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Missionary Man
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28 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

The best action in years!

10/10
Author: tjk1985 from Sweden
25 January 2008

This is Dolph in his best ever! For you that don't have seen a lot of Clint Eastwoods movies this is a (official or unofficial, don't know) remake of Pale Raider with a influence of High Plains Drifters. Take place in the modern world but with a western, outlaw feel to it.

A stranger drives in on his iron horse to the town in need of help.It's the classic avenger movie with all the ingredients that you would expect. You know what you gonna get and are NOT disappointed. Dolph really shows that he is qualified as a director. The angels are great,the photo of the film and the feeling, it all fits beautiful! I was really surprised at the quality of the picture and I can't wait to see if he can keep this up in the future!

I give it a 10/10 the best action movie I've seen in years!

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20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

"Pale Rider" and "Billy Jack" Revisited

7/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
23 April 2008

A mysterious biker (Dolph Lundgren) arrives in a small town in an Indian reservation for the funeral of his friend J.J. and discovers through his family that he was murdered by the men of the powerful John Reno (Matthew Stephens Tompkins). The corrupt businessman plans to build a casino in association with criminals from the North in the town and J.J. opposed to his intentions offering a better option to the locals. The lone vigilante decides to stay in town with his bible and drinking straight tequila and like an avenging angel, bring justice to people.

While watching "Missionary Man", I have immediately associated the story as an adaptation of "Pale Rider" and the character of Dolph Lundgren to "The Preacher" and also to "Billy Jack", and I found that others IMDb users had had the same impression. Like in "Pale Rider", the mysterious stranger leaves many open questions that may give a mystical interpretation to his character. In the end, "Missionary Man" is modern adaptation and very decent remake of a classic. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Missionário" ("The Missionary")

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23 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Dolph hits the high notes again with one of his best!

9/10
Author: Thomas Jolliffe (supertom-3) from Marlow, England
14 January 2008

Dolph's latest film, and his third foray into directing, is once again one of his career best. Like The Mechanik, Dolph puts to bed some of the murkier days of his back catalogue, and proves, that the best man to help bring Dolph Lundgren back into the limelight, is Dolph Lundgren! Delving once more into a film with a theme of revenge, as in The Mechanik, there might have been a niggling worry, that re-treading that ground could breed familiarity. But what Dolph delivers is an action film in style, tone, and look, that is not only far removed from what he's previously done, but a film that just looks and feels fresh. There aren't many action films out there like Missionary Man, on a visual, tonal level.

In Missionary Man, Dolph stars as Ryder, a mysterious stranger who rides into town for a friends funeral. Pretty soon he's rubbing local oppressor John Reno up the wrong way. As the film progresses we start to see Ryder has other motives for being in town. It's a modern western and has some great western trademarks, including a fantastic climax. However though on paper the story has similar arcs as Dolph's previous directing effort, Missionary Man is such a contrast. It's a whole different style of flick, and with Dolph's increased level or creative control since his last directing gig, it's a more complete vision.

