Andrzej Bartkowiak (DOOM, EXIT WOUNDS) directs a Ross LaManna (the RUSH HOUR movies) script that is fast, fun, furious and keeps delivering all the way to the closing credits. It’s the story of the battle against terrorism being fought on all fronts. Alex and his Russian security team join forces with Kelly Hu, Tom Arnold and the US company men to track down and stop a major international incident from exploding. When Eric Roberts’ US Secretary of State’s rebellious daughter goes rogue to be with her Russian boyfriend, she is at first feared kidnapped by the surprisingly comedic duo of Matthias Hues and Mark Dacascos, a failed television who has become the bag man for William Baldwin’s Man in the Shadows (as he is credited). What ensues is a race, not only to save the girl, but to stop all hell from breaking loose.
The action is top shelf, which is to be expected from a seasoned pro like Bartkowiak – this blends in well with the pen of LaManna who brings his Tucker/Chan chops to the forefront and lets the laughs ring out with grand timing. The big surprise other than the funny frolicking shared by Hues and Dacascos, is Nevsky. Alex does hard-hitting, action hero stuff in his sleep – but as he exhibited in Showdown (teaming with Casper Van Dien) – he is developing all the time as a versatile performer, and now displaying comedic freedom which this writer can see him parading in the future with roles, not unlike his idol Arnold Schwarzenegger, in Kindergarten Cop/Twins type territory.
This is a major step up for Nevsky and, although this is the kind of film Hollywood doesn’t make any more (that medium-range budget action movie), it great to see that it can still be put together independently with top-of-the-line talent in a beautifully slick and professional package that – just as Showdown was a kind of 80’s action movie homage – so now Impact is a look back to the 90’s style action/comedy.
Aside from all that chatter, it is simply a fun movie which I was anticipating and was not at all disappointed with. Alex is a top bloke and I hope you’ll have a listen to our chat and check out MAXIMUM IMPACT when it hits Blu-ray soon…
This film might not seem like a big deal to you. It could merely appear as another throwaway action flick on your regular streaming service – one that you glance at out of curiosity, and then move on. But I really loved SHOWDOWN IN MANILA, and here’s the reason why . . .
Once, a long time ago, in the age of wonder, they were these glorious palaces that we called, Video Stores. They were a veritable treasure trove for cineastes of all ages to come and get their movie-fix. They housed the cinema of the ages and best of all, there would be movies you could find there, that hadn’t played at a cinema near you.
These were the titles that were made specifically for this new medium of VHS. Like the drive-in before it, these stores needed product. Thus a new genre was born, and it was called Straight-to-Video. What arose were glorious movies, some of which, sadly, died along with their era. Awesome were the sci-fi, the horror, and specifically speaking now, the action movies that would appear on the shelves. And such action. Real, intense, dynamic and always in frequent supply. It was good versus evil in all its glory – the villains wore dark shades and the heroes carried big guns. So, it was while watching SHOWDOWN that I was hit by this wave of nostalgia, engulfed by memories of the golden age of home entertainment.
The plot of the film is simple. But isn’t that true of the best action flicks? The package is a beautiful cocktail of old and new, peppered with filmmakers wishing to deliver a splendid throwback, mixed with the stars that climbed to the dizzying heights of VHS stardom.
For those who know what I’m talking about, and even those that don’t, I say, go check out this little gem that is cut from the past, and at the same time, is polishing by the future. So, here now, I present a trio of interviews with the film’s stars Alexander Nevsky(The man on the rise), Matthias Hues(The action legend), and the man responsible for that important seed from which all great cinema grows, the script, Craig Hamman(the veteran screenwriter).
Alexander Nevsky is a Russian bodybuilder, actor, writer, producer. His life changed when he saw Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron and that spark would light the fire which continues to burn bright. In 1994 Nevsky graduated from State Academy of Management (Moscow). In 1999 he moved to California. He studied English at UCLA and acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. He has risen from a bit-part-player to an international action star the cannot be ignored. With his imposing intensity, versatility and personal drive, Alex, I believe, is poised to enter the arena of formidable action superstars – its only a matter of when.
