Despite the suspense potential of Olympic try outs, East German police ambushes, and Aryan nation conspiracies, PENTATHLON is a standard stuck-in-the-mud action exercise. Flaunting his impressive bulk, Nordic god Dolph Lundgren acts like an industrial strength male model; his
ultra-reticent demeanor makes him a liability as an action superstar unless he's cast as an android.
After snagging a 1988 gold medal at Seoul for his fatherland, East German athlete Eric Brogar (Dolph Lundgren) makes a 100-yard-dash for political asylum with the US. Later, Brogar becomes a self-pitying boozehound until his talents are spotted by his diner-owning boss Creese (Roger E. Mosley).
Still smarting over his defection, Eric's jingoistic ex-coach Heinrich Mueller (David Soul) beats Brogar's papa to death before flying to the US in search of the pentathlete who got away. While Eric reunites with former main squeeze Julia (Renee Coleman), who hones his endurance skills at her
dad's woodland retreat, Mueller joins forces with neo-Nazi sympathizers including Eric's former rival Rinehardt (Daniel Riordan). At a Never-Again peace rally, they plot to assassinate a rabbi and an ambassador while spreading a hate message on cable TV. After viciously beating up Julia's dad and
shooting Creese, they kidnap Eric, who thwarts their scheme by wiping out most of the neo-Nazis. Three weeks later, at the pentathlon finals, heroic Eric not only triumphs in his tryout but also wounds the Gestapo-wannabee Mueller with a gun Mueller drops near the finish line due to the timely
interference of Julia.
Somehow, PENTATHLON manages to transform Olympian feats of strength and political melodrama into a dreary scenario with the impact of watching out-of-shape men exchange nationalistic insults during an aerobics class. Huffing and puffing through its nationalistic plot twists, the film never gets
any adrenalin pumping. Given the constraints of a far-from-generous budget (whose telltale signs include stock footage and a plugged-in electronic score), PENTATHLON still might have roused sports enthusiasts if only its key action sequences had been executed with any oomph. Shapelessly edited,
the film's moribund political intrigue is comprised of an unconvincing wolf pack of German superpatriots led by an eye-popping David Soul. Sporting an operetta accent and a flagging intensity, Soul seems badly in need of an injection of Conrad Veidt vitamins. The premise that Berlin cold war
hardliners think that live coverage of a political rubout would alter anyone's opinion in this up-to-our-necks-in-terrorists era or that they could seize control of TV transmission long enough to make their point (unless they negotiated with Jenny Jones) is notably ridiculous. Towering over this
broken-wheeled CHARIOTS OF FIRE update like an umlaut is impenetrable macho man Lundgren. Carved in muscle, this grunting sphinx only comes to life when he exercises.
This unexceptional straight-to-video feature also garnered a most unusual postscript when life imitated (poor) art, and Lundgren actually served as the manager of the U.S.'s modern pentathlon team! Through his experience working on the film, Lundgren became acquainted with the athletes (some of
whom participated as bit players and advisers), and wound up attending the 1996 Olympics, held in Atlanta, as an official manager.(Graphic violence, extreme profanity, substance abuse.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: Despite the suspense potential of Olympic try outs, East German police ambushes, and Aryan nation conspiracies, PENTATHLON is a standard stuck-in-the-mud action exercise. Flaunting his impressive bulk, Nordic god Dolph Lundgren acts like an industrial stre… (more)