Here's another MixMaster picture that tosses two, maybe two-and-a-half familiar plots into the blender and comes out with a flavorless sludge of a movie. The recipe: take a big chunk of DIE HARD, toss in THE TERMINATOR and a bit of William Shatner's "Tek" novels, add a spritz of BIRD ON
A WIRE or maybe TERROR IN BEVERLY HILLS, crown with a completely meaningless title and soundtrack music cribbed from BATMAN, and you have PROJECT: SHADOWCHASER.
The time: either the present or the cybernetic future, depending on what's being ripped off at the moment. The place: a big-city highrise hospital. An annoying young medico has the hots for an unwilling nurse, but this obnoxious subplot comes to a merciful end when mercenaries, disguised as
paramedics, whip out their automatic weapons and commandeer the top floors. Their prize hostage is the President's daughter, Sarah (Meg Foster), brought in after a food-poisoning incident. In exchange for her life the bad guys demand $50 million, to be handed over by the chief executive, in
For some reason the law, personified by a hard case named Trevanian (Paul Koslo), decides that the only man capable of leading a daring raid against the terrorists is the architect who designed the building. He's nearby but serving a suspended-animation life-sentence in a cryogenic prison. The
cops go to thaw him out, but by mistake they instead revive Michael DeSilva (Martin Kove), an ex-football star doing time for killing a yahoo in self-defense. The jock, glad to be out of jail, goes along with the unintended masquerade as the emergency strike force assembles around him. But the
commandos die in a freak elevator accident, leaving the imposter the lone good guy atop the captive skyscraper.
But that's not the main gimmick. This is: the muscular leader of the marauders is really Romulus (Frank Zagarino), a manlike warrior robot who slaughtered and escaped his government handlers during the opening credits. Soon his sinister creator, Dr. Kinderman (Joss Ackland), is at the hospital
demanding that the billion-dollar android not be harmed during the rescue.
There's one, perhaps one-and-a-half, neat plot twists near the end concerning the terrorists' true motives, which are political, not financial. But for the most part PROJECT: SHADOWCHASER plays a shell game with three stock situations, and one gets to guess where the plot is hidden this time.
There are the cat-and-mouse games with DeSilva and the terrorists; these don't evoke many thrills because half the time the heavies hardly care that the athlete's at large, their efforts at eliminating him appearing almost half-hearted. There's the Frankenstein factor of Romulus, boiling down to a
one-on-one grudge match between the humanoid and the hero; it's predictable in the extreme, and viewers expecting a cool cyborg meltdown a la THE TERMINATOR will be disappointed as the robot comes back time and time again after being "killed," with a minimum of makeup f/x.
Lastly, there's the quarrelsome antics between DeSilva and the hellcat first daughter, which inevitably develops into an opposites-attact romance. The lady is played by turquoise-eyed Meg Foster (A DIFFERENT STORY, BLIND FURY), a unique presence who's the last actress in the world one would cast
as a bimbo. Yet here she is in the sort of role Goldie Hawn now tries to escape--a spoiled princess shoehorned into a tight party dress, fussin', flirtin' and a-fightin' with her reluctant rescuer. Kove, a recurring villain in the KARATE KID series, goes through his leading-man part with
good-natured zeal, while the massive Zagarino, veteran of B movies and his own exercise video, makes less of an impression. All the ancillary stuff going on tends to diminish Romulus's menace, and of course Schwarzenegger did it so much better. Ackland, an accomplished scene-stealer, oozes
malevolence. Notable just for her looks is Angie Hill Richmond as a gun-toting androgyne named Jonah.
Director John E. Eyres musters comic-book flash and dazzle, and the fiery climax is a visual quotation of all that befell Bruce Willis in the DIE HARD adventures. It's physically impressive but marred by miniatures that aren't at all convincing even though end credits state some of the production
was filmed at London's sprawling soundstages at Pinewood Studios. Followed by NIGHT SIEGE PROJECT: SHADOWCHASER 2.(Violence, profanity.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: Here's another MixMaster picture that tosses two, maybe two-and-a-half familiar plots into the blender and comes out with a flavorless sludge of a movie. The recipe: take a big chunk of DIE HARD, toss in THE TERMINATOR and a bit of William Shatner's "Tek"… (more)