Sunday, 8 February 2009

Men of War

MEN OF WAR (1994)

Directed by: Perry Lang
Screenplay: John Sayles and Ethan Reiff & Cyrus Voris
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, B.D. Wong, Charlotte Lewis & Trevor Goddard

Cracking mercenary action flick with Dolph Lundgren that sees him head up a team of soldiers of fortune sent to a tropical island to “persuade” the locals to sign over the land to a greedy corporation. But when Dolph and his crew arrive they realize the natives aren’t so bad and they have been asked to eradicate people who are just trying to live their lives. Lundgren and several of his crew take to island life and begin to feel human again after so many years of killing and conquering with no questions asked. However, the team is divided and those who want to get the job done (so they can get paid) return with more grunts meaning Lundgren, his remaining mercenaries and the natives must fight back to save their island.

After an opening salvo of action movies clich├ęs: Lundgren hits the bottle before being persuaded to take the “job”; the mercenary team are introduced in macho stereotypical fashion; bad guy Trevor Goddard gets all action movie homo erotic as he squares up to Lundgren (seriously dude, put a shirt on and stop kissing every male character you encounter, it doesn’t make you more evil): Men of War mercifully settles into a soldier of fortune groove as the team get to know the locals, divide and then clash for one epic showdown. Respected screenwriter and director John Sayles (Lone Star) co-wrote the screenplay for what is essentially a macho, boys own action flick but with a little more heart. The tropical setting certainly adds a visual splendour to proceedings and despite the stereotyping of certain mercenaries; the characters are a little more interesting than your run of the mill action flick. Lundgren does well though is obviously still getting to grips with acting (this flick was still early on in his career) but makes for a fine hero and is backed up ably by B.D. Wong, Kevin Tighe, Tim Guinnee, Catherine Bell as a tough and sexy female mercenary and the gorgeous Charlotte Lewis as his love interest. Only Trevor Goddard (Mortal Kombat) hams it up to pantomime levels as the seriously ridiculous bad guy.

Production values are slick and the narrative takes time to build with a little action here and there before the action blowout of the last thirty minutes. An impressive and brutally sustained battle between the islanders/good mercenaries and the onslaught of bad mercenaries, the action is limb serving, explosion heavy, stunt filled heaven. The final fight between Lundgren and Goddard is also satisfyingly brutal and makes up for the unintentionally hilarious bits featuring Goddard: when he blows up another dude at point blank range with a rocket launcher; every time he attempts to “act”; and those aforementioned times when he keeps kissing dudes before punching them (what the!?).

Overall, Men of War is great, straight up action fun offering some fine stunt packed entertainment and is one of Lundgren’s best offerings. Give it a proper DVD release already!

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