Monday, July 30, 2018

The Ultimate Weapon (1998)

The ultimate weapon 

Tagline:

No Fear. No Rules. No Equal.

Movie Review:

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I’ve been doing this blog (on and off, let’s be fair) since 2011. So how have I made it this far without a Hulk Hogan film amongst the ranks? That was something I was determined to fix with The Ultimate Weapon!

Ben Cutter aka Hardball (Hulk Hogan) is an ex soldier, now contract mercenary for hire. He is given a job along with newbie Dean (Carl Marotte, The Park is Mine) aka Cobra (named Cobra because that was his dad’s callsign… Cobra) to be the strike force that takes out an illegal gun runners fortress, codename: Shamrock (a name that should have been a dead giveaway, but I digress). After laying waste to the compound, the UN weapons recovery team helicopter in to clean up. Cutter is not convinced they are actually UN (thick Irish accents a dead giveaway of IRA ties, I guess), so following his instincts blows the absolute shit out of the compound from the safe distance of the (now stolen) helicopter, giving us the first tremendous explosions of the movie. This action has a ripple effect: the wealthy IRA buyer of the guns, McBride (Daniel Pilon, Scanners III) is angry and wants revenge, determines that Cutter’s daughter Mary Kate (Cynthia Preston) is the weak spot so kidnaps her, luring Cutter into his trap of revenge.

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This was a great time. No messing around here, no overly complex plots. Just a solid late 90s body count movie with an of-the-time-appropriate stolen flash drive subplot (though I would have also accepted CD ROM, or better yet, Minidiscs posing as data storage) with a side dish of unsatisfied wife and daughter. The Ultimate Weapon knows what it is and embraces it, at least as far as TV movies can go with these things. It starts off as a commando movie, has a befriend-and-protect estranged daughter second act, and an escape and revenge third act. The acting across the board is passable (even Hogan, he’s just in full 80’s Arnie mode and it’s actually pretty good) and being late 90s we haven’t hit shaky-cam DTV era yet. We get a blazing first act, a slower but more methodical second act and a nice wrap up in the third. All you really need in this kind of film.

Starting off first, Ben Cutter is a badass. The first scene we see him in he’s in a Canadian Tuxedo - denim waistcoat, open to reveal bare chest, and denim jeans - and it’s a marvellous thing. Although not sporting a mullet in the movie, he metaphorically is wearing one. That’s after being roused awake from an entirely slow-motion jungle scene from, presumably, his Vietnam war days where he’s running away from an engaging enemy with a little girl under his arms. He loses his grip, she rolls down a gently hill screaming and he wakes up in denim, in a haystack. Brilliant. Hogan spends most of the film shooting people and looking imposing, though we do get a few shows of brute force you’d expect from a former wrestler. A classy scene in a bar shows Hogan roundhouse kick a guy through a pile of chairs, and then throw another guy over his head into a table. In every case that he is halted with a gun to his face, he manages to get out of it by either a sneaky punch or from the help of his along-for-the-ride partner Cobra. 

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Our bad guy McBride is the rich businessman in mansion type, who has many legitimate businesses but one or two illegitimate ones as well. The kind of guy that has men in black just standing around his mansion guarding his Fabergé egg. We even have a scene of him fencing some shmo that works for him. His ploy to get to Cutter involves threatening (sexually) his daughter to draw him out (which it does) and we get a scene of him being strung up in a shooting range designed to test new guns on pig carcasses. That’s a new one for me, but it didn’t scare our boy Cutter. He breaks free, dispatches the goons and gets on about saving the day. 

Speaking of the daughter, Mary Kate, we find her working in a tittle bar. Yes there are boobs in this film, no they were not hers. You have to feel sorry a little for Cutter in this scene, forced to watch his daughter dance sexily for paying drunks. And he may be the absent father of twenty years, but geez she would just not give him a break until the last fifteen minutes of this film when he went missing. A lot of teenage angst in that girl. Honestly the second act of the film with its slower pace, marriage proposals and focus on daddy issues could have spoiled this film, but there’s enough mullets and guns to keep it moving at a fair pace.

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One of the things I love about 90’s films “computer hacking” and this film doesn’t leave me wanting in that department. Not only does McBride wear a ‘flash drive’ around his neck (in 1998 no less!) but he stores important illegal information on it under the filename.. SECRET_FILE.DOC. I laughed so hard as our heroes attempted to decrypt the file and that name showed on the screen. Seriously, I love this stuff. 

Now being made for TV the bloodletting was toned down but that’s not to say it wasn’t a solid action film. Plenty of foes were dispatched, especially in the first act, and over the top RPG explosions, machine gun firefights, flipped cars, the works. And there are a few minor gibs at critical points so it’s not all bloodless. It feels like a proper film, just with a slight haze of midday movie to the whole thing - but don’t read into that too much. If you like 90’s action from PM Entertainment or Nu Image then you will enjoy The Ultimate Weapon. The soundtrack of synth rock with wailing guitar solos also earns it an extra point in my book.

Note: the runtime of this UK disc was bang on 90 minutes, but Amazon and IMDB both list the runtime as 110. I don’t know if US VHS or DVDs could possibly be longer so I’m chalking that up to misprint that was repeated as fact.

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Highlight:

The final scene in the movie shows one of McBride’s goons crash his car into the side of a bar, when inside McBride himself is standing on a landmine. A slow motion crash followed by a satisfying, humungous explosion and fade to black.

Trailer:

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