18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2000
Fortress was not a major box office success back in '92. However, it is an awesome rental for those who enjoy sci-fi action packed flicks. True, this sci-fi film in no way can be compared to the phenomenal sci-fi StarWars movies; It barely rivals Terminator. But, for 95 minutes you get your money's worth ( just be thankful the film was not dragged out to 2 hrs +). It's sheer entertainment ! Lambert is known for pulling such roles as the outcast adventurer and rebel to full effect;He's very convincing. Take for example the scene after his mind was "wiped"; He literally looks like a ghost ! Lambert has that way of conveying either an expression of deadly seriousness or one of lunacy with his eyes ! The prison warden played by Kurtwood Smith from the current hit series That 70's Show (peculiar to see him with hair on his head in the Fortress)does an outstanding job as the mostly android/cyborg human bad guy.
The only drawback is the dvd edition sold between $10 and $14 is the standard t.v. screen format and not the letterbox. There is also very little "goodies" or bonuses. There are no extra languages either on the audio tracks or any subtitles.The big error is the fact the audio track was not re-mastered in true Dolby Digital 5.1 surround; It's only the regular Dolby Surround. No director's or actors' commentaries either.
Yet, the picture quality is superb and bright with no traces of digital artifacts (blocking,or digitized shading). Viewers can see the rich bright colors in the prisoner's uniforms (orange, red, green, blue). The picture is sharp in detail as well if you look at the whiskers on Lambert's unshaven face...
Fortress earns four stars for it's lack of widescreen and other dvd menu capabilities. Otherwise, it's an enjoyable film.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2013
i was browsing through the Blu-ray's under $10 section and came across this movie which i'd completely forgotten about until now...
the Blu-ray release of this film was put together by a company called: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, which i've never heard of so wasn't expecting much in the way of video quality. i guess i stand corrected however. let me just say that this is a much better HD transfer than Lionsgate did with the original "Total Recall." a lil a grainy side?, yes. but overall definitely not the worst i've ever seen. in fact i've fallen in love with the movie all over again :)
Blu-ray specs are
video: 1920x1080p 1.85:1 Widescreen
Audio: the back of the box just says English 2.0 Stereo, but it's actually
English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Surround).
subtitles are not available
there are also no special features, but overall still definitely worth buying. hope this review helps anyone reading it
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2002
This is an awesome edition to any Christopher Lambert Collection. One of his finest, and you almost get to see his whole, body front and back nude! How awesome for C.L. fans like me. I recommend you don't watch this around little ones, but it's great for watching with your special someone, it's got romance and action so you'll both be happy.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2002
It is the future and breeding is controlled by the government. John Brannick and his wife are about to illegally have their second child. They are caught making their way out of the country and put in a fortress, a large prison in which the prisoners are controlled via a small device placed in the intestine. Silly? Yes. Fun? Definitely. I honestly can't give this movie more than three stars, but it was a fun action flick. The gore is big here and fans of this kind of movie, like "Robocop" or "Total Recall," will surely find much to like. Christopher Lambert does a nice job as the action hero who just wants to see his wife. The film is sort of like a futuristic "Great Escape." I had fun watching this film and if you're a fan of action or sci-fi, you should too.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2013
THE STORY: In the not too distant future, couples are only allowed to have one child; the Government considers anything more than one child as high treason. (Sounds far-fetched you say? Ask the Chinese.) Anyhow, his wife lost their first to miscarriage but she is pregnant again, so now they're both trying to sneak thru security check points to get to a safe place where she can have their baby. Unfortunately they are caught at the boarder and sentenced as traitors to the State, forced to serve their time in a new super-max prison deep underground - The Fortress. Brennick intends to escape in order to be with his wife but during his incarceration he learns that she is also in The Fortress in the women's section. Still with child, she has been serving as the 'companion' to the creepy commandant of the facility, played with icy eeriness by Kurtwood Smith. Now John must find a way to break out both himself AND his wife from the ultra-secure hell-hole.
THOUGHTS: This film is really a little bit of everything. Lambert is great as former soldier John Brennick. This movie is scary, violent, intense and surprisingly warm and funny by turns. The entire cast is very good in their roles. The action is great and the prison scenes are scary & ugly. The future looks pretty bleak and frightening in this film and uncomfortably close to reality in some ways, making it even even scarier. The "Intestinators" which every prisoner is forced to ingest upon entering The Fortress is both an ingenious concept and a thoroughly terrifying one. Vernon Wells has another great part as a nutty inmate intent on killing John... for no particular reason. The awesome Jeffrey Combs has a wonderful role here as a nerdy prisoner who befriends Brennick. And Lincoln Kilpatrick gets a great part as a sly but clever inmate, a trustee who aids John & his wife in their escape. And lets not forget those tri-barrel gun-totin' roboguards. Whew! FORTRESS is a balls-to-the-wall action fest that also gives you something to think about along the way. Typical of visionary director Stuart Gordon, whom I've been a big fan of, (and this film in particular), for a long time. He's quite a visionary director. His stuff is kind of obscure and cult-ish; usually good, occasionally startling, always interesting and definitely worth seeking out. RE-ANIMATOR and it's sequel, FROM BEYOND, are considered genre-bending horror classics and for good reason. I also thoroughly enjoyed ROBOT JOX and his offbeat film SPACE TRUCKERS. Too bad Gordon didn't doesn't have a larger body of work because he is a unique talent. Check out these other films I listed if you enjoy this one.
