Sony // 2007 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 29th, 2008
Soldier. Fighter. Seeker. Legend.
Dolph Lundgren is back in the house, and this time he's rocking Inner Mongolia.
Lundgren is Xander Ronson, a trigger-happy, loose cannon because his parents had the foresight to name him Xander Ronson. A down-and-out former soldier who's trying to scratch out a living hustling local Mongolian rubes and entering arm-wrestling tournaments, Xander is always open to making a quick buck (or the geographical currency equivalent).
A lucrative opportunity presents itself when a businessman gives Xander $100,000 to lead him and his team into the heart of Mongolia to retrieve a Buddhist artifact, rumored to possess supernatural qualities. A competing band of mercenaries make a counter-offer to Xander, but he refuses and like that it's on. Xander and his crew are in a high-stakes race to track down this treasure and gunfire will erupt.
Dolph's latest is a slightly different approach to the kind of shoot 'em up genre films he's been churning out in his direct-to-DVD. The obligatory knife fights and gunplay and fisticuffs are present, but a touch of rollicking adventures and treasure-hunting is tossed into to give the film some spice.
Sadly, it is an effort that ultimately goes to waste. Diamond Dogs is a completely forgettable actioner, a generic throwaway of an adventure thriller that neither thrills nor supplies adventure. As fun as a movie starring Dolph Lundgren blasting around Mongolia looking for a magical religious relic sounds on paper, the execution turns out to be far less enthralling. The acting is awful, the story derivative and tedious and the action not nearly compelling enough to compensate.
Hey, with Dolph, you know what you're getting, and, to tell you the truth, his character was actually quirky and interesting. Relatively speaking, you know. Xander is an anti-hero, selfish and greedy and sarcastic and it's a good role for Dolph. Everyone else around him, though? Embarrassing. And if you're being consistently out-acted by Dolph Lundgren a career change may not be completely out of the question.
What would have supposedly separated this film from other DL vehicles -- the treasure-hunting aspect -- proves to be a dead end. For starters, the relic itself is boring. A far cry from the Ark of the Covenant (not trying to instigate any religious warfare here), the Buddhist artifact in question does little more that carry a supposed curse. People die, blah blah blah. And in super-neat twist, it turns out that -- SPOILER!!! -- it's not supernatural, just a testament to how humans are greedy dickheads. So the death happens when the bad guys try to kill the good guys and steal the valuable antiquity.
And there is a healthy dose of attempted killings, and a lot of successful killings thanks to old Dolph, but none of this murder bonanza is intriguing in the least. There's a knife-fight finale between Dolph and the Final Bad Guy that had some potential, but it's over way too soon. Beyond that, you can expect little more than basic shooting and boilerplate squib detonation.
That's it for Diamond Dogs, an unremarkable adventure that held some promise in concept -- and kept it there.
On the technical end, the picture quality (1.85:1) is soft and grainy and far from the best Sony has to offer. The 5.1 audio mix is adequate. A blink-and-you-missed-it making-of documentary is it for extras. Also, this disc features a digital copy of the film for use on your computer or PSP.
I think the title is the best part of the movie. And I don't even know what it means.
I don't know what the penalty for lame movie-making is in Mongolia, but I suspect it's steep. Good luck with that.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Digital Copy