The Defender (2004)
By: Devon B. on July 28, 2013 | Comments
3L | Region B | 1.85:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 91 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Dolph Lundgren
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Jerry Springer, Shakara Ledard, Thomas Lockyer, Caroline Lee Johnston
Screenplay: Douglas W. Miller
Country: USA, UK, Germany, Romania
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In 2004 the world changed for the better. Sidney Furie was hired to direct a movie called The Defender, but due to an illness left while the film was still in prep. To fill the hole, the film's star stepped up to, or sat down in, the director's chair. And thus, the Earth was blessed with Dolph Lundgren's first movie as a director.

In The Defender, The Dolph plays an army guy turned bodyguard for a National Security Advisor. She's going to a conference about the War on Terror and the options for moving it forward, and Dolph puts together a team who are very happy to be on the assignment, maybe because it's surprisingly not a warmongering conference but actually a peace conference. While in Romania, the Advisor also has a secret meeting that must be kept secret but is not kept secret enough and the team come under attack. Trapped, the team must try to work out what's going on, and it turns out Dolph might not like the answer.

I'm sure there were doubters and dissenters when Dolph was announced as director, but he proved himself more than capable on The Defender. I wouldn't say it's the best movie I've ever seen, but it's a solid political/action thriller that shits all over a lot of Direct to Video films. Dolph squeezes a lot of production value out of what appears to be a limited budget, and once the setup is done he keeps the pace brisk. In fact, unlike a lot of DTV action movies, once the setup is done the film is actually action heavy.

The film has a few funny touches, like casting Jerry Springer as The President of the United States, and mostly overcomes the script's clichés by throwing some new elements into the usual under siege story. The main flaw with the plot is a twist that unfortunately undermines the crux of the film's premise, and actually makes the proceedings even more far-fetched. There is some heavy handed exposition, and the supporting cast's acting quality varies, but at least no one is truly awful. This is a good era for Dolph on screen, because he no longer looks like He-Man, but is still really fit and huge. He also seems more mortal than in his earlier films, which gives the film a bit more tension. On a bizarre note, Dolph frequently looks funny while shooting guns in this movie, and since this is more of a gunfire action movie than a hand to hand combat one, the viewer gets a lot of opportunity to see him look odd.

The Defender offers up some interesting things for an action movie, like critique of the War on Terror and America's achievements or lack thereof during the War. The movie doesn't quite escape its low budget, but Dolph does a pretty good job making it feel like it cost a lot more to make.
The Disc
I think I mentioned that The Defender is not a high budget film? This is a decent transfer given the film's budget, and occasionally the print looks very good. Grain can get heavy and is always noticeable, and the detail levels waiver. There is also some noise, colour oversaturation and some black crush. For what it is, it's acceptable.The audio comes in English or German 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mixes. The English track has a little more bass and depth, but there're no subs for the movie so non-English speaking German's will have to watch the lesser quality dub. There're a few moments of distortion, which may be a fault on the source. The movies has choppers flying past, loud explosions and quite a few gun shots, and this is a good track if you like your movies loud.

The Blu-ray has a reversible cover, and the other side doesn't have the big rating on it. On the disc is a short making of, German language bios/filmographies for Dolph and Springer, the German and English trailers and 12 other German language trailers. Not a lot of content, whether you speak German or not.

The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
The Defender is not brilliant, but it's a good effort. I suspect this is a Xmas movie because there're decorated trees in the background, and at the very least I'm always looking for new Xmas fare. The Blu-ray transfer of the film itself is fine, and despite the fact the movie probably warrants some more extras, particularly given its attitude to the War on Terror, I doubt there was anything else 3L could've readily included.
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