Matthias Hues is a German-born actor and martial artist as well as being an action movie icon. He came to L.A. not knowing how to act or even speak English. The fateful moment would come when he joined Gold’s Gym and the establishment’s manager received a call from a producer who had just lost Jean-Claude Van Damme for his movie and needed a replacement. Matthias tested for the role, and he managed to convince the producers to give him the part despite having no prior acting experience. The movie, No Retreat, No Surrender 2, was a moderate success, but it opened the door. He is, of course, most recognized for Dark Angel, but has also played everything from a gladiator turned private investigator in Age of Treason to an aging hit-man in Finding Interest to a bumbling idiot trying to kidnap a rich kid in Alone in the Woods to a dancing lion tamer in Big Top Pee-wee. He’s even played a Klingon general in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Craig Hamann came up alongside another young aspiring filmmaker whose work would go on to define a generation. When he and Quentin Tarantino embarked upon the journey to make their own movie, My Best Friend’s Birthday, there was no telling then, where the road would lead. Well we all know where Quentin ended up, but Craig too has enjoyed a long and prosperous career that has been anything but ordinary. He’s a writer, former actor, that has watched the industry ebb and flow. He’s directed Boogie Boys, had encounters with Demonic Toys and of course, of late, he’s been a part of an action-thriller in Manila. Craig has other projects in the works, and with the company he keeps, these efforts are, I’m sure, set to explode and entertain. Yet he remains a humble gentleman with a passion for his work and a dedication that has seen him endure as a great veteran of the movie business.
Films don’t often come as ambitious, stylish or slightly overstuffed as Christophe Gans’s Brotherhood Of The Wolf, an ultra violent, primal period piece with roots in an obscure cryptozoological myth from 18th century France, and packing enough leather clad, blood dripping kinetic creativity to fuel a whole franchise. Less is more being the one thing Gans could have benefited from in order to truly make his film a classic, as there’s a few bits here and there that bog it down, but for the most part it’s a fearsome genre flick with class and bite. A monster is terrorizing rural France, mauling people and earning the dreaded moniker ‘Beast of Gevaudan’ (this was apparently a real thing back then, as Wikipedia will enthusiastically inform you). Soon roguish nomad huntsman Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his deadly native warrior sidekick Mani (martial arts guru Mark Dacascos) bluster into to town, ruffling a few feathers and setting their sights on taking the beast down for good. That’s the jumping point from which the story explores more ideas than it almost has time for, even in a two and a half hour span. Decadent French opulence, corruption in the ranks, feral forest dwelling cults, kinky brothel escapades, Matrix style action choreography, slasher elements, you name it and they’ve got it here. Most of it works, a few bits drag and land with a clunk. Much of the film is a darkly primeval wonder to behold, with striking imagery, highly disturbing gore and a sense of danger that hangs in the air like the most over this doomed portion of the European countryside. French superstar Vincent Cassel plays a mysterious nobleman, and Monica Bellucci is his secret harbouring, seductive sister as well, whose collective presence adds to the WTF factor later in the third act when the plot gets all out mental. The early scenes in the threatening village are terrific, as is an eventual confrontation deep in the forests where the monster’s origin (you’ll do a double take) is laid out, and one jarringly violent showdown takes place, with Dacascos taking more bodily trauma than most could imagine, and taking it like a champ. He also doles it out too, his extensive training strangely looking more at home when it’s out of place in a period horror piece than his usual super-cop shtick, especially in a rain soaked combat scene involving wooden poles and broken ribs. It works wonders as a creature flick, it’s solid as an actioner and the beautiful Sleepy Hollow-esque cinematography services both exceedingly well. Could have left a few of the languishing aristocratic and whorehouse sequences on the editing room floor, but it doesn’t hurt the film too much, and nothing can take away the mystic visual splendour and gnarly edge it has in the horror department. Truly one of a kind.