Thursday, 27 October 2011

War Wolves


Written & Directed by: Michael Worth
Starring: John Saxon, Tim Thomerson, Adrienne Barbeau, Michael Worth, Natasha Alam, Siri Baruc, Daniel Southworth

A squad of Special Ops soldiers (Worth, Southworth and a trio of beauties) return from battle in Afghanistan forever changed. Not only mentally scarred they have been physically altered. During a firefight they were attacked by a ferocious pack of werewolves and infected with the wolf virus. Six months later, back in the US and a little more than shell shocked, Jake (Worth) is trying to come to terms with what happened and the changes taking place within him. Unbeknownst to him, he is being tracked by two veteran soldiers (Saxon and Thomerson) who know what happened to him and what virus he carries. At the same time the rest of his squad are turning into beast fast and getting a taste for killing and also hunting down Jake for what will be the ultimate battle between man and beast.

War Wolves sure is an oddity from filmmaker and kung fu whiz Michael Worth. Definitely a B-movie but striving for more in the character department, War Wolves takes its barmy premise and spins a yarn, that while flawed and occasionally plodding, is an interesting piece that admirably tries to combine drama, action and werewolves to create something a little different. Worth (who has been in some cool action and fight films: Street Crimes, US Seals 2) takes this distinctive premise and a minuscule budget and has made a decent genre film that is a little unique, offbeat and, occasionally, action packed. There is perhaps too much going on (former soldiers feeling out of place in the everyday world, alcoholism and at one point a minor subplot about a pregnant woman and her abusive boyfriend) for what is essentially a flick about werewolf soldiers but Worth at least tries, and mostly succeeds in, infusing this little flick with some character. As the grizzled, and possibly too long in the tooth, geezers tracking down Worth and his crew, Saxon and Thomerson are on fine form both dramatically and comedically. It’s nice to see the older and wiser gents getting a good share of the screen time rather than yet another pair of generic, hip, know-it-all youngsters. Thomerson cracks wise as well and is a hoot.

The budget is certainly low (and once you see the make up effects of the transformed werewolves, you’ll see how low) and the tone wanders all over the joint (from horror, to drama, to comedy, back to horror, to martial arts) you may at some point wander what kind of film you are watching. However, War Wolves manages to hang together and provide just enough character, horror and action to make it an entertaining ride. Not as action packed as you might expect a B-movie about werewolf soldiers to be Worth and (the ever underrated and underused) Daniel Southworth get to cut loose in a couple of wickedly choreographed kung fu werewolf fights (yep, you read that right!).

If there had just been a few more of those wicked fights scenes and the pace and tone tightened up War Wolves could have been a much more fun and faster B-movie but with its unique approach to character, this is still a fun genre flick from the ever talented and watchable Michael Worth. Plus any film that also finds time for genre favourites Adrienne Barbeau and Martin Kove and also manages to name drop Lance Henriksen in one particularly cool moment of movie referencing, is all right by this B-movie action fan.


Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

I'll have to check this out. The names alone make it intriguing.

drive2 said...

yeah it's not bad, if a little oddball. but the cast make it worth a watch. Tim Thomerson: legend...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking some thoughtful time on the film (if that is possible). It was a tough shoot from start to finish to be sure. In fact the script went through so many changes in the two months prior to shooting, I literally have three different scripts with a similar premise. The original story was a simple one about a group of friends that come back from war with this new "disease" and slowly their personalities begin to change (PTS metaphor) which accentuates their own personality traits (aggressive guy gets REALLY aggressive, sexual girl gets REALLY sexual, timid guy gets REALLY timid, etc.) until in the finale where they become "wolves" and turn on each other. But that story was deemed to "artsy" by the powers that be and so the action sequences began.... In fact, there was a much longer fight piece between Southworth and myself that we actually had to cut the day before because we lost 3 shooting days half way through the production. It was my 2nd most intense "trial by fire" learning experience (the 1st one was more a lesson about human egos rather than actual production stuff) that I ever had. I was trying to create a more character driven story here and juggle the dynamics of a "horror/road movie" at the same time with little time and money. All our intentions were there though and felt all the actors really put themselves into it. There are segments I really enjoy but (and maybe this is my subjective view) also see the overall thread being a little loose. I agree there may be too much going on at times in this one story, but appreciate your attention to some of the subtler elements (ie: the humor, the "geezers", etc.). The pop culture references and media nods (the "old" guys all have favorite director names) were just part of my not trying to take it too serious in terms of tone. But, thanks again for the nod and giving some props to Saxon, Kove, Thomerson and Barbeau who are part of an elite class of performers I continue to worship!

- Michael