If there were to be a textbook on how to create the ultimate low-budget action flick, Richmond Riedel's Target Practice
would no doubt be one of its prime examples. Nominated for over 20 action film awards and winner of Action on Film's "Action Film of the Year" and the Accolade Film Competition's "Award of Excellence," Target Practice
is an anxiety-inducing, soul-cringing flick that makes you simultaneously think and feel with a story that is ripped from contemporary headlines and a stark reality that hits far closer to home than we'd really like.
The story centers around five blue-collar buddies headed for a weekend fishing trip whose seemingly meaningless encounter with an abandoned vehicle in the middle of an isolated mountain road unleashes a torrential rain of violent fury upon them as they have stumbled into the middle of an undercover operation involving a CIA agent and a hidden training camp for homegrown terrorists.
If you don't believe it's a believable scenario, you should.
It's rather frightening.
Suddenly, these 5 guys find themselves way out of their league and fighting for their lives against an enemy that's better trained, relentlessly inspired and who knows this rugged terrain much like those who hide away in far off lands from which we mistakenly believe we are safe.
Riedel, who toiled away on the editing team for a variety of big budget projects such as Rudy, Blue Chips, The Break-Up, Friday Night Lights
and others, has created an intelligently written and compelling action thriller that surpasses even much of what Hollywood has to offer thanks to its richly drawn characters, cohesive story and well constructed action sequences that often transcend the film's obvious budgetary constraints.
The budgetary constraints are certainly obvious at times, but Riedel knows his limits and he's apparently worked in film long enough to know what he can get away with in the course of production. If we're being honest, micro-budget action flicks can quite often be a rather embarrassing thing. Heck, big budget action flicks fail more often than not. There's a lot going on in most decent action flicks, ranging from tech needs to editing to fight choreography and so on. It takes an imaginative filmmaker to convincingly pull it off, and Richmond Riedel's imagination and editorial skills pay off big time here.
The film's ensemble cast is, for the most part, quite strong and Riedel's dialogue only occasionally stumbles a bit. Target Practice
puts themes such as friendship, loyalty, political fervor and more right in the middle of the action and forces these men to confront their attitudes, biases and unresolved issues if they hope to survive. If you're wanting to make yourself a low-budget action flick, watch this one. You'll learn something.
Another stroke of genius for Riedel is to not simply make the film out to be "good vs. bad," or "good ole' boys take on those evil terrorists." While the terrorists are a bit stock at times, for the most part Riedel infuses the script with characters who feel authentic and balanced. Our good guys are complex with strengths and weaknesses and, while I wouldn't exactly call them sympathetic, Riedel does serve up a humanity behind the mask of terror.
Jeff Arwady's original music is exceptional, while Riedel serves as D.P. alongside Dennis Gutteridge and lenses the film as well as one possibly can on a micro-budget. The film avoids, again for the most part, the usual production mishaps that plague low-budget action flicks such as unconvincing wounds, poorly paced editing and an inconsistent sound mix.
is now available on DVD. In fact, you can click right there on that Amazon banner to the right and pick up your own copy of the film. The DVD comes with nearly 3 hours of extras including director and cast commentary, bloopers/outtakes and much more. It's a rather remarkable and generous packaging for a lower-budget indie from distrib Big Screen Entertainment Group.
For more information on the film, visit the Target Practice website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic