Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Storm Catcher (1999)

Storm catcher poster


To fight the winds of war, he must enter the eye of the storm.

Movie Review:

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Major Jack Holloway (Dolph Lundgren) is a test pilot for the Army and along with his copilot Captain Lucas (Jon Pennel) and ground support/comedy relief Captain "Sparks" Johnson (Mystro Clark). Sparks is a name you would give to an engineer, not ground support, but anyway. After a successful test of the new Storm Catcher stealth fighter, Holloway takes a short holiday with Sparks and his family where he helps coach his daughters little league and roasts marshmallows while camping. It's pretty strange to see the guy who once wore a necklace of ears in Universal Soldier roasting marshmallows but it's funny all the same. His wife Jessica is played by Kiwi super model actress Kylie Bax and she keeps her accent throughout, which stands out a country mile. Also she can't act, at least in this one her first role. She went on to join Dolph again in the thriller Jill Rips which I haven't seen so perhaps she got better.

Anyway, Holloway gets bleeped back to work so has to leave his family shindig. Cut to the army base where a person in Holloway's uniform (why do they need space suits for a stealth fighter anyway?) has entered the Storm Catcher hanger and proceeded to shoot all the other soldiers with a silenced pistol. The mask is down so we never see his face but his thumb print security matched Hollway's so it must be him, right? Outside, a pair of rebel assassin/sabotuer types dressed in black clothes and black face paint arm bombs to the hanger door, blow the place watch as Captain Lucas flies away with the secret jet. Yup, he's crossed the Army.

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The next day in the desert heat, Major Holloway stumbles onto the road looking for his family, with no clue as to how he got there. He is questioned by the military and all evidence points to him having killed all those soldiers and stealing the secret jet but he has no memory of it. He's piled into a prisoner security van and taken away but on route the van is hit with a missile and explodes. Luckily Holloway is okay and is pulled from the wreckage by more rebels who take him away in an ice cream van.

This is pretty good Dolph. It has a stronger storyline than some of his other movies (and also more stock footage) but it still hits pretty high on its action quota, and doesn't get lost in any convoluted plot-trappings. Put simply, Dolph gets framed so tries to clear his name and get his plane back. There's a few beatings but it's mainly firearms action here and resulting explosions in slow motion, and there's quite a lot of that. Holloway manages to free himself from the confines of the Ice Cream truck and steal a weapon. He heads home to check on his family but more assassins were waiting and gas the place. Holloway protects his family and takes out the bad guys but his wife is shot and hospitalised. From then on Hollway is on the run and trying to find out what's really going on here, mowing down bad guys on the way.

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There's a bit of light-hearted comedy on display here and not all of it works. I'm not sure what the producers were thinking with the inclusion of the two X-Files style CIA secret agents - Agent Lock and Agent Load, and no I'm not making that up - but they are surely only there for the comedy relief. Agent Lock is played by Kimberley Davies, a name familiar to any Australian who watched the daily soap Neighbours during the 90's. Thankfully she attempts to fit in with the crowd by emulating an American accent; I wish Kylie Bax had done the same.

Agent Load, played by British actor Anthony Hickox (also in Jill Rips, and Seagal actioner Submerged) puts on an awful southern drawl that's gotta be played for kicks. He asks the General if he had noticed any strange "BEE-haviour" with Holloway, to which the General responds "No strange.. BEE.. haviour." Sigh. Oh and the kids that slap the bomb on the door kiss it first and say "Blow me". Ugh. Some of Dolph's quips are worthy, however, and one of the scenes he has when he pretends to be from Brooklyn so that he can steal a plane is pretty funny. He also has a punch-on with a 250Kg beast of a man who collapses on top of him when he goes down.

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Storm Catcher does feature one of my personal dislikes that I've mentioned before; somebody hacking the Hollywood OS. This shit annoys me in every movie I see. While on the run, Holloway asks "Sparks" to investigate the dog tags from the assassins in the ice cream truck. No problem, "Sparks" is a computer whizz it seems and sneaks into a secure lab and starts typing away. When greeted with the usual 'access denied' red rubber stamp message, he just taps in some random gibberish and away she goes, 'access granted'. I hate this crap.

Storm Catcher is better than some of his other movies like Detention and The Defender and with higher production values, but it's not as good as his later crazy movies Command Performance and Direct Contact. About on par with Sweepers or The Shooter I'd say. You can't really go wrong with it but nothing really stands out. A solid Dolph effort, recommended to anyone who likes a bit of airforce action.

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The Video:

The R1 disc is dual sided; 16:9 on one side and 4:3 on the other. I watched the widescreen version and it was nice and sharp with well-defined colours and strong blacks. The soundtrack was clear and explosive. The movie really benefited from the orchestral scoring and not typically mindless, generic rock. Runtime 95 minutes.

Sourced From:

eBay for one English pound.


More Screens:

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  1. I had fun with this one too, especially the scene where Dolph fends off an attacker with a futon. Nice that you had a Neighbors alum, considering there was a Kiwi in the film too in Kylie Bax. You don't want to upset the Kiwi/Aussie movie balance too much.

  2. Hah, I don't recall that scene with the futon. I'll have to scan through and see if I can find it. My favourite movie Kiwi is definitely Zoe Bell, the stunt girl in Death Proof that rode on the bonnet of the car. She was in the recent Snipes flick Game of Death and starred in her own action flick Angel of Death in 2009. I must check that out actually.

  3. Enjoyed this Dolph flick also! Angel Of Death is a blast, Sutekh. Zoe Bell is great in it!

  4. Yeah this was relatively middle-of-the-road Dolph, but that's still pretty damn good. That Hollywood Os thing didn't really bother me though, I never pay much attention to that stuff since I'm pretty far from being a computer expert.

  5. Yeah I'm sure it's just me that gets annoyed by fake computers and hacking in movies. And you are right, middle-of-the-road Dolph is still excellent compared to most other action star's 'excellent' movies.