Thursday, June 24, 2010

One Man's Justice (1996) - By Mark Oswald

Ex-football star, Brian “The Boz” Bosworth is back! Well I guess he WAS back…in 1996. You’d probably only be familiar with The Boz’s acting if you’ve seen Stone Cold, the ridiculous biker gang-related Action movie that came out a few years prior to this one. That movie is a true blast of over-the-top entertainment; with none other than the great Lance Henriksen as the villain in charge of an evil biker gang from HELL (not literally). I have a rule. Well, more of a guideline; that if you go to watch an Action movie and Lance Henriksen is playing the bad guy, then you’re probably in good hands. Don’t believe me? Well go find out for yourself. I’ve got a date with a man and his justice…I mean…um, let’s begin!

One Man’s Justice (aka – One Tough Bastard) is about model divorced dad and Army Drill Instructor, John North (solid Action movie name, there), played by Bosworth of course. His ex-wife and daughter are killed during an illegal arms deal at a convenience store where M. C. Gainey (Tom Friendly from “LOST”) is working behind the counter, but is somehow not a bad guy. Boz just happens to come across the scene on his way home from work and naturally tries to intervene, with negative results. After he recovers from the incident, he tries to get on with his life; coping with his losses via the Catholic church and charity work. OK, not really. He immediately tries to track down the sonofawitch that caused him pain by remembering the tattoo the dude had on his neck, even though his ex-wife was the one who noticed it. He wasn’t even there yet, and now she’s dead, but somehow, through the power of the psychic world, combined with the ever-popular use of the slow-motion flashback, he is able to pick it out of a sample book at a tattoo shop and he’s off on his quest for the titular justice.

Don't forget the kickstand, Boz

The Director of this piece is Kurt Wimmer, who some of you may know from his work on the futuristic shoot-em-up, Equilibrium, starring Christian Bale. Well this film is nothing like that one. It’s got none of the Gunkata flare and probably about a third of the budget. One thing it does have, though, is a very weird vibe permeating throughout that I really couldn’t quite get a fix on. It’s tough to explain, but I feel like whatever it was, was throwing off the flow of the movie a little bit. That’s not to say I didn’t end up enjoying it as a whole, it’s just weird. I don’t think it had quite as much action as Stone Cold, but there’s still a decent amount. However there were a few different shots during some of the shoot-outs that cut right after a gun had been fired, but didn’t show anyone being hit, which made the Body Count tracking a tad difficult at times, but I was able to adapt and overcome regardless.

Bosworth does surprisingly well during the hand-to-hand combat scenes, especially near the beginning when he’s at work training military recruits. I’m not sure if he had completed some kind of training in the past, and I don’t remember him using such fancy moves in Stone Cold, but he’s very convincing here. He also looks a helluva lot more presentable in this than in Stone Cold. In that movie he had a long blond mullet and looked more like an 80’s wrestler than a cop, or whatever he played in that movie. Actually he looked a lot like the bad guy of this one! Here he’s got his hair cut short like a beefed-up, Ghost-era Patrick Swayze. So he’s looking good, but his acting has noticeably improved as well. He wasn’t the worst in Stone Cold, but I do remember him being pretty stiff. Here he does a surprisingly good job of emoting in a convincing manner. I doubt he got nominated for anything, but he still did a pretty good job.

I guess one of the hindrances I saw preventing this movie from becoming another instant classic was the shifting tone between Bosworth’s more realistic character dealing with the legitimate grief he felt over the loss of his family, and the over-the-top, cartoonish-looking villains. The main baddie is an FBI agent, but has long blond hair and nose rings and acts like he’s possessed or something. Or at least like he should be in a different movie where he can awkwardly recite his dialogue without getting in The Boz’s way. At first I thought he had some funny lines and was kind of amusing, but as the movie went on, he started to get on my nerves a little. Aside from that, there was this ongoing theme of the morality of vengeance, and even though I commend them for trying, I really didn’t think this flick was high-brow enough to pull it off. I just kept wanting Bosworth to put an end to these jackasses. But oh well, what are you gonna do? It’s no Stone Cold, but I’ll bestow credit where it’s due. Give this flick a shot and you probably won’t regret it.

Oh and before I forget, I wanted to mention that M.C. Hammer has a role in this as a drug kingpin or something. I’m assuming this was during his attempted foray into gangster rap, and was probably thinking that a role like this would help in building that harder image. He’s also simply credited as “Hammer” (no M.C.), which I believe is what he shortened his name to in order to sound tougher. Cuz “M.C.” is for pussies, I guess.

Body Count - 38

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