Direct Action (2004)
By: Devon B. on March 20, 2016 | Comments
Nu Image (Australia) | Region 4, PAL | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 92 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Sidney J. Furie
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Polly Shannon, Conrad Dunn, Donald Burda
Screenplay: Greg Mellott
Country: Canada, USA
A little while back I had a friend over who was perusing the movie collection. He wanted to know why I'd bought two copies of the same movie, one on Blu-ray and one on DVD. I said maybe I was upgrading, but when I do that I usually foist the DVD off on some unsuspecting Digital Retribution follower. Then I looked at the cases he was holding. One was The Killing Machine and the other was Direct Action. “Psssh,” I said, “those are completely different movies.” He said that the covers were somewhat similar, but I couldn't see what he was talking about.

The Killing Machine...er, wait, no Direct Action starts with Dolph Lundgren in a car listening to the radio. The broadcast is explaining why women are attracted to men like Dolph. Subtle filmmaking, that. The program doesn't specify that the men need to be much older than the women, but clearly that's part of the equation too, because when Dolph's love interest turns up she's much younger than he is. The woman is a police officer in training that's been paired up with Dolph, but she's partnered up at the wrong time because Dolph's in a bit of bother. He's part of an elite unit, a squad that focuses on gang violence, drugs and prostitution, and presumably gang fights over drugged up prostitutes. The team are meant to be untouchable like Eliot Ness, but corruption has reared its ugly head. The rest of the unit aren't happy that Dolph has stayed untouchable and the team don't like the idea that he will testify against the rest of them.

Direct Machine has a streamlined plot that keeps things nice and simple. The film is brimming with clichéd elements, but the movie knows what it is and doesn't take itself too seriously which goes a long way to reduce the “been there, done that” feel its recycled plot devices could've brought. The acting is better than some of Dolph's other movies, and there are even a few genuinely funny lines of dialogue. There's also a fair bit of extreme nonsense like only Dolph can provide. In one bit he goes on a call, thrashes all the bad guys at the scene, then doesn't arrest anyone! I also loved the moment where Dolph beat someone down with a car door and then shoots him. It seems like either action would've sufficed, but this is the sort of overkill that can make Dolph's movies so entertaining. Overkill aside, the movie has some decent shootouts and fights, and when Dolph kicks the crap out of someone it's always believable.

Dolph also gets to show his gentler side in his interactions with children in the movie. The child actors don't come across as little thespians, so their affection for Dolph seems real. As if we needed another reason to love this man…he's great with kids! I understand now why the radio program at the start was saying women fall for Dolph, because who wouldn't?

The Killing Action is the exact sort of nonsense that makes me a Dolph fan. Dolph is a smart, smart guy who clearly knows what sort of movies he's staring in, and often brings a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun to his roles. If that's the kind of Dolph you like, he's in fine form here.

Watch for the guy that wears a Punisher shirt, testimony to the fact that the only real Frank Castle movie was released in 1989.
The Disc
The movie looks a little soft at times, but for the most part this is a good, clean transfer of a low budget film. The audio's a 2.0 mix. I guess there's a 5.1 out there, but it sounds like it's fairly front heavy so there may not be a huge difference. Anyway, the dialogue's clear and the track is well mixed.

The trailer and trailers for Housebound and Back in the Day are the only extras.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Machine Action is absolute fluff of the lower budget variety, but as brain dead fun I thoroughly enjoyed it. The DVD isn't exactly loaded with cool extras, but this movie has been unfairly tarnished with a poor reputation, so I guess expecting someone to invest money into producing extras would be foolish.
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