The fear is spreading.
Not sure how we've gotten this far without a Jeff Speakman review on the blog. This one I learned about thanks to one of our readers Venom, who many moons ago suggested to me some of the best Nu Image titles to check out. Amongst the dozen or so titles was Deadly Outbreak. It's a tough one to find on DVD too, and I'm not even sure that it got a US or UK release. You can get VHS in those territories, but the disc I'm reviewing is the uncut Dutch release.
"Your party stinks. There's not enough ice cream and way too many clowns."
Jeff Speakman is Sgt. Dutton Hatfield, a special services agent tasked with escorting a group of scientists to a chemical plant in Israel. Unbeknownst to him and everyone else, the plane carrying the scientists was hijacked by Colonel Baron (Ron Silver, Timecop) and his team of mercenaries, who killed the original occupants and assumed their places. In Israel, Hatfield takes this team of "scientists" to the plant for their tour of the operations.
That's when Colonel Baron and his men unleash automatic weapon fury on the guards and take over the building, their ultimate goal being to steal a prototype chemical weapon from the head scientist, Dr. Allie Levin (Rochelle Swanson), and hold the world to random. Hatfield eludes capture and tries to restore order in what could have easily been called Die Hard in a Chemical Factory. Along the way he recruits the only other good guy survivor, one of the plant workers Ira, and the good Doctor herself.
Oh man, was this ever sweet! This has gone straight to the top of my favourite Nu Image films list, and up there with the best Die Hard rip-offs as well. I'm talking Under Siege and Sudden Death quality here. The action rollercoaster rarely ever stopped, and when it did it only stopped for Speakman to catch his breath before taking out more bad guys with a combination of automatic weapons, his fists and his feet. Speakman was the definition of cool. He muttered one liners to himself throughout the movie when toppling bad guys, but none better than when he blasts a guy in the crotch with a SHOTGUN and says "guess you forgot to wear your bullet proof cup." Fantastic!
This was cookie cutter stuff but it was done supremely well; at least when using the B-cinema scales. Ron Silver was totally awesome as the bad guy, and was downplayed and placid just like he is in Timecop with Van Damme. He has a very threatening persona and plays the Hans Gruber role perfectly. He has his henchmen to assist who are all straight out of the school of cliched hired goons. You got the guy with the long curly hair and uzi, the guy with the perm mullet and knives, the guy that gets too freaky with the token female and therefore is prone to a quick death by our hero. All we needed was Professor Toru Tanaka to turn up. In his place we do get a tall black man who enters a room with a machine guy and says "Take a seat!" before blowing everybody away. That was pretty cool.
The violence was pretty high in this. The opening takeover scene on the plane was just vicious and cold with one of the grunts shooting half a dozen passengers, completely unaware of his presence, in the back of the heads with a silencer. It was a little TOO much really, and I thought we were going to get a dark film. The film is big and loud like any good Die Hard clone. I suppose this was just the equivalent of the Die Hard "I suppose you're just going to have to kill me" brains splattered on the window scene - the standout vicious moment that you remember. Speakman cuts an unconscious man's achilles tendon and quips "if he wants to catch us, he'll have to crawl after us." Yikes!
As well as the gun fights we get quite a few examples of Speakman's martial arts prowess. So many guys get kicked off three story railings or flights of steps and fall in slow motion that I started to lose count. The scene in the bathroom shows Speakman can slap-fu as good as if not better than Seagal himself! There's also a sweet helicopter versus bus chase to look forward to, a huge car chase through the underground factory that sees hundreds of barrels get their comeuppance, Speakman makes out with the good Doctor, and just to round out the staples, he has to disarm a bomb by cutting the red wire! I'm not shitting you!
I can't say I can think of many other action films that take place in Israel. Not that you'd really be able to tell in Deadly Outbreak as the vast majority of the film takes place indoors, and the outdoors segments are just non-descript airports or highways. It's not like there were snipers on the Wailing Wall or anything. About the extent of it is a few accents and the military are wearing Israeli uniforms.
According to IMDB, this film was edited into Steven Seagal's Ticker. Now I've not seen Ticker yet so I'm not sure what parts Albert Pyun lifted for his movie, but that movie get's generally panned so he must not have picked the good parts. I find that hard to believe as there's very little here to dislike. Perhaps he only used a few minutes of soldiers running around and then built a crapcake on top of it? One day I'll find out when I sit down and watch it.
This is a great time. If you like Die Hard on a Boat/in a Car/on a train/in the Ocean/on the Moon kind of movies then you will dig this. It's actually quite similar to Michael Dudikoff's Strategic Command though this is far, far better. It's fast, it's violent, it has great bad guys, witty one liners and a great action star with Jeff Speakman and a cold hearted baddy with Ron Silver. I'm not really surprised that the action in this was so good as it was directed by long time stunt co-ordinatior Rick Avery, and lists Nu Image boss Avi Lerner as the executive producer. Definitely worth your time.
Solid full screen video that doesn't look cropped from widescreen. I will mention that this edition is supposedly UNCUT when compared to a German edition. I'm not sure how it compares to any US or UK VHS. Runtime approx. 90 minutes.
A seller on eBay for about 15 Euro + shipping. It's not an easy one to find! You might want to just get the VHS if that's easier.