Distributor: Nu Image
Running Time: 96 minutes
Year of release: 1998
Director: Keoni Waxman
Production Studio: Nu Image
Sweepers, if we are believe its opening text crawl, is a film about the horrors of the Angolan civil war. Or more specifically, about the civilian population of Angola falling victim to the 20 million landmines that litter that poor country, and the thousands of amputees that serve as a terrible legacy of how dormant conflicts can continue to inflict suffering upon a nation, long after wars have ended. Which I’m sure you’ll agree is a reasonably serious topic, yes?
But as I began watching Sweepers, I had a painful and very sharply angled frown on my face, as this Reasonably Serious Topic would be the subject of…a Dolph Lundgren movie.
Oh dear indeed.
Dolph Lundgren is not known for his appearing in thoughtful re-tellings of real-life tragedies, what with him being hopelessly addicted to machine guns and perspiration, so yes, expect Sweepers to be about as careful with cultural sensitivity and historical accuracy as Universal Soldier was with the proper rules and behaviour of zombies. Surely Dolph Lundgren knows better?
I’ve covered before just how brain-injured Dolph Lundgren appears to be when constantly attempting to kick-start his career in the face, but for someone who would take work as tree in a children’s play as long as you paid his taxi fare, Sweepers is an unexpected new low, both for its stupidity and its subject matter. Honestly, Dolph Lundgren?
His appearance in this film comes across as the result of someone who spent all day drinking aftershave and smoking krokodil and fell unconscious on the casting couch, yet still received a film-role out of pity. Most likely he also never regained consciousness until after the movie was finished, because if he did, then he really should take a very, very long look at his life choices, and maybe go back to fawning over his own biceps instead of making films.
Things began with the aforementioned text crawl, that details some of the tragic results of filling every corner of a country full of landminds, and already there’s more than a hint that I’ll end up using the words ‘exploitative bastards’ at some point in this review. But before the movie even begins, it clearly can’t help but start making shit up, such as…
…something called ‘The Humanitarian Order of Chivalry’ which as far as the front page of Google tells me, is a completely fictional club that Dolph invented in his tree-house that only he knows the secret password for, but in this movie exists as a way of making Dolph’s character sound important before we’ve even seen him, which is typical behaviour for a Dolph Lundgren film, I’ll admit.
Dolph Lundgren and the attack of the landmines
Once the movie goes full-on fictional, the first shot is revealed of a very noticeably un-Angolan white child, who gets out of bed the very second he is tucked in by Dolph Lundgren, who does not notice this.
The boy also happens to be fully clothed.
And it’s clearly daytime.
God damn it.
Keep this scene in mind however, as it’s not only a plot-point, but it’s also a window in to Dolph’s parenting skills, which are probably about as developed as his skills at reading scripts in braille.
The movie struggles to get all of Dolph’s face into shot…
…as he drives through the opening credits in a van, arriving at his job as the best expert mine-sweeper the U.N has ever had. Once there, Dolph is referred to as ‘Ace’, because again, Dolph Lundgren only takes roles in which things explode and strangers give him positive reinforcement, and some jovial banter is had about how much his ex-wife hates him, and how funny it is. Dialogue! But…Oh no!…we see that during Dolph’s early morning voyage to an active minefield, the small boy (Dolph Lundgren’s son) has smuggled himself in the back of Dolph’s jeep, which as far as impromptu days trips go, probably wasn’t a good idea.
Dolph sets to work employing some of his psychic mine detection skills, and begins searching for landmines. Go Dolph. Lot’s of military shenanigans then appear out of nowhere, as a bunch of bad guys attack the camp and start blowing up tanks and shooting…
…not to mention launching themselves on explosive springboards.
As Dolph defends freedom with a 50.cal machine gun…
…his son decides that now is the time to say ‘hi’ to daddy, and tell him about all the wonderful things he could have been dreaming about if he’d stayed in bed, instead of smuggling himself into an Angolan minefield. This child may have behavioral issues, but I certainly couldn’t question his bravery, as he doesn’t seem all that phased by the explosions and gunfire taking place around him. Instead he grins and flaps his arms like a head-case whilst ignoring the directors barked instructions to act like he’s not an idiot.
But despite Dolph attempting to save the life of his son by standing completely still and screaming…
…this poor child steps on a landmine.
…and is killed.
Some panpipes begin as Dolph cradles what’s left of his visitation rights…
…and everyone, especially Dolph Lundgren, starts crying. But considering he just had child-confetti sprayed all over him (as a direct result of Dolph Lundgren not paying attention to his sons whereabouts), I would have to agree with his ex-wife and say that you are indeed a dickhead Dolph Lundgren, and had no business being near that boy to begin with. No wonder he’s divorced. Did your wife leave you because you brought home a box full of dynamite instead of a Playstation? Or are you lying about her still being alive, and are instead covering up the time you accidentally sent her a basket full of cobras instead of flowers, and can’t figure out why she never answers her voicemail?
Dolph has fucked up pretty badly here, and should take some time out to think about what he did. Lets remind him!
You dressed your son in dungarees instead of pyjamas.
You put your son to bed in the middle of the daytime.
You failed to notice when your son immediately woke up and wondered off.
You abandoned your son and drove to work.
You also failed to notice you brought your son with you into a warzone.
You did nothing but scream as your son ran through a minefield.
You watched your son get blown up by something it was your job to make sure wasn’t there.
That’s some weapons-grade neglect there Dolph. Seriously mate, you’re basically the Angolan Kate McCann, which no one should be proud of, even if you do get to explode things in the name of health and safety.
Damn it Dolph. If you are this shitty are not just your job, but also at not keeping your son safe from that job, then you have no business being an expert at U.N peacekeeping, never mind a father. Dolph’s behaviour is not that of a parent who has his child’s best interests at heart, or even vaguely in his mind. Were you even that boy’s legal guardian? Or was that child attempting to escape years of captivity, but was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome?
Not one fucking sense Dolph, do you and your film make. And by Jesus this movie hasn’t even had time to put on it’s rollerblades backwards and start spinning around and screaming, which it does. Bravo. When shit like this was on page one of the script, then you can imagine the kind of nonsense that goes down once the helicopters and exploding trains happen.
Do we have to have a plot?
Cut to five years later, where shit is going down with a senator who is being held captive by mystery terrorists (they are never explained) who wear black sacks over their heads instead of anything practical.
A lady FBI agent arrives with her frightening duck-lips…
…and a landmine goes off on the senators patio, causing the assembled police and SWAT teams to shoot indiscriminately in every direction. The senator somehow survives the best efforts of the police to kill him and his family full of holes, and is very unhappy to learn about the landmine that someone placed in his front garden. But he is thrilled to learn that his gardener has been arrested and has presumably been sent to a black-project Gulag in Poland, because fuck that guy.
During a meeting of plot-discussing official types…
…we learn that the landmine in question is a particularly dangerous kind of landmine that was designed by the lady with the collagen lips.
But she works for the FBI. It was written on the back of her blouse
Are we somehow supposed to believe that she helped design the landmine that tried to kill everyone in the gun battle that she herself attended as an FBI agent? How the fuck does that make sense, movie? Come on. But then a General asks her,
“How do you know about it, miss…er…?”
Right, so this dunce who is hosting a highly classified military briefing doesn’t know the professions of the people he is sharing that briefing with? Or even their names? Stupid film.
So the FBI/landmine designer (who should be arrested as a primary suspect) agrees to go to Angola to look for her old boss and try and figure out the source of all the shenanigans. But before she does this, the General signs a release form for her to carry a handgun that she is meant to take with her to Angola.
And this gun is given to her by the U.S Army…across a bar…whilst everyone is drinking cocktails, and I swear this script-writer needs to cut down on the ketamine. Maybe just one spoonful in your morning chai tea instead of two, you fucking psycho. And as for the set designer, he simply needs to return to his own dimension, as he clearly doesn’t belong in this one.
Seriously, I could dress up my kitchen table as a more convincing military base than whatever this mess is supposed to be. Obviously she is told to go and find Dolph Lundgren, because he’s the best at his job and has a “total lack of discipline”, which never made sense in any other film that pulls that kind of lazy crap, and it sure as hell doesn’t here either. She then takes her drink with her, and ventures off to have an interesting conversation with airport security. Once in Angola, Lips and her team of unnecessary soon-to-be canon-fodder, stumble across a completely plastered Dolph Lundgren who is beating guys senseless in a wrestling ring
A huge bar fight erupts (as you’d expect) allowing Dolph to look awesome, and for Lips to swoon and start producing eggs. Cut to later where Dolph Lundgren is having one of his trademark flashbacks, this time of when he was neglectful to the point of prosecution, and Dolph stares at a knife and grimaces. Don’t do it Dolph! There’ll be other scripts!
Oh wait, he’s defusing a landmine.
Dolph may now be a full-time booze enthusiast but that doesn’t stop him from very slowly putting on a dripping wet hat…
…because even when Dolph Lundgren is at his lowest, he’s still Dolph Lundgren, and we all must be reminded of this with yet more panpipes and slow-motion.
Some random mine-clearing shenanigans happen until we are shown one of the antagonists of the movie, who is a gruff looking South African big game hunter-type who would rather die than smile.
This character’s entrance into the film comes during one of the most staggeringly deranged excuses for dramatic tension that I have ever seen, and is also horribly offensive in a way only a Dolph Lundgren landmine movie set during a real conflict could be.
If you think things couldn’t get any worse…
What then occurs is basically a demented version of the Commonwealth Games or a warm up to the Angolan Paralympic long jump, except instead of using sand pits the participants use landmines.
Nope, not joking.
I’m certain I remember my mouth falling open slightly and drool forming, as I watched this burly South African bad guy and Dolph Lundgren take part in a competition to race each other – across a fucking minefield – touch a plank, and then return to the starting point, hopefully without stopping to ask themselves how anyone could be so oblivious to the need for limbs.
At one point, even the following line was said…
“Whoever steps on a landmine first, loses.”
Oh good! You’ve explained how landmines work. Now if you wouldn’t mind, could you also tell that to the population of the country you are insulting, so they can stop using them as doormats. Yes, it’s bonkers beyond any kind of reason, but it’s the reaction of the crowd of locals, who are cheering and placing bets, that turns horrifying stupidity into insulting absurdity.
Is this what Angolan people get up to when Princess Diana isn’t looking? Are they secretly thankful for the thousands of tons worth of booby-traps scattered across their countryside, just so they have something to entertain themselves in between episodes of Angolan Idol? Fucking hell film. If I myself had tried to think up a more disgraceful way of offending thousands of amputees, and the entire population of a country, I would have been struck by lightening long before coming up with something this deplorable.
So, after this tense rubbish we cut back to Dolph doing his thing. Namely, sitting plastered in a bar and paying for drinks with gigantic diamonds, which he does because this film is set in Angola don’t forget, and they had a quota of racist stereotypes they needed to fulfil before anyone was allowed to go back outside and play.
Lips turns up…
…and after some back and forth nonsense…
…Dolph decides to join Duck-face on her quest to find Sauron’s belt-buckle.
Off they go and get into shenanigans-a-plenty, which includes an unfortunate encounter with an actual black Angolan child (apparently they’re a thing in Angola) who has his legs blown off during a friendly game of football. This allows Dolph to bring out more of his black and white flashbacks, again of that strange boy that used to hang around his house. At one point, when Duck-Face and Dolph Lundgren are searching a field for landmines, Dolph signals that he has found something on the ground, and Lips actually has the fucking balls to ask him “What is it?”
Here’s Daisy Duck to offer up a clue.
Things occur, and during one of the more exhilarating moments of the movie, the duo are chased in their jeep by a helicopter that hasn’t had a lot of practice with shooting at ground targets. Eventually, the helicopter comes exceptionally close to killing the good guys, but instead they manage to drive away…
…and immediately come in to contact with a completely different helicopter, that is in no way related to the first, which itself begins shooting pointlessly in Dolph Lundgren’s general direction. I’ll be honest, I was unsure who I was cheering for more…helicopter 1, helicopter 2, Dolph Lundgren, or that crazy woman’s lips, but I needn’t have been confused as the original helicopter then reappeared, and for no reason whatsoever crashes in to the ground and explodes. I must have made holes in my ceiling…and the fucking ozone layer…with fist-pumps. Yes, this nonsense was most likely down to a editor with depression, but holy crap did it make for one hilarious action sequence.
After all this excitement, the pair decide to return to the village. Except when they arrive, the village has been set on fire by the South African guy (for no reason), and the streets are now completely clogged up with wailing extras. This crisis point of the film simply won’t do for Dolph Lundgren, who after finding his best friend killed…
…decides to go and fuck some shit up. Hooray! But before he does, he make sure to visit his sons grave…
…where he says,
“You be a good boy. Daddy has to go to work.”
I know your son was giddily excited during the final moments of his life, but I wouldn’t piss off his ghost by mentioning where you work, Dolph. I’d say he might still be a little fucked off that you told him you were an accountant. And besides, it’s all well and good telling him now to be a good boy, when he is physically incapable of reincarnating himself (fully clothed) and going on adventures while you’re not looking, but maybe you could have thrown some of that basic advice his way before he had his limbs sent in to space.
I felt that this would be a good time to make a couple of predictions about what might happen before this film ends.
Dolph Lundgren will attempt to rebuild his dead son out of the limbs of real-life landmine victims and dismantled helicopters, who will then exact revenge on where-ever it is landmines come from. Because of symbolism.
A bad guy is going to be killed by a landmine. Because of also symbolism.
I’m never right with the predictions I make about shit films, but I think I might be on to a winner with at least one of these.
Dolph Lundgren and the Revenge of the Landmines
Dolph is nowhere to be seen, as Ducky is kidnapped by the bad guys after very politely waiting outside her apartment for her to leave, instead of kicking her front door into splinters and dragging her out by the hair. This is yet more bad guy behaviour that doesn’t sit well with Dolph, who employs the services of a psychic child to show him the whereabouts of the bad guys secret lair, so he can speak to whoever is in charge. At said lair, Duck-Face is hanging from the ceiling, ready to be tortured to provide information about…well…nothing really. She’s no use to them in any way that I can figure out, but they still insist that she tells them what she knows.
As the film approaches it’s climax, we are introduced to the main bad guy – a dull looking British, suit-wearing toff…
…who says menacing things to Duck-Face before leaving the scene and boarding a train. This man is also (twist!) the chief designer of the super-advanced landmines, which even Dolph Lundgren’s ADHD (and shrapnel) riddled son could have figured out. Dolph falls down a mineshaft just in time to rescue Duck-Woman, and heavily armed mine workers are mown down left and right.
The gruff bad guy and Dolph meet up in a storage room full of landmines that predictably doesn’t go well for the bad guy, as he is left alive but paralysed. To finish him off in the most ironic way that Dolph Lundgren could think of, they leave a landmine next to him and leave. When it finally explodes the entire facility goes up like the Hindenburg, killing everyone apart from Dolph and Ducky who teleport to safety just in time.
Meanwhile, on the bad guy’s train, the psychic boy from earlier has been kidnapped for some reason…
…as Dolph decides to chase after them on a dirt-bike, which makes no sense as they had no way of knowing there even was a train, never mind that the bad guy is on it, but whatever. It does at least allow Dolph to perform unnecessary stunts…
…and do Popeye-face…
…right before using a handily placed ramp to jump on to the train and immediately begin slide-shooting its passengers.
The contents of the train decide that now is an appropriate time to begin randomly exploding…
…as Dolph makes his way towards the passenger cabin. But before he gets there, he makes sure to throw a bad guy off a train, who (no shit) explodes.
During all of this, the main bad guy stares at his new child boyfriend without bothering to see what all the racket is, as Dolph opens a door…
…and the big showdown begins. As some fisty-cuffs happen, it seems the bad guy is about to triumph over a man three times his size, as he dangles Dolph Lundgren over the side of the train and says,
“Angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly.”
Which confirms he is a bad guy and a dribbling idiot. Eventually, Dolph gets the upper hand, as you would expect, and the bad guy is killed. Take a guess how?
Yes, of course he was killed by one of his own landmines, except the landmine was thrown like a ninja star in to his stomach…
…which then blows him and the train to landmine heaven.
Thankfully, Dolph and the boy who served no purpose to the plot jump to safety and swim to shore to be greeted by Duck-Lips (who obviously is now back in the movie).
Dolph, Duck-Lady, and their new adopted son all congratulate each other on appearing in Sweepers and everything fades to black.
Before tearing this film a new asshole, I would like to point out that there have been at least 70,000 Angolan amputees due to landmines.
That’s not fucking cool. But do you know what else isn’t fucking cool? Making a stupid god-damn Dolph Lundgren movie about it. No, Dolph.
When sweepers opened with a very serious, and factually accurate, text crawl detailing the carnage reaped upon Angola as a result of millions of landmines designed to mutilate indiscriminately, I was already asking some unnerving questions about what the hell kind of message this movie was going to try and tell me. And the problem was that I was already fully aware that the movie starred Dolph Lundgren, and had a massive exploding bridge on the DVD cover, and I know enough about historical sensitivity that if you want to deliver an important message about a real-life tragedy, you don’t find out if Dolph Lundgren is free next weekend.
The film sandwiches real, actual history, between 90 minutes of a screenplay written by the winner of a cereal box script-writing competition, and Dolph Lundgren doing stupid, stupid things, and is therefore about as morally bankrupt as a movie can get without being about midget vampires. So yes, whilst the movie is hilarious drivel from start to finish, and featured a ton of things that either made me laugh out loud or gave me explosion-boners, it should not have to be explained that those are not reactions you should expect to experience when exploring the Angolan civil war. And just to cement this films total lack of ethical backbone, have a read of the ending text crawl…
Yup, you read that right…
This movie tried to take credit for an actual ban on landmines.