Directed by: Perry Lang
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Charlotte Lewis, B.D. Wong, Tommy "Tiny" Zeus Lister, Kevin Tighe, Thomas Gibson, Catherine Bell, Tim Guinee, and Trevor Goddard
Nick Gunar (Lundgren) is a down-and-out former mercenary who is tired of
the life. While weary, he yearns to get back to his family, so he
accepts a job to go to a small island in the South China Sea
and extract the resources it contains (and just wait until you find out
what those resources are). He assembles a team of his former buddies to
accomplish this task. Once on the island, his group begins to splinter.
Some believe the island should be spared because inhabitants like Po
(Wong) and Loki (Lewis) would have their lives destroyed, and others
simply want to plunder. Adding to all this is super-evil bad guy Keefer
(Goddard), Gunar’s - and everyone else’s - arch-nemesis. Naturally,
Gunar and Loki fall in love so they fight to save the island...but THEN
what will happen?
Men of War sports a high-quality look
and feel thanks to excellent cinematography that captures the beauty of
the local indigenous culture. Add to that a very strong supporting cast
(Including Tiny “Zeus” Lister, Kevin Tighe and Thomas Gibson, among
others) and a script co-written by none other than John Sayles, you get
some symbols of quality. That being said, this movie is very much like
McBain (1991) in many regards - the female member of the team really brings
that comparison into perspective (Catherine Bell does an admirable job
and its nice to see a female character getting into the action with the
guys and not being another reporter).
Of course, Dolph
is named Gunar (with one N, apparently). And rather than being yet
another Russian character, here he’s known as “Nick the Swede”, which
actually pays tribute to his true nationality. Dolph puts in a strong
performance and has a cool hat. Charlotte Lewis is always welcome, but
why is she playing a girl of Thai descent? Trevor
Goddard makes an excellent baddie and you really hate him. So his job
was done well.
This is what you’d call a classic
“Assemble-a-team” movie - a common theme in action films perhaps best
exemplified by Kill Squad (1982). There’s even a scene or two of Punchfighting
as Dolph assembles his team. But even though the aforementioned John
Sayles was onboard, this movie becomes a fairly standard
jungle/exploding hut/exploding guard tower movie. Also it suffers from
the common ailment of needing more action right before the climax. But
there are some scenes of humor to leaven it all out like the cinematic
fried dough that it is.
Shot in Krabl and Phang Nga, Thailand, Men of War has a lot going for it, but despite all its pluses, it just barely won us over.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty