Mean Guns Quick Review

Ok, I know what you guys out there in blog land are thinking: A Christopher Lambert movie that ISN’T Highlander isn’t really worth anything. Well my friends, you’d be absolutely WRONG! Here’s my ghettolicious review of MEAN GUNS (1996) by Albert Pyun!

Mean Guns, a B-Action movie directed by Albert Pyun, is a non-stop crazy train of violence and comedy. It contains both utter malice and over-the-top machismo charisma thanks to a collection of leads and supports that play each of their simple parts to the most amusing letters possible.

So where to begin? How bout that plot! It’s all in the tagline, baby! 100 Assassins, 1,000 Guns, 10,000,000 Dollars! Ice T himself spells it out to his top-tier gamers: The World’s Best Assassins From the World’s Most Powerful Syndicate. They arrive at a state-of-the-art prison (which looks more like an uptown high school to me, but hey, that lighting makes it shine!) under no pretense whatsoever except to heed the call of their elite syndicate. The game? Fight to the death, cause all you motha-fuckas betrayed at some point–big or small it’s ALL THE SAME. Think the motivation of the badguy from Oldboy on a corporate level, and just as messy and impersonal and BOOM you’ve got the motivation of…well people you never see. But that’s beside the point because they get their personification through Ice T’s “platinum” grill yo!

The follow through is simple: Three players can win the game, claim a split of the money, and leave with their lives (I won’t spoil the twist where the syndicate is going to backstab them in the end and kill them all anyways…oops). This is all supported by the amazing cast of crazy people that Pyun and his writer Andrew Witham have created: Lou the psycho played by Lambert, a three sweet ass bitches (one kicks ass, one complains a lot, guess which one is hotter?), two hilarious birds known as Crow and Hoss, and Marcus the cold-blooded badass as played by an immensely under appreciated Michael Halsey. After the released of a case of guns and a box of baseball bats upon the crowd, CHAOS ENSUES. The main characters go through the prison forming bonds, backstabbing each other, and murderin otha gangstaz who get in der wayz. Deez G’s all play it fo Real yo, bringin out da beats to make dis gangsta ass film some heavy shit.

What I mean to say is that Lambert’s crafting of the character Lou is quite different from his typical shy-but-cunning Mcleoud persona of the Highlander series (or pretty much every other movie he’s ever done since). He brings such a joyous bloodlust to the role that it becomes hilarious contagious, bridging the gap of cheese-that-could be to enjoyable B-movie killtacularocity. There’s some range provided for his character as well, with comedic lines, bad ass looks, and even some real dramatic pauses in the end. I liked Lou. He was a cool character, with action moves such as running across table tops, wielding two handguns and smiling while being shot at, it was like watching some bastardized American version of Devil May Cry– and you all out there know my love for DMC.

Bringing a balance to Lambert’s over-the-top madman is Marcus, played effortlessly, flawlessly, and damn near wordlessly by Michael Halsey. Now Mike hasn’t been in a lot of things people would remember, and I’m not sure if this is the one he’d want to be remembered for, but if I had to be known for a performance I’d pick this one: The man freaking channels Charles Bronson’s natural bravado and quiet masculine power from Once Upon a Time in the West as if he had just played Ouija with a Death Wish box set. He’s the kind of killer who is quiet, composed, and never misses a shot simply because he “timed it right” rather than has super-draw abilities (more on that by the end of the film) and impresses more with his piercing gaze than any crazed-kill one liner could ever accomplish. He’s really the main highlight to this show and its sad to say he didn’t get nearly as much credit for holding this movie together as DA T or Chris Lambert.

So what do you get when you throw a Ghetto Gangsta, a Foreign Nutjob, and a Trans-Historical Gunman character into a death match? You get 100% pure awesome. The fights are brutal without being bloody, complimented with great sound effects that really pound the senses without the use of bloodpacks. The action is messy without being incongruous allowing the editing to keep it sharp and painful, and the comedy is stylishly timed keeping the film from feeling far too serious. Nods to greater works are peppered throughout, including but not limited to John Woo flicks like Hard Boiled and Sergio Leone films like The Good The Bad and the Ugly; the latter of which has a familiar melody possibly mimicked into the score of Pyun’s movie. Its a real collage of hand-to-hand, bat-to-face, gun-fu combat all kicked into overddrive.

If you find this movie, please buy it! It is a real treasure of B cinema and is a perfect template for amateur action makers to follow. And it sure as hell had a better story than Paul Anderson’s recent action disaster Death Race. It probably cost one quarter of the budget as well! You wanna make action movies, then get MEAN GUNS and learn sometin you FOO!

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