Face Of Terror (2004)

 Face Of Terror
(2004)- * * *

Directed by: Bryan Goeres

Starring: Rick Schroder, Kadeem Hadison, Paulina Galvez, Rachael Stevens, Abel Folk, and Eric Balfour

Nick Harper (Schroder) and his partner Jefferson (Hardison) are tough cops who are attempting to clean up the streets from drug dealers and hoodlums. However, Nick must take a break from doing that because he cottons on to the fact that his sister Faith (Stevens) has gone missing. She was last seen working as a model in Barcelona, so Nick flies there to get answers. As he's turning Barcelona upside down trying to find his sister, he stumbles on to a terrorist plot. There have been numerous bombings in Spain of late because a terrorist cell including the evil Saleem Haddad (Balfour). Teaming up with Ana Palacios (Galvez), they now must simultaneously keep the local cops off their back, find Faith, and stop the next bombing! Can they do it? Or will the beautiful face of Barcelona become the ugly FACE OF TERROR?

We all wanted it, and now we got it: Ricky Schroder as an action star! Sorry, Rick Schroder. Indeed, this is a performance worthy of a Rick and not a Ricky, because he has a mustache, his voice is gruffer than usual, he bosses people around, and he beats up and shoots baddies as well. It's the Rick Schroder we've all been waiting years to see! Regardless of his past, Schroder has screen presence and it's enjoyable to watch him. He should have done more tough-guy roles like this. But we are thankful he did this one.

Much like how TIG went to Poland in Beyond Forgiveness (1994), Schroder goes to Spain here with Face of Terror. It all plays out like a much more sane version of Gunblast Vodka (2000) - a cop goes to a foreign European city and more or less has to infiltrate the world of modeling. Of course, Gotz Otto is nowhere in sight but that's okay because we've got Rick. I know we make this comparison a lot, but in this case it is really apt - Face of Terror has a similar plot to Taken (2008), and of course it predated Taken by four years. DTV movies are always ahead of the curve. We say that often as well. 

Kadeem Hardison's role was mostly on the phone and fairly thankless. Rachael Stevens as the missing sister was only in two other movies and is something of a mystery. All the other cast members acquit themselves well, and the Spanish locations are picturesque. The whole thing is shot clearly, bright, and well. You never miss a chase or Ricky Schroder beating up Eurotrash photographers.

In the early 00's, director Bryan Goeres was on a roll. Starting with the underrated and hugely enjoyable Phase IV (2002), he then made Face of Terror and Art Heist in the same year (2004), then did Crusader (2005). This time around, he wisely chose unorthodox actors for the roles - Rick Schroder as a fish-out-of-water cop in Spain and Eric Balfour as an Islamic terrorist - and he kept the pace snappy. Consequently, Face of Terror has a lot of positives and a lot to recommend it.

So, if you want to see Ricky Schroder punching and shooting people - as we know you do - please check out Face of Terror.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


13 Dead Men (2003)

 13 Dead Men
(2003)- * *

Directed by: Art Camacho 

Starring: Lorenzo Lamas, David Weininger, Ashley Tucker, Shalena Hughes, and Mystikal

Malachi (Tucker) is in prison. But it's not just any prison, of course. It's run by the corrupt warden Kowalski (Weininger) and his obedient gang of corrections officers. Kowalski stages illegal Punchfights, but he also has his own personal death row where he executes inmates at will (those are the '13 Dead Men' of the title). The Van Peebles-esque Malachi just wants to serve out his sentence as peacefully as possible, but he's put in a cell next to Caj (Mystikal), the Top Dog of the facility who enjoys beating up everyone in sight.

Meanwhile, on the outside, Santos (Lamas) and his girlfriend Jay'me (Hughes) are diamond thieves and they know Malachi has the secret that would lead to a valuable cache of diamonds. So they assemble a team to break Malachi out of prison. They better do it fast, because Malachi just may be on the chopping block. It all comes to a head during a final battle where all hell breaks loose in jail. Will Malachi be the fourteenth Dead Man? And who is this mysterious Cornbread character we've heard so much about? Could he be the key to everything?

13 Dead Men is the perfect movie to watch if you enjoy watching Mystikal repeatedly punch people.

Of course, while some people may argue that that's not the true meaning of the cinematic arts, we would humbly suggest that for 13 Dead Men II that they bring on board Kurupt, C-Murder, Silkk The Shocker, Mr. Ballin Big and others and do a "Black Expendables" sort of thing. It could be huge.

As a director, Art Camacho is a great stunt coordinator. He delivers "urban" action on a very low budget this time around. The artwork (and a lot of the plot) may remind you of Half Past Dead (2002), but instead of Seagal and Ja Rule, we get Lamas and Mystikal. What's the saying? Six of one, half-dozen of the other? Although the aforementioned Kurupt was in Half Past Dead. Couldn't they get him for this?

Anyway, the main problem with 13 Dead Men is that it's a "prison plot" we've seen countless times before. It's more or less a Broken Bars (1995) for the 00's. Or maybe a Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight (1992), Death Warrant (1990), In Hell (2003), Vendetta (2015), etc., etc. It has the same old evil warden we've all come to expect. None of the above could ever match the majesty of Tony Zarindast's Hardcase and Fist (1989). That's the best of the bunch. It has Warden Borden and Beano. So what hope does 13 Dead Men have?

That being said, it is an epic of shirtlessness. There are many shirtless men in this movie, many of which are not in the best of shape. Even Mystikal whips off his shirt at the drop of a hat. Overall, though, the problem with prison films is that they primarily take place in one location. One drab, visually uninteresting location. So things start to get repetitive quick. The main problem with 13 Dead Men is that it's not only very repetitive, it's also relentlessly stupid. A lot of what we see is overlaid with the Godsmack/Linkin Park-esque musical stylings of a band called Crucial Element. If anything dates the movie to 2003, it's that. And we were having a hard enough time trying to decipher the semi-intelligible Mystikal. It was a rocky time back then.

With just a little less repetition and slightly more intelligence, 13 Dead Men could have risen above the morass of all the other Homie Movies. Lamas does what he can but there's only so much any one man can do, even him. As it is, you'd really have to be a fan of any of the personnel involved or an ardent devotee of the Homie Movie genre to want to go out of your way to check it out. Sadly, we honestly can't recommend 13 Dead Men otherwise.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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