Direct Action (2004) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The Swedish beefcake known as Dolph Lundgren returns in another straight-to-DVD action thriller. This would be the last pairing of the blond monolith and director Sidney J. Furie, who fell ill during production forcing Lundgren to step in and ‘ghost direct’ a significant portion of the film. Fortunately something positive would come out of this lackluster mess, Lundgren has gone on to direct himself in much better material. Direct Action is a Training Day type flick in which there are good guys and bad guys all working within the same police precinct. Dolph is Frank Gannon a honest cop with a predilection for chewing gum, the story takes place over the course of one day leading up to a five o clock hearing Gannon must attend to testify against a group of corrupt officers. Throughout the day Gannon is offered bribes by his superiors, framed for murder and nearly killed by assassins at every turn. Adding to theses obstacles is the assignment to guard a rookie female partner, who is as naive as Gannon is cynical.

The obvious point of reference here is Training Day and 16 Blocks, yet this film has the balls to get rid of the great dialog and acting in those movies. Instead it focuses on action and genre conventions. We are encouraged to root for a honest cop as he mows down scores of bad cops. The staging of these sequences are so poor that the picture starts to feel like a video game, in which targets pop up from seemingly unrealistic places. Hey at least it keeps the movie viewer off balance and offers modest surprise.

As per usual Lundgren is the best thing in the movie. He is relaxed and seems overly groomed and fashioned for a lowly police officer not on the take. His salon styled haircut and designer clothes are a bit of a distraction, yet Lundgren being a former model, dons these duds well. Direct Action has the feel of a production gone awry, though it is not nearly as inept as Diamond Dogs, it shows signs of post-production tinkering. This may have been due to the producers involvement or just the different creative choices between director and star. A film with low ambitions and entertainment value, yet ranks as one of the better Dolph films in the Furie era, though that is not high praise.

Director: Sidney J. Furie
Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Polly Shannon, Conrad Dunn

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