. It would be safe to say this is his ‘break out role.'”
Marino, who has produced over forty films including hit Cody Hackman-led action pics Tapped Out and Gridlock’d, confirmed the film’s standing post Kill Order, citing that the film “is not an official follow up to Kill Order but is loosely based on the methodology of some of the characters and the powers they posses.”
Marino spoke highly of the filmmakers, including Plato Fountidakis whose preceding credits include serving as fight coordinator and stunt performer on Max Payne (2008), TV series Lost Girls (2010), stunt double to Shaun Benson in Arq (2016) and as stunt driver in Kodachrome (2017).
Fountidakis takes a backseat to the stunts this time around serving as producer on Enhanced, in addition to facilitating the casting additions of Tchortov, and actors Adrian Holmes and Elvis Stojko; Holmes is best known for his role in TV series, 19-2 and the hit CW series, Arrow, among other credits; Stojko has a limited number of TV credits in the past two decades while garnering even more praise as an Olympic silver medalist, world champion and seven-time Champion figure skater.
Fountidakis also managed all production stages via his Fast Motion Studios banner, in addition to providing pivotal equity, finance and distribution elements, and crucial production equipment, including for stunts and rigging.
“James and Chris Mark and Plato Fountidakis have amassed a large body of work and are well respected in the stunt community.” he says. “The opportunity presented itself and I jumped at the chance to be part of the project.”
“The production was extremely fortunate to have Adrian come on board to play Captain Williams. He is a top tier talent that brought an added layer of quality to the project.” he says. “Many fans only knew Elvis (as we did) as a figure skating legend, so when we discovered he added ‘Actor’ to his resume, we jumped at the chance to work together. His commitment to the craft and his generosity on set really comes through in his work. I have no doubt he will excel in the business at a rapid pace.”
Marino also chimed in further about the main cast, adding “I would be remiss not to mention the balance of our fabulous key cast that in the end made this an ensemble to watch. George Tchortov (Goon), Alanna Bale (Cardinal), Eric Hicks (Bad Blood), and Patrick Sabongui (The Flash) all brought their A-Game and I would work with all of them again in a heartbeat.”
While Kill Order and On The Ropes proved handsomely for James Mark’s ability to apply his experience in stunts to work with talented stunt performers in crafting solid and thrilling action and fight scenery, I was curious as to how he would up the ante. At least one key fight scene I can point out in Kill Order pitting Chris Mark against co-star Jonny Caines is enough to get a fair idea. This, coupled with any number of test fights and video Chris and James and their cohorts at Team 2x have produced over the years.
Marino himself stated he was glad that I asked this question since I pointed to many of Chris’ Instagram feed and story posts. As spectacular and high-energy as the fight action was in Kill Order, I was curious as to how Enhanced would level things up going forward.
“Our entire stunt team is world class and have worked on some of Hollywood’s biggest productions,” he says, pointing to David Ayers’ 2016 DC adaptation, Suicide Squad, DC Universe’s Titans, the xXx and X-Men franchises, and upcoming Shazam to name a few. “Action fans can expect to be entertained on a premium level.”
At least one noticeable factor I also spotted in my social media scanning was how extremely cold it was with all the snowfall in Ontario with respect to the cast and crew as they were training and filming. Marino doesn’t contest this in the least and also revered what he says were the amazing results that stemmed from pushing through the bitter cold.
“We did have to rejig the schedule several times, but what made us get through was the commitment from our team.” says Marino. “Sounds cliche, but our cast and crew really did commit 110% and without that we would not have made it to the finish line.”
On franchise potential, I don’t have the exact figures at my disposal so as to figure out the business of financing a film like Enhanced. All I know is that every film is an investment, and as much as I like the idea of trilogies, I wondered if this little sci-fi action IP had the shelf life for such longevity. The answer to that is pretty simple for Marino in that it’s all up to what the market dictates, and if consumers want more.
“If the fans ask, we will be sure to answer with as many films as they can chew on.” he says. “All I can tell you is that this high octane actioner won’t let anyone down.”
*A previous version of this article was been updated and amended to clarify specific credits for the cast and for Plato Fountidakis, and to credit photographer Andrew M. Richardson.