Directed by: Menahem Golan
Starring: Frank Zagarino, Joe Lara, Kimberley Kates, Charles Napier, and Richard Lynch
"The Cold War Has Just Heated Up"
Charles Napier plays Robert Zorkin, a man who travels to Russia with his wife Susan (Kates), supposedly for a vacation. But it turns out he has a VHS tape that shows the Russians dealing in nuclear warheads with the mob. It seems Zorkin was the mentor to one "Rod Armstrong" (Zagarino). Armstrong is an ex-Navy SEAL who now trains people in Russia and is "very expensive". Joe Lara, appropriately enough, plays "Ponytail", the head of the gangsters who is menacing everyone in sight, not the least of which is Susan, who he chases all over Russia. Richard Lynch is the Russian General Zukov, who is a major part of the insanity. Will Rod Armstrong be able to stop the gangsters and evil Russians from stealing the nukes and perhaps launching them, and save the kidnapped Susan in the process?
I know action movies don't have to be intelligent, but Armstrong is just so dumb it's really unbelievable. Zagarino usually brings the dumb, and here is no exception. In fact, if anything, he's outdone himself in the dumb department. He's beyond wooden.
Rod Armstrong is stupid, unlikable, arrogant and annoying, and he usually has some sort of "shirt problem". Either his shirt is ripped, comes off, becomes unbuttoned, or he just plain forgets to wear one. It seems the filmmakers wanted very badly for him to be Dolph Lundgren, as his hair, makeup, and what's left of his outfits strongly recall Dolph. But Zagarino is not Dolph. Not by a long shot. Also he has numerous pictures of himself on his wall. Armstrong makes Project: Shadowchaser (1992) look like a masterpiece.
One of the better things about Armstrong is its cast of familiar faces. Joe Lara goes over the top as Ponytail, but his unfinished beard really left a sense of incompleteness in the viewer's hearts. He resembles a mid-90's Dennis Miller. We liked him better as the good guy in such films as American Cyborg: Steel Warrior (1993) and Hologram Man (1995). Napier gets slightly more screen time here than in Center of the Web (1992), and he even gets to do some "Napier-Fu", but the extreme sweatiness is unpleasant. Kimberley Kates was a great choice for the eye candy, and Richard Lynch proves he's the most versatile guy in DTV cinema, here living it up as a drunken, carousing Russian military general, the next day playing an Italian gangster with aplomb.
But sadly, try as they might, even the mightiest DTV cast cannot overcome the inanity of Armstrong. Whoever wrote the dialogue, you'd think they would be satisfied by the fact that is completely mind-numbing, but no, it's incredibly repetitive too! Many things are said more than once. I don't know which is worse, if it was unintentional, or if they were so proud of their great writing, the writer thought we should hear it multiple times. Or they could have assumed their audience is just stupid. Big mistake. The dialogue alone detracts major points from Armstrong.
Because of the dialogue and dumbness, not to mention how irritating Rod Armstrong is, almost in a Sloane (1984) sort of way, you really don't care about the characters and situations. Add to that a jumbled and unclear plot and you have a serious mess on your hands. Perhaps the ultimate "turn off your brain" movie, unless you are a die hard fan of any of the actors here or DTV movies themselves, it might be wise to steer clear of Armstrong.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett
I had this in my Neflix Watch Instantly queue, but they got rid of it, so I forgot about it. Now seeing your review, I went back and checked, and they have it available again. Based on your review, though, I may put it aside for a while, even if it does have a great cast.
Armstrong is kind of a dud, and you're right, it does have a great cast. Frank Zagarino does his best (or worst) Dolph Lundgren impression!
Still would be interested in your opinion!
It's amazing how six months can change a viewpoint. You commented on my review of this back in June that it wasn't a bad flick, and after reading your review now I wonder if I was actuallty too kind on it!
I have another Joe Lara and Frank Zagarino flick "Warhead", also a Nu Image film, to review at some point.
Oh yeah! I definitely remember writing that. I saw the movie such a long time ago, and remembered a couple of good things about it. Now, re-watching it, i was totally wrong!
Looking forward to your review of Warhead! It looks like a sequel to Armstrong.
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