Tony Esmond and Nick Prolix are working on a new martial arts comic called Cockney Kung Fu. Both creators are really excited about it and decided, as part of the collaborative process, they would put out a weekly mailer (subscribe here).
This week, Tony slipped in some background to the just-wrapped Accident Man movie direct from Pat Mills, which he’s kindly given us to permission to share here on downthetubes, along with his thoughts on the strip, which first ran in the 1980s version of TOXIC (not to be confused with the current title!) – collected by Titan Comics…
Look Ma! A British comics movie! With martial arts. Who bloody well went and thought of that one….
The TOXIC! / Dark Horse comic Accident Man movie directed by Jesse V. Johnson, starring Scott Adkins as Mike Fallon, the Accident Man, is finally wrapped and almost ready for release – so I thought that I would have a look at it.
Mike Fallon (Scott Adkins), the Accident Man, is a stone cold killer whose methodical hits baffle the police and delight his clients. He is the best at what he does. But when a loved one is dragged into the London underworld and murdered by his own crew, Fallon is forced to rip apart the life he knew in order to hold those accountable and avenge the one person who actually meant something to him…
Scott Adkins (Green Street 3, Doctor Strange and X-Men Origins: Wolverine) has described making a movie of comic book series Accident Man as his own personal “Passion Project”. Accident Man was comic that the fifteen year old martial arts movie and tv star picked up and read and reread – so having him play the lead in the movie is, in my humble opinion, the perfect casting. He seems to talk about it without the usual Hollywood style fakeness and as an old comic fan I’m on board!
British martial arts actors with longevity and style seem few and far between here, but Scott seems the real deal. Adkins was born in 1976 in Sutton Coldfield and wrote the Accident Man movie with his childhood pal Stu Small. His exposure to martial arts came early on with judo classes at the age of 10, before moving on to Tae Kwon Do at 14 and then on to kickboxing. After taking an acting course, he grabbed a bag and headed to Hong Kong and worked alongside greats like Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan.
The actor returned to the United Kingdom and took roles in more mainstream fare on television in Doctors, Eastenders and had a recurring role in Holby City.
Adkins has a long list of cracking movies and performances to his credit now, appearing in Doctor Strange, Grimsby, Expendables 3, Green Street 3 and many, many more. He has carved out a name for himself in a respectable series of martial arts movies as well. Not bad for a lad from the Midlands.
He has spoken with huge enthusiasm about wanting to keep the adaption “twisted” and its “dark humour”, and also to set Accident Man in London. It has now wrapped the post production phase a couple of months ago (according to the Accident Man Instagram page) and Adkins is hoping it can get a theatrical release (as am I).
I recently spent a boozy evening chatting to Pat Mills about this project and he is also very excited about the possibilities. Accident Man is creator owned and it’s taking that step in to movies that many 2000AD creations haven’t managed yet. It’s been a long time coming and good to hear that it’s being made by someone who apparently understands what this anarchic and stylish comic is all about.
This is a movie/franchise with huge potential. The actors starring alongside Adkins read like a who’s who of comic adaption action stars, including: Michael Jai White (Batman: The Dark Knight and ‘Spawn’), Ray Stevenson (Punisher: War Zone and Thor), Ray Park (X-Men, G.I. Joe), Ashley Greene (Batman: Arkham Knight) and Amy Johnston (who did stunts in a load of Marvel/DC movies including Deadpool, Captain America: Winter Soldier and Suicide Squad).
In interviews Adkins has spoken about the tone being kept from the comic and also says that they have kept a 1980s “John Carpenter style” soundtrack.
Sound good? It does to me.
So let’s have a look at the comic series that inspired this new project.
“Listen Bidet-Face… I’m letting you go now, but I still intend to kill you…”
Written by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner with art through the series by Martin Emond, Duke Mighten and John Erasmus, Accident Man premiered in the short lived and much-missed TOXIC! comic, before moving on to a Dark Horse series (with covers by Howard Chaykin, no less!), it’s available in a hard cover collection from Titan Comics.
Mike Fallon is a hitman who, for the most part, makes all his kills look like accidents. He’s got a tendency to the richer things in life, fast cars and motorbikes and woman who alternatively will f*** your brains out and/ or cut your throat. He likes to live on the edge. He’s a master of numerous martial arts and likes to refer to his melting pot of styles as “Newberry Style”. He is also probably the most ghastly anti-hero you’ll read in a long time!
“I’m a Kung Fu and Chips man myself.”
He despises pretty much everything that doesn’t involve him getting paid or getting his rocks off and will unwind by challenging a group of football fans to a punch-up. He’s also loosely associated with a group of other hit men of various styles and techniques. One hilarious sequence has him attending the Hitmen Awards. (A son who is collecting an award for his deceased father declares “You’re all mad!”, before taking his seat back in the audience).
Mike Fallon is very much the anti-James Bond, and Mills and Skinner avoid all the cliches by lampooning many of them. Fallon dresses impeccably (describing in detail everything he’s wearing down to cufflinks and personalised condoms in one issue), he sleeps with only the sexiest – and deadliest – women and spends his life being rude to the rich and poor alike. He is appallingly nasty and cruel. He lacks a shred of any kind of morality. He acts purely for monetary and physical satisfaction. A kill is a masturbatory act for Fallon and he gets off on each and every one.
(You’re getting the idea of how much I love this book by now?)
The opening few issues under the art chores of the sadly now passed Martin Emond feel like the nastiest of all the series. It feels like you are reading an Underground Comic. Something that you would most definitely have to hide from your mum and dad. Dirty, bloody and extreme, this is the genesis of the hero. He would later go in to a more sleeker and smarter look under the pen of Duke Mighten and John Erasmus, but it’s Edmond, for me, who really gets the idea and runs with it. He chocks the page full of jokes and sound effects. His exaggerated punk edged violence fits the story brilliantly.
The satire of the book is amped up on page after page, as you would expect from Mills and Skinner. Never failing to grasp a curled lip and two fingers raised at the establishment, this is as alternative as you could ever have gotten in a UK newsagents weekly! TOXIC! burned brightly – and is missed by all who were readers. At the time it was touted as an alternative to 2000AD. Imagine if we had a British weekly that good now!
(It featured other groundbreaking stories to, like “The Bogie Man”, “Muto Maniac”, “Marshall Law” and “The Driver” – now let’s see 2000AD try and get that kind of quality in Social Justice Warrior Britain these days!)
I’m hoping that the upcoming movie will kickstart some more comics. I’d love to see a publisher like Dynamite to pick this particular ball up and run with it.
Bring it on!
• Tony has his own blog where this post also appears, Never Iron Anything, here. Be warned, it is not for faint hearted and those sensitive to rude words should look away now! Want to know more about Cockney Kung Fu? Sign up for the mailing list!