11th Apr2018

‘Syndicate Smasher’ Review

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Mel Novak,  Laurene Landon, David Prak, Jon Miguel, Olya Lvova, Nic D’Avirro, Arthur Roberts, Hidetoshi Imura, Eiji Inoue, William De Vital, Joe Estevez | Written by Doug Tochioka | Directed by Benny Tjandra, Doug Tochioka

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A group of mercenaries hired as contract killers are hunted down by the Mafia, the Yakuza, the Russian Mob, and the Tongs all at once. Syndicate Smasher is an action flick which is a homage back to the action films of the 80’s where the good guys are hard as nails and the villain’s shoot as accurate as a blindfolded storm trooper. In the end the bodies are piled high in this cheesy but fun action film which is best described on IMDB, in the trivia section, as “eligible for Guinness world record of most gunshots in film history!” Which pretty much sums up what sort of movie you can expect.

The team of mercenaries are led by cult actor Mel Novak as Milan, who at 75 looks good for his age and shows once again that he still far from finished.  Syndicate Smasher is just one of the projects which Mel has undertaken following a recent resurgence in his career over the past couple of years and it’s easy to see why. It is safe to say that he may not have the agility of his younger years, but he certainly maintains his screen presence as the cool calculated leader of the team, making an impact in the opening scene as he opens up with a barrage of bullets in what looks to be a nod to Rambo (2008).

His team consisting of three other members, bring their own unique skills and despite being low in numbers, prove that they are more than capable of taking on a whole army.

The first member of the team is Filipino-American Jon Miguel who plays Jack Samson. Jon has a background in martial arts which you can see from some well-choregraphed fight scenes in the film. It would have been nice to have seen more of Jon’s fighting as he definitely shows potential in the film, so it would be interesting to see what he does in the future if given a more leading role.

The beautiful but deadly Russian-American Olya Lvova, gives a feisty performance as Dasha Fedorovich. Although Olya does well with her role, it does feel as though she is underdeveloped as a character, although this is not unexpected the genre and apart from a scene in which she is negotiating with the Russians regarding the teams pay, for most of the film her role doesn’t extend much further than being the female fighter of the group.

The final member of the group is David Prak as Dara, who despite his short size seemed to handle the larger weaponry pretty well in the film; reminding me at times with his sun glasses and leather jacket of a shorter Arnold Schwarzenegger from the terminator films. The film makes a point of emphasising a t-shirt which David can be seen wearing during the film which says ‘I survived the killing fields’. This is in reference to his past where he was able to escape from the killing fields of Cambodia in 1981.

On the other side of the law, the highlight of the film for me was Laurene Landon as the ball busting cop Carol Driscoll; who through a personal vendetta is determined to take down the Italian crime boss Russell Dippolito (Nic D’Avirro). Probably best known for her performance as Teresa Mallory in Maniac Cop (1988), her performance in Syndicate Smasher is very different and it was great to see her embracing the role. Although Laurene delivers some emotional scenes in the movie, it is her comical timing which makes her performance so impressive. It is her feisty unpredictable temper and disregard for protocol, which makes her so entertaining to watch. It may only be a supporting role in the film, but she is certainly memorable.

The action in the film as you would expect feels as though it shouldn’t be taken too seriously, which is why it feels let down by the overcomplicated plot. The film tries to incorporate several sub plots regarding feuds between the various crime syndicates, but because it never really adds any real depth to the film, the constant meetings and discussions often just slow the film down. For a late-night action film, the main thing that people are looking for are some entertaining performances and plenty of action, and when the film focusses on delivering this it works really well.

Syndicate Smasher doesn’t have the budget of a Hollywood blockbuster and doesn’t pretend to be, so we do get a lot off CGI throughout the film which has varying degrees of success. It may not always look perfect, but the muzzle flashes, explosions and continuous blood splatter work well enough to keep the action entertaining, with some surprisingly effective decapitation from the rapid gunfire makes the execution better than most.

The film may not be ground breaking to the action genre, but it has enough action to make it an entertaining watch. It is great to see Mel Novak doing what he does best and new upcoming talents such as Jon Miguel coming through. With that being said the highlight of the film for me is Laurene Landon, who really stands out with her performance. It may not be perfect, but if you are a fan of straight to video 80’s action you can forgive the films short coming, grab some popcorn, sit back and just enjoy the ride.

Syndicate Smasher is available to watch now on Amazon Prime.

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