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Rating: *** out of ****
I don't generally make it a point to review Dolph Lundgren films, since they're usually steeped deep into mediocrity, but I gave this one a chance based on some fairly high recommendations. And I have to admit, I'm pleasantly surprised; though not a great movie, Men of War delivers thrilling action amidst a plot that's actually not half-bad by "generic action flick" standards.
Lundgren stars as Nick Gunar, an ex-special forces operative who's given a lucrative job by a corporation looking for someone to do their dirty work. Apparently, the company wants mining rights on a small island inhabited by a village of natives and they think Gunar's the man to convince the villagers to sign the rights over; if the natives don't agree, then Gunar and his men will have to eliminate them. With some reluctance, Gunar agrees to the deal and rounds out the rest of his team with hard-boiled mercenaries (totaling eight in all, including Catherine Bell) looking for a good payday.
But upon their first few days on the island, Gunar and a few of his teammates find themselves quite taken with the natives and their way of life, and are unable to bring themselves to complete the mission. This splits the team in half, with Gunar and his group choosing to defend the island and the rest leaving to join another much larger mercenary group (led by Kevin Tighe and Aussie Trevor Goddard) that's got its eyes set on completing the mission. No points for guessing this is going to lead to all-out war.
The film's premise, though often used time and again in the annals of action cinema, is effective in immediately engaging the viewer. Plot has often been a tricky complication in Lundgren's movies, as they tend to get in the way of the action or there's simply not enough of a hook in the story to hold one's attention. Not so in this case, and while the script isn't particularly complex or convoluted, I found myself quite interested in the natives' plight and the way Gunar and his soldiers respond to the situation.
It's also to no small degree that I even cared about the characters, and in this regard, even the natives aren't short-sighted, as ample screen time is given to both B.D. Wong and Charlotte Lewis. Wong, in particular, is excellent as the translator who helps bridge the cultural gap. As the lead, Lundgren is likable and appealing, displaying a fair amount of the same charisma that made Schwarzenegger a huge star. He's clearly not a good actor, but he has an undeniably strong presence.
The supporting cast immeasurably aids the film, most especially hottie Catherine Bell as one of the ass-kicking mercenaries with a heart of gold. I'm only a little disappointed that she didn't strip down or show any skin, so it seems that gratuitous task was left up to Charlotte Lewis. Also making strong impressions are Tom Wright and Tim Guinee as mercs on Gunar's side and Trevor Goddard as the over-the-top villain.
The action scenes are spectacular and thrilling, even if most of it is held off until the climax. But what a climax! The last half-hour is non-stop mayhem, with shootouts, explosions, knifings, and fisticuffs taking place all over the island. For my money, this is the best B-movie battle since Arnold took on all those Latino soldiers in Commando. Lundgren doesn't really get to show off his martial arts moves until his mano-a-mano battle with Goddard, but it's a damn good showdown that wraps the action up on an exciting note.
Add to that the gorgeous scenery and surprisingly high production values (this certainly has the look and feel of a theatrical release), and I'd have to say Men of War is a winner. It's not innovative or original cinema, but it is a highly entertaining action flick and that's all I ask from a movie starring Dolph Lundgren.
I rented this expecting a stupid but violent Dolph Lundgren direct-to-video action thriller. Well, it's violent alright, but it is by no means stupid. In fact, I'd say this is the best direct-to-video action movie ever made, and at the very top of Dolph Lundgren's filmography. The general outline of the plot - Mercenaries assault tropical village to muscle mining rights from the villagers, but then mercenary has a change of heart and helps defend the village - is eminently cliche of course. Previous mercenary classics Dogs of War and The Wild Geese already have similar plots. But the execution is marvellous! What did you expect with the great independent filmmaker and famed scriptdoctor John Sayles writing the script on this one? The movie doesn't rely pure action to raise your blood pressure - All the time spent building the relationships and personalities pays off big time when it comes to the showdown. Real dramatic tension in a direct-to-video Dolph Lundgren flick! Who'd have expected it? The dialogue is smart and knows when to laugh at itself when it gets too cliche or macho. The director and cinematographer do great work as well, very stylish without resorting to cheap "music-video-style" tricks so common these days. And don't worry about the action, there isn't much at the beginning, but the last 30 minutes or so is one huge long action sequence. Best of all, it doesn't pull any punches. Maybe its direct-to-video status allowed them to show more, I don't know, but this is a helluva violent film. You see the results of the violence and it's anything but pretty. I loved this film. Go find it at the video store, it's worth it. The only negative is that the tape is pan&scan and there's no widescreen/letterbox version available on DVD. The compositions seem a bit cramped, especially during the action scenes. Anyway, go see it, and keep any eye out for some cool actors in the supporting roles - BD Wong, Catherine Bell of tv show "JAG" fame (playing a hardass mercenary chick no less!), etc. I hope the studio releases a widescreen DVD soon!
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
Men of War is a good action movie. Dolph Lundgren is cool as Nick Gunner, a mercenary hired to force natives to sign over mining rights of the island. When he decides to defend it, his employers hire his old enemy to kill him. The action sequences are pretty good, especially the fight scene at the end. And Catherine Bell (The chick from JAG) is pleasant as a women warrior. All in all, I recommend Men of War to anyone looking for an entertaining action movie.
