Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Missionary Man


Directed by: Dolph Lundgren
Written by: Dolph Lundgren & Frank Valdez
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Kateri Walker & John Enos III

The Swedish Oak brings his A game and surprisingly talented directional skills to his latest offering: biker action flick Missionary Man. Dolph has always been the most overlooked of all the 80s and 90s action stars and while he has made his fair share of turkeys (Agent Red) he has carved a niche for himself with many solid action pictures (Dark Angel, The Peacekeeper). Recently he has turned director and thus delivered some of his best work to date. Missionary Man is Dolph’s take on Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider; just replace the Wild West with the modern day and horses with motorcycles. Dolph plays the mysterious Ryder, a lone warrior type figure who rides into town atop his hog to help a family being bullied by the local mob. Ryder is a religious man but not averse to dishing out extreme punishment and the odd shot of tequila. But his own past may be catching up with him when a ruthless biker gang show up to aid the mob, led by the dangerous Jarfe (John Enos III).

Despite a low budget and a varying grip on tension, Missionary Man is great fun and one of the best action flicks to hit DVD in some time. An equal balance of character and action with only a few plot holes and loose ends marring what is essentially a good film. Dolph is still learning the ropes of directing but has obviously put his considerable experience of being on so many other movie sets to good use. The flick has a visually interesting look, all washed out blacks and brown, playing up to the western theme of a dusty, abandoned town. The action isn’t the greatest, not always getting the right beats and sometimes coming across as truncated, but Dolph still manages a nice fight with baseball bats (a nod to the axe handle fight in Pale Rider) and a shotgun happy finale with one scene that is guaranteed to make your jaw drop.

Cast perform well with Dolph doing the strong, silent type to perfection. But this show is well and truly stolen by John Enos III, who is a fiery menace as the biker gang leader, Jarfe. His deep voice, black beard and piercing stare make for a memorable bad guy and the only complaint is: he isn’t in it enough. But when he is, Missionary Man is quality stuff. Despite its few flaws, Missionary Man is an entertaining action film with a neat twist and shows Dolph still has a lot to give in this game. Also check out Ken Sanzel’s Lone Hero for more excellent modern day western/ biker action.

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