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Army of One Reviews

Brimming with muscular martial artistry, energetically staged pursuit sequences, and a full quota of bullet barrages, ARMY OF ONE suffers mainly from over-length. Still, action aficionados will be too busy body-counting the bad guys to notice any of this proficient revenge drama's deficiencies. Two truckin' buddies, Eddie (Ken Foree) and Santee (Dolph Lundgren), bend the law for profit by hauling stolen cars, but they don't count on a double-cross by their crooked cop partners, Severence (George Segal) and Rudisill (Beau Starr). When an earnest highway patrolman precipitates a gun battle in which Eddie is killed and Santee is wounded, the bent lawmen murder the cop and pin the blame on Santee. After recovering in a prison hospital, Santee busts out of the pen and takes a hostage, Rita (Kristian Alfonso), not suspecting that she's a gung-ho policewoman. Rita keeps her identity a secret from Santee while her partner (and former main squeeze) Michael (Matt Battaglia) leads the search for the fugitive and his captive. As Santee eludes capture with the help of Eddie's widow and child, Severence and Rudisill horn in on the investigation. Rita's sole escape attempt fails (and nearly forces Santee to shoot law enforcers), and she begins harboring doubts about his guilt. Santee releases Rita and invades Severence's home, forcing his viperous wife Esther to provide the phone number of former associate Jimmy Sunshine (Michael Paul Chan), from whom he demands payments due to him and his dead pal. Santee is rejoined by Rita, who finds evidence in the house supporting his claims, and the fugitives escape, barely evading gun blasts from Esther and highway patrolmen. At Jimmy Sunshine's warehouse, Santee handcuffs Rita out of harm's way and decimates the car thieves' luxury stock and lethal mechanics. Severence and Rudisill arrive and are forced to shoot interfering Michael. Rita, devastated by the slaying, joins Santee in a desperate race for life. As Severence and Rudisill close in for a desert kill, a crime scene officer discovers a surveillance tape that recorded Michael's killing. Santee snaps Rudisill's neck during a cliffside struggle. Just as he's about to execute Severence, the desert police force arrives. Severence is arrested and Santee is vindicated. This relatively exciting action pic doesn't know when to call it a day. The exposition is scripted with clarity, and the scenes of Santee's initial escape maneuvers are vigorously directed. What prevents this brawling desert chase adventure from attaining maximum intensity is its tendency to cover the same ground over and over: there are just too many climaxes. Moreover, the presentation of Severence and Rudisill as a comically evil Laurel and Hardy team isn't amusing enough to compensate for the residual weakening of their villainous impact. With judicious pruning, ARMY OF ONE would be a leaner wallow in machismo. As it stands, however, ARMY OF ONE emerges victorious in the war games arena, even if it does threaten to induce battle fatigue in viewers. Because Santee's motives transcend retribution (he demands the money for Eddie's widow, too), and because his on-the-lam romance has built-in conflict (the lady cop vs. the convict), ARMY OF ONE carries a lot more dramatic resonance than less thoughtfully-scripted fugitive movies. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, extensive nudity.)