Monday, November 8, 2010

Fortress 2: Re-entry (1999)

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Tagline:

No Pardon. No Parole. No Escape.

Back of DVD:

Years ago, John Brennick did the impossible - he escaped from the maximum security prison known as The Fortress. But the Men-Tel Corporation have finally tracked down and re-captured their most wanted fugitive, and Brennick's fight for freedom is about to begin again - on a state-of-the-art prison orbiting 26,000 miles above the Earth.

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Movie Review:

I actually owned this when it came out and as I didn't have much appreciation for bad sequels I sold it on. Ten years later I picked it up again at a closing down sale and gave it another chance. I am a massive fan of the first Fortress. To me it is the epitome of B-grade sci-fi action, with hilarious over-acting and plenty of cyborg-gore to boot. Plus Kurtwood Smith (Boddicker from Robocop) is brilliant as Prison Director Poe. And it also helps that it was filmed in Queensland.

Fortress 2 came out seven years later which follows well with the timeline, as the movie starts in the woods where Christopher Lambert and his (most likely) seven year old son are working and riding horses. They are called back to the cabin by his wife Karen (different actress to the first film) and meet with members of the resistance to Men-Tel (the corporation that own everything and built the first Fortress). Lambert doesn't want a bar of them and sends them packing, just in time for Men-Tel choppers to find him and his family. Soldiers blow open his door and chase him into an escape tunnel in the floor, shooting and getting shot at in the process. Lambert's wife and kids get separated and Lambert escapes in a jeep that has a handy RPG in the boot. He takes out the chopper but another comes quickly and blows his car up, netting him as he tries to escape, and knocking him unconscious with gas.

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Lambert awakes in a steel chair being dictated rules to by the resident robotic glowing red light in the roof, a situation he knows all too well. The first thing I noticed is that for some reason Zed, the security system, has a South African accent this time. This sequel was filmed in Luxembourg so it's a little surprising. Instead of Intestinators, this time Lambert is outfitted with a new neural inhibitor, injected into his leg. I would have thought his head would have been more appropriate, but I'm no doctor, nor a security system with red eyeball.

It all goes on pretty much like the first movie, except this time women are allowed to mix with men. Lambert gets a bunk bed with a mix of people - a girl who was with the resistance but got arrested, an ex-Russian military man, another ex-resistance guy who had a botched implant and is now a dribbling fool, and the jive-talking everyone's-friend black sidekick Marcus Jackson. He dead-set nearly pulls out "This is whack!" at one point, but this is the 90's so I have come to expect it in movies of the time (see: Under Siege 2).

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There is of course an altercation with a beefcake in the mess hall who is complaining about the pink and yellow slop he has to eat. Lambert tries to break up the fight to save them all the pain of the neural inhibitors. This is when we get to meet the administrator of Fortress 2 (Patrick Malahide hamming it up) as he demonstrates over the internal video network what happens if you disobey the rules - you get flushed into space. That's right, Fortress 2 is an orbiting prison platform over Earth. Bet you didn't see that coming, what with the subtitle "Re-entry". Lambert is still going to try to escape though.

Yuji Okumoto, who we have previously seen playing the bad guy in Hard Justice, plays the token prison guard Sato that enjoys beating people up too much. There are a couple of instances where he asks for the inhibitors to be disabled so that he can enjoy a fight with an inmate, and other times where he just sits back and watches beefcakes try to take on Lambert. One beefcake has a go with a overly large welding torch but gets beaten into submission and catches on fire. Sato sends Lambert and a few others outside the ship in suits to do some repairs and doesn't care that Zed is warning him of an incoming asteroid shower. Lambert makes it back in side but one random redshirt cops as asteroid to the brain. Sato laughs and says "I'd give that a nine out of ten". Ooh you cold, cold man.

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Look, this isn't too bad. Certainly I don't know why I sold it the first time, I definitely appreciated it more on a second viewing. But it pales in comparison to the original. There is no over-the-top gore in Fortress 2 and no triple-barreled shotguns which is a real shame, as it was one of the main reasons the first worked so well, but there are a few fights and a minor shootout.

Lambert's sidekicks are also not as likeable this time round. The first movie had a good mix of friends for Lambert with prison-currency Nino Gomez, assistant to the Administrator Abraham, beefcake Stiggs and the awesome Jeffrey Combs as tech geek D-Day. The annoying sidekick Marcus Jackson is the tech geek guy this time; he fashions a TV remote out of bits and pieces and a video recorder that the gang use to loop shower footage over the security network to confuse the guards whilst making their escape.

And what the hell was the deal with Lambert being able to do a spacewalk with no suit and just hold his breath? If you've seen the excellent Sunshine you know you turn to ice after about a second in space unprotected. It's -270 degrees for god's sake.

Worth a watch if you were a fan of the first movie's story and not just its gore. And check out the second last screenshot at the bottom of the page. Yes, that is a metronome.

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The Video:

This is the long deleted R4 edition, one of the early examples of DVD in Australia coming out in 2000. The 16:9 enhanced presentation is very good and the filmic quality and surround sound are perfectly fine, no issues to report. Runtime 89 minutes.

Sourced From:

A Video Ezy rental shop that was closing down for two bucks.

Trailer:

More Screens:

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2 comments:

  1. I went back to my review of it, which was over three years ago. I asked if in part three they would shrink Lambert and put him in a prison in some guy's colon. Good thing they never made a part three, though imagine if it was Kurtwood Smith's colon?

    The best concept of these films has always been two-fold: first, that America, with its vast open spaces, would ever have an issue with overpopulation; and second, that we'd flee to Mexico to escape the law that controls that overpopulation. Starting from that premise, it only gets funnier from there.

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  2. That's a killer idea for part three. I think Kurtwood Smith would be okay with hosting a prison in his colon as well. As long he makes a few bucks on the side.

    I've often thought that the middle of Australia between South Australia and the Northern Territory is a desert wasteland ripe for a high tech prison or three. Where you gonna go? You can't even try an Escape from Absolon escape on a boat because there's no body of water for thousands of kilometres.

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