Directed by Dolph Lundgren. Starring Dolph Lundgren ("Nick"), Ben Cross ("Burton"), Ivan Petrushinov ("Sasha"), and Olivia Lee ("Julia"). Rated R. Body Count: 37. Boob Count: 4.
Source: Region 1 DVD (Sony)
Run time: 01:33:48
Country: Germany, USA
A former special forces operative is hired to rescue a woman from the clutches of a sadistic Russian mobster. The incentive? The gangster is the same person who killed his family years ago.
Dolph Lundgren plays Nick (short for "Nikolai"), the titular Russian specialist - a former soldier who fled to America following the deaths of his wife and son, who were killed during a mob shootout. The movie begins with the flashback scenes establishing the tragic deaths of the hero's loved ones, after which we cut to America, where he's apparently taken on a career as a mechanic. Not the Charles Bronson type of mechanic, but just a plain ol' grease monkey who fixes cars and rocks sleaveless overalls. It's not long before he's approached by a presumably wealthy woman and her associates. His mission, should he choose to accept it: travel back to his home country of Russia and rescue the woman's daughter from the Russian mobsters who kidnapped her - specifically a scary fellow by the name of Sasha.
Nick does the whole "I'm retired" speech (actually he just says "I'm a mechanic"), but is sucked back into a life of ass-kicking and name-taking once he realizes Sasha is the same shit-head who killed his wife and son. Now he gets to avenge their deaths and make 500 grand while doing so? Shamon wit' it!
Once in Russia, Nick hooks up with a connection provided to him by the woman who hired him: a Brit named Burton who evidently wallows in a cesspool of booze and hookers. Not sure what his qualifications are, and as far as I can recall his credentials (assassin, ex-military, thief, etc.) are never mentioned, but the impression I got was that he was more of a liason than anything; a liason who would then hook Nick up with yet another team of trained killers who would aid him in hunting down Sasha. Whatever... Dolph Lundgren hooks up with a group of Russian mercenaries and they try to find the missing American girl. That's all you need to know. Meanwhile, Sasha is running a prostitution ring, so you can take a wild guess as to how the American chick fits in.
Outside of Dolph Lundgren enthusiasts, I can't recommend this movie to anyone. With a simple premise such as the one here, you need some strong character development, or at least some outstanding action set-pieces or memorable dialogue to really set it apart from the countless other search-and-rescue or revenge action films out there, and unfortunately THE RUSSIAN SPECIALIST (also known as THE MECHANIK) doesn't do any of those things. It's a Dolph Lungdren showcase and that's pretty much all there is to it. Aside from some OK chemistry and a few light comedic moments between Dolph and the British character, nothing really stands out as far as the film's substance; more isolated comedic moments throughout the film would have gone a long way. Another gripe I have with the film is that aside from Dolph, the Brit, and Sasha, all of the other characters are visually bland and devoid of personalities, which makes it somewhat hard to distinguish them apart from one another when they inevitably clash.
On the other hand, fans and followers of The Dolph will get a decent watch out of this. Dolph kills a shit-load of people, and while it's certainly no Mario Bava movie by any means, it's still a tad more stylish than your run of the mill Action film. Recommended to Dolph Lungdren appreciators only.