interview The Doc and I did with The Hammer, I, of course, wanted to see it.
The plot, very briefly, is that the Nazis built a doomsday machine which has stayed buried for years under the radiation fall out of Chernobyl. However, since it is now, apparently, safe to enter the contaminated area for short period of time, it is up to Fred Williamson's hastily assembled "Expendables" style team to go in and stop the device falling into the wrong hands.
The movie, after a fairly swift first act, basically becomes a siege movie with action set pieces interspersed with the minimum of plot and character exposition and, honestly, for a low budget, European, independent production it sustains all that pretty well.
Yes, The Hammer brings his star power, spouts the odd one-liner, does a little bit of the physical stuff and shoots a gun a lot, which is all tremendous, but the real eye opener in the film is the martial arts of Mike Möller. Its the ambition of the stunts and of the fight choreography that really sells the film, even if the direction and photography is occasionally a little slow and flat.
What I will say though is thankfully there isn't a lot of shaky cam and there isn't some fake, 70s, flickery, grindhouse film effect on it. It's lit well, shot adequately and with a little quicker editing and some more dynamic camera work it could really elevate itself above its B Movie trappings.
The design of the faceless bad guys is very similar to George A Romero's The Crazies with them all wearing white radiation suits and gas masks. It's a great look and a good cheap costume for multiple people at once for a low budget production. The only thing is I would've requested all the extras wear black shoes because some wearing trainers/sneakers and some wearing boots etc. gave away the fact they were all just random extras. Impressive the production was able to get so many to turn up and some to do stunts, wear squibs etc. It added a lot of production value.
All of the characters have their own special expertise, style and nickname. This is a great throwback to the ensemble war movies of the 60s and 70s and adds a good light hearted camaraderie to the proceedings. The acting throughout, however, sadly isn't amazing and some of the line deliveries, especially the guy attempting a Texan accent, can be a little cringeworthy but the sheer balls of the project, the sturdy presence of The Hammer and Wolfgang Riehm, the martial arts of Mike Möller, good sound and clear photography win the day.
Definitely not the greatest low budget action film I've seen but far, far from the worst and as the debut feature from writer, director Nico Sentner, it's an impressive start and hopefully he goes from strength to strength in the future. I will watch future films of his for sure.
A sometimes flat but ambitious and enjoyable debut 6.5/10
- The Kick Ass Kid