Ever since 'Rocky IV' Dolph Lundgren has remained a formidable force inside my memory banks. Drago, the towering Russian boxing giant, made an indelible impression, mainly because he scared the crap out of me. I'd never laid eyes on a man built like that. The first time I saw that movie I was sure he was some sort of special effects creation like the Xenomorphs in 'Alien'. Making the totally ripped Rocky look puny was no easy task, but Drago was a rippling human specimen of pectorals, deltoids, and biceps. He looked like a gigantic undulating muscle out there.
I was sure that Lundgren would become a huge star after his stint fighting Balboa, I was wrong. Lundgren was tailor-made to inhabit that role. After taking on the iconic role of Drago, Lundgren faded into the obscurity of action-centric B-movies.
His latest direct-to-video starring role is as a world-renowned assassin in 'One in the Chamber'. This corny piece of junk also stars another washed-up actor in Cuba Gooding Jr. Although, Lundgren more-or-less chose this line of work, Cuba was forced into it after the quality of his projects slowly dwindle following his Academy Award win for 'Jerry Maguire.' He had a few big roles here and there, but over the early 2000s, Cuba's career careened off the feature-film ledge and ended up in the DTV ravine.
Ray (Gooding Jr.) is a professional assassin. He's meticulously careful in planning his attacks and efficiently executing his plans. The people he's assigned to kill don't stand a chance. Ray is that good.
Ray has been hired by the Suverovs, an organized criminal syndicate in Prague. Ray's job is to wipe the rival Tavanian family off the map. The Suverovs want to own Prague and the Tavanians are in the way.
In the opening sequence Ray sets up an impressive looking .50-caliber gun. He coolly locks onto his target through his viewfinder. The entire Tavanian family is meeting together, Ray plans to take them out. Through a hail of gunfire, Ray manages to kill the head honcho, Vlad Tavanian. However, Vlad's right-hand man Demyan Ivanov (Louis Mandylor), survives the attack and now he's out for blood.
Ray's anonymity is quickly compromised and Demyan hires a hitman of his own to come in and deal with Ray. Enter a wise-cracking, fedora-wearing, Hawaiian-shirt-sporting Lundgren. Dolph plays Aleksey "The Wolf" Andreev. He's a mythical folk hero of sorts. He's infamous among the world of killers for hire and now Ray must come face to face with him.
There isn't anything particularly inventive about this hitman vs. hitman DTV action moive, but Lundgren makes the whole thing watchable. He's the reason to tune in if you had any intention of doing so. Lundgren is so at home in this world. It's like he knows he's making terrible movies so he's having as much fun as he can. Gooding Jr. on the other hand acts like this role is as serious as anything he's ever done. It's like he's not in on the joke.
Lundgren is still an imposing presence on screen even though the years have weathered his looks and filled out his once chiseled physique. The sarcastic sense in which he plays Aleksey is perfect though. Here's a character that doesn't care about anything and an actor that appears to mirror his sentiments. It's a perfect combination. Now someone tell Cuba Gooding Jr. not to take it so damn seriously.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The movie is pressed onto a 25GB Blu-ray Disc and is distrbuted by Anchor Bay. It's packaged in a standard keepcase and is Region A compatible.
Surprisingly this DTV feature sports a great-looking, highly-detailed 1080p transfer. Yeah, I was surprised too. As for details, 'One in the Chamber' has a lot to offer.
The close-ups on Lundgren's time-haggard face reveal intricate two-day stubble, age lines, and crows feet. Even though his eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial hair are blonde it's all still distinguishable against his tanned skin. The movie's color palette deals in yellows, browns, and dark reds. These colors never appear muted. Instead they're rich and lively, which is something that I don't expect from DTV movies. They usually have flat muted colors and anemic shadow delineation.
Speaking of shadows, the ones here are deep and have good dimension to them. They accentuate faces and textures. Shimmering is noticeable from time to time. As far as this type of movie goes, 'One in the Chamber' is an above average offering in the video department.
Speaking of shadows, the ones here are deep and have good dimension to them. They accentuate faces and textures. As far as this type of movie goes, 'One in the Chamber' is an above average offering in the video department.
You'll notice rather soon that the entire movie is extremely front-heavy, even though there should be a lot going on in the rears. As a matter of fact the rear channels are predominately silent throughout the movie. Even the movie's more action-packed scenes feature feeble support from the surround sound speakers.
You'd think that gunshots, especially from the monster gun Ray discharges at the beginning of the movie, would heave some heavy bass. If you thought that, you'd be wrong. The bass here is little more than a bump. It's far too light to even be considered low-end involvement. This is just an all-around disappointing track.
If you were thinking about picking up 'One in the Chamber' then Lundgren is the reason to watch it. It's too bad the movie focuses far too much on Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character. This is one of those flicks where you wonder what it would've been like had they put their main focus on the character that should've gotten most of the screen time. Alas, it's not to be. With unexpectedly nice video and troubled audio, I'd say that this is a rental at best. Don't go out of your way to buy it, you almost definitely won't watch it more than once.