First Look Pictures // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 12th, 2009
They thought he was dead. They were dead wrong.
Dolph Lundgren brings his trademark whatever-it-is-that-Dolph-Lundgren-has-trademarked to his latest action outing.
Dolph plays Mike Riggins, a lethal black ops soldier caught smuggling and tossed in a Russian prison for perpetuity. He lands a Get Out of Jail Free card, when an American diplomat (Michael Paré, Eddie and the Cruisers) negotiates his release, in exchange for rescuing a woman named Ana (Gina May), held hostage by some lowlifes.
Mike promptly does what he's told, killing a bunch of dudes and lighting off some impressive explosions, but he soon realizes he's been snookered. Ana's life appears to have never been in jeopardy and there are some seriously ill-tempered white guys on his tail, firing all manner of automatic weapon in their general direction.
There are exactly two things Direct Contact, has going for it: 1) it's violent and 2) the Final Bad Guy succumbs to a legendary death sequence. Beyond that you're looking a stilted acting (Gina May delivers line readings like a toothbrush commercial also-ran), a moronic plot twist (so you only need her signature on a legal document? Really? You couldn't find a decent signature forger in Russia?), and a whole lot of unfulfilling action (Direct Contact sets the modern-day record for Most Boring Car Chases including a snoozer involving a farm truck moving about eight miles per hour).
On the other hand, when Dolph is given the opportunity to open up with gunplay, those blood squibs explode with reckless abandon. This is a hard-R picture, embracing its hyper-violent, gore-happy, late '80s action pedigree. When villains get plugged with bullets, sinew blasts out of their ruined uniforms like it was spring-loaded. Alas, rampant gunplay exchanges are few and far between.
That sad fact alone might have been enough to knock the final score down a couple notches, if not for the absolutely bodacious death scene at the end. Here's the set-up: Mike is taking refuge in an abandoned factory where the final detachment of dirtbags, led by the main bad guy, make their assault. After a series of punches and kicks SPOILER WARNING! Dolph pulls a grenade, arms it, stuffs it down the bad guy's shirt, boots him out the window, and the guy explodes in mid-air in a giant ball of blood and flying prosthetic limbs. Fantastic!
You want to know what's even better than a giant ball of blood and flying prosthetic limbs? A giant ball of blood and flying prosthetic limbs in high-definition! First Look's treatment isn't going to win any end-of-year awards, but at least they got the video transfer right. The 1.78:1 1080p widescreen is strong, clean, and brings an increased clarity over the standard-definition release. No HD sound, however, as Direct Contact sports a traditional Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. It's fine, but Blu audiophiles will demand more. Worse: Zero extras. None.
A violent, mildly entertaining movie is given a low-grade Blu-ray treatment. Unless you place an inordinate value on slight bumps in visual resolution, there's not much to recommend here.
Not guilty (just barely), but First Look is placed on HD probation.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: First Look Pictures
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R