Reviewed by Simon Drake
Directed by Gene Quintano
Starring Emilio Estevez, Howie Long and William Forsythe.
A man with no name (Estevez) teams up with a former
soldier with a wooden leg after buying him a drink for no real reason (other to
show he's "Good"). They set off to find four gun holsters that together form a
map that leads to buried treasure.
Also after the holsters are a vigilante group called the Regulators led by Reager (who killed No Name's wife and child...so he's "Bad") and a gang of rogue civil war deserters (that just so happen to be "Ugly") called the Red-Legs.
No-name and One-leg get the holsters, get to the village where the treasure is buried (beneath a church) and then have a conscience crisis and help the local villagers battle evil tyrants from taking over the town...and the Regulators...and the Red-Legs. They all have a slow motion shoot-out in the church, then settle their differences in the form of a Mexican stand-off.
Dollar for the dead seems to have absolutely no idea what it wants to be or what
it's trying to do to the western genre. The story and practically every element
to the film throws in every cowboy clichι you could possibly think of, making
you unsure if it is a poker-faced spoof of western films (seeing as it's from
the writers of Police Academy and National Lampoons Loaded Weapon 1, which also
starred Emilio). Or simply a complete rip-off of every Clint Eastwood film ever
made (most notably lifting the plots of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and High
Plains Drifter). Some scenes play out like slapstick comedy with Emilio shooting
downwards whilst doing a pirouette so he falls through to the floor below ala
Bugs Bunny; others ripped off a John Woo shoot-em-up with Emilio leaping through
the air in slow-mo blasting baddies. Then will lapse into long periods of being
a straight western which are frankly a little dull making the action scenes seem
even more over the top and ludicrous when they occur. Especially when suddenly
there is a bizarre scene straight out of 'Witness' in the middle where our
heroes help an Amish community to build a farmhouse. Then it turns into Three
Amigos at the end.
Emilio, despite all his obvious enthusiasm at being in a cowboy shoot-em-up, just doesn't cut it as an action hero. He's certainly no Clint Eastwood or Chow Yun-Fat making his 'man with no name/murdered family' schtick hard to take seriously (although maybe that's the point!). Plus the bad guys just aren't interesting enough to be enjoyably evil, Howie Long (as the Lee Van Cleef character) is only in about 4 scenes and the Eli Wallach character is just boring.
The action bits are at least halfway entertaining in an 'diving around in slow motion without reloading' kind of way.
There is nothing truly terrible about Dollar for the Dead
it's just that every single scene has been taken from another film without the
irony. It's not funny enough to be a spoof, not clever enough to be post-modern
and not good enough to be a straight western.
'Scream' this ain't!
An evil town tyrant attacks the local priest who pulls a
gun on him in retaliation
"What happened to 'turn the other cheek' Padre?"
"I grew tired of bloody cheeks!"
Production values Decent costumes, sets and score although a few examples of rubbish lighting and some duff editing which could be down to the fact there seems to be two versions of this film. One a PG certificate and one's an 18 (which is the one I saw, so maybe the kiddie friendly version makes more sense). There is also a few comical continuity gaffs including the classic 'car tracks in desert' and 'hey there's a sneaky crew member in modern dress peeking behind that boulder!' 13
Dialogue and performance There's nothing too memorable in the script, and the acting is fine if a little uninspired from all involved. 11
Plot and execution A mish-mash of western motifs pasted together from a bunch of cool ideas from much cooler films. The direction sags between shoot-outs and then even they don't get much adrenaline pumping. 18
Randomness Apart from the insane flashback/dream nothing too bad in the actual story itself. But it's inspiration and tone are very random indeed ('Witness'? 'Loony Tunes?' 'The Killer?') 18
Waste of potential The western genre does take itself very seriously, so is therefore ripe for spoofing (see Blazing Saddles for further example!). But this seems like a vanity project for Emilio to live out his Cow-Yun-Fatboy fantasies with a story thrown together as an afterthought. 19
"Mankind doesn't stand a chance"
Review by Simon Drake
Directed by Philip Roth.
Starring Lane Lenhart and Robert Tossberg (oh the irony!).
"Los Angeles - 2057 a lawless, war-torn terrain and
home to Chandra, a beautiful but deadly young woman, and Hawkins, a tough
ex-soldier whose career was terminated by crippling wounds. No longer lovers,
the pair still share erotic and disturbing psychosexual dreams. After a
brilliant research scientist experiments on Hawkins, he is dramatically
transformed into the Prototype half-man, half-robotic machine and all-warrior.
