Battle of the Damned

BD1

When a virus escapes containment and infects the residents of a city in Southeast Asia mercenary leader Dolph Lundgren, I mean Max Gatling, is sent into the quarantine zone to save a wealthy business man’s daughter.

Dolph Motherfuckng Lundgren, in case you didn’t know, yes Motherfucking is his middle name. The man has always been one of my favorite badasses, kicking ass and taking names wherever he goes. Where the hell did that phrase come from by the way? I get the kicking ass part but not the taking names side of things. Who wants to take someone’s name? And why must you kick their ass in order to it? Wouldn’t just going to a courthouse be a lot easier than kicking their ass first? At least it seems that way to me. Then again, I am very lazy and only in the fighting mood when I hear someone call their lover “boo” or “bae.” Not just because they sound fucking stupid either, but really those are two of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard someone called right next to a pollycock, but because one makes me worry about ghosts and the other lost sheep. I’ll let you figure out which is which. I’m not here to talk about pet names that annoy me though, I’m here to talk about a movie involving zombies, robots, and Ivan Drago after his defeat at the hands of Rocky Balboa.

Our film begins a short time into the future where biotech companies are using Southeast Asia as their private playground due to the region’s lax view on regulations. That lax view leads to the escape of a pathogen which quickly overtakes an urban city, causing a quarantine that traps those uninfected inside with those already affected by the plague. A mercenary team led by Max Gatling (Dolph Lundgren) has been sent inside to retrieve the daughter of a wealthy business man who had promised that the tales of danger beyond the quarantine zone are overblown. Unfortunately those tales are very much true and hordes of zombies overwhelm and kill much of the mercenary forces, wiping out all but Gatling and another mercenary. Though a nearby helicopter could get them both to safety, Gatling decides to stick around and the find the girl he was paid to rescue while the remaining survivor takes the escape route, stranding both Max and his target inside the quarantined city. It takes him a bit of time searching the treacherous area but he is eventually able to find the girl, who introduces herself as Jude and takes the old mercenary to a small group of people who have been in hiding since the outbreak began. Initially Gatling promises to get the entire group out of there including Jude’s lover Reese, appointed leader Duke, martial arts master Elvis, Elvis’ love interest Lynn, and the seductive Anna, but his only real goal is to get Jude back to her father and collect on the paycheck he’s owed. While out on a scouting run Gatling sees his opportunity and grabs Jude with the intention of sneaking her away while everyone else is distracted, knowing that he has no real chance of getting them all out of there, but he is caught before he can enact his plan and chained to a pole to become zombie chow as punishment for trying to leave them all behind. Thankfully Reese hangs around to free Gatling before he gets chewed to little bits. As the two make a break for it they run into a very interesting scene, a unit of tall, sleek robots taking on the zombie masses themselves and better yet, friendly to all uninfected humans. With the help of this mechanized battalion, Gatling might finally have a way to save both Jude and the other humans trapped inside the city, but there is a lot of city to cross and there’s no telling what might happen until they get to those walls.

BD3

{They only wanted the man’s autograph}

Dolph Lundgren, zombies, Dolph Lundgren, robots, and Dolph Lundgren, how could I not watch this movie? Confession time, I’ll pretty much watch anything with Lundgren in it at least once. More so than many other actors I think he’s got the whole “I will destroy everything in my way and look cool doing it” routine down. I always personally imagine a day in his life consisting of walking up to defuse the bomb attached to his alarm clock, beginning his morning training by stopping the Yakuza trying to attach yet another bomb underneath his black Camaro, and then having to stop the evil ninja baristas so he can get his vodka with a shot of coffee in it. The rest of his day is spent at the office, the CIA office that is, where as their wild card he is sent out to stop all manner of terrorist masterminds from around the world. After work he has a small skirmish with a hulking behemoth of a man before leaving and driving away, this keeps him from getting too bored on his way home, but once home he finds his wife and children kidnapped, and only his lighting fast moves can disable his attackers and save his family before it’s too late. Once this is all over the children go to bed while Dolph and his wife make sweet love for hours on end during which red and blue lights illuminate them and the entire bedroom becomes a hooker’s playroom of debauchery before they pass out looking just fine despite their marathon love fest. This is how I picture a day in Dolph Lundgren’s life, though I may be a little influenced by having seen all of his films, so he could very well wake up around noon, do a little training, pick up some KFC, and then go right back to sleep for all I know, but the other way seems more Dolphish. Anyways, ideas about Lundgren’s day have nothing to do with this movie and are most likely creeping you out just a bit that someone honestly thought about it all the way through to sex (I had to end it there) so let’s quietly walk away from my Ivan Drago fandom and get on with a proper review.

