It is somehow bizarre to have ‘a cheap action flick from the 90’s’ and ‘an Oscar’ in one sentence.
It is almost as preposterous as to learn that Al Pacino will star in a ‘Commando’ remake in the leading role.
But it is a fact no matter how unbelievable it may sound.
I mean that indeed John Sayles, the writer of ‘Men of War’ (1994) received an Oscar nomination two times, not that there is a chance that we can see Al Pacino pumped like hell as the one-man army John Matrix.
Who knows anyway?!
One thing is clear – ‘Men of War’ is a laughable action flick from the 90’s that delivers (un)forgettable, cheesy fun and an immense dose of testosterone.
So girls, beware! You may have an unusual amount of hair on your face after watching this movie.
Let’s dig deep into one of Dolph Lundgren’s best works according to many critics and see why this is a classic funny action movie.
Cast and Crew
The director of ‘Men Of War’ is Perry Lang.
It appears that for Perry, it was a one-time fun to direct such a violent action flick because this was his second directorial attempt and after that, he continued his career by working mostly on TV episodes (like ‘Tarzan’, 2003, starring Travis Fimmel, for instance).
The Oscar-nominated writer that we have mentioned already, John Sayles, wrote the script on a plane to Tokyo and by the quality of the dialogue one could conclude that John has written it just to kill some time, maybe between solving a sudoku and a crossword puzzle.
The Hollywood producer Stan Rogow (‘The Lizzie McGuire Movie’ with Hilary Duff) who also produced ‘Men of War’ decided that it was a good idea to exercise his writing skills and that is why he has a co-write credit for this 90’s gem.
In the rest of the cast, besides Dolph Lundgren we can see the beautiful b-actress Charlotte Lewis (‘Dial: Help’) as well as the muscular monster Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister (‘Jackie Brown’, ‘The Fifth Element’), BD Wong as Po (‘Jurassic World’), and the gorgeous Catherine Bell (‘Good Witch’) who plays a badass female soldier.
The role of the villain Keefer went to Trevor Goddard (‘JAG’, Mortal Combat’) who did a decent job by looking like the last person you want to encounter on earth.
Sure enough, there are other actors involved but I’m sure that they won’t mind if we skip them and head to the…
Filmed entirely in the splendid landscapes of Thailand, the plot revolves around a group of mercenaries, sent on a mission to an island in the South China Sea to bend the local civilians and obtain the rights to the valuable mineral resources that the islands behold.
Motivated by money, the burnt-out former mercenary Nick Guner (Dolph) accepts to head the elite team of soldiers who are also his brothers in arms from previous assignments.
The local civilians refuse to give up their land and Nick decides to defend them, thus starting a violent war against the evil corporation that hired him and that threatens to destroy the island.
Finally, Nick Guner has a noble cause to fight for and the rough action kicks off with a blast.
This is a Funny Action Movie Because:
It won’t be a surprise to admit that the mighty Dolph Lundgren carries this cheesy, clichéd action flick on his pumped shoulders.
Dolph is amusing as the former Special ops soldier Nick Gunner who barely accepts to participate in the mission because of a moral crisis but suddenly, of course, he changes his mind thanks to the appealing financial reward.
Probably the night before, Nick has watched ‘Wallstreet’ (1987) and remembered that Michael Douglas advised that greed is good.
The action scenes are abundant (the flick is rated ‘R’ for unstoppable violence) and surprisingly well done for an action movie from 1994.
All the explosions and the shootings happening in the picturesque environment of a Thailand island look very realistic, yet laughable in their naivety.
At one point, however, you start to be apprehensive of the entirety of the island because Dolph and all the bad guys use a bazooka more often that they blink and with that tempo, it is surprising that there are whole pieces of earth left.
After all, the goal is to preserve the island and to defend the locals but by shooting and detonating every plant, this becomes a more and more impossible task.
But as the tagline of the movie implies warriors are paid to fight, not to think.
The giant Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister as the mercenary Blades is very entertaining to watch.
Ridiculously pumped, he looks like he can smash everything between his big black arms.
It won’t be a surprise if it occurs that he is capable of giving a heart attack to a squirrel by only staring at it, left alone shouting at a man’s face, something that he does quite often.
Wait to see the main villain! The mercenary Keefer who opposes Nick Guner and his noble aspirations has the looks of a man who sleeps in the gym and works out even when he is in the bathroom.
He looks like a maniac who is obsessed to put an end to Dolph’s days with his sinister glaze.
Trevor Goddard definitely did a wonderful job by trying to look like a mercenary who is possessed by evil spirits.
Dolph Lundgren himself showcases impressive skills of ‘stiff acting’ that work out very well for this funny action movie.
So if you need an acting tutor, your best choice is Dolph.
Often, by the look of his face, you can’t conclude whether he is happy, angry, sad or maybe he’s just on a huge dose of horse tranquilizers.
Nick Guner walks around the jungle with his towering height and enormous chest looking like a badass Rambo with a violence issue who doesn’t seem to understand that by shooting everything that moves he risks the lives of the locals that he is so desperately trying to defend.
Nonetheless, Nick demonstrates his soft side when he sometimes gets sentimental and starts talking melodramatic stuff about honor and the importance of making good deeds.
It’s the time to mention that unlike in “Showdown in little Tokyo” for example, the sex scene between Dolph and his brand new Chinese girlfriend Loki (Charlotte Lewis) is (unfortunately) too much censored.
You didn’t doubt about the presence of a sex scene, did you!
The brutal finale is largely entertaining and action-packed and everyone gets what they deserve.
It is a brutal mayhem for a half an hour with non-stoppable shootings, knifings, fist fights and explosions.
Some are stabbed to death, some are shot with a bazooka while others end up with broken skulls.
You can expect a hilarious, yet thrilling fight between Nick Guner and Keefer that shall put an end to everyone’s misery.
‘Men of War’ is a dumb, predictable and highly enjoyable direct-to-video action flick from the 90’s.
It also an amusing ‘piece of art’ that will make you laugh hard, no doubt about that.
The movie once again demonstrates Dolph Lundgren’s martial arts prowess and solidifies him as a leading action figure during the big boom of the cheesy actioners.
If you want to enjoy it, you need to forget about character development, storytelling, and acting.
What we have here are some mercenaries that walk around a beautiful jungle and shoot each other to death with rocket launchers and everything that comes to their hands.
The gorgeous scenery and the dramatic music only enhance the whole experience and in the end, it all works out very well.
One has to admit that the movie has a theatrical look, even though it was released straight on video.
‘Men of War’ is a winner and be sure that it delivers the great fun that we all search for in a funny action movie.
What do you think about ‘Men of War’? Did you laugh hard watching it? Leave a comment below!