13 September 2003 | Zantara Xenophobe
Low Budget Fun
I don't know exactly what it is, but I am drawn to the films of David A. Prior like moths to a flame. The frequently air on late-night television in my area, and I watch them. They tend to be of two varieties: horrible or decent. Occasionally, one transcends the decent label and becomes very good, such as `White Fury,' `Night Wars,' `Center of the Web,' or `Lock n Load.' But I usually go into the movies braced for another `Mankillers' or `Deadly Prey' and cross my fingers and pray that I don't get dealt another `Operation Warzone.' When `Rapid Fire' started up, I feared the worst, as the film begins with a really bad scene aboard a US ship where an assassin breaks a terrorist out of jail and takes out a battalion of navy and marine troops. I groaned. But then the film's tone changed, the story improved, and everything seemed so much better. Well, almost everything.
As soon as the bad opening action sequence is over, we get the brunt of the story. Shady US government agents kidnap former agent Mike Thompson (Ron Waldron) because he is the only person that can nail the assassin, Eddy Williams (Michael Wayne), because they have a past history: Mike once served under Eddy in the military and Eddy went nuts and tried to murder his brave soldier. Mike can't do this alone, though. He falls for a lovely agent, Corle (Dawn Tanner), who decides to go against her own superiors and help Mike with his mission because she wants the escaped terrorist dead. Mike also enlists the help of another former mercenary and someone with many connections, Pappy (Douglas Harter). The three of them need to find Eddy's hideout or flush him out in the open. Their biggest obstacle is Eddy's weapon, a super-powered gun with quick-firing, armor-piercing bullets.
Most of the movie is quick and entertaining. Prior works most of his action scenes (again, not including the opener) really well given his tight budget. The film's critical problem is in Ron Waldron. I don't know what it is exactly, but his acting seems very wooden. It's probably the way he spoke his lines that I didn't like. He sounded like he was trying to imitate Marc Singer, which would be fine if the words really were coming out of the mouth of Singer. The rest of the cast is good. Wayne brings something to his villain that you don't see too often: fear. Eddy thinks Mike is dead, but upon hearing news to the contrary, he wigs out and becomes overtly paranoid for the rest of the movie. He even has interesting dream sequences to illustrate his fear, and I have to commend Prior for these unique scenes that a villain rarely gets to display. I didn't particularly like Tanner's role, but that is not because her ability was off but because her character seemed like a forced love interest. Harter is the movie's pride and joy. He's a Prior regular, and it is always fun seeing him in a more extended role. He's the best character in the film, and I could tell that Prior and actor-writer William Zipp had a lot of fun writing his scenes. True, seeing Harter in swimming trunks being kissed by women in the middle of his pool was something I could have gone my whole life without seeing, but at least this scenes ended on a really hilarious note, changing the tone of the film from Too Serious to Tongue-in-Cheek, which was greatly needed. Still, the unappealing main character determines the end score. Zantara's score: 5 out of 10.