Thursday, 31 July 2008

The Dark Knight



THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay: Christopher Nolan & Jonathon Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman

What can be said that hasn’t already been said by the abundance of great reviews The Dark Knight has received? This film is quite simply a masterpiece. An awe inspiring, dark, twisted tale of evil that takes the comic book movie and spins it into a tragic tale of heroic downfall and mass manipulation. Christopher Nolan and his team soar new heights not only in comic book terms but in artistic and challenging ways. The action and spectacle is still there but there is so much more going on as the “freaks” literally take the fate of Gotham city into their own hands. Believe the hype, this is as good as it gets.



Bruce Wayne/Batman (Bale) is still a tortured soul. Struggling to find the right balance between catching the criminals and having a somewhat normal life, he is buckling under the pressure. With a city increasingly turning on him, branding him a troublesome vigilante who causes as much trouble as he cures, Wayne begins to question whether he can really better the city. Chance is seen in idealistic district attorney Harvey Dent (Eckhart) who hatches a plan to bring down a huge crime syndicate in one foul swoop and rid the streets of some of its evilest people. With the help of Batman, Dent achieves this but only for the briefest of moments. There is an almighty spanner in the works, and his name is the Joker (Ledger). Existing for the soul purpose to cause chaos, the Joker sets in motion an intricate and devilish plan that will see Gotham’s people, both good and evil, turn against one another and force the caped crusader to really question who is doing right and who is doing wrong. And why would the Joker want to cause so much destruction? Well, because be can.



Trying to accurately summarise The Dark Knight’s plot will not do it justice. This is a deep, dark and dangerous movie that pushes the boundaries of genre filmmaking and the perception of what a blockbuster should be like. From the simple, gritty opening to relentlessly dark final act, The Dark Knight asks us to pay attention, to follow the twists and turns, to question our loyalties and, yes, to enjoy the wonderfully orchestrated mayhem. Every character has a role to play, a role that fits into the labyrinth structure of crime and punishment played out with characters that wear masks, dress up and brandish hi-tech hardware. The major players are on fine form: Bale is Batman; Ledger sears the screen whenever he is on and truly IS the Joker; Eckhart infuses Harvey Dent with some humanity before his unavoidable transformation into Two-Face (a nightmarish vision, that was wisely kept out of the trailers); Caine and Freeman make welcome returns; Gyllenhaal makes for a much more engaging Rachel Dawes and there are so many supporting players played by famous faces that there are just too many too list. Special mention should go to Gary Oldman. The leads are amazing and Ledger deserves all the praise and then some he is receiving but Oldman provides the true heart of the film. His role of Officer Gordon has been considerably expanded and plays an important part in the unfolding action. He is the true human amongst the freaks. Oldman has rarely been better.



Yet it’s Nolan who guides his saints and monsters through a realistically and grittily rendered Gotham city. The interconnecting story strands weave together seamlessly, though you may have to see the film several times to fully appreciate how they all fit together: a pitch perfect balance between the heroes and villains, the action and drama, the real and the unreal. Nolan, writing with his brother Jonathon, manages to juggle several villains perfectly while never sacrificing attention given to the hero. While Spiderman 3 suffered with its many villains, never satisfyingly balancing all the story arcs, The Dark Knight gets it pretty much dead on. Harvey Dent’s transformation into Two-Face is handled deftly and never rushed and the Nolan’s decision not to explain the Joker’s existence or back story makes him an even more the evil force.



Nolan also knows his action and displays his chops considerably here. The action is tight, inventive, often scary and violent pushing the limits of the 12A (PG-13) certificate. People are maimed with knifes, shot at point blank range with shotguns, beaten and killed in cold blood. The Dark Knight indeed. It’s the sheer inventiveness of the action that excites, Nolan and the stunt team really trying to come up with stuff we have never seen before. The standouts have to be the opening bank robbery scene which grabs you by the balls and the amazing truck/tumbler/batpod chase. Batman Begins had an awesome set piece featuring the tumbler (the batmobile) but The Dark Knight’s central action sequence is gob smacking in its execution. Action cinema at its absolute best with vehicles destroyed left ride and centre and adrenaline ramped up ten fold.

