In this fanciful but dated scenario about bilking natives out of their land rights, topliner Lundgren is admittedly more "animated" than heretofore (usually, he seems to have stepped directly out of a Hanna-Barbera superhero cartoon). Confronted with the evidence of the credits, film
cognoscenti will be surprised to find John Sayles listed as one of the writers of this junk.
Nick (Dolph Lundgren) is a former soldier of fortune who's currently a wino. He resists helping out his former boss Merrick (Kevin Tighe). Dangling large sums in front of Merrick, two mining company execs (Thomas Gibson and Perry Lang) are financing a commando raid to buy out a group of Jarkartan
island peasants. What Nick and his hand-picked crew of sidekicks don't realize is that their suspicions about gold, jade, or uranium, etc. are unfounded; the real reason the company wants to control this island is to obtain mineral deposits built up by centuries of bat-droppings.
Under the spell of tropical cutie Loki (Charlotte Lewis) and wised up by the cynical Po (B.D. Wong), Nick and a few of his men defect to the side of the islanders. Complicating matters is Nick's old nemesis Keefer (Trevor Goddard), a demented mercenary who insists the corporate types cut him in on
a partnership if they want to pocket this island. As a bunch of Nick's operatives join the opposition, Nick re-instills a fighting spirit in the residents. A deadly tug-of-war rages between Merrick's pros and the rag-tag islanders. After Merrick takes Loki and other villagers hostage, Po responds
by returning with the decapitated heads of the mining corporation CEOs. Although Merrick signs his own death warrant when he informs Keefer he's quitting the fray, Keefer goes mano a mano with Nick, who finally manages to drown him. Bidding adieu to the surviving members of his mercenary group,
Nick prefers to remain on the island with Loki, Po, and the bats.
Aside from some snappy patter, MEN OF WAR is retrograde escapism of the sort RKO or Paramount ground out in the 30s and 40s. When's the last time you saw a movie featuring anyone wearing a sarong? Did the filmmakers chicken-heartedly take what scriptor Sayles must have intended as a parody and
tailor it to the humorless Lundgren? In structural terms, the screenplay wastes too much time on the up-front recruitment of the warriors and too little time in explaining Lundgren's change of heart due to his growing fondness for the islanders.
Also unsettling is the appearance of acclaimed Broadway actor B.D. Wong in the kind of role that Sabu used to play. But then everything about this jungle-drums exercise is second-rate except for the demolitions. MEN OF WAR blends backward into decades-old escapism so thoroughly that its virtually
transforms Dolph Lundgren into Jon Hall, while failing to ignite our nostalgia for a dead subgenre that was dependent on pidgin-English and sun-tanned heroics. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, nudity, substance abuse.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: In this fanciful but dated scenario about bilking natives out of their land rights, topliner Lundgren is admittedly more "animated" than heretofore (usually, he seems to have stepped directly out of a Hanna-Barbera superhero cartoon). Confronted with the e… (more)