HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

AMBUSHED -- Blu-ray/DVD review by porfle

Teaming ex-EXPENDABLES Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Vinnie Jones all together in one action flick is a sure-fire recipe for awesome, right?  Not if that flick is the lame cops 'n' drug dealers mish-mash AMBUSHED (2013). 

Frank (Daniel Bonjour), a young strip club owner, and his partner Eddie (Gianni Capaldi) venture into the cocaine trade.  But after Frank wastes a couple of rivals in a bid to move into the big leagues, they run afoul of ruthless kingpin Vincent (Vinnie Jones).   Meanwhile, LAPD detective Reiley (Randy Couture), the quintessential dirty cop, sees red when the double homicide investigation is taken over by DEA agent Maxwell (Dolph Lundgren) and his team.

Although Lundgren's purehearted fed is the nominal protagonist, we're meant to like and identify with Frank even though he's a coldblooded, opportunistic slimeball with no compunctions against blowing away a couple of unsuspecting cohorts simply to advance himself.  He even narrates the story at certain points, although the movie often forgets that it's being told from Frank's point of view. 

I think we're meant to regard Frank as a compelling "bad boy" not unlike Ray Liotta's Henry Hill in GOODFELLAS, but despite his goal to someday start a normal life with his straight-arrow girlfriend Ashley (the appealing Cinthya Bornacelli), he's thoroughly unlikable.  The last thing I need is for this criminal asshat to be narratively lecturing me about the "war on drugs" (this is writer Agustin addressing the USA as a whole) or chattering at length with his flakey partner Eddie about such things as "Yosemite Sam" cartoons or whatever wannabe Tarantino characters are yakking about these days. 

Other pointless dialogue exchanges and weak attempts at characterization get in the way of the simple, barebones cop-movie plot  that's trying to break through while director Giorgio Serafini bombards it all with "style."  There's an abundance of overly busy visual doo-dads throughout, such as mulitiple split screens in which the little black divider lines that slide in and out of the picture make swooshing noises (camera pans and optical wipes make noise too), and several montages in which people invariably speed up and slow down while walking as bad hip-hop drones incongruously on the soundtrack.

Serafini's camera swoops and swirls around everybody and covers even the simplest scenes from several angles, including peering in at characters through the window, just so he can edit them all together in a rapid-fire visual cacophony.  All of this stuff really cranks up when there's an action scene, as "hip" camerawork and choppy editing make it hard to tell what's going on and drain the suspense out of everything.  When Lundgren and Couture finally go at it for their climactic shaky-cam clash, it's almost as though the various camera shots were all tossed into the air and edited together at random. 

This anti-climactic hand-to-hand battle is one of the few times we see the underused Lundgren (THE KILLING MACHINEMISSIONARY MAN) and former UFC champ Couture (HIJACKED, THE EXPENDABLES) together in the film, while Vinnie Jones (HELL RIDEJOHNNY WAS) makes a good early impression as a totally badass crime boss and then drops out  of the picture entirely before the halfway mark. 

Acting honors, surprisingly, go to Couture for his hardbitten portrayal of a detestable cop who tries to extort the bad guys and, facing prosecution, ends up going off the deep end.  His final hostage-crisis freakout leads to a frenetic and somewhat confusing shoot-em-up finale that, again, wants to be Tarantino-esque (some QT titles are even name-dropped here and there) but is mainly just an over-edited mess.

The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack  from Anchor Bay is in 2.35:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound.  Subtitles are in English and Spanish.  The sole extra is a making-of featurette. 

Watching AMBUSHED is like eating fast food and washing it down with a diet drink.  Despite its brisk pace and a couple of interesting performances, it's basically just a bunch of empty calories--and hardly a feast for action fans.

Buy it at
Blu-Ray/DVD Combo


No comments: