Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Instant Asylum: Ballistica

Asylum films will never cease to exist!  After reviewing far too many of them, I decided to do three more.  It's the same kind of logic that led me to start something called Project Terrible and to take part in it!  I'm telling you- i'm a glutton for punishment.  With that noted, here is the first of a trio of Asylum films that are *currently* available for Streaming via Netflix.  Ballistica is not labeled as an Asylum film in its credits, but it's listed as one of their films on the Asylum's homepage.  Are they ashamed of this film, but too stupid to hide all of the evidence?  Are the Producers too ashamed of The Asylum and trying to make you ignore the connection?  While I lean towards Option 2, it's not that important in the long-term.  Even if you didn't see the trailer on their page- which SPOILS the Third Act Twist- you could tell that this was an Asylum film.  Shot in Los Angeles?  Check.  Silly plot and effects?  Check.  Repeat actors?  Big check!  This time, we have Paul Logan, the star of Mega Fault, Mega-Piranha and The Terminators.  Which former stars are here?  Martin Kove and Robert Davi.  This one is not going to be pretty.  The Asylum does action in a movie that has a lot of bizarre and random filler.  To find out the full details, read on.  Let's find out just what the hell this word means...
Our hero begins the movie by diving out of a plane and breaking into a Russian plant to capture a scientist trying to make a bomb.  He catches him and his assistant, taking them outside.
Our hero shows off his action skills by standing between two groups of men and shooting them with his guns.  Yeah, you'd die from that.  Thankfully, the bullets are CG and can't do shit.
A man higher up on the food chain (Davi) arrives and tries to push for change.  Using 'The Scooby-Doo Rule,' he's obviously the villain and the film is clearly building up to this.
Things go bad on the second mission, as the bomb they tracked is actually a fake.  They send Logan and the boss out, which makes our hero mad.  Thankfully, he can train in 'Ballistica' and show off his abs.  You work out...but you can't act- deal with that!
All of this is a set-up to an awkward and drawn out romantic angle.  These two have the sexual chemistry of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, as opposed to Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner in the MI:4 trailer.
Nearly an hour into the film, we get flashbacks to Logan's sad back-story involving his dead wife and son.  Of course, they can't afford to show us the car bomb explosion that killed them, so I hope you just enjoy these cheap shots done in the backyard of the house they rented for the film.
When the bomb resurfaces, Logan and his boss rush into action.  The boss makes sure to grab his ugly vest that he bought from a Gift Shop in Arizona.  After all, he has to wear the clothes for their reused footage in the 'War Room' to match!
Finally, we get the showdown between Logan and the man that killed his son.  He only appeared five minutes earlier and they merely say that he did it...but it's personal.  Well, they say it is.
After the main villain is killed within two minutes, we get the wrap-up of the 'mole inside the group' plot.  It's resolved off-camera as Davi reveals that the CIA Director (who was never shown once) was bad.  No, really.
Needing a better climax than, you know, the one they set up, we get a chase and shoot out between Logan and the blond.  After a goofy scene, a mistimed CG explosion and a silly Chekov's Gun, Logan wins and rides off into the sunset (with some whore).  The End.
Sadly, this is the best they've ever done.  The plot of this movie sucks, but it does so in a pretty entertaining way.  Paul Logan has all of the charisma of a dead possum on the highway, but does look the part.  Good luck keeping that action career going for another ten years, Paul!  The rest of the cast are pretty forgettable, save for Martin Kove and that God-awful vest.  Seriously, did you pick that our did they, Martin?  The action scenes are the real selling point and they are...goofy as all hell.  The CG bullets look sillier than the EMF Gun effects from Eraser- which was made 13 years before this film.  The whole idea of the 'Ballistica' is stolen right out of Equilibrium, which made their Gun Katas look realistic (enough) and actually explained what they were.  This movie's use of them is equivalent to the now-infamous 'By the way, I can do a Hadouken' scene from Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li.  Did they really think that people would buy this?  That said, the movie's execution of it's goofy plot is kind of fun to watch.  See Paul Logan invade the same building three times (once in 'Russia,' another time in 'China' and finally in Los Angeles).  See Martin Kove in that vest.  See this goofy-ass movie and have a good laugh.  I leave you with this shot of  Kove's wall of terrorists, which apparently includes Andy Dick...
Next up, The Asylum turns the remake of a remake of a good movie into one with Sarah Lieving and lesbians.  They couldn't possibly screw up Exploitation, could they?  Stay tuned...


  1. I have to say, this was by far the least painful Asylum movie I've watched with you. O_O I actually felt like they were at least trying, here, and they put a little thought into the action scenes (albeit by ripping off another movie, and still not doing all that great a job). It is a very bad film, still, but unlike most Asylum films it is kind of oddly charming. O_O

    Gotta love the moment where Kove is going back to the command center but has to go back and grab his vest because it's so symbolically important (or because, y'know, they just shot all the command scene stuff the same day and had him wearing the vest the whole time so he has to grab it and wear it again or there'd be a plothole).

    My favorite moment is probably the showdown between the hero and the guy who allegedly killed his son, where they both run at each other and are doing the gun kata stuff in a way that would not at all take them out of the line of fire, but it somehow does.

    That or the fact that his kid won the bronze medal at his competition...it's cruel, but that provided so many opportunities for mean-spirited jokes for me. Movie, if you're gonna kill the kid off, at least let him win first prize!

  2. I was actually a PA on this film the first time they shot it when it was called 1000 Bullets. I can tell you that Asylum had nothing to do with the production of the film, so I'm assuming that they bought the rights to it afterward.

    Production was an EXTREME mess and I could write an entire book about the weeks we were shooting before the whole thing was shut down. The original actor to play the main character was a super-cool guy but at the end of production had to be carried off on a stretcher because the producer was too cheap to have a stunt coordinator or, you know, mats to do stunt falls onto.

    I don't know if it made it into this version, but there was originally a part in the script with a bomb that was planted in an elementary school. The night before we were to shoot that sequence, he decided that it would be better to move it to a deserted "military base" in the desert. None of us could figure out why.

    Things were shady behind the scenes, so the lead actress called the SAG rep to come to set. He did, and the producer caught wind of it. Now, in this kind of a movie (an action film), you are required to have some sort of medical expert on set to make sure things are safe. But that would cost money that the producer didn't feel like spending. So when the SAG rep comes to set, the producer starts going around to random people and asking really loudly "You're the medical guy, RIGHT??" He even did this to me.

    The SAG rep isn't an idiot. He tells the producer that he's going to get some paperwork and come back to shut down production if he doesn't get someone. The producer decides to rush and shoot as much as we can before he gets back.

    So the lead actor is supposed to jump over a railing and land about 10 feet below on the ground. The producer only got a fall mat that was 3x5 feet and about an inch thick. Everyone complained beforehand that it wasn't enough. "No, it is fine! We'll shoot it! Let's shoot it!" So we go to shoot it, the lead actor jumps over the railing, lands, breaks his wrist and a bone in his ankle.

    Boom. It's over. The SAG rep gets back and the whole thing just tanks. Everyone knows it. The producer just gets really quiet and sulks around set like he's just been shot in the heart. The ambulance packs away our lead actor and rides off into the sunset. Along with everyone's paychecks.

    This was my first job as a PA and the only thing that gave me hope was that the crew (who were all awesome people) kept telling me "this is not at all what it is usually like on a set."

    A few months later I got a call asking if I wanted to help out on the new and revamped version of the film, now called Ballistica. Even if I hadn't moved back to New York, my answer would have remained the same. Thanks, but no thanks.

  3. Thanks for the detailed (and long) comment. It's rare that I get feedback from anyone in the industry.

    I think the last time I got that was from the Director/Star of 'Dahmer vs. Gacy.' Look how well that panned out.

    As a side note, I should also mention how neither Bob or myself actually mentioned this film's penchant for introducing random, inconsequential women. You have the Russian lady in the car, the Chinese lady spy and the one at the end.

    Is this The Asylum version of Alpha Protocol?