Thursday, June 3, 2010

No Way Back (1996) - By Mark Oswald

An obscure mid-90’s Action movie starring Russell Crowe? And it’s not Virtuosity? Even more obscure, you say? Well get me on in there!

The truth is; this is a pretty weird movie. Story-wise it goes in several different directions that you probably weren’t expecting. What starts as an FBI thriller, switches to road movie, then to buddy movie, and then to silly movie. Visually, it looks like a glorified student film. Yet the filmmakers still managed to secure actors like the above-mentioned Crowe, Kelly Hu (The Tournament), recognizable “that guy” actor Michael Lerner, Francios Chau (Dr. Pierre Chang from “LOST”), and "90210"’s Ian-fucking-Ziering as a Skinhead gang leader! In case you are uncertain, yes; that is pure excitement you’re feeling. The son of Crowe’s character is played by Andrew J. Ferchland, who none of you probably know, but looked so damn familiar to me while watching that I swear he must’ve also been the young kid in like Stepmom or something; not that I’ve ever watched that, of course. Turns out it must have been The Last Leprechaun I was thinking of…

Take it eeeeeeeaaasy...

So how does this thing stack up as an action film? Well, not bad. There were several points where I was unsure about whether or not someone’s bullets actually made contact with an adversary, though. It wasn’t until I didn’t see that person again that I decided they must’ve been killed, and racked up one more point for the body count. There was one part of the movie that I found really funny/interesting. There is a point where Crowe’s character is transporting a high-ranking member of the Yakuza to L.A. on a plane and when the guy gets free and hijacks the plane, Crowe acquires one of those plastic 2-shot pistols, like John Malkovich made in In the Line of Fire, from a surprise bad guy onboard. Then while in the cockpit, the Yakuza dude ends up getting his hands on a flare gun! I gotta say this image of two badasses going head to head with plastic guns brought a big ol' smile to my face.

One of the main things I kept questioning during the film was why Russell Crowe had agreed to do it at all. I mean I liked the movie enough and I wouldn’t call it complete garbage or anything, but even though he hadn’t hit stardom yet, it still seemed like a pretty low-brow role to take. He had appeared in both Virtuosity and Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead the year before and you’d think he would at least be moving up in the industry from there, so this role is a little perplexing. Still though, it’s always funny to see big name actors show up in B-movies before they really attained stardom. As a matter of fact, No Way Back’s director, Frank A. Cappello, had made his previous movie, American Yakuza, with none other than Viggo Mortensen in the lead! How this guy, who to this day has only directed 3 films, was able to snag these future superstars before their time is a mystery to me, but still strangely awesome as well. He did apparently write Suburban Commando, though. So maybe I shouldn’t be so astounded.

So should you check out this movie? Umm…sure; if for nothing else than your own curiosity and the fact that it may continuously shake up your expectations in amusing ways.

Body Count – 31

American Flags – 2 (Yeah sorry, that was a weak one)

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