Director: Dolph Lundgren
Screenplay: Raul Inglis
Producer: Kirk Shaw
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Stefanie von Pfetten, Samantha Ferris, David Lewis, Lindsay Maxwell, Bo Svenson
BBFC Certification: 18
Duration: 88 min
I was pretty stoked for this after Kurt posted the trailer for this straight to DVD/Blu Ray effort from director and star Dolph Lundgren. Unfortunately it’s not the sort of film that can live up to much hype and its lack of theatrical release is no crime against cinema. That’s not to say there isn’t anything to gain from Dolph Lundgren is the Killing Machine (yes that’s its full title), so please read on.
The film’s plot is pure cookie-cutter. A hitman, Edward Genn, is struggling to juggle his secret identity and day to day life, finding little time to spend with his daughter who lives with his ex-wife, another casualty of his career (not literally of course). Meanwhile, a strange visitor to Ed’s cover-job sets in motion a series of escalating double crosses that threaten his and his family’s lives and bring back ghosts from his troubled past.
The narrative of course is merely an excuse to have hundreds of goons try to kill Dolph and let the audience revel in his dispatching of them all. This is where the film works and the filmmakers aren’t trying to do much more than that. The mood is perfectly set by opening with an assassination, running the credits and following with a sex scene. Unpretentious trash was what I expected and was after to be honest so it did deliver for the most part. The action scenes are frequent, frantically (but not overly) edited and enjoyably brutal. This is quite gory for an action-movie in fact, with a graphic meat-hook through the cheek sequence and a hilarious head-impalement providing the film’s two most memorable moments. Having squibs fire blood all over the screen is a welcome change from the PG violence of many recent offerings. I’ve yet to see The Expendables, but I’m hoping that dishes out the red stuff as much as this does.
Unfortunately, as badass as the action sequences are, the film does spend a lot of time with Dolph and family, which doesn’t really work at all, especially as it’s all taken very seriously. The square jawed Swede just comes across as creepy when he’s with his little girl and the scenes with his ex-wife are pretty ridiculous. In one she snaps from yelling and crying to stripping off and having sex with him within a minute. OK, so stupid crap like that is to be expected from straight to DVD titles and is part of their charm, but a lot of the film is just lazily dumb, like when his ex-wife’s boyfriend pretends to be Ed for no reason whatsoever, other than to be gunned down. It’s really cheap and cheerful too, with bland cinematography making it look obvious that it was shot in TV standard HD and an overuse of wobbly slow-mo that looks naff. The dialogue is borderline parody it’s that cheesy and the acting is atrocious to add to matters. Again, I don’t know why I expected anything more than this, but the film’s shortcomings did grate on me quite quickly despite the carnage sandwiched between them.
There’s not much more to say about Dolph Lundgren is the Killing Machine. It’s not a film to analyse, just one to sit back and enjoy with a beer or two and a bunch of mates. That’s probably the problem I had; I watched it on my own with my notepad out, meaning I made note of all the shoddy writing, the wooden performances and the technical shortcomings when I should have just basked in its blood drenched hamminess.
UK Blu Ray Notes: The film was released on 16th August on DVD and Blu Ray by Anchor Bay. I watched the Blu Ray edition which looked crisp and clean, but there’s a lack of features. The only extra is the option to watch the film in either letterboxed or full frame (for HD TV’s) format for those TV owners who don’t want to see the black bars.
RowThree's UK correspondent.