10th Aug2014

‘Mercenaries’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Zoe Bell, Vivica A. Fox, Kristanna Loken, Brigitte Nielsen, Cynthia Rothrock, Nicole Bilderback, Gerald Webb, Tim Abell, Tiffany Panhilason | Written by Edward DeRuiter | Directed by Christopher Olen Ray

Mercenaries-cast

You remember the 80s and the action films of The Cannon Group? Remember how Stallone tried to bring that era back with The Expendables? Remember all the chatter about the being an “Expenda-belles” movie? And how, even now some 3 films into the franchise, we are nowhere near to seeing the female-centric version come to fruition? Well forget that film. And forget The Expendables. Check out the Mercenaries

The plot is, like it’s big-screen brethren, pretty simple.When the President’s daughter is kidnapped by a man-hating “Amazonian She-Bitch” (to quote the movie) whilst on a tour of a foreign war zone, a team of female mercenaries – all prisoners of the United States government for various severe crimes – is assembled by the CIA to infiltrate a women’s prison for a daring rescue.

I’ll be honest, news on Mercenaries broke just after I’d watched the awesome Zoe Bell fight-flick Raze, so between seeing (and loving) that movie and finding out that this film would also star one of my all-time favourite martial arts movie stars, Cynthia Rothrock, it’s safe to say that I was a more than a little excited for what Mercenaries had to offer… And a little apprehensive.

After all, this is another product of The Asylum, the studio that seems to have most recently dedicated itself to pumping out sequels to it uber-monster (literally) of a hit Sharknado; and whom have a spotty record when it comes to their particular brand of mockbuster. Although to be fair to The Asylum I really enjoyed their Animal Planet flick Blood Lake, and their recent Hercules flick, Hercules Reborn, was a decent low-budget “mockbuster” take on the legend that actually was less of a quick cash-in on the big screen version and more of a re-telling of the legend. But Mercenaries? Well that would, ultimately, turn out to be something more. Much more.

Not only is Mercenaries easily the best film The Asylum have ever produced, it’s also an Expendables beater.

Now that may seem like a bold, and frankly ridiculous statement, but it’s not. Having loved the first two adventures of The Expendables, the third film (which I had the pleasure of seeing in a recent screening) left me cold. That film was a by-the-numbers affair, the type of film that was more about the headlining names in the cast than the story, the type of film that was more reminiscent of the Stallone career lows of the 90s than the great comeback the first film was. Which is why I can safely say that Mercenaries wipes the floor with The Expendables 3. It succeeds where many slicker Hollywood female-led action movies have failed (Tomb Raider I’m looking at you) and also where The Expendables 3 failed, because it has the right cast. The right blend of women. And most importantly, the right story in which to show them off.

I don’t think you could have asked for a better group of women in a Cannon-esque action flick. Zoe Bell and Kristanna Lokken kick mucho arse as usual (Lokken seems to be channeling a little of her T3 character here) and Nicole Bilderback – who is the real surprise as a bad-ass bomb expert, having only appeared in teen comedies and the like in the past – have superb chemistry. Whilst Vivica Fox and Bridgette Nielson make for great villainous foils for our heroes (Nielsen really chews up the scenery in a role she was born for). It’s just a shame Cynthia Rothrock doesn’t get more screen time but hey at least she gets to have a smackdown, drag-out fight with Fox early on!

The action genre was, at one time, filled with female heroes – the likes of Cynthia Rothrock, Michelle Yeoh, Kathy Long and Rachel McLish – all of whom tore up the screen in some of the best B-movie action flicks to have ever been produced (before or since). Of course we’ve had female heroes since, but in my opinion nothing has really matched the heady days of the straight to video era for creating real star vehicles for women who can really kick arse. Mercenaries does this. And it does it incredibly well.

For action movie fans and fans of films like The Expendables and Delta Force, Mercenaries is a seriously unmissable flick. The film is available now via [US]  iTunes.

***** 5/5

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