Sunday, December 13, 2015

#1,945. Dollman (1991)

Directed By: Albert Pyun

Starring: Tim Thomerson, Jackie Earle Haley, Kamala Lopez

Tag line: "He's the toughest cop on the planet Arturus -- but on earth he's in over his head!"

Trivia: Filmed back-to-back with Arcade

The storyline is cool as hell: a cop from an advanced, yet extremely violent alien world chases his arch-nemesis through space, where they both encounter an energy field that transports them 10,000 light years in the blink of an eye. 

Losing control of their ships, they crash-land on the nearest planet, which happens to be earth. And as the cop and the criminal will soon discover, things are much different for them on this new world. 

While both were perfectly normal back home, they stand about a foot tall here!

The cop is Brick Bardo (Tim Thomerson), the toughest son of a bitch on the planet Arturus. Since the day his wife and kids were murdered in cold blood, he’s been something of a renegade, shooting first and asking questions later. 

To back up his no-nonsense attitude, he carries a Groger handgun, a custom-made blaster that packs one hell of a wallop. It’s so powerful, in fact, that it has reduced his arch-nemesis Sprug (Frank Collision) to little more than a head on a robotic stick (during their initial encounter, Bardo blew Sprug’s arm off with a single shot, and he’s been whittling away at him, limb by limb, ever since).

But Sprug may have the last laugh, because he’s gotten hold of a molecular bomb, which, with the push of a button, could destroy all of Arturus. 

Unimpressed, Bardo opens fire on Sprug and his henchmen, at which point the criminal hops into his ship and heads for the stratosphere. Eager to finish Sprug off once and for all, Bardo gives chase, and soon the two are pulled into the energy field mentioned above, forcing them down in a vacant lot somewhere in the South Bronx, a veritable slum controlled by gangs, drug dealers, and prostitutes.

Always the diligent cop, Bardo spends his first few minutes on this new planet rescuing Debi Alejandro (Kamala Lopez), a damsel in distress whose personal crusade against crime has landed her in hot water with the area’s toughest gang. 

Despite his size (again. he's a foot tall on earth), Bardo’s handgun is still plenty strong, and before they know (or can see) what hit them, one gang member is dead and another is critically injured. 

Convinced the rest of the gang will now be looking for them, Debi brings Bardo (spaceship and all) home with her, and the reluctant cop spends the night with her and her young son Kevin (Humberto Ortiz).

Meanwhile, Sprug’s damaged ship is found by the gang’s leader, a thug named Braxton Red (Jackie Earle Haley), who is anxious to know more about the bomb that  his diminutive new friend is carrying. In return for helping him defeat Bardo, Sprug promises to share the bomb with Braxton, making him the most powerful gangster not only in New York City, but the entire world!

Though the premise is ripe for comedy, Dollman plays it 100% straight, with a handful of very violent scenes encased within a story that offers an honest, sometimes brutal look at life in the inner-city. 

In addition, the film allows Bardo to keep his bad-ass persona even when reduced to the size of an action figure; his custom firearm, which could obliterate an entire body on Arturus, still does some serious damage on earth (the holes it makes are smaller, but are lethal all the same).

The performances throughout Dollman are exceptional, starting with Thomerson, whose tough-as-nails approach makes Bardo a formidable foe at any size. Jackie Earle Haley is also effective as the volatile, yet strangely sympathetic Braxton (we can’t help but feel sorry for him in the end), while Kamala Lopez’s turn as Debi, the single mother determined to fight crime in her neighborhood, provides Dollman with a female character every bit as ornery as her male counterparts.

Perhaps most surprising of all are the special effects, which, for a low budget movie, are better than you might think ( I’m not saying they’d win any awards, mind you, but the blood and guts that go flying when Bardo fires his blaster are pretty darn convincing). 

Toss in both a tense opening scene set on Arturus (shot in the style of a modern film noir) and a wild and crazy finale, and you have what is arguably the best straight-to-video release that Charles Band and Full Moon Productions ever turned out.

1 comment:

RuthlessGoat said...

Dollman is a wonderful movie. It is a cheesy, less than B grade 80's Action (even though it was made in the 90's) thriller that never loses its focus. Like you pointed out, Brick playe it totally straight in this movie. It is a classic masterpiece that deserves more recognition. Regards, Goat from Ruthless Reviews.