THE BLU-RAY: Sadly, until now, FORTRESS has only been available on disc as a crappy, washed out, cropped pan & scan DVD.Well thank heavens for the good folks at Echo Bridge!! This films looks terrific now; fully re-mastered in high-def 1080p and finally available in it's proper widescreen format! Yes! The picture is crisp, clean & clear. The audio portion is solid and thunders on a good sound system. The only bummer is that there are no extras. It would've been nice to have a running commentary with Stu Gordon and/or Chris Lambert, a making of/interview featurette, some production stills, sketches... Something. Anything. Not even a theatrical trailer. Oh well... After suffering with the lame versions prior to this one, I'm honestly just happy to have this film finally getting some respect in a good-looking Blu-ray edition. 5 solid STARS for the action-packed escape thriller FORTRESS.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2003
You know all those anonymous video box covers you see when you walk down the aisle at the video store? Well, most of them are direct-to-video productions and aren't worth a second look. Some of them are films made with modest budgets that got a limited theatrical release. Most of them are horrible which helps to explain why they left the theaters so quickly. However, once in blue moon one of these obscure "lost" films actually manages to surprise. Stuart Gordon's "Fortress" is one of those rare finds.
The population in the United States in the early 21st century has increased beyond control. In an attempt to solve the problem, the government has passed a law that limits a woman to only one child. However, John Brennick (Christopher Lambert) and his wife Karen (Loryn Locklin) run afoul of the authorities when they try to have a second child to replace their firstborn who died as an infant. Imprisoned for their crime, the couple is sent to a maximum security prison called The Fortress and are tormented by its despotic director, Poe (Kurtwood Smith).
"Fortress" is neither a completely original film nor one that has had a tremendous influence on the medium. It is quite simply an odd film that somehow works despite its limited production values and its lack of big-name stars. As with most science fiction films set in the near future, "Fortress" paints a rather bleak view of the years to come. Those looking for a nightly rental that has some deep meaning to it might enjoy the film's cautionary messages on overpopulation and private-sector prison administration. Yet, the film also satisfies as a breezy time-killer for those who find themselves with free time on their hands and nothing else to watch. Either way, "Fortress" fits the bill.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The first time I ever saw Christopher Lambert was in the memorable "Highlander" film back in the 1980s. I saw him again in the first sequel to that film a few years later, but after that he seemed to vanish down some type of cinematic memory hole. Occasionally, I would stumble across "Highlander" again on some cable channel and wonder about the fate of this actor. After recently wandering across the 1993 film "Fortress," I got my answer: Lambert works almost exclusively in the landscapes of low budget movies. I am not saying low budget films are a bad thing?certainly not?but if ever there was an actor who perfectly fit the parameters of a B movie production, it is Christopher Lambert. That accent coupled with a slightly stilted method of delivery dooms Lambert to semi-obscurity. You can probably tell that I am not a great fan of this actor's work, but after criticizing his acting skills, I should state that "Fortress" actually manages to achieve a certain chintzy charm.
"Fortress" presents a picture of an extremely bleak future set in America in the year 2017. The United States, and possibly the world, staggers under the weight of a massive boom in its population. In an effort to alleviate these problems, the government resorts to enforcing laws banning couples from having more than one child. Anyone caught breaking this law ends up in an underground prison run by a private corporation named Men-Tel. This prison does not qualify as one of those posh, white-collar jails we know and love today, but is a claustrophobic, overcrowded place bristling with automatic cannons, cameras that move across the ceiling, and androids armed with impressive weaponry. Even worse, newly inducted prisoners swallow "intestinators," devices that explode if a prisoner wanders beyond certain boundaries. For those inmates considered especially problematic, there awaits the "mind wipe" chamber capable of turning a man into a shattered wreck. It sure looks as though no one could escape this subterranean nightmare.
Enter John and Karen Brennick, a married couple that conceived a second child after their first born died. The Brennicks know the laws, but decide to flee to Mexico in order to escape these draconian measures. Regrettably, the couple's ruse falls apart at the border, earning them a quick trip to the Men-Tel resort and spa. John and Karen, forcibly separated, soon encounter the warden of the prison, a brutal thug played by veteran actor Kurtwood Smith, and the computer that runs the prison. John bunks with few odd characters, most notably imprisoned technology wizard D-Day (played with geeky aplomb by the always amazing Jeffrey Coombs). John Brennick doesn't intend to spend one more day than necessary in prison, and he soon enlists his roommates in a plot to escape from the prison. Along the way, Brennick dukes it out with the resident psycho, undergoes a trip to the mind wipe chamber, and schemes to get his wife out of the clutches of the evil warden.
