Mission of Justice

Director: Steve Barnett                              
Jeff Wincott, Brigitte Nielsen, Luca Bercovici

Impressed with Martial Outlaw, I decided to check out Mission of Justice, which was an earlier effort by the same company and much of the same crew. As well, it also stars Jeff Wincott. While Mission of Justice is not up to the high levels of violence or silliness of the later movie, it is still gives enough of the stuff for all of us who like these kind of movies. Call it a dry run for Martial Outlaw, but an entertaining workout all the same.

Jeff Wincott this time plays - what else? - a cop. (It's interesting to note that he's played many roles where he's played a cop with expertise in the martial arts.) The city is having a mayoral election, with the incumbent being a Dr. Larkin (Nielsen). She runs a center called "Mission of Justice", where volunteers, after being trained in the martial arts, become "Peacemakers", similar to the real life Guardian Angels. Harris (Wincott) and his female partner Steele first encounter these Peacemakers during the obligatory opening action scene where the two of them encounter a robbery at a convenience store, resulting in Harris breaking a few bones, Steele dishing out her own punishment (she swings a mean nightstick!), and the Peacemakers capturing a fleeing robber. Later, a frustrated Harris quits the force when he finds out his captain is indirectly responsible for a man beating his wife to death - though not before punching his captain in the face after previously giving the husband a beating of his own in a sickly funny sequence where we hear Harris punching the guy in the face about fifteen times in fifteen seconds before Steele stops him. Shortly afterwards, Harris finds an old friend has been murdered; his own investigation finds evidence pointing to Dr. Larkin, so he decides to go undercover and join up with the Mission of Justice.

Bridgette Nielsen is pretty amusing as Dr. Larkin, walking and acting coldly. She looks like she's having fun with her role, which is only proper when your character keeps wearing different wigs and shades of lipstick. Nielsen could have a comfortable future in B-movies (she'd better; she hasn't been in a major theatrical movie since 1987) if she finds similar roles. Of course, since she doesn't know martial arts, she has to be accompanied by a gargantuan silent blonde, played by Mathiaus Hues, who has done this kind of role quite a few times. So take heart, 99 pound weaklings! - you won't ever be stuck in a role like this. Anyway, he does manage to do what's expected of him, and is involved in some of the more memorable fight sequences.

And those fights - the raison d'Ítre, why we rented this movie. Although no fight in this movie beats or equals the gymnasium or Russian restaurant from Martial Outlaw, they still manage to pack a few punches. Mission of Justice even manages to beat the fights from Martial Outlaw in two regards: the quantity of the fights, and in the creativity of the fights. The highlight fight is when Harris and several other Peacemakers bust into a chop shop and have a martial arts battle with the chopees, which also involves the use of crowbars, a drill, chainsaws, a fluorescent light (!), hammers, and even an air hose. This sequence goes on for about five minutes straight, and is wacky and bone crunching enough to almost rival the aforementioned fights from Martial Outlaw. Other interesting fights include a bout between a former heavyweight boxer and a martial arts expert, and an initiation sequence where Harris must battle through 24 or so martial artists to become a Peacemaker (at one point, hitting a guy rapidly with two sticks, like he's playing the drums). The movie also contains a pretty cool cat fight between two pissed off women, and we all know there's nothing like a good cat fight. It would have been better if the two women were naked, but no cat fight is completely perfect.

Production is generally good, with the occasional smudge such as a microphone bobbing quickly in the frame. Wincott, as usual, can't act very well, but wisely lets the other people do most of the talking while he provides a lot of the action. The script isn't very original, and you'll be able to guess much of what happens in the movie before it actually occurs. But Mission of Justice makes no apologies for this; like a James Bond movie, it delivers all the ingredients people are familiar with, yet want to see again. It was made for a select audience, and it delivers enough of what this audience wants. If this wasn't your kind of movie, you wouldn't even look at the video box. And since you are still reading this review, chances are that you'll get a good deal of enjoyment out of it as I did.

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)

See also: Martial Outlaw, The Base, Back In Action