Wednesday, February 07, 2007

You Got Milk

John Woo, Dolph Lundgren and Fred "The Hammer" Williamson made a movie together? Holy shit, how can that not kick ass?

Actually, it really doesn't, and the reason is simple. BLACKJACK was made as a television pilot; therefore, it's full of stupid TV-show gimmicks and absent some serious bloodletting. It does, however, boast a few exciting action setpieces in the John Woo style and an easygoing performance by star Lundgren, who really would make for a good TV action hero.

Made in 1998, just after FACE/OFF, Woo's first American smash hit, BLACKJACK stars Dolph as Jack Devlin, a former U.S. Marshal turned private bodyguard. When his friend Tim (Williamson in a supporting role) is shot while protecting a gorgeous supermodel from a psycho stalker, Devlin comes out of retirement to take over Tim's job and hopefully notch some vigilante justice.

Good grief, could this guy have any more gimmicks? Writer Peter Lance must have been desperate to come up with all this nonsense. Any two of these would be enough for most TV shows, but for crying out loud.
  • Due to an accident in which he was attacked with a flash grenade, Dolph has developed a phobia to the color white. When he sees something white, he freaks. Amazingly, the villain figures this out.
  • Dolph uses playing cards as an edged weapon. Whether they're specially sharpened cards, we aren't told.
  • Dolph's friends are killed in an accident, and their precocious 9-year-old daughter Casey comes to live with him. She has an IQ of 165.
  • Dolph has a, er, friend or something named Thomas. He's Italian, has only one eye, cooks Dolph's meals, apparently lives in Dolph's luxury apartment, and gets very jealous when Dolph talks about women. Could Lundgren have been playing TV's first gay action hero?
  • Because of his white-o-phobia, Dolph is seeing a shrink. She's a sexy woman who smokes cigars and has an obvious attraction to him. He calls her whenever he's busy and needs someone to pick Casey up at school. And she does it.
At least the action scenes are badass. The first one finds Dolph killing about twenty dudes invading the mansion where Casey and her parents live. The highlight finds Dolph leaping off the balcony of the exploding house, landing on a trampoline, bouncing in the air, turning, shooting two pistols at a bunch of bad guys, and bouncing into the pool. Later, he has a big fight with the main heavy in a milk factory. What a coincidence, considering that whole white thing.

At a heavy 112 minutes, BLACKJACK is too long to have been a TV-movie, so much footage must have been added later. It doesn't need the padding and would play better with several scenes missing. BLACKJACK isn't a success, but the novelty of Dolph Lundgren in a John Woo movie is of some interest. It's too bad they haven't worked again since, but if Woo keeps making bombs like WINDTALKERS, he'll be swimming in the pool of direct-to-video soon, which is Dolph's stomping ground.


Anonymous said...

BLACKJACK is the biggest anomaly in Woo's career. FACE/OFF was a huge box office hit so why the heck was he doing a TV movie that fall? Crazy! But that milk factory bit? Genius.


Ben said...

I loved the scene in the dairy. Dolph fighting the guy off then saying "I'm lactose intolerant!" Best one liner ever.