Where there is life there is also death.
For some reason I have been really anxious to see this movie ever since I created this blog. I think it was the DVD cover - it spoke to me in a bad sci-fi kind of way that really intrigued me. I kept putting off buying it as the only option was importing it and I knew I only wanted to spend a couple of bucks on it, but then I did a trade for a copy of Blood Hands with a Canadian friend of mine and here we are. Total Recall on the cheap is what I was expecting. Did it deliver?
Olivier Gruner plays renegade law enforcer Caution Templar who arrives on Mars after receiving a message from his brother of some urgency. When he arrives he learns that his brother is dead. Not only that, but he uncovers a mystery that explains that the deadly plague that is killing the workers of this mining planet may be suspicious in nature, and that The Company are involved. With the help of a female doctor with a bizarre hair cut (Shari Belafonte), Cautions fights his way to the truth while being chased by company law enforcers who want him dead.
This was pretty good and moved a long at a fair clip. It was totally Total Recall done on the cheap, that's for sure. We have the constant orange dust of the planet outside, the cheap and sleazy living domes on the inside that are filled with prostitutes and strip bars with flickering lighting. There was the annoying sidekick character (though this one didn't turn out to be a mutant with five kids to feed). And of course we had the 'is he a bad guy' head of the company that runs the planet and his team of mainly incompetent goons. About the only real difference was that the main girl in Mars is an educated Doctor researching the cause of the plague, and not a full time plaything for Gruner.
Gruner fills the Schwarzenegger role admirably though the character he plays and the supporting storyline are different enough to make him stand out. And you gotta love that name - Caution Templer. Being that his character is a "Keeper" - an almost religious-like servant of the company - the surname was appropriate. But.. Caution? When his brother was in his death-throws at the beginning and his last words were "Caution... Caution..." I had assumed he was talking about the package he carried; perhaps it contained bio-weapons or some sort of alien artefact. And then Gruner walks onto screen with his identification card "Caution Templer". I did snigger a little.
The main reason to check out a Gruner film is to see him kicking arse and he did plenty of that here. In fact from the small selection of Gruner films we have reviewed here so far (Crooked and Automatic - yes I am aware I haven't checked out the revered Nemesis yet), I think this one demonstrates his capabilities the most. There are rarely any scenes, especially in the first and third acts, where Gruner isn't round-housing come guy into a glass table. His acting is the usual Gruner affair; stare blankly, speak softly and kick things good. Though in this case his voice is DUBBED, so it's not his own voice speaking softly! Quite why the producers decided to do this is beyond me. It's not like he was hard to understand in Automatic.
I got a kick out of seeing Lee de Broux in this, better known (to me, anyway) as the cocaine dealer boss in Robocop. You know the one: "Mikey, blow this cocksucker's head off!" He was the head of security in Mars and had a bit of a cuddly uncle thing going on, not wanting to get too involved and trying to keep order and not get fired. There is also an appearance by another 'that guy' bad guy Nils Allen Stewart who turns up as beefcake thugs in many movies.
It looks like there is something exciting on the horizon. If IMDB is to be believed, 2012 will see the release of a new Albert Pyun film entitled "Red Moon" which stars Kevin Sorbo, Michael Pare, Olivier Gruner and Sasha Mitchel from the Kickboxer sequels. It appears to be a sequel to previous Pyun film "Tales of an Ancient Empire" which everybody above except Mitchel had been a part of. I've not seen Tales yet and its IMDB score of 2.8 does not fill me with confidence, but I'm kind of hoping that Gruner and Mitchell will be pitted against each other in a show of kickboxing awesomeness.
Anyway, Mars is worth checking out and is a low budget sci-fi actioner on par with something like TC-2000. Pick it up if you see it cheap
Fullscreen video that is pretty decent but the audio seems a little distant and muddy at times. I had to turn the volume right up, but then the music would sometimes overpower. Runtime 90 minutes. Note: the screenshots here I found scattered around the internet as my DVD wouldn't read in the computer for some reason.
A trade with another fellow bad action fan.