7 March 2000 | tp320
While Steven Seagal is my favourite action hero, Jeff Speakman is a close second. He has a powerful screen presence, a good voice and suitably calm manners for a man of action. He has made some excellent actioners in the past. His first starring role was in "The Perfect Weapon" which almost lived up to it's title - it was indeed nearly perfect. Two years later he returned on screen in "Street Knight", another excellent action film. Since then, he has starred in numerous low-budget actioners.
Although his later films are not up to the standards of the first ones, I have liked many of them. I even liked "Land of the Free"! I had a pretty good idea what to expect from "Running Red" but unfortunately it disappointed me in a few key areas.
Speakman stars as Gregori, a Russian professional soldier who's brother is killed by the enemy. Because of this and his sadistic commander, he quits the army and starts a new life in the USA. Now calling himself Greg, he has a new job and a family. His life gets an unexpected turn when his former superior locates him and asks him to kill three men or his family would get hurt.
The plot is nothing special but it isn't embarrassingly bad either. It's pretty much what one expects from these films. And the film does have some good points. The first one is of course Speakman himself, he still has a strong screen presence. Also he handles the scenes with his family pretty well. His wife is played by the beautiful Angie Everhart. While Everhart has already been in several low-budget films (like "Executive Action"), she still brings a touch of class to any production she's in. Also there are some other familiar faces in the cast you might recognise.
And now for the bad news. For an action film, there's surprisingly little action here. PM Entertainment has done excellent car chases before and they continue that tradition here. But the gun fights unfortunately lack the budget to make them special and considering Speakman's skills, there's very little fighting here. The lack of martial arts-fights is especially disappointing since Speakman's fast and furious fight scenes are always fun to watch.
Also, there are some scenes which are taken from other films. For example, the entire bus chase uses footage from Arnold Schwarzenegger/James Belushi-film "Red Heat" (an excellent film, by the way) and in some scenes you can actually see the James Belushi-character in his grey suit in the bus which Speakman is supposedly driving alone. I wish they wouldn't have used that footage at all and instead would have replaced the bus chase with a good fight scene.
One of things which was a personal disappointment to me was the score. Speakman's first films had a terrific music score ("The Perfect Weapon" by Gary Chang and "Street Knight" by David Michael Frank.
Anyway, the lack of plot, acting or originality probably won't surprise anyone and won't disappoint the target audience. But this film desperately needed more energetic fights. Some might think that the low level of violence and lack of nudity are good things but I couldn't disagree more. If you're a fan of Speakman and this is on TV, feel free to watch it. It isn't -that- bad. But if you want to see a good action film, rent Speakman's "The Perfect Weapon" or "Street Knight". This one gets only a 5.