"Extreme Heist" (AKA "Wicked Game") is the first attempt of the Alpha Stunts team at a self-made production that had nothing to do the "Power Rangers" franchise. The movie is a miniature marvel of no-frills stuntwork and martial arts action that fell prey to obscurity thanks to a pretty boring VHS/DVD cover and the fact that serious action fans seem to equate anything related to the Power Rangers as kids' stuff. However, director/coordinator Koichi Sakamoto and his disciples are anything but amateurs and leading man Johnny Yong Bosch is most definitely more than just an ex-Ranger. The low-budget production is sure to alienate some folks, but in experience, this is one of the few films that saved itself from a mediocre rating almost entirely by the quality of its action scenes.
The story: when high-stakes thieves Billy Ray Leung (Bosch, Broken Path) and Guile Lydon (Jason "Skull" Narvy) steal a book containing the access to codes to accounts containing millions of stolen dollars, they become the targets of vicious bank robbers.
Let's get it out of the way: the movie doesn't look very good, aesthetically. Though the filmmakers obviously tried to maintain a high standard with their second-class cameras, everything still has that vague home-shot feel to it, making you think at first that this is going to be an extended demo video and not an actual movie. Additionally, the film co-stars stuntwoman Motoko Nagina as an undercover FBI agent tailing our heroes, and while her martial offerings are nice, she's a pretty bad actress, partially due to her unfamiliarity with the English language. I was also sort of displeased with the casting of George Cheung (Rambo: First Blood, Part 2) as a main villain: though this is one of the few films wherein he actually fights, it's a pretty lackluster role and I'm sure that George just took it because the filmmakers flashed some money his way. With that said, I was surprised at how adept Johnny Yong is as a leading man: some of his humorous dialogue is forced and he's sporting a truly dreadful hairstyle, but he's clearly having fun with the role without dropping professionalism.
Then again, however good of an actor he is, it's nothing compared to how good of an action hero he is. It's particularly ironic these days to hear western fans gush over Scott Adkins when they technically had someone much closer to home performing much of the same stuff years earlier. Admittedly, Bosch hasn't done nearly enough live-action work to sate an initiated fan, but man o man is it worth picking up "Extreme Heist" just to see him cut loose. Staying off the wires, Johnny kicks, flips, and takes a fall with undeniable talent and grace throughout his five fights, performing what looks like the majority of his own stunts even when those include being thrown off the hood of a speeding car or running at top speed down a steep cliffside. Of course, the Alpha Stunts team deserves credit not only for coordinating these feats but also for supplying the many thugs and bad guys to take the equally impressive falls. Getting hit full-force by a car seems like nothing to these folks, and "Extreme Heist" sets some kind of a record for truly cringe-inducing instances of performers falling flat on the back of their necks. During the whole show, I only noticed a single support wire - pretty impressive. Lead enforcer Michael Hexum isn't nearly as big on taking the falls but shows enough physical talent to make me wish that he had done more work like this in his career.
I'm not a fan of the animated gunfire present throughout the movie, the second half of which is definitely better than the first. Maybe I'm being a bit generous with my four-star rating, but not by much: the amount of talent being displayed here is universally recognizable and infinitely superior to both Hollywood and low-budget material in general. It's a shame that Bosch chose to pursue a career in cartoon voice-acting rather than become an early Tony Jaa - he definitely could've pulled it off, even when working with the bare essentials.