Nowadays, we always take direct-to-DVD/TV B-movies for granted as being nothing but mindless garbage (e.g. Extraction and Assassin), but every now and then, we do find a gem that manages to be a cut above those kind of movies, and Left to Die (or Awaken as it’s known in the States) is one of those films. In the past, action B-movies that have ended up on DVD or TV have sucked badly, which further shows that the makers of those kind of films haven’t learned a thing, taking several steps back and just done it in order to cash the hell in. But in the case of this, it was a breath of fresh air considering that filmmakers chose to properly develop the film and put some real effort into it, unlike those other films in the genre.
Here, we get some form of an actual story of Billie Kope, a combat-trained young woman, searching for her estranged missing sister that just happens to find herself on a remote island with no memory of her abduction. Teaming up with a ragtag group of survivors, she uses her skills to resist a group of soldiers who hunt them down and abduct them as part of a sinister plot to harvest organs. It’s a cool intriguing plot device, and it all comes together (mostly), and all credit is due to Natalie Burn.
A former ballet dancer from Kiev, Ukraine, Burn proves to be a real action hero in the making, as both her athleticism and fighting prowess are believable to behold, making you convinced that she is a person who has been training and strengthening her skills for many years. She brings real weight and physicality to the fights, whilst also managing to convey the emotion and underlying vulnerability brilliantly. What’s also amazing is the fact that Burn not only stars, but she also helped write, produce and create the film through her production studio 7Heaven Productions and with the help of writer/director Mark Atkins, which further goes to show that Natalie Burn is someone to watch out for.
That’s not say the film’s perfect, because it isn’t. There are some editing transitions that feel strangely choppy, and there’s romance subplot that feels somewhat forced. But the major issue is that characters pop up and disappear without any explanation or resolution and the film ends on a semi-cliffhanger, which makes the film feel somewhat incomplete as a result. Plus, despite being on-screen for about roughly 5-10 minutes, Edward Furlong came off as a bit annoying. At least Vinnie Jones isn’t as annoying as he has been in the past (looking at you X-Men: The Last Stand’s Juggernaut, yeah!).
Overall, whilst not a perfect experience, Awaken is good, exciting, pulpy fun that manages to be a cut above all the other action B-movies in the market that’ve been garbage or boring as hell. This is all down to Natalie Burn, who puts some real creative effort into proceedings, both in front of the camera and behind, and goes to show that there is a bright future ahead for this individual.
Dir: Mark Atkins
Scr: Mark Atkins, Natalie Burn, Scott Martin, Ryan Priest, Michael Thomas Slifkin
Cast: Natalie Burn, Jason London, Daryl Hannah, Robert Davi, Michael Copon, Vinnie Jones
Prd: Natalie Burn, Scott Martin
Music: Brian Ralston, Kays Al-Atrakchi
Country: United States
Runtime: 89 minutes
Left to Die is now available on DVD