You all know who he is (if not, keep repeating the first three lines of this review until you do), and we all love him. He forms the bottom left corner of the holy 90’s ass-kicking trinity that is Van Damme/Seagal/Lundgren, and he could smash your face into mashed carrots if he wasn’t a lovely, kind-hearted super-genius.
Dolph Lundgren is awesome. And we all love him.
Except he hates himself, it would seem…
If the above trailer isn’t proof enough for you, then just take a glance at the rest of the downward spiral of steroid induced, bottom of the whiskey glass depression that forms 90% of his career, and the vertical arrow facing the ground that it represents, and tell me he doesn’t sit on park benches in the rain. (Note to anyone who cares; I am NOT accusing Dolph Lundgren of being a steroid user or an alcoholic. I’m certain he has never been either. Please don’t sue me.)
Yes, we’ve seen a slight resurgence from Dolph in recent times – most notably with The Expendables movies – but holy shit was there a long spell of him staring in some absolute dross, and this descent into low-budget oblivion is a little depressing, especially given how Dolph has played some pretty memorable characters including an earlobe collecting zombie and a drugged up Soviet super-bastard.
Well that was then, and at the point when Direct Action sulked its miserable way on to DVD, his career was settling into a regular, frown-shaped mess. He may still have been awesome by virtue of being Dolph ‘I’m Dolph Lundgren’ Lundgren, but the movies he appeared in were quite often little more than 90 minutes of Dolph Lundgren running around making machine gun noises with his mouth.
Direct Action is one such turd, and it stars the man himself as a cop that gets on the wrong side of various action-packed shenanigans. I had heard this film was pretty damn terrible, and as such had stocked up on tissues to wipe away the drool that was sure to run down my chin. But as it turned out, there is absolutely no preparing for Direct Action. Not unless your brain ever happened to be on the wrong end of Ivan Drago’s regard for boxing etiquette.
I figured I may as well see what all the nay-saying was about and see the film for myself. But as I settled in to watching Direct Action I was greeted by the Nu-Image Productions logo…
…which was not a good sign. Why? Take a look for yourself. Their logo also featured lots of triumphant music, but anyone who has heard of Nu Image (as I have) should know to see through this deception, and begin frowning. Already concerned, I witnessed the first shot appear on screen of a red lit hallway. “Brothel!” I shouted, and had my presumptions confirmed (I know my brothels) as a scantily clad lady-worker walked in to the hallway to answer a door. The would-be customers were in fact Cyprus Hill, who evidently weren’t there to purchase genitals. Instead, they went on somewhat of a bender with guns, and started murdering everyone.
Someone, presumably important to the story, is shot to bits. As is everyone else, apart from one lady who manages to escape. So far so normal, so I guess it’s time for some…
A fast blur of cheaply pasted, black and white cuts of Dolph Lundgren slaughtering the living shit out of people began punching my eyeballs…
…and holy fuck this wasted no time. Seriously, we haven’t even been introduced to Dolph Lundgren’s character yet, never mind anyone we think it’s okay to see destroyed. Does Dolph Lundgren enjoy mass-murdering people between films? Or are these simply trimmed clips from events that occur later in Direct Action? Considering that this movie was made as cheaply as possible, what do you think the answer might be? This twitchy bullshit is also accompanied by some truly awful hip-hop. No, I’m serious, it is hideous.
“These cops be hanging, they be swinging off ma balls.”
Delightful. I hope they are unionised.
One aspect that stands out among all these fleeting images of Dolph shooting and punching, is that he looks too tired to be doing any of it, and would rather be left alone in a quite corner with a cup of tea and a pillow. Oh, and Dolph also has a disconcerting resemblance to Anders Breivik, which might explain the mass-murdering. As I wrote this observation in my notes, I looked up to see a shot of Dolph punching the camera, and therefore me…
…right in the face, which I probably deserve. Once that rubbery excuse for an intro sequence was over (and my nose had stopped bleeding) I got to see Dolph in glorious technicolour. Holy shit he’s getting old, I thought to myself, still frowning.
This establishment scene is essentially Dolph Lundgren listening to the radio, and boy is it spewing some awful nonsense. It’s a talk-show broadcast about how important it is for men to not just be men, but also heroes as well. Women callers are telling the radio host about how horny hero-men make them, and how fantastic they are in general – and no, I’m not making this up. Obviously this is accompanied with close up shots of Dolph Lundgrens face, because in this movie we have to have it explained to us that he isn’t a wrinkly dickhead. The lady-callers are also talking about what makes the perfect husband (hint: it’s Dolph Lundgren), but it’s fairly obvious that this hardened cop is married to the force lady, so please, close your legs and stay out of his way.
