Writer/director James Glickenhaus is probably best known for his 1988 action-crime-drama Shakedown, starring Peter Weller and Sam Elliot. While it wasn’t a hit, it did manage to pull in $10 million on a $6 million budget. Unfortunately, the filmmaker’s follow-up feature, McBain couldn’t even pull in $500,000 on a $16 million budget. One of the reasons might be because the production company decided to release the film themselves instead of selling it to a studio. While not a very good movie, those who grew up on films like Rambo and Missing in Action may find plenty to enjoy. McBain totally feels like a film that would have been produced by Cannon in the mid-80’s, even though it came out in the early 90’s. This week the Christopher Walken action flick arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Synapse with a brand new 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix.
Set 18 years after the Vietnam war, veteran Robert McBain (Walken) heads back into action when Christina Santos (Maria Conchita Alonso) travels from Columbia to New York to give him half of a hundred-dollar bill. During the war Christina’s brother Roberto (Chick Vennera) gave McBain the other half after he rescued him from a P.O.W. camp. If the two halves of the bill were to ever meet again, McBain would help the one who brought it.
Christina’s brother was publicly executed by the corrupt Columbian President (Victor Argo) for leading a group of rebels who tried to fight back. They wanted to stop the cocaine production in their country, which is destroying the lives of their people. McBain can’t do it alone. After all, he isn’t Rambo. Who is he going to call upon? His former platoon, that’s who. This includes Eastland (Steve James), who is now private security. Dalton (Jay Patterson) who is now a doctor, Gill (Thomas G. Waites), who has gone into law enforcement and finally Frank Bruce (Michael Ironside), who has become a filthy rich arms dealer. However, he misses being in the action. The former soldiers raise some cash by threatening a New York crime boss and head to Columbia to take down the political leader and drug exporters who pull his strings.
To be perfectly honest, if McBain didn’t star Christopher Walken, the film would have held no place in my cinematic memory. The actor is not known for these types of roles and for good reason. He feels a bit out of place. Still, it’s its fun to watch him run around with a machine gun. Even the way he changes the gun clips are very Walken-esque. Glickenhaus keeps things moving along and seems to love blowing things up. I am betting most of the budget went into the final act explosions.
Synapse has delivered a vibrant 1080p presentation. While the New York locations don’t really pop, there is a great shot from the top of the bridge, where Christina first meets Robert. The scenes in Columbia stand out as well, especially when the President’s palace is under attack, and we get all those bright explosions, which are also fully taken advantage up with the new 5.1 audio. If you are a fan of this mostly forgotten piece of 90’s action filmmaking, you can’t go wrong with this disk.
- Commentary features writer/director James Glickenhaus and film historian Chris Poggiali.
- Theatrical Trailer (1:25, HD) is included.
By: Marc Ferman