Anchor Bay // 2010 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 25th, 2010
No one is safe.
Fresh from his stopover in Big Time Theatrical Release Land, Dolph Lundgren returns to his bread and butter: the straight-to-video auctioneer.
If you're in Vancouver and looking to do some investment banking, you might find yourself at a sit-down with Edward Genn (Lundgren), a well-regarded financial prognosticator. He can also kill you by jamming his pinkie finger into your nasal cavity. Edward used to be an elite Soviet assassin named Icarus and since his retirement has ended a marriage and raised a daughter.
This normal life gives way to bullets and stabbing when he's dragged back into the world of Russian mob violence -- and when the bad guys go after his family, he employs the full complement of his deadly skills to dispatch them with extreme prejudice.
I'm a proud Lundgren supporter, considering him one of the more underrated second-tier '80s action muscleheads of his generation. He didn't have the burn of a Van Damme or a Seagal, but I would argue his roles were more memorable: Masters of the Universe? Rocky IV? Universal Soldier? I Come in Peace? Yes please.
Lately, as is the case with this brethren, Dolph has taken his talents to the small screen market, starring in and directing his share of beat 'em ups. In my experience, the stuff he helms is a far superior product and while it's not a top-shelf performer, The Killing Machine bears that out.
It starts off slow, as Lundgren lays out his character's normalcy and the eventual betrayal that disrupts his world. In fact, about a third of the film's 88 minute runtime is concerned with set-up. He's a banker, he's divorced, he's got a daughter that he loves, some shifty pals from way-back-when re-enter his life -- starting to lose interest here -- and, bam, it's time to shoot some guns.
Here's the bittersweet news: the violence is uneven. It's sweet because the mayhem is certainly R-rated, with Lundgren setting up some inspired, gruesome kills (first time I've ever seen a bad guy get his head impaled on a curl bar); it's bitter because the action tapers off towards the end and, in retrospect, there just isn't enough to compensate for the build-up. Plus the creativeness in the havoc degenerates to straightforward bullet slinging, which is a bummer. Lundgren does mix it up a bit with some hand-to-hand combat. He's never been known for his fight choreography but bonus points awarded for battling like a bulldozer.
The DVD: a soft 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a 5.1 surround that has issues with distortion, and a standard-issue making-of featurette.
There are flashes of noteworthiness but The Killing Machine ends up just slinking off into the darkness.
This machine needs a lube job.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R