Sanctuary (1998)- * *
Directed by: Tibor Takacs
Starring: Mark Dacascos, Jaimz Woolvett, and Monika Schnarre
Luke Kovak (Dacascos) was literally 'Trained to Kill' - from a young age, he learned all the deadly arts. Now an adult, he goes undercover as a priest. While doing so, he realizes his former organization, the CIA, is after him. After Operation Titan, which involves getting launch codes to missiles, he sees that things have changed and his life is in danger. As of late, he has enjoyed the peaceful SANCTUARY of the priesthood, but now he's going to have to revert to his old, more violent ways. What will happen to Luke Kovak?
[Snoring noises] [Snoring noises ending followed by yawning and the sounds of waking up] Huh...what? Oh, time for another review. This week we're talking about the soporific snoozefest Sanctuary, a cure for insomnia if there ever was one. It's not that Sanctuary is a bad movie, per se, it's just that it's very slow and boring. It's 104 minutes of not a heck of a lot. Sure, anyone would be fooled by the cover, with fan favorite Dacascos holding those two guns. But when you sit down to actually watch it, you realize it's the old bait and switch.
To be fair, while it's not exactly action packed, there are a few light action scenes in between all the spaces where nothing is happening. If the filmmakers wanted to make a moody CIA drama, which it seems that they did, it should not have been marketed as a shoot-em-up action movie. Much like a more entertaining film, Blue Tiger (1994), we think director Takacs and the gang wanted to make something "classier" and closer to traditional Hollywood product. Hence the longer running time, increased dialogue and drama, and 'Lacktion', as we call it.
Naturally, we would have preferred a shorter film with Dacascos getting revenge and beating up/shooting the baddies. He barely does any Martial Arts here, just a few quick flashes in a dispute over a jacket. A jacket! But, on the bright side, Woolvett's hair seems to have improved since Terminal Countdown (1999). There was nowhere to go but up anyway.
There also seems to have been increased emphasis on cinematography, consistent with their ambitions to do something "better" than the average DTV actioner. But a couple of cool colors doesn't make an entertaining movie all around. There's no momentum, thrills, or surprises with Sanctuary. A handful of silly blow-ups can't change that fact. Yes, we were happy that Monika Schnarre was here too, having seen her recently in Fearless Tiger (1991), but...still nothing doing. Sanctuary just doesn't have "it", that certain indefinable quality that engages the viewer.
Produced by Imperial, that standby of video-store action, if you want to see a collaboration between Mark Dacascos and Tibor Takacs from around the same time period that's similar, but markedly better, check out Sabotage (1996).
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty