In The Mechanik, Dolph Lundgren is again playing a Russian. Having recently rewatched Red Heat, I started thinking about other action stars that like to play Russian, and realised that Steven Seagal seems to play Russians almost as much as Lundgren. Stevie will sometimes even play a Russian when it has no connection to the plot or to his accent. Given these two titans are such aficionados of pretending to be Russian, I think they should face off in a movie together. It could be called Russian Roulette and the title could be a reference to some plot point, but also to whether or not Stevie would be using his Russian accent on any given line. His accents are so inconsistent it’s a bit like he’s just spun the wheel and hoped the right one has turned up in the chamber, only to mostly find that it’s empty and he’s using his normal accent. The only problem about getting this dream project made is Stevie would probably never go for it because Lundgren still has his real hair.
|Director: Dolph Lundgren
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Ben Cross, Hilda van der Meulen, Olivia Lee
Screenplay: Bryan Edward Hill
Country: Germany, USA
While Russian Roulette may never materialise, The Mechanik did about a decade ago. This time Lundgren is a former Russian paratrooper who is now working as a mechanic(k). He’s a happy guy until his family get killed when they accidentally get involved in a drug bust. The villains don’t murder Lundgren, so he seeks vengeance on those responsible, or at least the criminals, as I didn’t see him shoot any of the cops. This doesn’t take the whole movie as one might expect, but rather is achieved during the credits. Seven years later, and Lundgren is living in L.A. and still working as a mechanic(k). He’s approached by a wealthy woman who wants him to rescue her daughter who has been kidnapped. Lundgren’s reluctant, until he finds out that the kidnapper is none other than the bad guy who was responsible for the slaying of his family. Lundgren had left him for dead, but he survived. This means Lundgren can seek vengeance, again, and rescue the daughter in a two birds, one stone situation. He gets together with a team, and they rescue the girl fairly early in the piece, but then must keep her safe from the pursuing villains, all the while staying away from any airplanes that might be able to whisk them to safety.
Lundgren and his foil really need to get their shit together when it comes to killing someone. All this kidnapping hassle could’ve been avoided if Lundgren could have been fucked to check for a pulse after shooting the guy. While it’s kind of implied the bad guy couldn’t get to Lundgren in the first scene, it was a bit of a bonehead move to callously pop caps in Lundgren’s wife then not make an effort to take Lundgren out too. Making a dude angry like that is only going to lead to trouble, especially if that dude is ex-paratrooper Lundgren.
Lundgren wanted to direct again after The Defender, so he approached Nu Image about doing another film. They let him do it on the condition that he star (well, duh) and use certain locations. This meant Lundgren had to work the script around places the company required him to film like he was George A. Romero, but I think Lundgren did a pretty good job keeping things natural. There’s certainly some silliness in The Mechanik, but Lundgren has delivered another competent action flick. He once again squeezes the budget to get maximum production value, giving the film more class than it probably would’ve had under someone else’s direction. Given the quality he’s able to obtain with little funding, I’m really keen to see what Lundgren could do when given a decent budget. Maybe that will happen with Russian Roulette, except Stevie’s fee would probably eat up a lot of the budget and leave Lundgren scraping the funding barrel again.
The Mechanik has some cruddy performances, but most of them are okay. There’s a guy from Chariots of Fire on hand as the comic relief, but I didn’t think he was very funny. There is some hand to hand fighting, but most of the action comes from gunplay, some of which leads to graphic violence. There’re a few too many flashbacks and fades to black, but Lundgren was still learning as a director, so this is easy enough to forgive, especially since the film is peppered with some strong visuals. Part of the credit there would go to Australian cinematographer Ross Clarkson, who evidently won two local awards for his work on The Mechanik.
The Mechanik is a solid action movie, and is better made than The Defender, though the plot isn’t quite as unique. Thus far Lundgren has directed four more of his films, but unfortunately two of those were plagued with problems beyond his control, so we’re still waiting on his masterpiece.