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Fallen Knight
(a.k.a. The Minion &
Knight of the Apocalypse)
(1998)
 

Director: Jean-Marc Piche           
Cast:
Dolph Lundgren, Francoise Robertson, Roc Lafortune


How the mighty have fallen; when Dolph Lundgren first came onscreen in 1985 in the box office hits A View To A Kill and Rocky IV, it seemed like he was destined to be the next big foreign born action star with a strong accent. Lundgren's pronunciation of English has improved greatly over the years, but his career hasn't. After the aforementioned box office hits, he starred in a string of critical and box office failures, including Red Scorpion, Masters of the Universe, and I Come In Peace. You'd think someone with a master's degree in chemical engineering would have been smart enough to pick better scripts, but I guess not. As a result of those embarrassments, most of the movies he's made in the 90s have been made-for-video movies like Pentathlon, Silent Trigger, and Cover-Up, which are even worse than the earlier theatrical movies he's made. (Two exceptions: The Peacekeeper, which I found enjoyable, and Army Of One, which has a mediocre first half but an absolutely dynamite second half.) But with Fallen Knight, Lundgren hits the absolute bottom. After seeing this movie, I truly believe that he has lost the last remaining bit of credibility that could have gotten him back into theatrical movies again.

They spent - get this - 12 million dollars to make this movie. It sure doesn't look like they did. When I say that Fallen Knight looks like a million bucks, I don't mean that in the complementary sense - Fallen Knight is cheap all the way around. The movie always looks like it's slightly out of focus, the fog machine is put into overdrive, and the movie is mostly set at night or in darkness to artificially give it some atmosphere but taken to ludicrous extremes. There's a sequence at a small town police station where no one has bothered to turn on the lights. The only light comes from the outside windows, where that familiar neon blue shade of lighting is coming from - it's as silly as it sounds. There's another scene where some people are blown into the air with a grenade, and you see no explosion, smoke or light a la the grenade scene in Point Blank. But while that scene in Point Blank was amusing in such an over-the-top movie, the scene as it's played here makes the movie more pathetic. It's a crime that they spent so much money to make such an inept looking movie. Compare this movie with The Mercenary; that movie had only a budget of about $4.5 million, yet it contained many well made action sequences plus boasting a slickness that made it seem that it cost several times its actual budget. (And the even better Drive had a budget that was only $4.2 million!)

The movie is not only ludicrous in its production look, but casts Lundgren in an equally ridiculous light. Forgetting the embarrassing results when Lundgren was cast as a killer preacher in the awful Canadian movie Johnny Mnemonic, Lundgren in this movie also plays a killer preacher. Maybe because this movie happens to be Canadian as well. This time he's a good preacher, though he wears a spiked leather glove, which he uses when he punches people in the backs of their heads. Sounds very promising, I know, but these fight sequences are among the more confusing parts of the movie. The fights are so badly choreographed and edited, that I was completely lost during them. I had to keep remembering rule 5 of the B movie code: "The hero wins 99% of one-on-one fights," to try to inject some sense into the absolute mess I was seeing. Still, even that wasn't enough to interpret what I was seeing. There's one scene when Lundgren encounters a possessed policewoman, (who is growling and making threats in such a bad way as to suggest Satan is really a pussycat at heart) and during the struggle he manages to punch her in the back of her head. Despite the extreme tight close-ups here (and the rest of the movie - signs of quickie filmmaking), it's obvious that there isn't a window nearby, and that Lundgren gave a punch that at best would only propel her a couple of feet. Why then is there a cut immediately afterwards, from a shot outside the building, of the woman smashing through a top story window at great force? Maybe it's using the same logic that has a man earlier in the movie getting into a 10 mph car crash and being flung completely through the windshield and onto the hood of the car.

Oh yeah, why is Lundgren punching people in the back of the head? Well, to tell the truth, I'm not even sure what the hell the plot of this movie is. Exposition is handled in a painful monologue Lundgren gives around the halfway point; not only awful in how it's so obviously tacked on to try to make sense of the movie, but the monologue makes almost no sense. The nearest I can determine is that a recently archeological dig in the bowels of New York City has somehow triggered Satan or the son of Satan to get a key to unlock a door that will then release evil into the world. Lundgren plays one of a group of machine gun-wielding monks guarding the door who is sent to stop the evil spirit. This spirit travels from body to body (ripping off a plot device from Fallen, which itself ripped off the device from The Hidden) and can only be stopped by a punch to the head with a spiked glove. If that seems ridiculous, it seems insignificant to a scene near the end where the monks get into a machine gun battle with the spirit in its current body. We've learned that the monks have been guarding this door for centuries, yet it's never occurred to them to seal the door behind several layers of masonry, fill the keyhole with Krazy Glue, or some equally effective prevention.

The sheer incompetence of this movie is staggering. We have cuts from close-ups to a longshot of the scene, but at the same camera angle. The movie has a score that's a mix between sour electronic guitar music and electronic music reminiscent of Italian exploitation movies of the early '80s (though worse.) The optical effects used when the evil soul transfers from one body to another looks as if it was painted directly on the negative. A B&W flashback plays like a cheesy music video. Characters talking a couple of feet from the camera have voices that sound like they are twenty feet away. There are three gratuitous shots of some insignificant character sitting on a toilet, for no apparent reason. Typical dialogue has Lundgren making statements like, "Home is where you are loved. Follow your heart - it'll lead the way." And, unfortunately, much much more.

Lundgren has been making movies in Canada for the past several years. Not only is Canada the last geographical frontier, but it's frequently the last frontier when it comes to making films. It seems to me that if you have to keep finding movie work in the last frontier, that should tell you something about your past and current artistic tastes - obviously, no one is buying your embarrassing work. Everybody involved in this movie should be ashamed of themselves. And it's films like this that make me ashamed to be Canadian.

Also reviewed at: Cold Fusion Video

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See also: Bridge Of Dragons, The Peacekeeper, The Mercenary

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