I think I have already mentioned that he is a cop, but at this point in the film I wasn’t yet sure of that fact, and given that he really does resemble Anders Breivik, I was still debating whether or not he was a white supremacist. But no, he’s definitely a cop. That said, neither Dolph (he looks like Anders Breivik) or any of the other cops in this film (they look like actors) actually look like cops. This in particular goes for the Chief of Police, who looks like this…
So after being introduced to Dolph’s cop buddies, I thought I could make some predictions about what would happen to them, seeing as Dolph will surely need at least a little motivation to begin murdering people. So here goes.
#1: Dolph’s black partner-cop will be killed (obvious, I know)
#2: A cop that has just retired will be killed (also obvious)
#3: Most of the rest of Dolph’s cop friends will be killed (obviously)
Would the film prove me wrong? We’ll see.
After meeting all of Dolph’s cop chums, a broadly sexist undertone is introduced into the film in the form of a gorgeous bumbling female detective called Ross who is, quite naturally, paired up with Dolph in what is her first day on the job.
Why is it sexist? Well, because she is the only major female character in the film and she is as dumb as a bag full of sand. Two examples of how stupid she is are given in quick succession immediately after she appears on screen. Ross shows up an hour late for work (durr) because she had a flat tyre, and then gets into the wrong car (durr) in front of everyone. She is fantastic at smiling however, even if it does make her look like an animatronic sex doll.
We learn that she is a ‘probationary detective’ and is here to be taught by Dolph in how to be an actual detective instead of a clumsy probationary one. But, because this movie is all about how amazing Dolph Lundgren is, she begins excitedly fawning all over him instead of actually behaving like a policewoman. It’s all “such an honour” this, and “I’m so proud” that. It’s any wonder they actually arrived at their destination without her taking off all her clothes or grabbing the steering wheel in a menstrual panic. This behaviour seemed a little out of character for someone who is supposed to be allowed to carry weapons and arrest people, but it would soon become evident that the film didn’t give one flying fart about such trivial nonsense.
Case in point…
What is policeman?
Now I might know fuck all about being a cop, but I evidently know way more about the job description than creators of Direct Action. How so? Well, these two ‘detectives’ drive around until a dispatch call comes through their police radio for cops to attend an incident.
Which they themselves do.
Yes, that’s right. In this reality, detectives busy themselves answering dispatch calls to domestic incidents instead of detecting things. Therefore, these two totally genuine and very believable detectives respond to the 911 dispatch call of an altercation involving a fat man in a leather waste-coat. When they arrive, there is an assembled group of bystanders who inform these ‘detectives’ that there are bad guys inside a bar who are extorting money from its owners. The entrance to said bar is being guarded by said fat man who, knowing perfectly well that the police have just arrived, continues to play bouncer.
Why didn’t he run away? He did see that the police just arrived. Does he not understand what they do for a living? Apparently not, as he stays right where he is, allowing Dolph to take off his jacket and question him. Just kidding! No, Dolph walks over to the guy and, without doing anything remotely policeman-like, such as asking him why he is just standing there, hands his fucking ass to him in a plastic bag.
He then enters the premises and…no prizes for guessing what happens next. Dolph kicks every shade of shit out of everyone present without reading any sort of rights, or even attempting to arrest anyone. He also completely destroys the establishment by throwing bad guys in to anything breakable. On his way out, he says that all the bad guys are free to go…as long as they apologise first…which they do. For fuck sake, seriously film?
Do you understand that you are supposed to be playing a policeman Dolph? You just broke more laws than you did bones, you lunatic. But Dolph is clearly oblivious to what is right and wrong, as the owner, who is gushing with praise for having his bar completely destroyed, then tries to offer payment for Dolph’s heroic antics. And that form of payment…
…offering up his clearly under-age niece for Dolph Lundgren to have sex with.
I had to pause the film at this point and question whether or not I had gone mad.
Did that just happen? That is called solicitation of a minor, you fucking ass-hat. Arrest him!
Side note: During the altercation, Ross attempted to actually do something police-womany by handcuffing one of the bad guys. Except she (durr) dropped her handcuffs on the ground (remember – stupid). So, once back on patrol, she grovellingly apologises for screwing up so terribly. But Dolph eventually forgives her, because fuck the last ten minutes – he’s a good guy!