Ever since actor Robert Bronzi came on the scene, there’s always been the obvious fascination with his likeness to that of late actor Charles Bronson which seems to be the driving force for his popularity. Contrarily however, that shouldn’t always be the case.
The first time I saw Bronzi was in Rene Perez’s gratuitious gritty thriller, Death Kiss. My thoughts on the film itself aside, the actor is completely dubbed which all but takes away from the experience of seeing what Bronzi can really do, which something I’m at least thankful for when it comes to this aspect of what directing duo Scott Jeffery and Rebecca Matthews’s deliver own thriller, The Gardener.
Bronzi delivers a tenderness to the title role of Peter, a former soldier who tends to a quiet manor in England. which firstly becomes a battleground for a family struggling to hold itself together between a father who can’t put the phone down to save his life, a mother who wants a divorce, a daughter eager to sow her oats and make plans elsewhere, and a son who finds himself in Peter’s sights and learning the ropes on how to tend to a garden and hoist exterior house decor.
The drama escalates when a group of armed henchmen, after days of planning and patience, violently descend onto the home with the expectation of it being empty. With Peter long too late to prevent the catastrophe and bodies soon piling up, it takes one gunshot for Peter to switch into his former soldier persona and spring into action, neutralizing the thugs one by one in order to bring the family to safety, and ultimately confront Volker, the man responsible for the home invasion.
The biggest take away here after all said and done is knowing that Bronzi can definitely carry some drama. That his likeness to the late action star is his meal ticket is probably something he gets a kick out of and, for what it’s worth, is something probably worth celebrating, although so long as it doesn’t get in the way of his creative and artistic appeal as a performer.
From what I’m told, Bronzi is the genuine article as much when it comes to performing his own action scenes, and it shows. The brisk fight sequences, coordinated by Michael Hoad, are put on full display through heavy rock and roll in the backdrop to accomodate the punches, kicks, grapples and gory kill shots that ensue, promising a more than ample share of the red stuff for those needy of an R-rated good time, which is a little more than I can say for what feels like a sore mismatch between Bronzi, and a towering, limber athlete like Gary Daniels (who plays Volker) who is more suited to be a screen opponent to the likes of Marko Zaror, or even Keanu Reeves for that matter.
As a noteworthy mention, there’s at least one fight scene midway in the film between Volker and several of his henchmen that isn’t exactly the best shot fight scene when it really could have been. In all fairness told, I’m told Hoad didn’t have his own photographer on hand, which can always be a factor in these kinds of things, and so given the era we’re in now when it comes to what we see in many action movies that have successfully managed to avoid shaky cam and quick-cut editing, Jeffrey and Matthews would be wise to take some notes.
The big plot reveal toward the end also helps in terms of adding some extra mystery to the narrative, providing just a little more substance to the latest work by Jeffrey and Matthews who are also on their way with another project. In whole, The Gardener is nice, rentable reward for anyone who’s become a fan of Bronzi in the last several years regardless of why.
The Gardener is currently available on Digital, On Demand and DVD from Lionsgate.