I could go on and on about what is great about The Dark Knight. The other action set pieces; the awesome piece of music that always accompanies the arrival of the Joker; Batman and the Joker’s confrontation in a police cell; Eric Roberts shining in a small role; the whole hospital sequence and the dark twists the film braves to take. I’m sure there are niggles but it’s pointless to dissect the film as the good far out weighs any bad (if there even was any) by miles and miles. There will be the inevitable back lash (no film this well hyped and reviewed can escape it) and no doubt certain critical and fanboy dissection but this matters not as The Dark Knight is simply a great movie. How Nolan, Bale and the rest of the team can top this, is anyone’s guess.



Tuesday, 29 July 2008

To Be The Best



TO BE THE BEST (1993)

Directed by: Joseph Merhi
Screenplay: Michael January
Starring: Michael Worth, Martin Kove & Steven Vincent Leigh

Ridiculous but occasionally enjoyable early 90s action film from the PM Entertainment stable, that gets by on Michael Worth’s star quality and his impressive kickboxing skills. He is one part of a fighting team trained by his father (Kove) who represent America in an international kickboxing tournament held in Las Vegas. Predictability soon settles in as members of the team are asked to throw fights, Worth’s impending nuptials go tits up and a bunch of gangsters flex in trying to make a quick buck. This all leads to the inevitable showdown between the American team and the “dastardly” Thai team. Guess who wins?



Unfortunately, To Be the Best is missing the charm of many low budget kickboxing films of the time. Things just don’t gel for some reason. Kove (The Karate Kid) is unforgivably sidelined for most of the movie and the whole subplot of Worth and his girl getting married and then not, with her instantly shacking up with someone else, is so ridiculous and tedious you just wish for the fighting to start. This being a PM film and one directed by Joseph Merhi means we have to get a pointless car chase and helicopter crash in for no good reason. I’m all for a car chase and helicopter explosions but not in a kickboxing movie. Plus the car chase is so randomly inserted (and has been seen in many other PM films) and serves no purpose while the helicopter crash is perhaps one of the barmiest openings to a film you are likely to see.

However, once the fighting starts it's not all bad. The fights are crisp and clean if never groundbreaking, a fun tussle on top of a skyscraper the highlight, and Worth certainly shows he has the moves. Worth has always been a likeable lead and a great martial artist but suffers here from his character being a bit of an annoying git. He’s much better in another PM flick, Street Crimes, one his best earlier roles and one of PM’s best films. So To Be the Best isn’t the worst kickboxing movie or PM Entertainment film ever made but it’s far from the best. If you have to see every 1990s kickboxing action flick, then you might want to check it out.

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 clichéd 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.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Hidden Agenda



HIDDEN AGENDA (2001)

Directed by: Mark S. Grenier
Written by: Les Weldon
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Maxim Roy and Ted Whittall

Another Dolph Lundgren movie, another direct-to-video clunker, right? Actually, no. No offence to the man himself who has always provided a likeable presence on screen (and boasts an impressive IQ of 160) and has even made some enjoyable action pictures in the past (Bridge of Dragons, Dark Angel). Hidden Agenda is fairly intelligent, features a good performance from Lundgren and is even (and most importantly) rather entertaining.



Much like Arnie in Eraser, former Special Agent Jason Price (Lundgren), erases the identities of witnesses and undercover agents who need to disappear. When a deadly hitman infiltrates Price’s secret organization, the identities of hundreds are at risk. When Price’s best friend and fellow agent, who he aided in disappearing, turns up dead, Price takes matters into his own hands as he becomes increasingly swamped in double agents, red herrings and attacks on his life.



Director Mark S. Grenier (Dead Awake) has fashioned a good looking and fast moving thriller. Showcasing above-standard production values and some nifty camerawork and editing (the speeded up cars are cool, if overused) Grenier has pulled off a tight little movie on what must have been a (somewhat) meagre budget. The twist-turny plot becomes increasingly convoluted so at times it is difficult to know what is happening. However, it’s refreshing to use one’s brain to figure things out (though it does hurt a bit more) and there is a sprinkling of action to keep things moving. Lundgren gets to show off his martial arts skills in a couple of brutal fight scenes that use a freeze frame technique to groovy effect.

