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Today - the global war on terror rages on. The United States will not give an inch against terrorists, especially Mohamed Jamar, considered to be the worst of them all. Jamar has been missing for months, but his network continues its function. The President stands firm before the world, but behind the scenes his teams are working to find the final solution. Jamar represents a paradox: he can never be killed, because if found dead he would become an instant martyr. If caught he must be tried. If he is found guilty he would become a martyr and further inspiration to acts of terror. If acquitted, the policies of the entire western world would be destroyed. So he must remain invisible. Roberta Jones, the head of the National Security Agency, is working to ensure he remains invisible, forever. Under the guise of attending an Eastern European conference on Terror in Romania, she attends a secret meeting with Jamar at a secluded hotel outside Bucharest. No one knows about this meeting and ...Written by
Bauer Martinez Studios
Dolph Lundgren takes up directing duties for the first time here and scores a hit! The Defender is a film which remarkably for a B-movie offers some thought provoking ideas. The plot involves political intrigue and corruption but the basic gist is that America wants peace with the international terrorists against them. A secret meeting is set up between the head of NSA and Mohamed Jamar a kind of Sadam/Bin Laden character. Dolph plays Lance Rockford bodyguard and leader of a team of highly trained operatives who look after the head of the NSA. In 91 he thought in the Gulf and was captured and tortured to set an example to America. His torture was ordered from Jamar. So we now have an interesting concept. The meeting takes place in Romania in an empty hotel, a fantastic setting. What happens is that initially Dolph doesn't know who Roberta's Jones (NSA head) is meeting. The meeting is taking place essentially to buy Jamar's invisibility. He cannot be convicted or killed as that would make him a martyr, however if America does nothing they look weak. Buying his invisibility basically means he will never surface again and that America can keep up the pretence that he is being hunted down. So there is now a hotel with a terrorist and the head of the NSA meeting up with bodyguards for each. However this secret meeting is not so secret and they are ambushed. As it turns out by American soldiers, working for a group of traitors who call themselves the patriots group. Including one of the presidents own advisor's, and a senator. They want the meeting to fail, become public and in essence to oust he president and star a war at the same time. There is profit in war it seems. This is an interesting concept in itself but the movie take in an extra interesting twist which you'll have to see for yourself.
As a director Dolph does well, raising the question: Why work with so many b-grade hacks in recent years? He does the best directing job since he had the good fortune to work with John Woo in 98 with BlackJack. Lest we not forget that Dolph has worked with some good directors, Woo, Russell Mulcahey, Roland Emmerich, as well as some veterans who although past their best when they worked with Dolph, still must have been useful for picking up tips, for example Sidney Furie, Ted Kotcheff and Bruce Malmuth. The Defender with all it's political intrigue and so called acts of patriotism are comparable to the Bourne films. This is essentially the low budget sibling to those films and although this is inferior, this is still good work. Dolph handles the action well and the action is plentiful with the entire last hour essentially one long action scene. The camera keeps moving creating a real vibrancy and kinetic energy that works well and the action is reality based putting the audience right in there with some great use of sound. The sound design is the best part of this film, strange as that may sound, but it is so well done it really enhances the action. At the same time the editing is tight and this gives the films action a great sense of rhythm and pacing, particularly with some excellent hand-to-hand moments.
Cast-wise, Dolph is good in the lead, giving a solid performance. He plays it just right and it's a role that demands subtlety during it's edgier moments. He is ably supported by Caroline Lee-Johnson as Roberta Jones, as well as Shakara Ledard as a female member of Dolph's security teams. The rest of Dolph's team are also good. Particularly good in support is the one and only Jerry Springer as the president! President Springer! How cool would that be? Very methinks! Anyway Jerry is surprisingly good in fact because acting his not his first profession. The film is also blessed with a good score from Adam Norden whose subtle synth based score does not try to recreate a full orchestra, but instead plays to the strengths of the synthesiser and he creates some interesting themes. Also the cinematography from Maxime Alexandre is excellent, making the film look far more polished than Dolph's more recent efforts and giving it the gloss of one Seagal and Van Damme's latest efforts the considerably more expensive Into The Sun and Wake Of Death respectively. The Defender it must be said is also far superior to those films and is a film I would certainly watch at the cinema, even without my main man Dolph in it. It has interesting concepts and is a good action film. I have seen some abysmal films at the cinema like A Man Apart and Collateral Damage, Driven. All with big action stars, yet Defender is a hell of a lot better than those films. It has some integrity and excitement.
Overall this is a solid piece and Dolph's fans will be more than happy. Adding to their excitement, Dolph is taking up directing duty in his next film too, with him playing a Russian hit-man in The Mechanik, co-starring Ben Cross (Chariots Of Fire). The Defender is a good watch for any action fan. ***1/2
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