I am just going to come out and say it, folks. MEAN GUNS is a good movie. It is a simple, violent shoot'em up that happens to be a little on the unpredictable side. A crime organization known as the Syndicate has Moon (Ice-T) gather a bunch of criminals together in a newly built highly sophisticated prison and have them kill each other. Before there was BATTLE ROYALE there was MEAN GUNS. What is really interesting is that instead of there only being one person allowed to survive this game allows for three. That adds an interesting dynamic to this movie. Alliances actually have real meaning. Nowadays most of these movies only allow for one unless your movie is THE HUNGER GAMES which pusses out a little and changes the rules last second to allow two survivors. I call that cheating the audience out of good dark drama. Oh, well I am sure that happened in the book. That justifies everything I suppose.
Christoher Lambert plays that one guy who didn't have to be there but volunteered anyway just like that one psycho kid from BATTLE ROYALE who volunteered because he enjoys killing and getting stuff blown up in his face. Lambert insisted on being there. But he is a little off. He brought his daughter along and left her in the car in the prison parking lot. Hey, it was a convertible. He didn't leave her to burn to death in an oven with wheels. At first he is the cool character that kicks all kinds of ass and he has this back story about accidentally killing some kid and now wants out of this life of crime. He is here for the money so he can start a new life with his daughter. A noble reason. Oh, yea I forgot. I probably should have mentioned that the three who survived get to split 10 million dollars between them. He is the one guy you are suppose to sympathise with. But as the movie goes along you can see that he is having the time of his life blasting fellow baddies. At one point he storms into a room full of not nice people running on top of tables and shooting them John Woo style with double pistols smiling the whole time. I figure he was probably pretending that the floor was hot lava and the tables were safe. They had to die. They were standing in lava.
As the movie goes on however you begin to realize that maybe Lambert isn't the main character of this story. There is another character. A calmer more collected character. I think his name is Marcus but I could be wrong about that. Marcus is the main enforcer for the Syndicate. He is a bad dude. At the beginning of the movie he kidnaps an innocent woman who had pictures of people in the Syndicate doing bad things. Obviously they want her dead so into the game she goes. While everyone had to give up their guns before entering the prison Marcus got to keep his. All the other suckers had to fight over the guns dumped in front of them at the beginning of the game. Marcus is in the game for one reason. He is to make sure everyone dies. The first person he tries to kill is Lambert. I guess Marcus didn't like HIGHLANDER either. I feel ya, man. I would have tried the same thing. So you get the impression that Lambert is the hero and Marcus is the bad guy. But Marcus saves and teams up with the woman he kidnapped at the beginning of the movie. It is Marcus who protects her not Lambert. Interesting......Well I think it is interesting. You get that whole "Maybe Marcus is the hero" vibe and you come to the realization that you are not really sure if Mr. Lambert is going to make it through this one. Even his daughter ends up wanting him dead. Yikes. That is when MEAN GUNS gets really interesting.
Director Albert Pyun (Director of my favorite JCVD movie CYBORG so there goes my credibility) gives us a strong Hong Kong style action movie with well filmed gun play battles that are a little ahead of their time. Nowadays big studios do the same thing but with C.G.I. and none of it looks real or is annoyingly filmed with shaky cam to insure no one enjoys the action. Take a look at the latest TOTAL RECALL remake. In the trailer Colin Farrel takes down a room full of guys but none of it looks real. Its like they all turn into cartoons and fly about the room with the camera roaming around frantically trying to capture every boring uninspired PG-13 moment. Wow, you got the most expensive cameras ever! Way to rub our average looking faces in it. Are you trying to out do Michael Bay in the BIG, BLAND BLOCKBUSTER MOVIE department? Good luck with all that.
This is one of those movies where everybody dies or at least almost. At the beginning Moon has his henchmen dump a bunch of empty guns into the room from a balcony. Then they dump bullets for the guns. While the the criminals below struggle for weapons Moon makes his exit but before he goes he casually kills the henchmen as they are about to follow. You understand that everyone is a part of the game. Even Moon. At the end there is a three way stand off between Marcus, Moon, and Lambert. The music playing is inspired by Spaghetti Westerns. I like that even Moon is part of the game. Thom Mathews is in this one too. I figured he would have survived for sure. After all he took down Jason Vorhees in JASON LIVES: FRIDAY THE 13th part VI. How many people can claim that?
My only real complaint is maybe all the bad wigs and fake moustaches I see on some of these bad guys. You can tell they were just trying to use the few extras they had over and over again to get a higher body count. That is probably my only real gripe. Mr. Lambert won me over with this one. He was a lot of fun to watch even though it was hard at times to understand what he was saying. Actually I like him in GUNMEN too but that wasn't a very good movie. It had its moments though. But if I had to only recommend one Christopher Lambert movie with the word "GUN" in the title I would have to say give MEAN GUNS a whirl. Its straight up action with no boring love story and absolutely no car chases to play as filler. If you like action shoot'em type movies with a bunch of extras in bad wigs flopping around from getting shot a bunch of times when one bullet would have done the trick then try this one on for size. Hopefully you are as easily impressed as I am.