Aug 17, 2010

Dolph Lundgren is The Killing Machine

Parallel to the release of the super-sized fast food sandwich we know as The Expendables, Dolph Lundgren retitled his courteous family-man/contract killer crime epic from Icarus to Dolph Lundgren is The Killing Machine. While this may look well on paper, this scraps the only semblance of a serious notion towards duplicating A Bittersweet Life in parts and Taken in others, in favor for an expose worshiping this real-life bad-ass. What we get is what we hoped for (we being classic 80s Dolph fans), not much akin to Dark Angel or Universal Soldier, Icarus is the very similar stoic combat-grizzled Soviet who has it out for whoever is wronging him. Owing almost the entire screen time to other films who have done this before and to a better advantage, Icarus never ceases being an anti-intellectual statement and a violent popcorn piece that gives you a merit badge in villainous ways to dispatch your foes. I may never look at a bench press again. Thanks for that, Dolph.

The bizarre thing is that while I do not condone the title switch it does seem to benefit from it, quality wise. Watching this film under the guise of Icarus prolapses the tale into comical austerity from which it never recovers being a DTV film for its own sake. However, as Dolph Lundgren is The Killing Machine, some nostalgic protective aura enshrouds the film giving it that root-for-utter-destruction edge that it needs to survive the continuous landslide that is direct to video sales. Under the moniker of both titles, the film still presents the superfluous tale of a father who has never been there for his family . . . because he assassinates "marks." Struggling to juggle his family and work life proves to be too great for Icarus (Dolph) and he finds himself the target of an old comrade for which penance and comradeship is not enough. Mix in random spices of post-KGB Russian conflict and you got yourself a translucent, yet enjoyable film capable of combing the cheese romance from Commando and creating a hybrid with some gruesome key scenes of cheek-ripping and face-crushing Dolph at his elderly physical peak.

As the film progresses, the producers, I assume, decide to barrage us with thinly conceived narration from Dolph explaining in pseudo-enlightened prose that he has to redeem himself amongst other contrived soliloquies. Upon hearing that he originally intended for his character to be a villain akin to his excellent role as Gunnar Jensen in The Expendables and that his producers denied his request due to sales, It occurred to me that Dolph is a mere puppet to his financial backings which must be a reason in declined quality. Dolph Lundgren was permitted 18 days to complete principal photography and didn't approve of the producers cut, which is what we are viewing. Had Mr. Lundgren has his way, I'm sure we'd all be enjoying a fastidious ode to what Dolph Lundgren really wants to convey with his villainy; a meditating crime tycoon who indulges in the very savagery that made him so prominent as an 80s action star who achieved critical success with his video rentals.

Icarus has several things on its belt, I'll admit. With the exceptional acting chops of the Stefanie von Pfetten (who is also a smelting pot on the eyes) and Lindsay Maxwell whose supple nipples must be the size of a "baby's fingernail", the film boasts strong female and male performances rounding out with a surprise role of Bo Svenson as the past come back to haunt Dolph. Icarus isn't a great film but its entertainment value is worth its weight in gold. I could find myself re-watching some of the exceptional shoot out scenes and replay some of the iconic deaths of the unfaltering waves of henchmen to my hearts delight. Icarus isn't a film that had to be made but now that it is here I graciously accept this gift for what it is; a film by Dolph Lundgren about Dolph Lundgren. I'm sure many of you can complain about the handicam quality but for what it is worth, Dolph sure is menacing toting a Remington 870 and I hungrily look forward to this brutes reemergence in the video scene. I believe I'm going to coin the term "dolphsterpiece" from here on out.


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