As director, Dolph really has a great visual eye here. What's great about the film, is that beyond the choice of super-16, it feels as if Dolph is in complete control. He's constrained by a tight budget certainly, but he spends it brilliantly, and really creates a great atmosphere. Dolph, his DP Bing Rao, and steadicam operator, George R Niedson combine to create a visual delight. There's some great shots in this film, and it has a feeling of being a graphic novel brought to life, particularly with some almost picturesque still shots. Dolph has gone all out here. At times it feels quite arty, and considering this is a DTV film, and a Dolph Lundgren film, that's quite something! The choice of super-16 is one that can be fraught with peril. There's a graininess to it, and the way it picks up light and colour can sometimes make a film look bad if not in the hands of a capable or inspired DP. Of course not only is the film well shot, but given it was shot on super- 16, there was the advantage of it being mastered directly onto HD. This also allowed for easier digital grading, as well as ensuring the film looked crisp. I mean this sucker has a great transfer. Dolph makes full use of the grading tool, and gives the film an almost monochrome look. The de-saturated picture adds to the foreboding atmosphere, and is also ably helped along by the low key and effective score by Elia Cmiral (Ronin, The Mechanik). Elsewhere Dolph knows action, having worked with the likes of John Woo, and he delivers here. There's short punctuations of violence throughout the film, before the inevitable, and just downright badass showdown. Dolph just goes Terminator on some biker dudes and it rocks the action Kasbah! As actor, Dolph does well here too. He's no Olivier, he knows it himself, but he plays to his strength, playing the Eastwood style man of few words, but immense badassedness (not a real word, but should be!). Parallels with Clint will be made of course, both being movie tough guys who made the jump from actor to writer and director. Dolph will not likely have the success of Clint, but he's the straight to video equivalent I guess, and there's no great shame in that anymore. Dolph's got that tough guy charisma. Nowadays what we lack in cinema is action stars, with the sheer hardness and tough as nails presence that Clint, Bronson, Arnie, Sly, and the likes of Seagal and Lundgren, used to deliver. We've not had any new action men come along who had the same presence, merely pretenders like Vin Diesel and The Rock. There's also been thesp's like Matt Damon, who while magnificent as Bourne isn't gonna settle down into the handing people their asses genre. You do have to, with the odd exception, have to look in the direct to video market for a good old school hardass action flick, and visit the old guard like Dolph and Jean Claude.

The remainder of the cast are mixed. Given the films budget, the support cast isn't great. The incidental characters, probably including locals given a place on screen, aren't great. Thankfully though the important roles are well filled. As Reno, Matthew Tompkins makes for a good bad guy. Also starring is August Schellenberg a very good actor who fans of Free Willy will likely remember, and he adds a bit of gravitas to proceedings. Young actress Chelsea Ricketts is superb, and surely has a bright future ahead of her (the kid who plays her older brother isn't great to be honest- but his role is insignificant). John Enos III stars as the lead biker and Ryder's main foe, and though he only comes in toward the end of the movie, he does a great job.

Overall, while the film won't win originality prizes, it feels fresh because of the style. It's just a good old fashioned R rated action film, proving big set pieces and oodles of CGI do not make a good action film (*cough* Transformers!! *cough*). Dolph is getting more assured behind the camera with every film, while also showing a versatility to switch style and tone. All three of his films have been markedly different, but Missionary Man stands out as something that is perhaps his most unique work. Action fans will not be disappointed. I'd love to see Dolph given a bit more money to play around with. ****

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Pale Rider starring Dolph Lundgren

8/10
Author: anghart from Australia
26 January 2008

Dolph Lundgren is the unappreciated underdog of DTV action stars. While many people flock to buy Van Damme or Seagal's latest pics, less chase after Mr. Lundgren's work, and that's a shame. He has something going on. Something good.

MM (Missionary Man) is his third directorial effort, and although it isn't as good as his last picture, it's still interesting and shows some of the class and skillful touches he displayed in The Mechanik and The Defender.

This film is basically Pale Rider with Dolph in the Clint role. Can he handle such a role? You betcha. He plays a mysterious man named Ryder, who rolls into a quiet small town to attend a friend's funeral. Before you can say "trouble" he's already figured out that a rich young jackass is running the place and is behind the friend's death.

The rest of the first and second act is taken up with the plight of the Indians who live in the town. We're shown how modern America struggles with the Indians' beliefs and their way of life. Credit must be given to Dolph for trying to make more than a low budget shoot 'em up.

Unfortunately, as a result of that part of the story, the middle act drags a little. However, a rousing final act, where a gang of bikers turn up to foolishly stop Dolph, kick-starts the picture back to life.

The high noon showdown is BLOODY. Not Rambo bloody, but bloody nonetheless. One poor soul even takes a 12 gage to the face! It's these scenes that show Dolph has an understanding of action greater than his rivals. If Stallone's enjoying a cinematic action rebirth, Dolph's enjoying a DTV rebirth.

The look of the film is also noticeable. Lundgren has bathed the film is a dark sepia look and the music is subtle and underused.

The supporting players are a slight letdown. Some seem like community theater actors, while others, especially the Native Americans, come off as genuine and real. John Enos III rocks up as the lead heavy, Jarfe, about thirty minutes from the end, and that's a shame. His character should have been in the whole picture.

