Monday, 17 December 2007

Lone Hero

LONE HERO (2002)

Written & Directed by: Ken Sanzel
Starring: Lou Diamond Phillips, Sean Patrick Flanery and Robert Forster

Cowboys who ride motorcycles instead of horses. An actor in a Wild West show who must take up the guns for real to rid his town of biker gang members. Cool shootouts, snappy dialogue and a gruff, tough performance from the great Robert Forster. These are just some of the cool aspects of Ken Sanzel’s Lone Hero, a modern day western that switches horses for motorcycles but never skimps on the shootouts, Stetsons and saloons that make westerns so enjoyable.

Lou Diamond Philips stars as the leader of the motorcycle gang, The Iron Bandits. Laboured with the unfortunate moniker, Bart, he and his gang terrorize one small town after the next, stealing money and killing whoever gets in their way. Arriving in a small Montana town where a Wild West show is the main attraction, the gang make trouble and severely injure a friend of John, (Sean Patrick Flanery). A sharp shooter in the Wild West show, John apprehends Bart and one of his cohorts, placing them in jail. However, word gets out about Bart’s predicament and the rest of the bikers soon turn up in town to free Bart. Joining forces with wizened old gunman, Gus (Robert Forster), John takes up the battle against Bart and his bikers, becoming the hero everyone figured he was destined to be.

A neat twist on western lore, Lone Hero is head and shoulders above most B-movies due to its crisp storytelling and committed cast. Ken Sanzel’s film (he also directed the underrated action/thriller, Scarred City) uses its premise of a modern western to tell the story of ordinary folks caught up in an extraordinary situation. Sharp dialogue helps to propel the action as Bart and John get into as many verbal battles as they do gun battles. The often witty and gruff dialogue is delivered well by Phillips (Renegades) and Flanery (Boondock Saints), with Phillips relishing his role as the thoroughly bad Bart. His speech about John never being able to kill him, thus he will always come back to take revenge, is particularly effective. Yet, it’s Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, Vigilante) who gets all the best lines as the grizzled man with a past, as he takes up arms with John and keeps a devilishly dry attitude towards the whole situation.

The flick doesn’t skimp on action either. Sanzel and his stunt guys incorporate some great shootouts, bike stunts and quick draws that all add to the western flavour. Rifles, pump actions and six shooters all feature heavily with the Wild West show town being the setting for the explosive and trigger happy finale. Bikers ride in on hogs, let rip with automatic fire and even chase each other over the rooftops of the town’s buildings. Another tense shootout sees John saving Gus from four bikers, using the turned backs of the bad guys to good effect. All the action is gunfire heavy and delivered with punch.

A gem of a movie and a spin on the typical action fare, Lone Hero is a fun ride and a flick well worth seeking out for fans of the stars, fans of the western genre and fans of action movies in general.

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