On the downside, some scenes do drag, the supporting cast don’t always convince and the gunplay action scenes are sloppy and never match the momentum of the thrilling opening airport chase. Yet, this film is definitely not a clunker. Espionage, action and playing a bit like an extended episode of Alias; Hidden Agenda is good, brain twisting fun from start to finish. Dolph done good.

Forced To Kill



FORCED TO KILL (1993)

Directed by: Russell Solberg
Written by: Corey Michael Eubanks
Starring: Corey Michael Eubanks and Michael Ironside

Forced to Kill is a perfunctory action film, so eclipsed by ordinariness, it barely registers at all. A little seen film from PM Entertainment, it features the age old plot device of a gifted fighter brawling his way through a ‘Bloodsport’ type fighting tournament. However, this time the fighter is a kidnapped repo man who must fight in an illegal competition in order to protect his wife from a bunch of rednecks straight out of Hillbillies 101. Michael Ironside is on hand as the chief bad guy and a few car chases liven things up briefly for what in the most part is a dull, monotonous and by the numbers action flick.



The film’s star, writer and producer, Corey Michael Eubanks (a world renowned stuntman) is so completely lacking in any charisma or conviction that he, and the rest of the proceedings, just appear dull. His screenplay ticks off every fighter/action movie cliché going and, despite the promising opening, is dull and uninspiring. The same can also be said for director and fellow stuntman, Russell Solberg’s direction. No tension is built and scenes often end abruptly, robbing the film of any sense of flow. The fights are little to get excited about, being repetitive and badly filmed. Not even the appearance of Ron Howard and Patrick Swayze’s lesser known siblings, Clint and Don, can add anything to this tepid mess.

The underrated, Michael Ironside acts everyone off the screen and there are several exhilarating car stunts, but this isn’t enough to save this missed opportunity. What should have been a solid action film is instead a soft, and often boring, disappointment.



Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Dead Leaves



DEAD LEAVES (2004)

Directed by: Hiroyuki Imaishi
Screenplay: Takeichi Honda

Pushing adrenaline and animation action to levels of absolute absurdity, Dead Leaves is like receiving an injection of action heroin straight into the veins. You have my have seen loads of action films. You may have seen many an Anime flick. Yet, nothing will quite prepare you for the mind frying, ammo spilling, action ride that Dead Leaves delivers in its scant 45 minute run time. People say plot, character arc and some kind of message is always important to a film and can make an action film so much more than its set pieces. Bah! Dead Leaves jettisons all this and is all the better for it, giving us one of the most insane action films ever and quite literally cutting to the chase. It may be animation, but the amount of gunfire exchanged in Dead Leaves means it’s only got one thing on its mind: action.



The set up: a boy, Retro, and a girl, Pandy, wake up with no memory. Sent to an intergalactic prison for robbing a bank, the two decide to break out, the fellow inmates following in their wake. That’s it. What ensues is wholesale destruction on the grandest scale. What we get is: maximum firepower; car chases; blood; drill penises; lots of shouting; massive guns; sword fights; mecha droids; mucho sex; mad doctors; genetic mutations; tanks; bazookas; split screens; more firepower; more sex; testicles for a head; unplanned pregnancies; colonic irrigation; swearing; kung fu; enough explosions to ignite the sun; giant space caterpillars; babies born with 9mms in their hands; shotguns; a train chase; even more firepower and enough frantic editing to stir fry your eyeballs.


Words really can’t sum up Dead Leaves. For certain, it is mental but it’s also definitely awesome. Action is piled on top of action and props to the filmmakers for keeping it all 2D and not going the 3D/CGI route. Mad as a bag of snails, but so much action soaked fun. Check it out.



