Army of One (1993)

Army of One (1993)
  • Time: 108 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Crime
  • Director: Vic Armstrong
  • Cast: Dolph Lundgren, George Segal, Kristian Alfonso


Wellman Santee (Dolph Lundgren) a former race car driver, whose livelihood is transporting exotic stolen super cars, is involved, with his partner Eddie, in shoot out, resulting in the deaths of his friend and a highway cop. Santee is framed for the cop’s murder and jailed in a maximum security prison. A few months later, Santee breaks out after narrowly escaping an attempt on his life. He reaches a local diner where he steals a car, abducts the owner, Rita and flees, completely unaware that is hostage is a deputy sheriff. A massive manhunt ensues, spearheaded by Lt. Severance a tough, obessive cop. Santee leads the detective and his men on a dramatic high speed chase, from the desert wilderness to the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Santee’s out to clear his name and when it comes to getting even, he’s taking revenge into overdrive…

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  • Adventure / thriller movies are always big on action. At some point through the running time, decisions have to be made whether to accept fate or try and change the oncoming outcome. This kind of balance needs to be checked because if not monitored, either the viewer will end up being stuck in an explosive marathon in nothing but action after action without any story, or too much exposition and no action at all. No matter what the extreme, either or will bore its viewer. Unfortunately, that is the case for this action flick and surprisingly, it suffers from both extremes believe it or not. After being framed for murder of a police officer, Santee (Dolph Lundgren) is sent to a penitentiary only to almost be killed by the man who framed him. After escaping, Santee takes one off-duty cop named Rita Marek (Kristian Alfonso) hostage while having Lt. Franklin L. Severence (George Segal) on his tale close behind.

    Directed by usual stunt coordinator veteran Vic Armstrong (his directorial debut) and written by Steven Pressfield (Above the Law (1988)), this action thriller is very low on the entertainment and high tension meter. There’s only a few good areas to point out. Its strongest element are its cinematography captured by Daniel L. Turrett. Although this is Turrett’s ONLY cinematography credit to date, it is decent. The rest of Turrett’s work is credited as camera operator and although that is a totally different task, Turrett did what he could. The entirety of this movie is set in the desert and Turrett shot as much footage as he could get to include wide landscape and long running mountain ranges. It sure is nice to look at. The second best aspect to this movie are most of its cast and how they act. Sadly, the cast that is respectable are not on screen as much as the actual main cast.

    For Lundgren himself, there is no complaint. He has all the best lines and works well with that alone for this particular film. Aside from him though, George Segal as the Lt. Severence is wholesomely uninteresting because of his sniveling voice. Even the young Kristian Alfonso is remarkably banal in her performance. Yet, audiences will have supporting cast performances from the underrated Geoffrey Lewis as the local Sheriff helping Lt. Severence. Backing up Lewis is a younger Nick Chinlund as a Deputy. He’s easy to pick out. Then there’s the cameos (not really, but because they show up for all of about 5 minutes. Ken Foree (known from George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Living Dead (1978) and Texas Chain Saw Massacre III: Leatherface (1990)) plays Eddie, Santee’s partner. Along with Foree is another young Khandi Alexander playing Eddie’s wife. Too bad they didn’t have longer roles. Finally, the last part that works here is the action (partially). What is meant by partially is that the shootouts are well staged and set up. Those are fun.

    But now we hit the bad territory. The bad side to the action are the car chases and fist fight scenes. For sequences you’d think would move quickly and get your attention, does not happen here. This is the movie’s biggest problem; pacing. When the sequences occur, it gets old really fast. So quickly, in fact it feels like its drawn out just for padding purposes. Then there’s the scenes that involve exposition, which don’t even get told correctly. This is said because Lundgren’s character says nothing about what’s going on the whole time. The only way viewers will understand what’s going on is by listening to Alfonso’s character – why? Because she asks all the questions that don’t get answered and she figures them out on her own. The thing is, the information to understanding this plot is held back for such a prolonged amount of time, there comes a point in the movie where the viewer just may not care anymore and wish for the film to end because they won’t understand why things are being done without any reason.

    Pressfield’s writing is very mediocre here. Another thing that is eye-roll inducing is how cliche the execution is. You have the protagonist (a muscular dude) out fighting the way he wants to and doesn’t care if he dies and runs across this hot young chick. There’s no guessing to what’ll happen between them because it has been seen time and time again in these kinds of action/adventure thrillers. Of course they’re going to hookup, why wouldn’t they? There’s also a subplot that sort of explains Santee’s relationship with an old man played by Bert Remsen but it has no effect on the plot so why it was included was beyond understanding. Lastly, bringing the list of bad components to a close is composer Joel Goldsmith’s musical score, son of legendary composer Jerry Goldmsith. Here, Joel Goldsmith’s score hardly warrants any recognition even with a couple of repeating themes for certain scenes. Much of the score uses the cheap 1 or 2 instruments that would be required for a Richard Band production and its more disengaging than anything else. Thankfully it hasn’t been released to the public.

    The title correctly portrays what it says and that’s Dolph Lundgren mowing down bad guys without getting a scratch. But this doesn’t happen that often. Besides good looking cinematography and a few actor cameos that tease the audience more than anything else, this cat and mouse chase is boring half the time with bad pacing, cliched writing, and poor sounding music.

    Points Earned –> 4:10

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