But, when the experiment gets badly out of control, the deadly Prototype escapes
and goes hunting for Chandra, his prime target for elimination. In an explosive
climax, the ultimate battle commences to determine whether mankind or machines
will survive to rule the Earth."
It just oozes quality doesn't it!
Is there no end to the amount of low rent post
apocalyptic desert based films about killer robots? Well here we have another
filmed with a yellow filter and a stack of guns borrowed from the set of Total
Recall with nobody actors and really bad hair.
Here is a quick low down on the characters and their (lack of) motives:
Apart from the comical 'fart' noises from creaking leather bras during 'intimate scenes', bugger all.
'Dazzling make-up wizardry from the designers of Robocop 3' screams the box blurb which pretty much says it all really.
The second 'prototype' has a trademark stamp on its codpiece.
Production values The production is so half arsed you actually begin to long for the cast and crew of Nemesis to show up to give it some class. 19
Dialogue and performance All the actors repeat the gist of their expletive ridden lines at least three times which does little to lessen the confusion it just seems like the producers did the casting at a school for torrettes syndrome sufferers. 18
Plot and execution "Hey we can cash in on the Terminator/Robocop market as long as we replace the quality story and budget with a laughable array of characters and a dull narrative. And make sure that robot sucks! Now I'm off to buy the rights for Nemesis 5!" 19
Randomness A load of people show up, die. Then other people show up, disappear, show up again then die. Chandra's brother is her boyfriend. Oh I see Chandra's a robot all along! Oh wait, no it's a circuit board in her head...Or something? They all fall down! 20
Waste of potential Pretty much what you'd expect. 2
"Your most dangerous enemies are the friends you've double-crossed."
Reviewed by Simon Drake
Directed by Kaos
Starring Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu and Ray Park.
Washed up ex-FBI guy Jeremiah Ecks (Banderas) is re-instated to track down 'Sever' (Liu) who has kidnapped the son of a weapons manufacturer (who also has a nice sideline in killer micro-droids and also happens to be married to Banderas ex-girlfriend that supposedly died in an explosion 8 years previously). Ecks finds Sever, more by coincidence than any actual deduction, and she tells him his girlfriend wasn't killed 8 years ago. They team up and blow up a load of things (including Vancouver). The weapons manufacturer turns out to be evil and has injected a micro kill-bot into his son (that turns out to be Ecks's kid) and then Sever kills him because he killed her son. Then they both walk free despite the many multiple homicides to their names.
If you like your action films with a sense of
characterisation, plot, drama, ethics or coherence then this is not the film for
you. It is clearly made as a flimsy set-up for as many explosions and shoot outs
the producers can squeeze into the ninety minute running time. Therefore the
plot doesn't exactly stand up to much scrutiny because it doesn't have one or
even need one because it just uses the music as a sledgehammer approach to tell
the audience how to feel towards the characters (slow ballads for death scenes
of the heroes family ...Seedy jazz to show they are distraught about it...Pounding
techno for "exciting" shooting of police officers ...and the old classic 'dumm
dummm daaaaaaaaaaaa' so we all know that the "surprise" villain is indeed evil).
The characters can all be described in one word soundbites so the film is much like playing a beat-em-up computer game when you have a cheat mode setting with infinite credits. You just simply keep walking forward punching and shooting regardless of trying to dodge bullets or use any tactics as you simply pick yourself up and carry on when you die not caring for the numerous people you are mowing down with gunfire.
Both the leads provide fetching eye candy and some of the shoot-outs and stunts are well handled.
Not the unequivocal disaster that I'd been led to believe, however the po-faced dullness of the characters (and acting) and the moribund action scenes soon become tiresome.
A soldier falls backward from a skyscraper and the camera follows him down filming from above until he lands onto a police car. It's an impressive stunt/special effect...However loses drama coming in the middle of another dull as dishwater shoot-out.
Production Values Slick and shiny with lots of guns, explosions and random idiots to be blown away. Very much like a computer game. 6
Dialogue and performance Both leads hardly stretch their acting or action abilities but are at least watchable and damn cool. The rest of the cast are simply there to explain what the hell's going on to each other...And they fail.15
Plot and execution Shoot-out, explosion, fight, shoot-out, explosion, fight, then ends with a shoot-out, an explosion, a fight then another shoot-out without an explosion or a fight proceeding it (do you see what Kaos did there...) 20
Randomness The plot repeatedly contradicts itself, the characters have different names than they are supposed to and the morals are rather questionable.19
Waste of potential I think this was supposed to be a big slick action Summer movie. But despite the big stars and bigger budget (70 million apparently...And still filmed in Cheaplocationville, Canada) it fell into the DTV dumpbin. 20