28 January 2000 | ipkevin
Incredible. The best mercenary movie ever made.
I rented this expecting a stupid but violent Dolph Lundgren direct-to-video action thriller. Well, it's violent alright, but it is by no means stupid. In fact, I'd say this is the best direct-to-video action movie ever made, and at the very top of Dolph Lundgren's filmography. The general outline of the plot - Mercenaries assault tropical village to muscle mining rights from the villagers, but then mercenary has a change of heart and helps defend the village - is eminently cliche of course. Previous mercenary classics Dogs of War and The Wild Geese already have similar plots. But the execution is marvellous! What did you expect with the great independent filmmaker and famed scriptdoctor John Sayles writing the script on this one? The movie doesn't rely pure action to raise your blood pressure - All the time spent building the relationships and personalities pays off big time when it comes to the showdown. Real dramatic tension in a direct-to-video Dolph Lundgren flick! Who'd have expected it? The dialogue is smart and knows when to laugh at itself when it gets too cliche or macho. The director and cinematographer do great work as well, very stylish without resorting to cheap "music-video-style" tricks so common these days. And don't worry about the action, there isn't much at the beginning, but the last 30 minutes or so is one huge long action sequence. Best of all, it doesn't pull any punches. Maybe its direct-to-video status allowed them to show more, I don't know, but this is a helluva violent film. You see the results of the violence and it's anything but pretty. I loved this film. Go find it at the video store, it's worth it. The only negative is that the tape is pan&scan and there's no widescreen/letterbox version available on DVD. The compositions seem a bit cramped, especially during the action scenes. Anyway, go see it, and keep any eye out for some cool actors in the supporting roles - BD Wong, Catherine Bell of tv show "JAG" fame (playing a hardass mercenary chick no less!), etc. I hope the studio releases a widescreen DVD soon!