Friday, 18 July 2008

American Ninja 4: The Annihilation



American Ninja 4: The Annihilation (1990)

Directed by: Cedric Sundstrom
Screenplay: David Geeves
Starring: Michael Dudikoff & David Bradley

Whoa, this movie is crazy, sleazy, cheesy, lame and all kinds of awesome. Pushing the 80s fascination with ninjas to the max, American Ninja 4 features loads of day glow night warriors and enough trash and action to fill several movies. American Ninja and American Ninja 2 were pretty solid action movies from the Cannon group and cemented Dudikoff as a star (at least for a brief moment). Fun and action packed they brought ninjas to the mainstream and were packed with ninja throwing star silliness. The third sequel, Blood Hunt, isn’t as fondly remembered with Dudikoff being absent and the new direction being camper than a row of pink tents. Still it’s kind of a guilty pleasure much like this fourth instalment.



Dudikoff is back, well sort of. He doesn’t turn up until well over forty minutes into the flick and shares the running time with American Ninja 3, David Bradley. Bradley is sent into some kind of crazy ninja compound where a bunch of US Delta Force soldiers are being held, only to get captured himself. Then Dudikoff gets called up and goes in to rescue everyone, making a pretty easy job of it. Dudikoff doesn’t look too pleased to be here, uttering hardly a word and seemingly only turning up to film some fight scenes and honour his contract to Cannon. It’s good to see him back in the series that made his name but maybe they should have just left the series to new guy Bradley. The first half of the flick is his while the second is Dudikoff’s.



The action and production values aren’t bad. Some ok fights, chases and explosions and a rather nifty aerial shot of an army of ninjas training on a mountain top. There is also a distinctively nasty side to this entry with the main bad guy having a tendency to brutalize people frequently. Presumably so we know he is evil. On top of that there is the requisite ton of ludicrousness that accompanies these late 80s/early 90s fight flicks. Since it’s the fourth in a series, an annoying kid gets shoehorned in; when Bradley and his partner are sent in to infiltrate the camp and rescue the hostages they turn up in nothing more than civilian clothes (!?); and Dudikoff masters that hardest of ninja skills by catching an arrow with his mouth and then spitting it into another ninja, killing him. No really. It’s up there with Christopher Walken in McBain shooting down a plane with a handgun while sitting in a sealed cockpit of another plane, for the most ridiculous moment in action cinema.

Great stuff if you like this kind of cheesy ninja action or an absolute abomination if you don’t. I like this kind of stuff, so I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Mean Guns (Uncut)



MEAN GUNS (UNCUT) (1997)

Directed by: Albert Pyun
Screenplay: Andrew Witham
Starring: Christopher Lambert, Ice-T & Michael Halsey

A bucket full of fun, Mean Guns is a deliciously nasty, violent, action hoot that still stands as one of Albert Pyun’s greatest achievements. Foul mouthed, blacker than black chuckles and a mean body count, Mean Guns slices a huge grin into your face as its characters seek redemption through blasting the hell out of one another. The wicked mambo sound track is ace too.

A collection of the nastiest, cruellest, most violent criminals who work for an organization known as The Society converge on a deserted prison at the order of Moon (Ice-T). He offers them a stake in a $10 million pot on condition they be one of the last three standing. Locked inside the prison, given a time limit and a large cache of weapons, the crims set about destroying one another in increasingly violent ways. Alliances are formed and broken and bullets well and truly dispensed.



A sheer blast of fun, Mean Guns (here reviewed from the uncut print seen in all its anamorphic splendour on the big screen) never apologizes for being foul and filthy. Style is matched with action, Pyun going for a quirky mood that matches the absurdness on screen, backed up by George Mooradian’s fast moving camerawork. Comic book and ultra violent in tone, the cast play full tilt with Christopher Lambert on devilishly good form, Ice-T surprisingly good and Michael Halsey oozing menace. There is even a great comedy duo in Thom Matthews and Yuji Okumoto who fire off as many one liners as they do rounds. Their discussion about the number of people they have killed is comedy gold.