Incidentally, Dolph does the best he can with the very modest production values he has. Note to Sony: Give these stars more money to play with. Granted, they don't need $100 million, but are a few back more out of the question??? (Dolph, if you're reading this, put Enos in another one of your movies. He was cool.) And onto the man himself. As I said in my review for The Mechanik, Dolph has grown into his skin. He's comfortable and relaxed. He's the same in MM and I'm sure if he keeps getting good material to make, he will continue to relax and look good. It seems the days of the awful Storm Catcher and The Minion are behind us.

Hopefully, Dolph will continue to put out quality efforts like this. I can only imagine what would he would do with a bigger budget and better actors. It's okay though, because for now, we've got The Defender, The Mechanik and Missionary Man to enjoy.

Good work, Mr. Lundgren.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Dolph gets religion...

5/10
Author: Dawn_Of_The_Hippies
2 February 2008

...and beats the living crap out of town oppressors and John Enos III. Following his directorial debut The Defender, Dolph directed The Russian Mecanik, which I found enjoyable and certainly impressive for an action star that hasn't directed that many movies. His third film, Missionary Man, is a well written but ultimately flawed action film, in which Dolph plays a mysterious drifter in search for revenge against the people that had wronged him in the past. All those classic revenge Westerns serve as inspiration for this movie, and it shows. Dolph stars, directs, co-writes and even produces this one, making it all the more impressive. That bleached look never looked better and he is certainly improving his skills behind the camera. While the action sequences are few, this movie is more dramatic than anything.

The story is simple. Dolph arrives on a small town, mysterious, with only a bible, a bike and a funny accent. Turns out an old friend of his, JJ, was killed by a ruthless oppressor (a decent Mathew Tompkins) and it is up to Dolph to save the town from suffering and injustice. A side story is also introduced with JJ's grieving Indian family in which Dolph protects. It turns out that Dolph may be someone else, someone who people knew in the past, but I won't spoil anything. The script is very well done, kudos to Dolph and Frank Valdez for an excellent screenplay.

The acting is not that great, but it has some good performances. John Enos III as the head of the biker gang was very cool in this one. August Schellenberg doesn't have that must screen time, but he's had better performances. Dolph was as tough and great as always. And the two Indian actresses were very good.

I was kinda bummed by the action sequences except the final one. They were too short and could've been better edited as well. The Negatives?. Numerous plot holes (that weeping guy, who the hell was he?), not that many action sequences, a little on the slow side and some other things that I personally didn't like and found ridiculous.

Overall: Dolph is certainly improving. He knows how to write, and he is perfecting his way of shooting. Now all he needs to do is perfect his editing and balance the action with drama sequences well. Even though the plot holes were no doubt there because of the budget, I still didn't find this movie terrible. Fans of Lundgren will feel right at home with this one, but don't go expecting massive explosions and choreographed martial arts sequences. Still, I am expecting good things from Dolph in the future, a 5/10.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

pretty good movie

8/10
Author: Sagar-6 from Mumbai, India
29 January 2008

As Dolph's 3rd directorial efforts, I've watched "Missionary Man" twice and the story plot was good. I'm just disappointed that the camera man who did the film-making of the "Missionary Man" - he didn't make the detailed shooting of Dolph's fighting style except the one in his hotel cafeteria that he punched, beat up the bad guys, and kicked their groins. But, the overall of this movie, we don't see HOW he punched some bad guys with his karate skills and we don't see how Dolph handled with an axe except that we see him holding an axe up in the bad guy's stomach. If you watch Van Damme or Seagal movies, you will see the detailed style of the punches, kicks, they used for their movies. Dolph's movie is too "surface", but the plot of the story is good. He looked so cool on the motorcycle. Also, I liked the story about Dolph's interaction with the Native Americans.

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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Palerider in new version

7/10
Author: kevintempel from Norway
29 January 2008

I just saw the film. And seeing it it reminded me of the Clint Eastwood film Palerider. It was sort of the same story but in a modern time. Why I say this is because of so many similarities: - man presumed dead by the gangsters, hired gangster believes he killed him many years ago (just like in Palerider) - holy man with the bible (just like in Palerider) - alone against the gangsters (as many films)

The similarity is maybe to similar. Maybe too similar to call it written by Dolph Lundgren. More like partly written by Dolph Lundgren. The base of the story is 100% Palerider.

