Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Open Fire

The fourth and final collaboration between star Jeff Wincott and director Kurt Anderson, OPEN FIRE follows the very good MARTIAL LAW II: UNDERCOVER, the excellent MISSION OF JUSTICE (which Anderson only produced), and the pretty decent MARTIAL OUTLAW. It’s one of a bajillion ripoffs of DIE HARD that cluttered video store shelves in the 1990s, but manages to rise above its derivative premise with Wincott’s likable leading performance and a steady series of exciting setpieces staged by Anderson and stunt coordinator Jeff Pruitt.

The target is Martinson Industries, a chemical plant run by Bob McNeil (Lee de Broux), whose son Alec (Wincott) happens to be an ex-FBI agent drummed out of the bureau and now working as a telephone lineman. Terrorists have invaded the plant and demand the release of their leader, Stein Kruger (Patrick Kilpatrick), which sounds nothing like Hans Gruber, from prison. The cops do release him and take him to the plant, but the terrorists prove untrustworthy (who coulda seen that coming?) and keep the hostages anyway.

To the rescue is Alec, whose offer of help is officially rebuffed by his old FBI boss Davis (MIDNIGHT CALLER cop Arthur Taxier), who is completely ineffectual in classic DIE HARD tradition. So he ziplines in anyway, says something witty, beats the hell out of a henchman, and begins a one-man assault on Kruger’s forces. Writer Thomas Ritz (MARTIAL OUTLAW) includes more plot about Kruger sabotaging the chemical tanks, but who cares when Wincott is punching through a full pitcher of beer to smash someone in the face? OPEN FIRE violates DIE HARD protocol by leaving the plant in the third act, but the climactic fight between Wincott and Kilpatrick is so good that I’ll allow it.


Grant said...

I saw MISSION OF JUSTICE once, and my main complaint is that even though the villainess is played by Brigitte Nielsen, they evidently didn't think it was a good idea for Wincott to wear lifts, or do anything else to change things. Maybe it's a "shallow" complaint, but I don't think the hero in an action film should be up against a villainess who's taller than he is. (Except maybe a very tongue-in-cheek action film.)

Peter Collinson said...

Thanks for this. It's another action flick I saw on video back in the day (like Drive) which I ended up renting twice because it was so surprisingly good. Low budget but vigorous, violent and not dull. I don't believe I've ever met anyone who's seen it.
Appreciate your willingness to showcase these kind of films. I'm afraid they stand a pretty good chance of being forgotten.