"Fortress" offers up a whole host of gory sequences for the avid sci-fi/horror fan. The best sauce scene occurs when an intestinator explodes inside a man's stomach. The filmmakers love the idea of such a device so much they just have to show this scene soon after we learn what function such a piece of hardware serves. I kind of like that in a way. Why waste time when you can show a guy's abdomen exploding in the first twenty minutes of the movie? Moreover, the fight between Lambert and the cellblock murderer is appropriately bloody, as is the gunfire heavy finale. Overall, "Fortress" does give the viewer plenty of good old-fashioned carnage. The conclusion does seem a bit predictable, but who cares? Getting there was quite fun.
I liked most of the performances in this movie, even Lambert's turn as the laconic Brennick. Kurtwood Smith always does a good job, and Jeffrey Coombs may well be one of the greatest B movie stars in the history of cinema. Look for Lincoln Kilpatrick in a prime role, as well as the always menacing Vernon Wells playing the prison heavy who hates Brennick at first sight. About the only actor I didn't care for in "Fortress" was Loryn Locklin, who played Karen Brennick. I cannot put my finger on any specific reasons for this dislike, except that maybe I thought her too plain for the role. Stuart Gordon, the director responsible for the cult classic "The Re-Animator" helmed "Fortress." According to the production notes on the DVD, none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger helped get this movie made. With heavy hitters behind the scenes and a strong cast in front of the camera, "Fortress" entertains.
The DVD falls short in the extras department, but the picture transfer looks great. A sequel to this film appeared several years later, reportedly not as good as the original. I will probably watch this continuation of the "Fortress" saga, if for no other reason than the promised appearance of Pam Grier as the owner of Men-Tel. Grier, even at her worst, is always worth watching. Movies like "Fortress" and its sequel usually possess a few flaws, but violent science fiction can be immensely fun to watch, and in that aspect, "Fortress" delivers.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2014
I had a hard time believing the rave reviews. The story takes place in the near future. John Henry Brennick (Christopher Lambert) and his wife (Loryn Locklin) get nabbed going into Canada because she wore a flap jacket under her coat. She is pregnant with her second child which is illegal and abortions are also outlawed which made no sense.
They are placed in an inescapable futuristic prison with the typical sadistic warden (Kurtwood Smith) a prison hierarchy that requires him to fight, a mind sifter, and a huge metal object in the intestines that somehow doesn't block it. Seriously?
I found the characters and dialogue boring. The Sci-fi that made the film watchable is now outdated. The politics is silly. I suppose people who cherish the rugged individual against the evil government, "Red Dawn" is the greatest film ever, etc. type of crowd might enjoy this film, but that is not me.
Parental Guide: F-bomb. Brief sex. Quick male and female nudity.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2002
"Fortress" is a really well done sci-fi film that is enjoyable to watch. The movie takes place in 2017, where the government controls population growth by allowing only one child per couple. Any additional children become property of the futuristic MenTel Corporation, and the couple is sent to a high-tech prison for this "crime". After losing their first child, John and Karen Brennick are expecting another child and are caught trying to cross the U.S. border. The rest of the film takes place in the MenTel prison, where John Brennick is separated from his wife but attempts to make a daring escape. Good special effects and acting make this film stand out from standard sci-fi and action fare. Christopher Lambert does a really good job playing Brennick, a man determined to be reunited with his wife and save his unborn child from the clutches of MenTel.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2001
Fortress is one of Stuart Gordon's best films ever made. I never saw this in the theatre because I was only 8 years and never heard of the movie before. I heard this was an international success but it received little notice in the U.S. (I even noticed the box office business money it was only around 6mil). But hey i don't care how it did i just care if i enjoyed the movie or not.
The film opens in 2017 where we realize a couple John and Karen Brennick (Christopher Lambert and Loryn Locklin) are trying to have another child due to the first one they lost but unfortunately they can't due to overpopulation crisis in America.
They try to have another but they're caught and sent a Maximum Security system called "The Fortress" built 33 stories deep. The prison is operated by a genetically enhanced sadistic warden Poe (Kurtwood Smith) and Zed-10 the computer system owned by Men-Tel Corporation who also built The Fortress. When they arrive they are outfitted with intestinators they could make your stomach in pain mode or explode mode. Even though this prison is high tech and very well guarded Brennick plots an escape anyway. I don't wanna tell you more because i'll be spoiling the movie for you. Stuart Gordon who made such low budget classics like Re-Animator and From Beyond he jumps into a bigger budget in Fortress and makes the film more enthusiatic and more energtic than ever before. The budget wasn't high though it was around 10million that's what the T.V Guide review said but its still ok, and probably will be the only bigger budget he ever did. The performances are great, plot good, and SFX are great as well. Overall this is a classic and i really enjoyed it.