Commando adventure in which ex-Special Force mercenaries carry out a
dangerous mission set in a Thai island . This action-packed picture
concerns upon a bunch of commando-for-hire who is assigned by two
businessmen as financial backers to obliterate a little group of
natives (B.D. Wong , Charlotte Lewis , among them) at an island of
Thailand . But the financiers hire another bunch as back-up , in case
they run into problems . The commando is led by a tough, two-fisted
mercenary (Dolph Lundgren) . He contacts an inmate (Tommy Lister) , a
soldier-woman (Catherine Bell) and several more (Tom Wright, Don
Harvey, Anthony John Denison, among others) . The adventure starts when
the expert band of mercenaries disembarks on the coast and goes to deep
inside the jungle to destroy the village . But they decide to defend
rather than destroy the inhabitants of the far island . As they help
out the jungle's natives against other mercenaries( Trevor Goddard ,
Aldo Sambrell). The mission meets unexpected turns and twists when
they're betrayed by their financial backers . Meanwhile they find some
caves in middle of jungle where encounter the valuable Guano or bat's
This fast-paced film packs adventures , large-scale blow-up, routine plot , drama , and lots of action for the most part . Based on the interesting screenplay by prestigious John Sayles , a magnificent writer and director . Has some weak moments which break up the continuity of the movie but generally is a good story and well told . It results to be a graphical depiction of a team of professional mercenaries driven by nothing but quest for power and money , being commanded by Dolph Lundgren in one of the best roles . Large support cast formed by various actors who subsequently would get successful careers as Thomas Gibson (Criminal minds) , Catherine Bell(JAG) , Don Harvey , Kevin Thige , Trevor Goddard and several others . Cinematography by Rohn Schmidt is quite nicely , capturing the atmosphere of everywhere , from Thailand to a pretty cool jungle , furthermore some stirring images filmed with camera above the shoulder . Vibrant musical score fitting to action by Gerard Gouriet . The motion picture picture is well realized by Perry Lang who also plays a secondary role . This is his second and last movie -the first was ¨Little Vegas¨- subsequently Lang would direct numerous TV episodes as ¨ Millennium, Charmed, One tree hill , Everwood, Alias, Weeds. .¨
The film was made in the wake of ¨Mercenary sub-genre¨ as the classic ¨Wild Geese¨ by Andrew McLagen with Burton, Moore and Richard Harris and ¨Wild Geese II¨ , plus ¨Dogs of war¨ by John Irvin with Christopher Walken and recently ¨Tears of the sun ¨ with Bruce Willis and Monica Belucci and many others . Rating : 6,5 . Better than average. Well worth watching .
Like many, I'm sure, I expected this to be cheesy junk when it came on cable late one night many years ago. I was probably reading or simply bored so I didn't bother to turn it off. After about a half an hour I realized I was watching a movie that was not only surprisingly well written (I didn't realize then that it was scripted by John Sayles) but was also very well directed and edited. The movie holds up all the way through, with some interesting twists along the way. I'm a film buff, I don't usually go in for dumb action movies, but this one really caught my eye (and that was before I even knew who wrote the thing). Probably the only Dolph Lundgren movie I can say with pride that I enjoyed.
Forget characterization. Forget plot. Go in expecting a bunch of cardboard
characters moving from point A to B shooting stuff and you'll be happily
entertained, like I was.
It's a very predictable "dude goes around recruiting his team, suffers moral crisis, and chooses to oppose his bosses and defend the little people" kind of story. Hmm, I wonder if he's going to win in the end? It's been done a zillion times, even in a throwaway movie like Star Trek: Insurrection.
But Dolph Lundgren's got a rocket launcher. Charlotte Lewis has a great body. And B.D. Wong was hilarious. Bring snacks. Turn off brain. Enjoy.
Everything John Sayles does reeks of intelligence one way or another, and this movie tries to imply issues much more important than macho bravadura, "Broken Arrow"-like. I'll leave you to check those issues by yourself, since this wasn't intended to be a philosophy lesson in the first plane (and doesn't fall in Hemingway-esque clichés like "Sniper")but this one also features one of the greatest mug-catalogue since the heyday of Spaghetti-western (Too bas Danny Trejo wasn't on the boat !), including the charismatic English actor from "Mortal Kombat", who really, really shines in this one. I'm as tired of guns-and-explosions movie as the next guy, but this one is really worth a look, if only for its lush photography and elegant direction. Besides, the latest reel, chock-full of adrenaline, is really better than average. I'm glad I saw this one.
B.D. Wong in a loincloth.......enough said.
This movie was fantastic and at the same time pretty disturbing. Men could be very cruel.
The people of this island did not deserve what happened to them.
We as American's came in and destroyed their homeland.
I would have to see this movie again to fully grasp the heartache of the destruction put upon the people of this paradise island.
I mean, of course, they were not perfect, but still, they did not deserve what happened to them and my hat goes out to Dolph L. Very good in this picture.
You have to see it.
This is a really good story similar to Rambo or even Chuck Norris in Missing in Action being called to do some work in a foreign country. Only this time, he's hired to be the bad guy; they want him to go and nuke a village so they can have the land for mining. After sleeping with Charlotte Lewis (native girl) Nick decides not to nuke the village and to protect the people from the bloodthirsty miners. His group is split in half between those who will join him and those who will leave and fight with the miners against him. Good action in this movie combined with some nice on location native scenery and native people. Very enjoyable. Charlotte Lewis even flashes her wonderful large ripe all natural breasts a few times. Wow!!! She is a looker! Damn!!!
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