November 14, 2011

Direct Contact (2009)

Directed by Danny Lerner. Starring Dolph Lundgren ("Mike Riggins"), Gina May ("Ana Gale"), Michael Paré ("Clive Connelly"), and Bashar Rahal ("General Drago"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (First Look)
Running time: 01:30:29
Country: USA, Germany

Mike (Dolph), a prisoner at the same Russian jail from UNDISPUTED II, is approached by a representative from the American Embassy, who gives him the opportunity to get his freedom back. It's initially unclear as to why Mike's in jail in the first place, but luckily the Embassy's "Attache", Vince (Michael Paré), fills the viewer in by dropping some seriously blatant expositional dialogue:

"The American government is a little reluctant to help an ex-Special Forces who gets himself locked up for smuggling weapons."

Hey, thanks for that, Vince. Anyway, Dolph's character is a bad-ass (big surprise), so the fact that someone's reaching out to him in particular and is willing to have him released from jail for a serious crime could only mean that Dolph needs to put his bad-assery to good use. Apparently a certain American citizen, Ana (Gina May), has been captured and held against her will by a "warlord", and Mike needs to go rescue her. Sounds simple enough. Turns out she's at some military camp, which Mike infiltrates, no problem. But when he attempts to take Ana out of there, she resists and even goes so far as to assault him. Confused, Mike needs to take a step back and re-assess the situation, which isn't easy to do since he's being attacked by a screaming woman, so he does what anyone in that situation would do and punches her in the stomach and hogties her.

Sooner than later, Mike and Ana split from the camp, but she's not happy about it. A chase through the nearby city ensues. Motorcycles, tanks (TANKS!), military vehicles, helicopters. For what I assume is a fairly low-budget movie, there's an awful lot of destruction during the chase scene. Impressive. Ana eventually calms down, and it's revealed that she was at the military camp voluntarily to help care for a sick child. Long story short, Vince isn't who he says he is, but unfortunately for Ana, Mike finds this out a little too late and ends up having to keep her out of harm's way from the man who initially hired him to scoop her up in the first place. Mike tames Ana with the power of sex (in a barn!), and anyone who's seen a fair amount of action movies should know how the rest goes.



DIRECT CONTACT is directed by Danny Lerner, who's primarily a producer and writer. The only movies of his that I've seen prior to this are RAGING SHARKS and SHARKS IN VENICE - both of which are low-budget and as super-cheesy as their titles suggest, but they have a lot of charm despite their obvious flaws. And, like those films, DIRECT CONTACT has something magical about it that I can't describe. It's like Danny Lerner "gets it". He hits all the right beats in this film and delivers exactly what you'd expect, and he exploits the strengths of his resources while masking their weaknesses. He understands that, sometimes, character development and "drama" need to take a back seat to cars exploding.

Explosions going off before grenades even hit the ground, stuntmen overselling their injuries, and the biggest set-up for the most disappointing action movie catch-phrase ever are just a few of the things that make DIRECT CONTACT special. However, it's a certain death scene at the end of the film that seals the deal. I won't say who it is or explain the context of the scene, but I'll just say this: mid-air man-splosion. Among the highlights of the film, for me, are the three lead actors. Nothing needs to be said about Dolph, for obvious reasons. Michael Paré of STREETS OF FIRE fame is actually pretty good in this. Gina May, who unfortunately doesn't do much and hasn't starred in anything since, is absolutely adorable. While I won't be gearing up for another run of Dolph movies anytime soon, DIRECT CONTACT turned out to be a pleasant surprise and highly entertaining. As far as Dolph's newer straight-to-DVD movies, I'd put this up there with COMMAND PERFORMANCE as one of the film's I'd more than likely revisit sooner than later.

Score: 6.5

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