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Detention is like a cross between "The Breakfast Club" and "Die Hard", only without the character development of the former or the special effects budget of the latter. The result is surprisingly entertaining and often wonderfully tasteless. In short, Detention is one of the better lightweight action movies to hit video shelves in some time.
Dolph Lundgren has spent the past few years mainly appearing in relatively gritty low budget action films like his directorial debut "The Defender" and its follow up, "The Mechanik". While I enjoyed both of those films, it comes as a nice surprise to see Dolph appear in something as stupidly entertaining as Detention. Make no mistake about it - this film is dumb in a very big way. You could get a bad case of RSI from writing down all the goofs and plot holes. However, what it lacks in credibility, the film more than makes up for in enthusiasm and an almost 1980s approach to action. There are very few dull computer effects here, just a lot of old fashion shootings and a couple of decent explosions.
The story involves Dolph's character, Sam, struggling with his disillusionment as a teacher at an inner city high school. Sam decides to resign but is asked to supervise detention on his last day. Unfortunately for Sam, he finds himself locked in the school building with a bunch of his delinquent students and an incredibly camp and violent crime boss called Chester. Conveniently, Sam is an ex-soldier and he calls on his military training to fight the intruders. The story is as clichéd and derivative as it sounds. Nevertheless, it allows Dolph to flex his action hero muscles and provides plenty of opportunities for senseless violence.
Detention benefits greatly from an undercurrent of black humour and a touch of irony. The characters are all pretty amusing, from the crack smoking, foul mouthed students, to Chester and his woeful to the point of being funny one-liners. The film also contains one of the funniest and most ridiculous chase scenes ever captured on film when one of the bad guys chases a wheelchair bound student (Dov Tiefenbach in another interesting role) on a motorbike. Sam's ability to turn a trolley into a metal covered battering ram, complete with metallic spikes, in a matter of minutes is similarly mind boggling.
The special effects are generally pretty basic but there is enough blood and shooting to keep action fans happy. Sidney J. Furie's direction is lively and he keeps the pace mercifully brisk. Sidney has been making genre films since the 1960s and he's still churning out good work. Detention is not a great film and it never pretends to be one. It is, however, 90 minutes of hugely enjoyable, dumb fun. If nothing else, watch it for the wheelchair chase sequence.
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