Thursday, 8 May 2008

Mission of Justice


Directed by: Steve Barnett
Written by: John Bryant Hedburg & George Saunders
Starring: Jeff Wincott, Brigitte Neilson and Matthias Hues

Mission of Justice was released in the heyday of American martial arts films and still holds up today as one of the best of its kind. Starring fight flick favourite, Jeff Wincott as a no-nonsense cop who quits the force because justice just isn’t being served, he comes up against a mysterious group calling themselves ‘The Peacekeepers’. Headed by Brigitte Neilson’s uber-vamp electoral hopeful, ‘The Peacekeepers’ are a cult like organization with a vigilante agenda to clean up the city. Yet this do-gooder facade hides a dirty secret that involves extortion, lies and even murder. Sensing ‘The Peacekeepers’ have something to do with the death of his old trainer and friend, Wincott infiltrates the group and becomes a one man army in the name of revenge.

Produced by Pierre David, the producer of many an American martial arts movie during the 90’s (including Bounty Tracker and Martial Law), Mission of Justice benefits from an abundance of strong action and a tough, solid central performance from Wincott. In fact, this is one of his best performances and he is especially good in the earlier scenes where his character has become jaded at the ineptitude of the police force. Director, Steve Barnett (Scanner Cop 2) gives these scenes a gritty edge that compliments the mood of the characters before evolving proceedings into a more comic book manner once Wincott joins ‘The Peacekeepers’. Yet despite the change of tone, Barnett still handles the story well and rams the picture full of no holds barred action. Choreographed by Jeff Pruitt (who also appears as peacekeeper, Sal) the fight scenes are bone-crunchingly impressive, especially the famous gauntlet scene. Wincott’s character must take on a surfeit of peacekeeper goons in order to gain a position amongst their ranks. Using kali sticks, he takes on fighter after fighter in a spectacular and sustained barrage of full contact fighting that perfectly displays Wincott’s skills as a martial artist and no doubt put him on the action movie map. It’s an impressive action sequence that still retains its impact today. The rest of the film is no slouch either, including a full on (and very painful looking) fight in a garage and top notch fighting from genre mainstay, Matthias Hues (Talons Of The Eagle) and women’s marital arts champion, Karen Sheperd (Righting Wrongs).

Unfortunately Brigitte Neilson doesn’t fair so well, coming across as a dull, foreign sounding automaton rather than a ruthless ruler of a deadly organization. A minor subplot involving a peacekeeper’s grandma doesn’t quite gel either, but other than these few quibbles, Mission of Justice is full-on, and action packed martial arts entertainment.

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