Dead Center (1993)


Dead Center
(1993)- * *

Directed by: Steve Carver

Starring: Justin Lazard, Rachel York, Eb Lottimer, and David Carradine

Joe (Lazard) is one bad dude. He's a career criminal with a bad temper. He pretty much fights or shoots everyone he sees. After an illegal art deal gone wrong (as opposed to the usual drug deal gone wrong), Joe is facing death row after he shoots some police officers. That's when the shadowy figures of Mary (York) and Sanders (Lottimer) enter the picture. They offer to mold this criminal lump of clay into a lean, mean fighting machine that pulls off secret assassinations for them. This may be starting to sound a little familiar to you at this point. So, after a period of extensive training, Joe is ready for the world. But after some conspiracies and some double or perhaps triple crosses occur, Joe doesn't know who to trust. Is it Mary? Is it Sanders? Could it be someone else? Looks like Crazy Joe may just have to hit his target DEAD CENTER if he wants to get out of this jam alive...

It has been noted before that Dead Center is pretty much the male version of La Femme Nikita (1990) or Point of No Return (1993). That is true, so that saves a lot of time in describing what the movie is. If you've seen those films, and want to see Justin Lazard in the main role, well, here ya go. He does a competent job and he looks like a lost Estevez brother. 

The main problem, however, is that the central character of Joe is not likable. The audience doesn't like him from the jump and that never changes. Despite all of his training and supposed transformation, he remains an unlikable jerk. There are also no other likable characters throughout the course of the film. So that made things tough going as far as the enjoyment factor is concerned, never mind trying to ferret out who to root for in all this. We would put in a vote for Ambassador Chavez (Carradine) but he's only on screen for maybe a minute or two. It's definitely a Carradine cameo. He gets slightly more screen time than Charles Napier in Center of the Web (1992). Carradine fans looking for a meaty role from the man will come away disappointed.

There are some beat-ups, some shooting, an abandoned warehouse/factory, and when the rollerblade girl appears in Joe's life, the time-honored sax duly appears on the soundtrack. The whole thing reminded us somewhat of The Contract (1999). Of course, for this movie some Cannon people are involved, such as Menachem Golan, and director Steve Carver, known to action fans for his Chuck movies An Eye For an Eye (1981) and Lone Wolf McQuade (1983), plus Dudikoff outing River of Death (1989). At least here in the U.S., the VHS was released on the Vidmark label.

Dead Center is a decent enough entry in the "let's take a bad person and train them so they become an assassin and then things go wrong" sub-sub-subgenre of action movies. However, nothing really stands out about it either, so we can't give it a wholehearted recommendation. But it's not too bad, so if you see it at Goodwill or someplace like that for 99 cents, you could do a lot worse.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


SOA said...

I personally found the main character pretty compelling and interesting.

Ty said...

We agree to disagree haha