Friday, 18 September 2009

Maximum Revenge (1997)

Sleeves? Richter needs no sleeves.

Maximum Revenge
is one of the few films by prolific low-budget director/wrestler Fred Olen Ray not to include the word "bikini" in the title. I can't deny that Maximum Bikini Revenge would have been a catchier title, but it wouldn't be particularly accurate. The star of this film is an Olen Ray regular, a guy who the back of the DVD claims is "action superstar Paul Michael Robinson". Nah, I don't know who he is either but he's been in a bunch of knock-off Emanuelle films and some other softcore skin flicks, so he's got some valuable experience in sweatily grappling people with his shirt off.

In fact he can't go five minutes without exposing his rippling torso, earning his character's incredibly manly name of Mason Richter in the very first scene. He single-handedly (and shirtlessly) foils the kidnapping of a Prince of a fictional Middle Eastern country I've already forgotten the name of. During the rescue attempt the Prince pulls a gun on him and gets killed - turns out he had masterminded the whole thing to scam his uncle - but wouldn't you know it, the bureaucrats upstairs don't want to jeopardise already-strained relations with oil rich Fakeistan so, since he has the worst lawyer ever, Richter gets put away for murder.

Cut to some journalist working on a story about the botched kidnapping. His wife says he's working late, but she's got an armful of groceries so it's either not that late or she likes to shop at night. He explains that the terrorists have broken out of prison and I guess clumsy exposition pushes her buttons because the two of them launch into a softcore sex scene where she displays her creepy and perfectly hemispherical silicone boobs. Unfortunately they get interrupted by Murdock, the terrorist leader, who isn't happy about the journalist's coverage of the incident or something (it's not really clear). He kills them both and steal's the journalist's press badge.

Six months later, Richter and about half a dozen other cons are being transferred to a brand-new ultra-liberal high-tech prison while a a couple of journalists are given a guided tour by the warden. The prison is completely ridiculous, with it's own MRI machines, saunas, spas, computer science classes etc. The smug warden condescendingly refers to his prisoners as "guests" and laughs off any concerns about security, even though the prison is located in middle of an LA residential area. If he had taken security a little more seriously he probably would have noticed that one of the two reporters is obviously a terrorist (he has a ponytail) with a six-month old press badge and pretty soon a van load of terrorists have marched in and taken over the facility.

Coincidentally these are the very same terrorists from the attempted hi-jacking at the beginning of the film and they plan to detonate a nuclear bomb in the basement of the prison and blame it on Fakeistan. This way they can force the American government into a confrontation with the Arab world. Ha, ha, ha... like that would ever happen. Being able to polish off Richter is just the icing on the cake, so I guess it isn't really Maximum Revenge at all, it's Supplemental Revenge. Even Richter isn't particularly interested in taking revenge, he's just trying to prevent millions of people from being killed. It's a pretty stupid title. Revenge isn't even quantifiable.

After the terrorists shoot her cameraman they lock the sexy female reporter and the chief warden are in the control room where they manage to overpower the guard, log in to the computers and reverse the terrorist's lockdown of the facility. For some reason this unlocks every cell door in the whole joint but luckily there's only Richter and a handful of other prisoners in there since it hasn't officially opened yet. I don't know if they're planning on transporting them all six at a time, it could take a while. Like all criminal-coddling liberals the chief warden is a cowardly scumbag so he immediately abandons her and tries to escape but he is shot in the process.

The handful of prisoners scatter after the terrorists try to shoot them, and after playing John MacClane for a while Richter saves the sexy female reporter from a stereotypical Latino serial rapist. While she patches Richter up in the infirmary she gives him a speech about how tough it is being a female reporter and how she is just eye candy and nobody takes her seriously. Ironically, this is immediately followed by a softcore sex scene and Richter makes the rapist (his name is Hernandez or something equally generic) stand watch (not stand and watch, mind) outside while they do it. Yeah, no rush guys, just a bunch of armed terrorists trying to blow up L.A., plenty of time for soft-focus partial nudity and cheesy saxophone music. Naturally the rapist kidnaps her again later but he is shot dead before he can do anything too bad. Unfortunately her savior is Murdock, leaving her conveniently well-situated for the climax of the film.

I haven't really mentioned the rest of the prisoners but they are a pretty cliched bunch. There's the nerdy corporate criminal, the accidental murderer etc. Luckily one of them is a bomb expert and the terrorists have left the bomb completely unguarded, so he sets to work disarming it while Richter takes out the remaining terrorists. In what is ostensibly the big fight scene is his showdown with Stefan, a terrorist with a mullet of Don-Niam-in-Undefeatable proportions. After that it's the final showdown with Murdock and his sexy terrorist sidekick, and in a film that dutifully follows every action movie cliche it would be remiss of them not to the scene where they cut the red wire with one second to detonation. With a grotesquely exaggerated kiss for our sexy reporter, Richter saves the day and shows us all exactly how by-the-numbers and generic an action film can get. Hooray!

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