Sweepers (1998) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Dolph Lundgren is Christian Erickson, a man described by his superiors as someone who’s talent for finding land mines is only exceeded by his complete lack of discipline. In the opening moments of Sweepers we are given the lengthy history of a generations long civil war in Angola and the dangerous methods that were used to slaughter up to two hundred people a week.

Erickson is an ex special forces member discharged and working for the humanitarian chivalry order a group of ‘sweepers’, working to de-militarize portions of war stricken Angola. Things go terribly wrong when the rebel army show up and start blasting away at the peace workers. In the midst of the carnage Dolph’s boy is killed sending our man into a five-year downward spiral that results in alcoholism and bare knuckle fights for cash.

Until one day a beautiful explosives expert (Claire Stansfield) arrives and attempts to enlist Erickson in her investigation of a super-lethal land mine being used for terrorist attacks. As the duo piece together the evidence all signs point to an unlikely adversary, with a deadly master plan in mind.

Sweepers is similar to another movie from this decade shot in an exotic locale Men of War, in that the story plays out in a measured manner with less emphasis on action, other than the most basic requirements to tell the story properly. That may turn off long time fans of the Swedish beefcake but I find this offbeat entry in the Lundgren cannon quite watchable. It’s as if Warner Herzog inspired the direction of this feature. After a somewhat underwhelming and slowly paced first half, the action picks up considerably. Then this Lundgren vehicle morphs into an Indiana Jones type knock-off, with the star even sporting a Fedora hat.

Writen by actor/writer Kevin Bernhardt, one of my all-time favorite actors after his juicy part in Hellraiser 3 years ago, this screenplay is a serious affair with nods to archetypical adventure classics. The direction from Keoni Waxman, directing under the name Darby Black, is well done and when the action does kick in, Waxman is at his best. Worth a look for those bored of Bourne wannabes, shot on the cheap in Eastern Europe. Sweepers is graced with some beautiful location shooting, a great cast, a quality story with political implications and solid direction.

Director: Keoni Waxman
Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Sheldon Allen, Bruce Payne

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