Sunday, November 8, 2015

Western Weekend: Missionary Man

It was a nice and relaxing weekend where I caught up on some cleaning, reading and of course, movies. After talking about Dolph Lundgren emulating Clint Eastwood earlier this week, it was time for some Dolph directing with his Pale Rider and High Plains Drifter quasi remake Missionary Man from 2007. After falling into directing with 2004's The Defender when Sidney Furie fell ill and the big Swede had to fill in, Dolph would go the Eastwood route for several more films with 2005's The Russian Specialist being a highlight. For Missionary Man, Lundgren stars, directs and co-wrote the script for the low budget, modern day western. Set in a small town in Texas, Ryder (Lundgren) shows up on an iron horse aka a motorcycle and heads to the bar where he downs tequila, straight up; no salt, no lime, like water then beats the shit out of a pack of thugs outside who are beating up a junkie native who owes some money. You see local big dog John Reno (Matthew Tompkins) has his eyes set on building a casino on nearby native tribal people's land and he's gonna get it whether they like it or not. But now the peaceful locals and shit swallowing Sheriffs have some back up with Dolph around and start standing up for themselves. Of course Reno wants Ryder on his side but the violent man of faith is already on Team Jesus. Reno calls in some back up muscle and biker boys lead by Jarfe (John Enos III) show up who may or may not know who Ryder is.

Shot with a rumored $2 million budget in Waxahachie, Texas for prolific actor turned producer Andrew Stevens, Missionary Man holds up as an excellent piece of DTV action for Lundgren. You get him playing a mysterious badass who visits to pay respects to a dead friend from the military and ends up saving the small town. There's fist fights, shootouts, explosions and shotgun blasts to the face galore all done in a slightly overwrought, nearly black and white style. Some of the editing is choppy as you don't really see some of the hand to hand moves and Dolph could have cooled with the slow motion. The film pays homage or cribs from Pale Rider, High Plains Drifter and Billy Jack among other flicks with story bits and dialog. Dolph is still a towering presence here as he breaks faces with fists and knees then wastes fools with a sawed off shotgun. You even get some fact based drama out of the local tribes people struggling with the asshole white folk/gangsters and as they adopt Dolph into the clan. At a brisk 93 minutes, it's hard to get bored and you get some decent sized set pieces like a night time shootout and an ending where Dolph takes out a dozen thugs one at a time in the streets and alleys with ropes, guns and fisticuffs. Friend and frequent co-star James Chalke shows up as the Sheriff and UFC fighter Brad Imes appears as a thug who has a change of heart after getting his nose busted by Dolph.

Missionary Man would continue an uptick in quality for Dolph after a string of low budget, barely cobbled together efforts like Jill Rips, Agent Red, Storm Catcher and Retrograde. Taking more control of his career creatively, higher profile fare like Universal Soldier: Regeneration, The Killing Machine and Command Performance followed before getting the call from buddy Stallone for big screen return hit, The Expendables.

1 comment:

  1. The look of the film isn't to be taken for granted as the released version somehow had its color messed up in down conversion so it's not the Dolph-approved color-grading. (The deleted alternate opening featured as an extra is indicated of how different it should have looked)

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