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Directed by: Shimon Dotan
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Nan Yu, and William Shriver
Xander Ronson (Dolph) is an American ex-Green Beret laying low in Inner Mongolia, of all places. He’s deeply in debt, and fights in...wait for it...illegal underground Punchfighting matches to make ends meet. Brought before a judge, it is determined he must finally pay all his debts or go to prison. Luckily - or perhaps not - this is just when snobbish jerkbag Chambers (Shriver) offers Ronson a lucrative job. He hires him to act as security as he travels with his team to go deep into uncharted territory to find something called the Tangka - a Buddhist tapestry said to be cursed. With few options at hand, Ronson reluctantly accepts.
The beautiful Anika (Yu) is the stepdaughter to chambers, and following her is likely what truly entices Ronson. In addition to trying to get the Tangka and all the pitfalls they encounter along the way, another team of baddies is chasing them, and these guys will stop at nothing to get it. Who will end up with this sacred artifact? (Meaning the Tangka, not a DVD of Diamond Dogs).
At the outset when we see Dolph somewhat down on his luck, and Punchfighting in another land, it immediately brings to mind Sweepers (1998), where similar things go on. Dolph, with his shaved head, looks especially grizzled here, and that’s to his credit - he does a nice acting job, and with little flash. There’s plenty of violence on show, leading the viewer to conclude this is a worthy Dolph adventure story, more or less.
While this “Saturday afternoon adventure” falls somewhere between big-budget opuses like the Indiana Jones series and Direct-To-Video items like Skeleton Coast (1988) or Laser Mission (1989), it’s reasonably well-made and has some impressive locations. It should also be noted that there’s a reference to the Stallone classic Over the Top (1987) hidden in the movie somewhere. See if you can find it.
Shriver, in his first credited movie role, plays the obnoxious, hate-able baddie whose hairstyle isn’t just a ponytail - that wouldn’t be irritating enough - it’s actually some sort of ponytail bun, also does a noteworthy acting job, assuming his personality isn’t really like that in real life. Ronson shows amazing patience with him - this movie would get five stars if after the thousandth snide, catty remark Chambers makes, Dolph just punches through his face, but alas, it’s not to be. In a big budget version, we felt Kevin Spacey could have played Chambers.
Although the film is called Diamond Dogs, neither diamonds, dogs, nor David Bowie are anywhere in sight. Interestingly, it can be surmised that the writers of the film are glam rock fans, judging by the title and the choice to name Dolph’s character Ronson, presumably after Mick Ronson, who among other career achievements played with David Bowie. And seeing as there were supposedly production problems on this film, and a presumed sequel got axed, Bowie can never make a cameo in the future.
Despite pockets of dullness that spring up throughout the film, Diamond Dogs is a decent Dolph outing. It won’t blow your socks away, but for a later Dolph it’s a good one-time watch.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty