WITHOUT MERCY offers yet another saga of a damaged protagonist, spooked by memories of the war in Vietnam.
Marine officer John Carter (Frank Zagarino) travels the globe for Uncle Sam, until a peacekeeping stint in Somalia ends with the slaughter of his men and his own imprisonment.
Three years later, the shattered former POW explores Asia's lower depths, a crime turf battled over by Tomo (Advent Bangun) and ex-US soldier Wolf Larsen (Martin Kove). The nefarious Larsen sets up Carter with a hooker, Tanya (Ayu Azhari), with whom Tomo is in love. When Tomo attacks Carter, he is
forced to kill him in self-defense. As the cops investigate Carter's possible link to Larsen's flesh-peddling and dope rackets, Carter vows revenge for being set up by Larsen.
Playing the angles, drug-addicted Tanya also snitches for the police. Larsen's physician, Doc (John Honeyben), discovers her treason and tells Larsen. At the docks, after unloading a shipment of illegal aliens and rubbing out Doc for being a tattletale, Larsen sends a cargo-lifter to snatch Tanya
and Carter. But they both later escape. When Carter is unjustly arrested, Larsen arranges an ambush and jail-break for him, because he wants the slippery Carter out of the country for good.
As maniacal Larsen motorboats away with Tanya as security, the cops recognize Carter's innocence and land him via helicopter on Larsen's boat. Tanya escapes, and Carter grapples with Larsen; when the boat sails across a dam, the men hang on to an overpass. Carter can't prevent a dangling Larsen
from slipping out of his grip.
Martial arts fans can do worse than Zagarino's brand of self-defense, but the story line isn't as lithe as the athletics. WITHOUT MERCY is set apart from the usual kickboxing slogging by its fixation on the physical and psychological aftershocks of torture. Flashing back to Carter's POW days or
dwelling on Larsen's morphine treatment of war injuries, the film seems obsessed with pain as a tool to mold character.
But aside from a pervasive sense of cruelty, WITHOUT MERCY is the expected crime-world plunge into Oriental intrigue, complete with visual exotica and wretched performances by the suppporting cast. (Graphic violence, profanity, nudity, adult situations, substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: R
- Review: WITHOUT MERCY offers yet another saga of a damaged protagonist, spooked by memories of the war in Vietnam. Marine officer John Carter (Frank Zagarino) travels the globe for Uncle Sam, until a peacekeeping stint in Somalia ends with the slaughter of his me… (more)