BD7

{They asked him to play The Terminator but he couldn’t understand why someone would need a metal skeleton to kick ass}

I’m going to get the worst thing about this film out of the way first, the zombies are pretty terrible. They don’t look like zombies at all first off, they just looked like dirty people desperately in need of a shower to me. I pictured them less like ravenous hordes of the undead looking for their next victim and more like hungry groups of hobos traveling the countryside looking for work. Give them a nice hot shower and a good meal and they would have simply gone away, no more worries. They can move fast, but running seemed a bit too difficult for them, like they could only run at a very lazy pace where their arms flopped around them like they were dead weight, the same way a hobo might run if he hadn’t had a hot meal in a while and was losing the use of his arms. That’s zombies 0 – hobos 2. Then there’s the fact that these zombies go down fairly easily. There’s the standard ways anyone can be taken down, shoot them anywhere, stab them anywhere, slit their throat, but you can even kick these guys and they go down for the count. That last one makes a lot more sense when you’re thinking about hobos. Sure, even the strongest creatures go down with most of the attacks, though usually with the undead those attacks have to be aimed at the brain area, well, with the exception of the throat one, that just wouldn’t work, but a kick, even a really strong kick, isn’t going to do much to a zombie. This one leads itself much better toward the hobo side. If you hadn’t eaten a good meal in a very long time and had used up much of your strength hopping from train to train, I’m sure a good kick might be enough to put you down. In case you’re keeping score along with me, that’s zombies 0 – hobos 3. I was all ready to have thrown down the mic and walked away, my victory attainted in deducing that Battle of the Damned is really a movie about a mercenary, his robots (I’ll get to that next), and a desire to clean up a city’s homeless problem in the most vicious and brutal way possible. Then, after sitting through nearly two thirds of the movie we finally have our questions answered, no they aren’t homeless, but they aren’t undead either. The zombies in this film are more akin to the ones in 28 Days Later, only instead of having the rage virus, they have the irritable virus. They didn’t seem so angry to me, just irritable and grumpy, like someone pissed them off after a bad hangover. They will eat people, and their higher brain functions have all been shut off, so the Rage infected zombie type would make a little bit of sense except for these zombies are really lazy and not terribly angry. I’m guessing it was the rage virus’ first trial and things didn’t go as planned, so they kicked this group out and started from scratch. Bam!!! Now you’ve got a kind of zombie running around and you’re free to perfect your Rage Virus. It’s actually quite genius, but that’s not what this movie meant with their zombies, they just look like they’re dirty, run in a way that makes a person think they are watching a Saturday Night Live episode, and will go down if you stare at them too much because lazy writers didn’t want to put any more work into them. I watched the whole movie thinking these were the undead variety only to find out via a conversation the group has around a dinner table much later into the movie that these were not the undead. This movie was even marketed as being a living dead zombie movie, but these are far away from the living dead. Since I’m trying to broaden what can be considered a zombie for The Year of the Undead, I’ll count these assholes as zombies in the vein of 28 Days Later, but I’m still calling them shit zombies. The filmmakers didn’t even bother to try with their zombies and it shows all throughout the movie.

