Shadow Warriors (1995)

ShadowWarriorsCoverIt’s a cybernetic explosion that threatens to tear the city of Kiev apart! If the streets don’t exactly run red with blood, they almost certainly find themselves awash with the grease that’s positively dripping from the stringy mane sported by good cyborg Evan Lurie. His slimy pony tail was last spotted in the Don The Dragon Wilson India-based thriller Operation Cobra and though he doesn’t suffer near the glorious fate he did in that film (bitten on his head by a snake), it’s a much more moving death scene.

After a lengthy pursuit of his evil (I say he’s evil because he’s a Big Russian named Mikail, but he’s actually the most sympathetic character in the movie) cyborg counterpart, Evan finally confronts his and his cybernetic brother’s fate! They exist in a world where there is no place for them! It’s time to die for good! Their resurrected forms are an unholy insult to all that is holy about being alive and stuff like that!

Now I pride myself on being tough as nails and having the heart of a lion, but I felt myself getting choked up during the final scenes in a way that I usually reserve for when my favorite sports team decides to suck ass and lose a big game! And that’s because there’s only one proper way for guys like me, Evan, and Mikail to go out!

And we have a picture in our mind’s eye of how it is that we make the journey to Valhalla – in a frigging speedboat, surrounded by an attack helicopter while we cradle one of our brethren in our arms! With a handful of grenades we just pulled the pins on!

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We didn’t ask to be made killing machines! We didn’t want to remember our past lives and loved ones! We didn’t mean to forget to wash our hair! Everything just went so wrong!

Awesome brothers-in-arms death scene aside, Shadow Warriors seems to be of the opinion that having free reign to run around Kiev shooting crap makes up for its bland cyborg-on-a-rampage story line and its criminal underuse of Terry O’Quinn (Lost, The Stepfather) and Shadow Warriors is absolutely right!

So what if Terry’s scenes consist solely of him smirking and punching buttons on a keyboard? Who cares if I never figured out exactly what his scheme was when he jacked up Mikail with some computer program causing him to raid the armory and the place where they store the commando face paint?

The shortage of technique (the POV shots of the cyborgs look like grainy footage from a Sega CD videogame) and plotting (they can constantly track Mikail, but can never get people to where he’s at to stop him) are more than made up for by the ready availability of weapons and ammo!

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Evan and Mikail are Techno Sapiens. These are dead guys implanted with some gear to make them get up, run around and do cyborg stuff. They are supposed to obey their handlers and there’s a lot of talk about them knowing the Ten Commandments, but none of them can seem to recite more than three. That’s okay because we all know that most of them were filler anyway.

Terry causes Mikail to run wild and Mikail is haunted by the memory of his previous life where he had a wife and kids. Evan is sent to Kiev to take out Mikail, but is soundly defeated in their first battle.

They put Evan in the shop to upgrade him and while that’s going on, Barkley makes it his business to take down Mikail! Who’s Barkley? Only a cop from the freaking Security Council! Who nonsensically wears an ATF jacket when he’s in the field blasting away at Mikail and sliding down escalators!

Barkley may be just a regular old cruddy human, but he’s just as amped up as Evan and Mikail! This guy is chasing Mikail everywhere, climbing, jumping, rolling, and shouting periodically to Mikail to give up.

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Barkley’s the kind of stud who always seems to be carrying a grenade and is never without some type of weapon. One time he just beats up a Ukrainian soldier and steals his gun right in the middle of his chase without missing a beat!

He doesn’t back down from Mikail either! Not even when they’re careening through a marketplace and Mikail heaves what looks like a table full of pastries at him! That’s the sort of stuff that can stain!

If you like your movies to maintain a minimal level of reflection and drama while emphasizing good clean violence and jumping, Shadow Warriors is for your completely undiscriminating tastes! Plenty of stuff is wasted including various extras and there’s a goodly number of explosions. But jumping is where Shadow Warriors really excels! Evan jumps out of a helicopter, he jumps off a railroad overpass onto a bus, Mikail jumps out of building, and even Barkley jumps a little!

I can’t really think of a good reason it was all taking place in Kiev except that maybe someone got a tax break, but Kiev’s dirty, industrial look is in keeping with the cash-strapped production where the attack helicopters don’t even fire real blanks! Badly animated missile blasts and the awful-looking explosion to conclude the movie somehow work to give the film an authentic Russian feel! Shadow Warriors is certainly the best crappy action movie where they couldn’t even afford to blow up a model of a helicopter or a boat!

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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