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Review: Men of War

Old 01-01-01, 10:46 PM
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Haven't seen any reviews of this yet, so I'll post mine. Essentially straight from my Amazon review:

At first glance, Men of War doesn't seem like much: It looks like yet another low-profile action film from the King of B-Movies, Dolph Lundgren. Good for a few laughs perhaps, but certainly nothing worth repeat viewing. But this notion is quickly dispelled upon closer examination. The first clue to the film's surprising quality is a screenwriting credit attributed to indie filmmaker, John Sayles (Passion Fish, Ghost Dog). Known for his intelligent and character-driven dramas, Sayles' writing imparts Men of War with far more subtlety, wit and meaning than one would expect from a direct-to-video action film.

Things just get better from there. There's the diverse and talented cast that includes BD Wong, Catherine Bell (TV's JAG), Thomas Gibson (TV's Dharma & Greg), and Tiny Lister (The Fifth Element). The actors have clearly been chosen for their ability and suitability for the roles rather than because they're the next "hot young thing".

This high quality is maintained by the director and cinematographer. I've never heard of director Perry Lang, but based on his tight, visually-interesting work here, he certainly deserves to be given another film to helm. The whole production has an extremely polished and high-quality feel to it.

Indeed, the major failing of previous home video editions of Men of War was that they were in pan & scan, thus cropping off the film's beautiful widescreen cinematography. The DVD edition finally corrects this oversight and allows the wild action scenes and gorgeous South Seas locations to be seen in their original 2.35:1 widescreen glory. Many of the action scenes reveal careful and stylish choreography that simply wasn't apparent in the pan & scan VHS tapes. While the DVD is a bit light on features, one needs to consider that this is literally the only widescreen DVD of the film in the entire WORLD. Combined with a loud (if only 2.0) surround sound audio track, this disc is worth it just for presenting a great overlooked film the way it was meant to be seen.

Part hardcore mercenary action movie and part deft character study, Men of War should be sought out by anyone looking for a quality film that can stimulate both the mind and the eyes. Highly recommended.

Old 01-02-01, 04:48 PM
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...it's always good to have a choice of reviews, to help a person make up their mind...


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Old 01-02-01, 10:51 PM
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The second reviewer doesn't know what the hell he is writing about. Seriously though, Men of War is rather unusual for a Dolph Lundgren film. It's philosophical and more leisurely paced (but also well photographed, acted, written), so those expecting a Showdown in Little Tokyo style bloodbath may be disappointed. When the action comes at the end, it's great though.

Best bet for the undecided would be to rent the VHS which is available in every video store I've ever been to. The pan&scan really hurts the action, but it should give you an idea of the kind of movie it is.

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