Joshua TreeOverview -
It's high-caliber action from the start to finish when Wellman Santee (Lundgren) goes gunning for his money and running for his life after his partner is killed during a botched heist. Sensational stunts and spectacular special effects push the action to the limit as he captures a beautiful hostage (Kristian Alfonso) and takes off across the desert in a high-speed race for his life. Six thousand square miles of sand and dozens of turbo-charged super cars set the stage for a bloody, bullet-riddled showdown with a ruthless killer.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
You might know this film as 'Army of One,' but its original title was 'Joshua Tree.' This is the product of two brothers who happen to be stuntmen in the film business, who have very extensive and impressive careers in stunts. I'm of course talking about Vic and Andy Armstrong. Vic directed this action flick, with Andy producing it, and it's everything you could hope for in a 90s action flick starring Dolph Lundgren.
The movie focuses on Wellman Anthony Santee (Lundgren), who is a former racecar driver, but who, since his mother died, has turned to a life of crime transporting stolen cars with his best friend Eddie Turner (Ken Foree) for money. On their latest haul, they both get pulled over by the Highway Patrol. As the patrol officer is questioning Eddie, an unmarked car pulls up and two police officers, Frank Severence (George Segal) and Jack Rudisill (Beau Starr) get out and shoot Eddie and the Highway Patrol officer.
Seeing no other option, Santee runs away, but in the process he is shot and captured by the police, who pin the murders on him. In a routine transfer at prison, Santee escapes and takes a hostage by the name of Rita Marrick (Kristian Alfonso), who is actually a cop, however Santee is unaware of this. Rita's partner Michael Agnos (Matt Battaglia) is out looking for his partner and Santee, but always seems to be one step ahead of the law with the help of Eddie's family.
From here on out, Santee is out to clear his name as he evades the police and Severence and Rudisill at all costs. Rita starts to figure things out for herself and realizes Santee is innocent of the charges. All things come to a head in the desert on the edge of a cliff where justice just might be served once and for all. There are quite a number of fights, car chases, and shootouts in the process.
The acting here all plays out in fairly cheesy fashion as Dolph tries to play the hard-ass good guy, and it never seems right. The others in the cast turn in bland performances, but this was typical for the early 90s and the film focuses more on the stunts and action more than anything. There are a few twists and turns throughout the film to keep things moving and tense (along with a bit of female nudity by the beautiful Kristian Alfonso). The Armstrong brother do a good enough job at directing, especially the stunt work, which is probably why these old timers still have amazing careers.
'Joshua Tree' is a pure action film with over-the-top villains, pretty girls, and one bad-ass hero. It's not the best you'll see, but it's sure a lot of fun and a trip down nostalgia lane as I remember seeing this when I was 12 years old. Seeing this again, only proves that this fun flick proves the test of time and still holds up with the rest of them today.
'Joshua Tree' comes with a stunning 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. I can't believe how good this 20 year old film looks.
The detail is extremely sharp. You can make out every hair and piece of stubble as well as the threads and imperfections in the actors' clothing. Closeups are amazing. The colors are bright and vibrant as there are a lot of sky blues, browns, greens, and yellows. Nothing seems muted or soft here. The skin tones are natural and smooth with the black levels running deep and inky with not crushed shadows. They really cleaned this film up as I noticed not one spec of dirt, aliasing, or edge enhancement.
This is a top notch video presentation for a 20 year old action film.
This release comes with an impressive lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and well as a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 mix. The DTS-HD track sounds great all around. The speakers got a pretty good workout here. The dialogue is always crystal clear and centered on the fronts with no hissing or cracking of any kind. The heavier action sequences use the rears quite a bit and is very loud. The ambient noises and sound effects flow out of the rears and surrounds very nicely with off camera chatter, nature sounds, and gun shots. The impressive score is amazing here. It just sounds incredible and has the right amount of volume, never drowning out the dialogue or sound effects. This was a very solid audio transfer for a film that is 20 years old.
- Audio Commentary - Here Vic and Andy Armstrong provide a fun commentary as they talk about all aspects of making the film. They cover all aspects from how they got on board, to casting the actors, to the fight choreography. You should give this a listen if you enjoyed the flick.
- A Look Back at 'Joshua Tree' (HD, 24 mins) - This cool featurette showcases Director Vic Armstrong, Producer Andy Armstrong, and Dolph Lundgren talking about making the film present day in talking head interviews interspersed with film footage. They talk about the stunts, the storyline, and the actors.
- Alternate Ending (HD, 11 mins) - Here is the alternate ending for the film, which ends fairly differently than the theatrical release. On the menu, there are two options for the same alternate ending, with one having commentary by the two Armstrongs who talk about the different ending and why it wasn't used in the theatrical run.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3 mins) - The theatrical trailer for the film, which made me laugh.
'Joshua Tree' may not be the best action film you'll ever see, but it's sure is a damn fun one. They don't make them like this anymore. The storyline is pretty decent, and the characters, no matter how cheesy they are, still sell the film. The action scenes and fight choreography are a lot of fun too. This is pure action filmmaking from the early 90s and it's a breath of fresh air to see today. The audio and video on this release are surprisingly strong, with a couple of decent extras. If you enjoy action films and Dolph Lundgren, then definitely add this one to your collection.
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