But the film it self is good. Like the modern twist of it. But it is Palerider.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Here's to Xiaobing Rao

Author: unbrokenmetal from Hamburg, Germany
12 December 2009

One point that is criminally underrated in other reviews is the photography by Xiaobing Rao. I suppose the dark look is not just digital post-production, but to a degree already achieved during filming by use of polarizers. Later on, the colors were tainted bronze/wooden and in the end, the look is grainy, modern and antique at the same time, while the low lens focal length often gives much focus depth (remember the a-dime-a-dozen, flat direct-to-video action flicks of the 80s?), excellent craftsmanship! The music by Elia Cmiral is hardly in the foreground, only giving Dolph a special chord when he appears, but often using percussion instruments to give it an American Indian touch and raise the tension very subtly. The script gives a clever variation of the old story (guy comes into town and cleans it up) which doesn't follow all of the clichés, but respects the rules of the game nonetheless. It even adds a bit on sociology, explaining the situation of the Indians, while it strictly refuses to give us the background story of the hero. Interesting movie, much better than I expected, albeit more in its film making qualities than in the action entertainment, my congratulations to Dolph as the director.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Dolph Doles Out Death One Man At A Time!

8/10
Author: zardoz-13 from United States
25 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Universal Soldier" tough guy Dolph Lundgren has written, starred in, and directed a hard-as-nail but hackneyed revenge melodrama that he cobbled together from such past hits as "Billy Jack," "High Plains Drifter," and "Pale Rider." Clocking in at a lean, mean 93 minutes, Dolph has all the clichés covered. If you like your revenge movies predictable as blood gushing from a belly wound where the bad guys get their heads blasted off, this is the ticket! There are no surprises in "The Missionary Man," but Dolph lets the formula smolder like a steer being cooked on a spit so you can savor the wicked villainy of the white underworld who believe that they are indestructible. Some of the acting by the homegrown Texas cast is amateurish, but you'll forget these quibbles when our rugged, enigmatic hero goes into a kill mode for a catharsis of a showdown.

Ryder (Dolph Lundgren) cruises into a small Texas town terrorized by white criminals to pay his last respects to a fallen comrade who died under mysterious circumstances. It doesn't take tall, dark, silent Dolph in sunglasses to make an impression. He wears glasses, reads the Bible, and likes to do shots of tequila. The bad guys line up to take it like guys and do they ever more get taken. Jarfe (John Enos III) is the leader of a notorious motorcycle gang and he and his army are summoned to silence Ryder. There is something almost supernatural about the way our quietly spoken champion navigates the dangers. Essentially, it all boils down to an Indian reservation trying to build a casino and the local thugs trying to get in on the action. When they cannot convince one Indian to back down, they kill him and make it appear to be a drowning death. August Schellenberg is good as an older Indian named White Deer.

The last 30 minutes is a solid smack-down that makes the previous 103 minutes of build up tolerable. No, "The Missionary Man" isn't high art, but there is an art to taking something this familiar and making it work for the zillionth time. Bravo, Dolph!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An excellent effort from Dolph...

9/10
Author: bazthegreatone from United Kingdom
4 February 2009

I've always been a fan of action movies having grown up in the 80's fed on a diet of Sly, Arnie, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme. These are the best of the best when it comes to kicking ass. I would include Dolph Lundgren is this category. Granted, he has been in some terrible movies like Cover Up and The Minion, but all the other big action stars also have movies on their CV's that they want to forget about! The thing that struck me about Missionary Man is that is was filmed brilliantly and had an excellent musical score to go with the usual Dolph Lundgren action we expect from him. He directed this movie and it is shot brilliantly. It reminded me of older Clint Eastwood movies, as Dolph plays a stranger in a small town who decides to help the townsfolk fight back against the greedy businessman John Reno and the corrupt Sheriff's Department. It is the closest thing to a modern western I've seen, and I really enjoyed it. Dolph is back people, and this is one of his best!

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