BD4

{Someone get these people a wet washcloth stat}

While I wasn’t a fan of the zombies I did enjoy the robots that defended the group of uninfected against the aggressive infected. From what I can understand the robots are actually a tie in to another film called Robotropolis about a facility that was set to be ran entirely by robots, but the robots went out of control as robots are want to do. I’ve never seen the film before, having only learned about it while researching information on Battle of the Damned. I’ve heard Battle being called a sequel to Robotropolis, but I don’t know if it’s a full on sequel or more a tie in to that film. There is a mention at one point where someone brings up having heard about some robots going out of control at a factory located in the very same city they’re all stuck inside of, but the only response is the head robot mentioning that they’ve gotten themselves under control now. That’s it, so it does seem like the two films are connected as this explains better than anything else give why a group of robot humanoids and one robot dog where left in the city. Might not explain the amount of firepower they have, but it’s something, so I’ll run with it. Their design was pretty impressive, it’s not anything that’s amazing, or even something you’ve never seen before, but it was very well designed and very well put together. And while they may not be the most original things I’ve ever seen, their construction didn’t copy anything either. They took a well-known design layout and made it all their own, making each one a little different from the others. They also added in some personality for them so that the robots wouldn’t be bland characters, there solely to move the story along. They don’t do a lot of talking but the things they have to say are worthwhile, sometimes they’re even a little bit funny. It added a lot to the robots giving them personality and dialogue. I’m not sure how they were in Robotropolis, but I can’t see the robots working here without those extra additions. Though there were a couple things I didn’t think were done right when it came to the robots sadly. One might be more of a personal complaint for me, and it was the fact that the robots aren’t introduced until quite a ways into the movie. There was so much hype in press releases and various previews about the robots that I felt they should have played a much bigger part. It’s a fact I went to go see this movie because of Dolph Lundgren, but the robots killing zombies side to it was a definite plus as well, and I felt cheated when I didn’t get to see that go on a lot. I felt like I was watching Pacific Rim all over again, went into see giant robots beat up giant monsters, got a story about damaged pretty people discovering themselves or something (are we sure John Hughes didn’t direct Pacific Rim). The other thing was in how the robots move. There were times where their movements were very well done, but the ones that required a lot of movement came across as very jerky, as if the animatronics for them weren’t tweaked as much as they should have been. When the movement they needed from them was too much for even the animatronics to handle they resorted to CGI and it looked awful. I wish they had just put a bit more time in getting the animatronics improved upon because it would have made the robots just perfect.

BD2

{Is that oil or…}

BD5

{Oh, that’s what it is}

There is one thing Battle of the Damned got perfect though, the action. This movie is almost nonstop action, whether it’s Dolph Lundgren kicking zombie ass with his own two fists (guns being nothing but an inconvenience for the man), massive shootouts, or robotic carnage, there is enough action going around to appease any fan of the action genre. I would have loved for there to have been more work put into the zombies as I believe it would have added a lot more action, but I can do without it when I found myself immersed in what felt like an 80’s action shooter. The good thing about action films is that though they do need a set of core characters to keep the film interesting, everyone else can be cannon fodder and it still works out. Since we already know Karate Action Lundgren does a great job I’ll skip over talking about him anymore, and mention a few of the other notables. Melanie Zanetti as Gatling’s charge Jude does a great job with the cocky teenage attitude of someone raised by a millionaire, Matt Doran, who previously played Mouse in The Matrix and even with stubble still looks like he’s twelve years old, comes across as the weakest link in the group but his effort to try harder than others was portrayed well by Doran, and David Field as the group’s leader Duke was fantastic, an educated man who abhors violence but cannot help but use it when necessary.

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{At least they had a cozy hiding spot}

This isn’t going to go on the top of my list of favorites when it comes to Dolph Lundgren films, but I enjoyed watching anyways. It was a nice, mindless action movie to kill a few hours with. In fact, if you’d like to watch it with friends might I suggest the sneer game? Every time you see Lundgren sneer you’ve got to take a shot. Trust me, you’ll be drunk before the movie is even over.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Christopher Hatton (Robotropolis, Sammyville)

Starring: Dolph Lundgren (Universal Soldier, Masters of the Universe), Melanie Zanetti (Tracks, Talking Back at Thunder), Matt Doran (The Matrix, The Thin Red Line), and David Field (The Beast, Chopper)

Released By: Compound B, Boku Films, Vividthree Productions, BOTD Productions, Anchor Bay Entertainment

Release Year: 2013

Release Type:

MPAA Rating: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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