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Nick Gunar (Dolph Lundgren) is a burnt-out, jaded and hard-up former mercenary who is having a difficult time adjusting to civilian life. At the end of his rope, he is hired by the Nitro Mine Corporation to strong-arm the natives of a South China Sea island into giving up their rights to its valuable mineral resources. Nick loathes the thought of another mission, but this seemingly easy job will earn him enough money to get back with his estranged family. He recruits some of his former mercenary buddies to help him with the job. The island people refuse to give up their land and Nick decides to help them fight the greedy corporation that hired him. The island and its people bring Nick back to life. He finally finds something worth fighting for and a place to call home. As greed and treachery begin to unravel, Nick's band of mercenaries choose sides. Some are with him and others, still working for the corporation, will stop at nothing to destroy him. Written by
This is undoubtedly one of Dolph Lundgren's best, if not his best all round film. Firstly the film marks a change of pace for Dolph, here playing an action man with a conscience and although still a muscled killing machine, he has a sensitive side. The film is old hat in terms of idea, however it's given a good sense of humanity thanks to the work of original scriptwriter, the Oscar winning John Sayles. His script was re tooled to be more action friendly but the humanity is still there. Dolph plays a mercenary hired to persuade islanders to sell there land to a mining company and by persuade I mean destruction of the demands aren't met. A simple job for Dolph and his team of Mercs. However Dolph discovers that the entire island is going to be torn apart, pillaged for the mining of minerals found in bird and bat poo. Clearly Dolph's years of doing rich peoples dirty work has gotten to him because he stays to fight by the side of the islanders and the few group members with enough conscience to stand by their leader. This is an old idea but being an action movie, originality isn't high up on the list. It is refreshing to see Dolph playing a more rounded character and the film is well made.
The film looks fantastic. It's beautifully shot by cinematographer Ronn Schmidt while the score from Golden Globe nominee Gerald Gouriet is very good, probably the best in any Lundgren piece. The film was to be directed by John Frankenheimer and as good as that would have been for Dolph's film career, Perry Lang directs proceedings well.
The cast is good with many well known faces and it was key that Dolph's motley crew were all well portrayed. With Tiny Lister, Tim Guinee, Anthony John Denison, Tom Wright and Catherine Bell all good as Dolph's special forces unit. While the Islanders are strongly represented by the gorgeous Charlotte Lewis and show stealer BD Wong as mouthy Islander Po. Also the later Trevor Goddard is superbly over the top and villainous as the deranged Kiefer. Dolph Lundgren is surrounded by some strong actors and he also manages to give probably his best performance, understated and effective.
Although we have seen far better versions of this film, on a technical level it can't be faulted. It's beautifully shot in a glorious location (the same place Di Caprio's Beach was filmed.) and it has a decent budget allowing for a good chunk of action. The film could have done with an action scene in the middle to quicken pace, however the films last half hour is frenetic building up to a down and dirty showdown. Overall a solid action movie and with Dolph's latest film being one of his best and involving him leading a military operation, there seems to be a hint as to his speciality. ***1/2
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