Apparently not having learned his lesson, martial arts star Olivier Gruner reunites with the team responsible for his previous direct-to-video feature SAVAGE (1997) for this sorry sci-fi/western set on the lawless frontier of the red planet.
Mars, the mid-21st century. Caution Templer (Olivier Gruner) is a member of a quasi-religious order of lawmen-for-hire called "The Keepers." He arrives at Alphacity to avenge the death of his brother Ino, also a Keeper, which occurred under suspicious circumstances a few days earlier. Alphacity is
a domed mining colony where "The Company" extracts silex, a coal-like superfuel, for spaceshipping back to a needy Earth.
From Clement (Alex Hyde-White), the Company man who runs the mining operation, Templer learns that the outpost town is really run by Ike Ringo (Lindsay Lee Ginter), a crime boss who controls the dome's android prostitution and its drug traffic. When he learns that Ringo is responsible for his
brother's death, Templer scours several seedy dives and beats up many goons looking for him. He is joined on his search by Doc Halliday (Shari Belafonte), a medico investigating the cause of a deadly plague killing miners.
Templer and Halliday discover that Silex is toxic, and fumes from its burning cause babies to be born mutants. Ino had evidence of the truth about silex in the form of his own infant, and was trying to smuggle the child to Earth when Clement had Ringo eliminate them both. Templer has a shoot-out
with Ringo, and kills him. Clement takes Halliday hostage and tries to escape Mars, but Templer rescues her and kills Clement. The truth about silex comes out and Alphacity is evacuated.
As if the characters' names weren't obvious enough, endless dialogue likening Alphacity to an Old West gold rush town hits the viewer over the head with the fact that MARS is a western dressed up in sci-fi garb. The futuristic milieu is so uninspired as to suggest that plastic miners' helmets and
jumpsuits were simply cheaper costumes than ten-gallon hats and leather chaps. The filmmakers suggest the Martian locale primarily by flooding occasional scenes with red light.
The direct-to-video answer to Jean-Claude Van Damme, the European-born Gruner specializes in roles that require just a few dozen words of dialogue in each film. (Apparently he can't handle even that much: his voice here is obviously dubbed.) Once its premise is established, MARS consists of
Templer getting needed information and fighting various gangs of thugs. It all gets boring fast. The identity of the villain is no surprise, and the 90 minutes it takes this film to get to him seem endless. (Violence, profanity, nudity.)
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: NR
- Review: Apparently not having learned his lesson, martial arts star Olivier Gruner reunites with the team responsible for his previous direct-to-video feature SAVAGE (1997) for this sorry sci-fi/western set on the lawless frontier of the red planet. Mars, the mid… (more)