When the Russian Premier is taken hostage at a rock concert in Moscow, it's up to a drummer, an ex-biker, to save him.When the Russian Premier is taken hostage at a rock concert in Moscow, it's up to a drummer, an ex-biker, to save him.When the Russian Premier is taken hostage at a rock concert in Moscow, it's up to a drummer, an ex-biker, to save him.
Dolph stars as Joe, former bad ass biker, with a shady past, who's since turned drummer. The film opens on a rock concert in which Joe is playing in the band backing up star turn Venus (Melissa Smith), who's pretty much a Britney clone. The Russian president and American ambassador are in attendance, meaning that naturally, terrorists will come and start shooting, and hold Presi, hostage. Joe is the reluctant hero, who teams up with an FSB agent to try and bring Kasov (Dave Legano) down. We know from then on what'll happen. Dolph is gonna open a big old can of whoop-ass, and make the terrorists drink it down. Much like the Defender, D's first directing gig, once the terrorists show up, the pace never really lets up. And the film has scatterings of action until the finale. Joe himself is a different character to what Dolph normally plays. He's not straight laced. He's not driven by revenge, and he's not always been on the right side of the law.
The action itself is good. It's simple put it punches. It's tightly edited, giving it a good pace, and when someone gets shot or killed in close combat, there's a good delivery of blood to show that they ain't gonna be getting back up. The surroundings are tight, claustrophobic, making the action quick, rough, frantic. When Dolph takes someone on in a fight, he goes in fast and hard, using any weapons he can at hands. Dolph's gone for pretty grounded action. Everything needs a base in reality. Joe's tough, he can kick ass, but he kicks ass like a biker, so D doesn't whip out the martial arts moves. And his showdown with Dave Legano, is very much like the end fight in Men Of War. It's down and dirty. The only thing that lets this down, is the budget. After all, this is a Die Hard formula, and it lacks the one big set piece, or a good money shot stunt. Think Bruce jumping off the Nakatomi plaza, or Seagal jumping off a boat in Under Siege.
The film looks great. Dolph and his DP Marc Windon, have gone for a Bourne/docu kind of vibe. Once the action kicks in, the pace of cutting picks up as well. It gives everything a sense of kinetic energy, without resorting to mindless shaky cam. But more-so, the energy helps hide the small budget. Windon's lighting is naturalistically stylised I supposed you could say. He was going for part Bay, part music vid, part Bourne, and it works. It certainly enhances the production value of the film. As for Dolph, his direction gets better every film. The opening of the film really establishes the style of it brilliantly. It's well shot, and very well edited by veteran cutsman, Peter Hollywood (Adventures of Baron Von Munchhausen, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves). Most importantly, he's got a good sense of cutting action.
Dolph gives a good performance as Joe. He's laid back, cool, and a bit of a kid at heart. But he's got a bad streak in him, and he has to bring his dark side out when it comes to kicking some A-holes. I worry sometimes about Dolph directing himself, because he's not got the outside perspective on his performance. As Dolph's FSB tag along Mikhail, Zahary Baharov is good. It's an important role that demands not sucking, and Baharov is far from sucking. Melissa Smith does okay. She's not got much of a role at all. As is typical of action flicks, she's got a pretty wafer thin female role. There's little chemistry between Dolph and Smith, if only because the coupling looks pretty funny on screen, more than anything else. Lundgren the 2nd, Dolph's daughter Ida, also stars, and for her screen debut, at 12 years old, does pretty well. The biggest worry was also the bad guy. Die Hard formula flicks live or die by the bad guy. I worried that Legano could bring down the film single handed, but he's actually pretty good. In fact he's one of the best DL villains in a long time. He gives his role plenty of intensity. He's a different villain to Gruber (Die Hard), or Stranix (Under Siege), driven by a different goal. He doesn't wallow in smug, he just gets on with it.
Overall though, this does not disappoint. It delivers what you want in an action film. It's well made too. The film probably needs a bit more humour in it, though there are plenty of one-liners and sight gags, but could do with a bit more. All the scenes are well done, bar one, which features the three young women of the film. It briefly halts the film, and the dialogue is terrible. But it's the only scene in the film that isn't at least competently done. Mercifully it's short, and then returns back to the D-man. Still, CP is the best DTV actioner of the year by far, and one of the better action films in general. It's just about on a par with The Mechanik. ****
- Sep 28, 2009