Monday, November 27, 2017

Ultimate Justice (2016)

Ultimate Jusice

Tagline:

Vivere Militare Est.

Movie Review:

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So I’ll get this out of the way early. The film is largely dubbed, in English, likely due to it surprisingly being a German film. Mostly by their original voices (this is no Steven Seagal in Attack Force); Mark plays Mark, Hues plays Hues, etc. But for example Wolfgang Riehm who plays the Commander is clearly speaking German and being dubbed by somebody else. I thought this was going to be intolerable, especially after an early scene had bad echoes of the actors possibly doing their ADR work in a large room but thankfully that passed and the dubbing became less noticeable as the film progressed, though the sound is rarely natural. I thank my years of watched Kung Fu movies for my tolerance level being higher than perhaps others.

We start with a pretty sweet two-squad attack on an enemy compound that sees Gus (Mark Dacascos) and Frank (Matthias Hues) taking point. Through the usual array of firing every variety of military firearm, hand grenades and even a tasty knife thrown at a throat the team get the “package” (some guy, I dunno, it’s irrelevant) but not first without losing a man. Back on friendly ground, Gus tells the Commander he’s done with this crap and disbands the team - in fact he sells the whole company (no that’s not weird, I just haven’t mentioned yet that this is a private special operations group - not regular army Joes).

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Eight years later and Gus is having dinner with his former Commander Hans, his wife and daughter. Hans reveals he is sick and has been seeing a doctor. This seems like something important that we should remember but Gus’ wife is impatient for sex so they leave. That night Hans’ family is attacked at home; his wife raped and murdered (a rather nasty scene), and his daughter kidnapped. Calling in on Hans at the hospital, Gus declares he will get the old team back together, rescue Hans’ daughter and deliver... Ultimate Justice.

It’s the oldest action movie plot in existence, but I digress. This independent action flick has a lot to offer for seasoned DTV action movie fans. Firstly there are a lot of fights and shootouts and they get pretty creative, with interesting locations and set pieces that keep things interesting. Hand to hand combat is largely based around the martial arts, and at times echoes the best Jackie Chan films with the use of random objects as makeshift weapons against three guys at once finally culminating with a shovel to the face. The film goes from interrogation to fight, to interrogation to shootout, car chase to dirt bike chase, throw in a team casualty and a red herring, wash and repeat until the final showdown and rescue of the girl. Some of the old tropes come out of the closet (“I thought you were dead!”). This is no bad thing, by the way. You didn’t come here expecting anything else. 

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“To live is to fight.”
“What does it mean to die?" 

All the fighters are believable and we get decent screen time fights for the main team of Mark Dacascos and Matthias Hues (and it’s great to see them as compadres, not enemies). My standout was Mike Möller as Benny who has some fast Van Dammage-like kicks in his arsenal. He’s certainly moved on from Inmate #1 in Half Past Dead and sports quite the filmography as an established stuntman. I hope to see him in more leading action roles, though not to downplay the quality fights that the rest of the team displayed, he was my favourite.

When Gus is getting the team back together, we get the classic scenes of seeing what the former members are up to now, last seen for me in Expendables 3. One is a cop doing street fights for cash on the side. Another is the token computer hacker who is recruited as the.. computer hacker. Benny is pumping petrol and defending young lady customers from interfering scum. Brandon Rhea as Doc has become a monk to atone for his past sins as a top notch interrogator. But Matthias Hues wins the show with his new career flipping burgers, wearing a burger hat. This is off the charts awesome, as you can see below. 

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The film may not sound great with the dubbing but it looks pretty good. Proper lighting, decent camera’s, this is a film that had a modicum of budget and was filmed in scope. The camera doesn’t flick around too much during the fights, though it’s still shot quite frenetically. This is refreshing as many modern DTV films cheap out on the visuals, though we still do get the occasional CG muzzle shot and squib but I did not find it distracting.

So overall, this is a fine indie actioner that suffers a little from the (sometimes amusing) post-production voice work, but is largely redeemed by some really quite good action set pieces, a story that doesn’t try too hard to be challenging, and a quality team of combatants (some of the bad guys too are badass fighters) that know how to deliver a good kicking. Good times at 90 minutes and a solid DTV debut for newcomer director Martin Christopher Bode. 

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Highlight:

Aside from Matthias Hues’ burger hat, the biggest character development is the internal turmoil we see with Doc as he switches from master interrogator to monk in dressing gown. He snaps and turns to the dark side when one of the team close to him is killed, and the film takes a temporary very dark turn into Hostel territory with Doc torturing a guy with a nail-gun and disc sander. To quote Han Solo, “They didn’t even ask me any questions..”.

Trailer:

More photos:

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