Saturday, January 2, 2010

Blockbuster Trash: Command Performance

Ah Dolph, we meet again. Your ability to make sub-par action films for the direct-to-video market is only matched by your chief rivals- Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. What makes you stand out though? Is it your tall, increasingly-gaunt figure? Is it your bleach-blond hair and burned skin? How about your ethnicity that is so vague that even Christopher Lambert is confused? In all honesty, I don't know. Even so, I manage to keep watch Dolph films, even after the travesty that was retroGRADE. This film is notably for being directed and co-written by the man himself. What kind of film has he envisioned for us? How about a rip-off of Passenger 57, with a little bit of The Rundown and Sudden Death thrown in for good measure. This should be fun, huh? This is...
The film begins by introducing us to the odd premise. Basically, there is a big fundraiser concert that is going to feature a series of acts. The movie focuses on two of them, however. The first is a pop singer a la Miley Cyrus, albeit legal, who dresses in a skimpy outfit. The other is an American rock band that features a giant, grizzled drummer (Dolph) named, nothing. They never say his last name, apparently trying to ape a bit of Layer Cake here. In some ironic timing, right after a scene where the starlet undresses Dolph with her eyes, we get this credit- Co-Written by Dolph Lundgren. Yeah, I sort of figured that! We get a montage of bands performing, none of whom seem to be all that related. Thanks in part to some curious editing, we see a band on stage that looks like Dolph's juxtaposed with him sitting backstage and smoking. He randomly gets interviewed, but they don't let him speak. Thanks, that served...nothing. Bring on the violence!
In a nutshell, a bunch of terrorists take over the building. Why? Maybe because the Russian President is there with his two daughters, both of whom dance in a seductive manner to the pop star's song. This is worse than the entire 'girl singing Mariah Carey' bit from Rush Hour, not to mention a little creepy. They manage to kill all of the security forces with very little resistance, in part because the patrols decide to have shoot-outs with the villains rather than calling for back-up or warning their employer! In case you didn't think that the film was gritty, the villains shoot up tons of people as they try to flee. Yeah, way to kill 90% of your hostages! They also set off a bunch of explosions, one of which rocks our hero. He gets jumped by one of the villains and does the only logical thing- he stabs the guy through the face with a drum stick! He tops this with a rescue plan involving turning the speakers up to 11, doing a Who-style power chord and stunning the villains who decided to kill the agents on stage...for no reason. When that does not do the job, he 'El Kabongs' one guy and stabs another with the neck of the guitar! Is the live-action version of No More Heroes?
I'm running out of space, so here's the condensed version. After an hour of build-up to Dolph's mysterious past, he turns out to be a biker whose brother was shot. I know- I was thinking 'spy' too! He teams up with one agent, but refuses to use a gun because 'guns kill people.' Yeah, that makes sense after all of the violent deaths he has caused so far. The movie also sets up the whole idea of one of the villains making a deal to end the thing peacefully, but he just gets killed. The whole thing is a revenge tale, since the lead villain's dad committed suicide rather than being arrested by the Russian equivalent of a District Attorney- who is now the President. All of this build-up to a tale that has been done to death in hundreds of action movies, huh? Hurray. Just as silly is the behavior of Dolph, including carrying around a dying kid just because he is wearing his band's t-shirt and sort-of romancing the girl who is at least 25 years his junior. You all know where this is going- Dolph fights the villain, saves the day and even finds time to set-up his own catchphrase- Rock 'N Load. What does that mean? Oh and they set-up a sequel...which will probably happen. The End.
This movie is not exactly good, but it is not terrible. Don't get me wrong- the acting is bad, the writing is cliched and the direction is sub-par (sorry, Dolph). There is nothing horrible about it, save for the use of CG blood. Seriously, I freaking hate CG blood. It just pulls you out of the experience and is damn silly. This is especially true here, where it is used for a 'getting shot' effect, but real stage blood has to be put on the nearby window. Why not just use the regular stuff if you have to use it anyways?!? As I joked when watching this movie with my friends- via the magic of Netflix Instant Viewing on the XBox 360- the whole thing feels like Dolph watched a bunch of other action movies and jumbled the plots together. You can do worse than watching this movie, but you can also do far better. On the plus side, where else will you see someone stabbed to death with a drumstick? Yeah- think about that.
Up next, the second sequel to a horror classic that broke all the rules. Will it be different? Will it be less of a rehash? Will it have the evil Kryptonian woman from Superman II in it? Stay tuned...

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