Men of War
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Action hero Dolph Lundgren (The Expendables) stars as Nick Gunar, leader of a topflight team of ex-Special Forces agents hired by ruthless con men. Their mission: To carry out a secret operation and overtake an exotic island thats loaded with precious jade. But once there, the agents defect to defend the islanders against the savage attackers. Its nonstop action as Gunar and his elite group wage war to defeat the deadly opposition at any cost.
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As far as action goes, there's not much to see within the film's first 75 minutes besides a bar fight and a bit of inter-soldier scuffles, but the final 25 minutes are a nonstop firefight between the two opposing teams. Few films effectively use this build-up style of action anymore, wherein dramatic tension is played up to the breaking point until exploding into an all-out guilty pleasure. Succinctly, The action is comparable to that of Commando or Predator. I'm disappointed that director Perry Lang (Little Vegas) had very limited work within the action genre following "Men of War" because the man really knows how to maximize guns and explosions. There are few martial arts encounters to be seen, but the climatic, lengthy fistfight between Nick and Keefer is very satisfying: Trevor Goddard demonstrates his boxing knowledge to extents that were sorely lacking in previous vehicles and Lundgren proves that he does not need roundhouse kicks to topple an enemy.
Don't expect to find Oscar nominations in store for too many of the cast, but know that just about everybody pulls their dramatic load to create a memorable bunch of characters. Kevin Tighe (Another 48 HRS.) rounds off the cast and provides some legitimate dramatic credibility, but then again, Dolph and the others were not really in need of help. The production, by large, is in good shape: though I counted at least four instances in which small clips of stock footage had been used, the film's original cinematography and special effects are good, despite that the movie was clearly shot in an actual jungle without a 7-11 around the corner. The scenery is beautiful - from ethnic villages to lush rain forests and large underground caves - and effectively expresses the impressive scope and genuine character of the film.
The cultural conflict aspect has been done before and probably better in other movies, but is handled without condescension on either side in "Men of War." If there's one major criticism to be given, it's that even though the movie has produced under the best circumstances for a $6 million picture and has excellent production values, it's still trying to tell a story a bit too big for itself: if someone like Oliver Stone had directed this movie, I can easily imagine it coming across as a bit more epic. Regardless, it's one of Lundgren's very best. Watch "Men of War" expecting to see beautiful island scenery and leave the rest of your expectations up to chance: this is the best way to experience one of Dolph Lundgren's better movies, despite the fact that it strays somewhat from the typical action hero formula.
Because it didn't do well in the box office when it first came out, this movie, because of it's star, has been overlooked. It is a great find for movie watchers.
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