Director – James Glickenhaus (Timemaster, Slaughter of the Innocents)
Starring – Christopher Walken (Hairspray, The Jungle Book), Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man, Predator 2), and Michael Joseph DeSare
Release Date – 1991
Blu Release – 3/5
Horror and exploitation may be my bread and butter but straight to video action films of the 80s and early 90s are what got me on my reviewing journey. My dad was was a huge western fan but we didn’t have a western channel where I grew up. Instead, he would watch whatever the premium channels like Cinemax and HBO had to offer. This was where I was introduced to these wild action flicks. I only fueled that fire when I started renting tapes from my local video store.
I still look forward to watching the millions of cheap action flicks that was released during this time and has relatively been lost to time. A few weeks back my friends over a Synapse Films sent over the 1991 action thriller McBain starring the unforgettable Christopher Walken. I had never heard of this one so I was fucking excited to finally check it out. I want to thank Synapse Films and MVD, who is handing the physical release, for sending this one over.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a Vietnam vet who has transitioned to civilian life as an iron worker when he is contacted by the sister of a Columbian freedom fighter that lost his life trying to overthrow the Columbian government. She convinces him to avenge her brothers death so he embarks on a mission to recruit hos old squad and steal money from drug dealers to fund his mission to Columbia. Once there his squad works together to bring peace to Columbia which is controlled by El Presidente and the cartel. **Spoiler Alert**
McBain is one of those easily forgettable action flicks that I grew up loving. It’s not the best but it is enjoyable if those are your type of films. Hell, I wish this was one I had seen prior to now because I know it would be one I would have revisited like all the others from my childhood.
The casting in this one is very unexpected but I did enjoy it. I was born in the mid-80s so I lived through the video store age and grew up in the 90s. Christopher Walken was a part of my childhood thanks to The Prophecy and Joe Dirt. While most people remember him for his roles in The Dead Zone, Deer Hunter, and Batman Returns, I grew up watching The Prophecy and Joe Dirt with the latter being a film I often revisited in my youth. It’s a bit strange seeing him act and not carry the same mannerisms and dialogue delivery that I was used to. Honestly, I really enjoyed seeing him actually get into character and not portray the “image” that most associate with him. The supporting cast is great in my opinion. In fact, their characters and performances were a little better than Walken’s. There was times where it felt like Walken was disassociated from the film and was just saying his lines on co-pilot while his co-stars were fully invested in the scene. It does make them uneven but it brings that “so bad it’s good” charm that I like about this type of action films.
The story for this one kind of felt like a rejected A-Team episode that repurposed for a direct to video release. It asks a lot of the viewer to go along with it but some aspects are very cleverly written. Why a group of Vietnam veterans would team up to try and crush a corrupt government from a third world nation is beyond me but I did like the part where they raised the money to make the trip there and some tie backs to the Vietnam war that was enjoyable. However, the film skips on the characters and giving them different personalities. Instead, they are all “yes, sir” type men with no definable or memorable personalities.
Finally, the film has a lot of deaths but they don’t really have the blood or gore you would expect. We have those campy deaths where people go stiff and fall after being shot and some decent sized explosions. I was a bit disappointed in the lack of original deaths and fighting but that’s something to expect with a film like this. Overall, McBain is another generic action flick that I actually enjoyed. This is one of those films you can toss in if you’ve been drinking or popped an edible. It’s not good but it’s fun which is all you can ask for from a movie. Snag it on blu from Synapse Films.
New 5.1 surround soundtrack created specifically for this release (original theatrical stereo mix also included)
Audio commentary with director James Glickenhaus and film historian Chris Poggiali
Original theatrical trailer
Newly translated removable English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing