Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Merchant of Death



MERCHANT OF DEATH (1997)

Directed by: Yossi Wein
Screenplay: David Sparling
Starring: Michael Pare

Built by humans. Programmed by computers. The ultimate killing machine.

Sounds pretty cool, the above tagline plastered all over the DVD case for Nu Image’s Merchant of Death. Sounds like its going to be about a cop or agent who is almost killed only to be brought back as some kind of cyborg, a new weapon for the government, who then uses his robot enhanced skills to kick ass and take revenge on those who done him wrong. If that had been the case, then this flick might have been awesome. But alas, there is nobody built by humans; nobody programmed by a computer; and definitely no cyborgs on an action fuelled revenge killing spree. Damnit. The above quote has nothing to do with Merchant of Death, obviously plastered on the case to fool a few more suckers into buying this lame flick. Shit, it worked.



Merchant of Death does have a revenge story, the most basic and clich├ęd there is. Michael Pare (Street of Fire) plays the typical tough, burnt out cop looking for the killers of his family. That’s it and what follows is an unholy mess of naff action scenes, ridiculous acting and South Africa and its accents failing miserably (and hilariously) to stand in for Portland, Oregon. Nu Image have made some pretty cool low budget action flicks, as has Michael Pare, but Merchant of Death really does push the limits of tolerance for these kinds of movies. Plotting, pacing and acting is almost non-existent and almost always unintentionally funny with the film seemingly being cobbled together from other more successful Nu Image films.

There is plenty of action, explosions and stunts but almost all of the scenes are patch worked together from other Nu Image action films. Pare merely walks through all these scenes often with just one handgun, while everything around him magically and randomly blows up. It’s obvious he’s not even in most of the action scenes, just pointlessly firing guns at the camera. If they had actually thrown in a couple of cyborgs like the cover promises, then Merchant of Death might have been more tolerable. Who am I kidding? This movie sucks. I like Nu Image flicks, especially a lot of their explosion happy, straight to video 1990s output, but Merchant of Death doesn’t even reach the guilty pleasures of Cyborg Cop 2. And when a flick can’t even reach Cyborg Cop 2’s awesome awfulness, well I just wouldn’t bother.

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