Black Lotus review – kickboxer thriller looks like ad for Amsterdam tourist board

This hapless Dutch-produced thriller almost redeems itself with a decent final sequence staged in the neon-doused John Wick style, but it is too little, too late. Gigantic 6ft 5in kickboxer Rico Verhoeven blows his shot at action stardom with a showing of anti-charisma best described as if Lenny from Of Mice and Men had become a special forces operative. And the Amsterdam tourist board – for whom this at least lustrously shot film serves as a long commercial – must hold serious dirt on Frank Grillo for him to have signed up. Even by his snap-your-hand-off-for-a-paycheck standards, he has a binfire on his hands.

Verhoeven plays Matteo, former crack point man for a tactical unit of vague remit, who is licking his wounds after a hostage rescue at the German national opera goes south and his boss is killed. Recuperating at a Romanian sawmill, as you do, he returns to Amsterdam to make contact with bereaved wife Helene (Marie Dompnier) as well has his goddaughter (Pippi Casey). But the former’s new husband Paul (Peter Franzén) is siphoning money from Saban (Grillo), a “Eurotrash Tony Montana” who runs the local branch of a global crime syndicate. Which puts the family in the line of fire, and forces Matteo to dust off his particular set of skills.

Sadly, acting is not among them. Verhoeven makes Steven Seagal look like Derek Jacobi, so director Todor Chapkanov’s decision to have Verhoeven refrain from breaking heads for nearly an hour is all the more bizarre. Apart from some topless woodwork thirst-trap scenes, his only function is as identifiable landmark amid a flappy meeting of illogical storylines and flashbacks: the Interpol agents trailing Saban; Paul’s financial scam; Matteo and his old chief’s bromance in Afghanistan, “ironically” fleshed out as they nonchalantly snipe Taliban. This is a film both slapdash and depressingly generic, down to some “family” pep talk ChatGPTed in from Fast and Furious. The meaningless title Black Lotus sums it up; John Wack would be more like it.

• Black Lotus is available on digital platforms on 19 June.