Sunday, February 10, 2013

Out Of Uniform. Out Of Control.


Low-budget leading man Jeff Wincott turned four seasons on NIGHT HEAT into a good career as a direct-to-video action star in the 1990s. He always looked believable punching and kicking, and unlike much of his competition during that era, he’s a decent actor too (and sustained his career into the 2010s doing guest shots on shows like THE GOOD WIFE and SONS OF ANARCHY). The script he and director Steve Barnett (MINDWARP) are working with in 1992's MISSION OF JUSTICE is routine stuff that checks the “cop movie” boxes, but it’s played with energy and excitement.

Kurt Harris (Wincott), tired of the bureaucratic b.s. clogging up the justice system, quits his job as a street cop (his partner Lynn is played by karate star Karen Sheperd, who memorably fought Cynthia Rothrock in ABOVE THE LAW) and joins a band of street vigilantes called the Peacemakers. His interest isn’t altogether altruistic, however. He’s investigating the murder of his friend Cedric (Tony Burton from the ROCKY movies) and believes mayoral candidate Rachel Larkin (COBRA damsel Brigitte Nielsen), who trains the Peacemakers at her “mission of justice,” had something to do with it.

What makes MISSION OF JUSTICE stand out from typical DTV drivel are its fight scenes. Barnett’s pacing throughout is good with plenty of well-staged action, but he, Wincott, and stunt coordinator Jeff Pruitt (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) deserve extra credit for a couple of cool setpieces. In one, Wincott takes on a gauntlet of about twenty stickfighters to get initiated into Nielsen’s group, and later he and his Peacemaker colleagues get into a wild fight in an auto chop shop.

Some of it is silly, perhaps intentionally so, as many of the best action movies are. Burton’s character is a former heavyweight boxer, and after Larkin’s henchman (Matthias Hues) kills him, he steals Burton’s title belt. Later, during the climax when Hues and Wincott are fighting to the death, Hues tears open his jacket to reveal…he’s wearing the belt! Like he’s just been walking around with it ever since Burton’s murder just for the hell of it. MISSION is definitely something of a sleeper and one of Wincott’s best pictures.

1 comment:

Grant said...

I saw it for the first time early this year. I've always thought that these kinds of movie misuse Brigitte Nielsen in one big way. They make her the "femme fatale," but as far as I know they never seem to make her the Bond movie kind who gets worked up over the main character. (Do many police stories - as opposed to spy stories - even do that? You'd think that in these "renegade cop" ones at least, it would make perfect sense. Either way, her picture in that poster seems to have "Bond villainess" written all over it.)
(Also, even though it sounds narrow-minded, I wish they'd given Wincott a pair of lifts during his scenes with Nielsen!)
So (whether it usually goes with this kind of film or not) I wish there had been some
genuinely "steamy" scene between him and her, and I also wish the ending between them had been genuinely brutal. In other words, STICKING TO that "renegade cop" idea, instead of having him come to his senses and let them arrest her.