The Killing Machine – DVD Review

Even before the recent release of The Killing Machine, I think it would be easy to call 2010 a successful year for action legend Dolph Lundgren. Sure, Entertainment Weekly isn’t going to pronounce him “Entertainer of the Year” anytime soon, but quietly Lundgren is making a nice little comeback that could mark a whole new chapter in his career. Back in February, Lundgren reteamed with his Universal Soldier co-star Jean-Claude Van Damme for the DTV sequel Universal Soldier: Regeneration, which could not only easily compete for being one of the best DTV action films ever produced, but could also be in the running for being one of 2010’s best action movies period. Next up in August, The Expendables saw Lundgren’s return to the big screen, in which he made a huge impression on audiences as one of the film’s heavies and was a key part to the flick’s box office success.

Now, with The Killing Machine, Sweden’s biggest action import puts one more feather in his 2010 cap by directing and starring in an entertaining little action film that’s sure to please his longtime fans. His sixth time behind the camera, Lundgren brings us the story of Edward Genn, a former KGB agent and hitman with a reputation for being able to pull off the types of jobs that others won’t touch. Unbeknownst to his family, who thinks Genn is merely a real estate broker, the man code-named “Icarus” travels the world knocking off drug kingpins and officials for the highest bidder. That is, until his organization turns on him, and suddenly Edward is without anyone he can trust. With hired guns closing in, he must eliminate nearly everyone he knows, and must even silence some voices from his past in order to get his loved ones to safety.

While there isn’t anything that is inherently fresh or new about The Killing Machine, much like Lundgren’s other solid directorial efforts, Command Performance and The Russian Specialist, this is a movie that works well by staying within the confines of its formula and delivering on that premise as much as it can. Like a smaller budget version of The Professional, the movie keeps up a steady stream of action while doing a good job of developing some interesting characters. While there are some bad camera and editing techniques that end up getting overused in the movie, the final product ends up a satisfying diversion due to the efforts of Mr. Lundgren and a terrific cast.

While not usually noted for his acting, Lundgren is a performer that’s well aware of how effective his screen presence is and is very capable of giving a performance that surprises you with how nuanced it is. Here, he gives us a dash of self deprecation, and manages to show just how tired Genn is of the life that has torn apart his marriage and often left him in danger. When called into action though, Lundgren shows he still has the goods with some steely heroics, and looks first-rate in the film’s hand to hand and bullet-laden combat. Lundgren the director also does his part, orchestrating the mayhem very well and managing to throw in some decent gore on occasion, giving the picture a little harder edge when needed.

Where films like this can often get into trouble is with its supporting cast, but fortunately The Killing Machine has comes up aces for the most part. I especially like the work of Samantha Ferris as Kerr, a contact who shares a history with Genn only hinted at. Apparently, the part of Kerr was initially written for a man, and when Ferris came on board the decision was made not to change the character, which makes the role much more fascinating. The scenes together with Ferris and Lundgren have an odd feeling of sexual tension without being explicit, and other than the action sequences comprise the best bits the movie has to offer. Two others of note; Stefanie von Pfetten makes a thankless role work by turning Edward’s estranged wife Joey into a warm, yet understandably distant woman, and Bo Svenson gets to chew up a lot of scenery in the film’s finale and looks like he’s having a ton of fun while doing it.

The Killing Machine isn’t a perfect movie. The picture is perhaps a bit too predictable at times, and also relies too heavily on shoddy camerawork that ends up exposing the film’s limited budget, giving the movie a sort of CSI-flashback look at times. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an old school action experience with a decent body count and a terrific lead, look no further. Since exiting the spotlight in the mid-1990s, Dolph Lundgren has kept working through the DTV market, continuing to produce entertaining action cinema. While honing both his acting and directing talents, he has steadily become one of the most consistent action stars in this field, and The Killing Machine is just another prime example of the type of solid films he continues to produce.

The movie looks pretty good, and the print is clean with nice colors and a crisp, detailed picture. The sound here is also worth mentioning, as its consistent and top notch all the way through.

Behind the Scenes of Dolph Lundgren is…The Killing Machine – Just under 30 minutes, this featurette is pretty much all the info you’d need on The Killing Machine. There’s plenty of interviews with the cast, but what’s really fun here is watching Dolph do some work behind the camera.

Trailers – You get trailers for this movie and other Anchor Bay releases.

Not quite as good as Command Performance or The Russian Specialist, The Killing Machine is another solid example of the good work being done by Dolph Lundgren. The movie is entertaining throughout and takes itself completely seriously, making for a fun way to spend 88 minutes. The disc doesn’t have a lot of extras, but the movie looks good and for fans especially, is well worth your time.

Anchor Bay presents The Killing Machine. Directed by: Dolph Lundgren. Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Samantha Ferris, Stefanie von Pfetten, and Bo Svenson. Written by: Raul Sanchez Inglis. Running time: 88 mins. Rating: R. Released on DVD: October 19, 2010.

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