Pyun orchestrates some of his best action here. Never topping Nemesis or Kickboxer 2 (Pyun’s other action classics) in terms of slickness or brutality, the action in Mean Guns is nevertheless cool, a buoyant mix of gunplay, baseball bat fights and folks getting their heads set on fire. The end shootout, Lambert’s run across some tables brandishing two guns and all those baseball bat brawls are the highlights. This is all set to one of the best soundtracks ever. Mambo music plays out over the whole thing and works surprisingly well, giving the film a unique vibe all of its own. You will be humming it for ages afterwards.

A mini B-movie classic that screams out for a proper no-holds-barred gun blazing sequel, Mean Guns is one of Pyun’s best. Seek out the American Region 1 DVD version as it contains all the violence/action/baseball bat stuff that was cut out of the truncated British version.



Thursday, 10 July 2008

Wanted



WANTED (2008)

Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Screenplay: Derek Hass & Michael Brandt and Chris Morgan
Starring: James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman & Angelina Jolie

Now Wanted may not be the most original action product to come along, it may be a very loose adaptation of a cult comic book and many may interpret the main character’s transformation from lowly dweeb to killer assassin thus “doing something with his life” as morally suspect, but Wanted is a big, dirty, foul mouthed, stunt packed summer movie, the kind of we haven’t seen in some time.



Wesley (McAvoy) is that lowly dweeb who is stuck in a dead end job, his girlfriend is bopping someone else, everyone walks over him and he doesn’t care much for the life he has found himself in. Until the mega sexy Fox (Jolie) turns up, brandishing huge weaponry, informing Wesley his dad was once a great assassin and whisking him off to train him how to use guns, take charge of his life and generally kill the hell out of people. Sweet.



What ensues is a somewhat predictable arc as our hero buffs up, goes through training, kills some folks and then realizes his new life may not be everything it seemed. Despite some age old plotting, Wanted manages to spin fresh due in part to some excellent acting, Russian Bekmambetov’s imaginative direction and some truly barn storming action. McAvoy shows why he is the best new kid on the block, effortlessly switching from put upon nobody to gun slinging action god. His transformation is believable (within the comic book environment of the film) and he always keeps Wesley human even when hanging off trains and brandishing double automatics. Jolie is sultry menace and looks to be having fun while Freeman brings his usual touch of class to his limited role.



Having made Russian sci-fi/fantasy/bonkers epics Night Watch and Day Watch director Bekmambetov gets to play with a Hollywood palette and brings everything to the table. Managing just the right balance between drama and action he guides his actors through a series of dizzying set pieces that bring the blood back to the action. Wesley and Fox’s first meeting is adrenaline pumpingly good, the big train scene almost epic in it execution and Wesley’s assault and run through the enemy compound just plain awesome.

Wanted is an action fan’s wet dream. Big set pieces, larger than life characters and a great sense of fun. Don’t pick it to pieces, just enjoy the action ride it delivers and be happy the makers brought the blood, sweat and tears back to the big action flick.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Sweepers



SWEEPERS (1998)

Directed by: Darby Black
Screenplay by: Darby Balck and Kevin Bernhardt
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Claire Stansfield and Bruce Payne

Dolph Lundgren stars as Christian Erickson, an explosives expert on assignment in Angola to rid the area of land mines. When a routine de-mining unearths a new type of land mine (an A-6 Butterfly), Christian’s son is killed by one when a group of rebels attack the area. Five years later, Christian is a shadow of himself, constantly drunk and taking part in bare knuckle fights. The Butterfly land mine is still at large and is being used for nefarious gains by a bunch of unfriendly types. A crack team is sent in to rid the lands of the Butterfly, headed by bomb tech, Michelle Flynn (Stansfield). But no sooner have they arrived and her team are obliterated by the deadly landmine (so much for being a crack team). With few options left and still wanting to stop the bad guys from using the landmine, Flynn enlists the help of Christian. It’s then down to business as usual as explosions and gunfire abound



Sweepers is, for the most part, an entertaining action flick. It begins and concludes with some serious facts about the problems of landmines and the reluctance of the US to do anything about them. It’s a noble effort by the filmmakers to address an ongoing problem (Princess Di even gets a name check for her involvement in de-mining), but those expecting a serious dissection of the problems of landmines will be sorely disappointed. Being a Nu Image film, this is first and foremost an action film. Any attempts at making a political statement are thrown out the window in favour of action silliness. Thus, Lundgren’s character becomes the typical gruff, tough, hard drinking, cigar smoking, and guilt-ridden hero. Shame really, as it would have been more interesting to keep his character as the realistic bomb expert from the opening scenes. The rest of the acting is sub-par (where the hell did Bruce Payne get his American accent from??), though Stansfield gives a decent performance. The proceedings disintegrate into the standard clichés come the final reel with the bird needing rescuing, the hero’s best friend turning out to be the bad guy (Bruce Payne is always the bad guy, even if he starts off good) and the annoying kid moppet getting in the way. As said, business as usual.

That’s not to say it’s a complete waste of time. The action is thick and fast and despite lacking in focus, is adequately entertaining. The explosions are impressively staged and there are some cool shootouts. Boasting a fairly decent budget, the African locations are nicely captured by Yossi Wein (U.S. Seals) and director, Darby Black (Serial Bomber), keeps everything together (just) to make Sweepers an entertaining, if daft, Dolph Lundgren action vehicle.

Steel Frontier



STEEL FRONTIER (1995)

Directed by: Paul G. Volk and Jacobsen Hart
Written by: Jacobsen Hart
Starring: Joe Lara, Bo Svenson, Stacie Foster and Brion James

Mad Max and The Magnificent Seven collide head on for the all action Steel Frontier. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, settlements are being terrorised by a band of desert pirates going by the name of The Deathriders. Led by the slightly deranged General J.W. Quantell (James), they are a group of ruthless mercenaries who are trying to form a new empire called the United Regime. The settlers have no option but to comply but a possible saviour appears in the form of a drifter, Yuma (Lara). Appearing to join the United Regime, Yuma may have ulterior motives hidden under his Stetson as he sets about destroying the Deathriders reign of terror. Throw in a few car chases, a dash of gun-play, then mix with some desert zombies and a sprinkling of explosions and you have the recipe for an enjoyable helping of sci-fi trash.

Blatantly ripping off the world and vehicles of the Mad Max universe, Steel Frontier scrapes by on its Old West slant and a little bit of inventiveness. Coming from the PM Entertainment stable, Steel Frontier is a change of pace from their usual output (cops and car chases) and is obviously one of their bigger budget films. The costumes, settings and vehicles are all nicely rendered and the desert landscapes are cinematically captured for a low budget feature. The characters are suitably offbeat (occasionally downright bonkers) and the film has a down and dirty feel appropriate to its western trappings. There are a couple of inventive shoot-outs (Yuma taking out six guys before they can even draw, being particularly amusing) and while there aren’t as many car chases as the usual PM action fest, the ones present in Steel Frontier should satisfy any car carnage fan. The vehicles do seem to be moving slowly considering they are in a high speed pursuit but the chases are redeemed by the incredible stunts on offer.



As with all sci-fi trash, the acting is pretty atrocious. Everyone pretty much overacts to the point that they make Jack Nicholson’s Joker look like a performance of refined subtlety and beauty. Bo Svenson (Snowbeast) simply looks bored, while the great Brion James (Tango & Cash) is on screen all too little. The walking hair extension that is Joe Lara (Hologram Man), acquits himself a little better as the brooding gunfighter, Yuma. The film also shows its budget limitations in some sloppy scenes that could have been shot and cut together better (the settlement take-over; the card game). The film is also excessively violent, there seems to be a plain disregard for human life as the body count mounts and mounts.

Yet all this is (somewhat) redeemed by the film’s inventive approach (great opening sequence and music) and numerous big explosions (it’s all about the explosions). Those looking for a serious drama about the hardships of life set on a Bradford council estate had best steer clear. However, those who are into trashy cinema could do far worse than giving Steel Frontier a look. Plus, it’s probably the only time you will see desert zombies, Kane Hodder (Jason, in the Friday 13th flicks) and a character named Chicken Boy all in the same film. And that’s got to count for something. Right?