Joshua Tree a.k.a. Army of One (1993): Breakdown by Kain424
An ex-racecar driver, truck driver, and now current convict escapes after nine months in prison to prove his innocence and get revenge against those who framed him. He also feels they owe him money.
This is easily among the best of Dolph Lundgren’s considerable body of work. Famed stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong directs this film, which is largely about car chases and one giant shootout that pays homage to Hong Kong cinema and even surpasses it in some ways. Just when you think it’s going to be a pretty standard affair, it hits the one-hour mark and all glorious Hell breaks loose.
The only real problem here is that the villains are pretty weak. When it finally comes down to the last two guys fighting with Dolph, you simply don’t believe that they can win against him. Even though he’s been shot, on the run for two days, in a massive firefight, and dealing with some annoying woman that whole time.
The movie delivers its Action in several doses of classic Action film homages, from The Getaway to Just Heroes to Hard Boiled. Armstrong definitely knows his stuff, and one ends up wondering why he didn’t direct more flicks, especially in this genre. Perhaps the man used up every idea he’d ever had or taken from too many other great Action movies. It certainly plays like a mix of fun Action movies of the late 80s and early 90s. The whole of the film may not be as great as many of the others it takes from, but its moments are done well enough to make this one hell of a ride. Check it out for a surprisingly good time.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Dolph Lundgren is Wellman Santee
You’d think a guy who races cars and drives trucks for a living wouldn’t be a complete bad-ass, but you’d be wrong. Dead wrong. Put the guy at the wheel of a Lamborghini and he’s unstoppable. Give him a gun, and he becomes a big, white, beefcake version of Chow Yun-Fat.
The main antagonist kept telling us, “He’s dangerous.” We just had to see it for ourselves, and it’s amazing. He can single-handedly take on an entire Asian stunt team and destroy the warehouse they’re fighting in. Make no mistake. He looks like a punk, to be sure, but Wellman Santee is a bad mother-trucker.
[THE BODY COUNT: 51]
Lundgren kills 50 people, using mostly guns, but also cars, gas, and paint thinner as explosives, breaking peoples’ necks and stabbing them with shivs. He’s also very fond of shooting out kneecaps and ankles, so beware, you may just find yourself in league with Jerry’s kids, after an encounter with this walking, diving, jumping, driving tower of machismo. There are five other deaths in the movie, but the bad guys have absolutely no hope of catching up with Dolph in kills. It’s so one-sided, it’s pathetic. It’s almost as though Dolph is a One Man… oh, yeah. Right.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
Of all the bloody death and killing going on, it falls to just one random goon to give me the most satisfaction. After his fellow lackeys have shot up the area where they thought Dolph to be, paint thinner and lots of other flammable shit have been sprayed all over this poor bastard. Dolph creates a makeshift flamethrower from a paintsprayer and torches the fucker. But that’s not enough. After watching the guy flail about for a moment, Dolph then kicks the burning bad guy into a pile of MORE explosive fluids and, well…
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Surprisingly, the film is not as gay as one would expect from Swedish beefcake Dolph Lundgren’s library. There is a lot of focus on the woman he is with, and the curves that come with her. Dolph does manage to go shirtless a couple times, but our female lead shows off way more of her bod. The story even goes to some lengths to show that not only is Dolph’s Santee attracted to the woman he kidnaps, but that he’s had affairs with other women in the past. What a bummer.
Still, a lot of the plot is about Lundgren’s character trying to get revenge for killing his trucker-buddy/travel passenger, Eddie “Silvertongue.” Stop the presses! His buddy’s nickname is ‘Silvertongue’! That hits about a 9.5 on my gaydar. Too bad the guy dies before we are able to find out how he aquired such a title. I bet it has to do with salad though. And at one point, Dolph wakes up in the night, screaming Eddie’s name. It would be hard to imagine Lundgren going through all of this trouble to get revenge if it had been a woman who had died.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
The main babe of the flick does indeed show us her ta-tas and plump posterior, but most of the women presented in this flick are strong, smart, and resourceful. In the meantime, many of the men are seen as old, sleazy, and ineffectual. It’s like a usual Action film in reverse. I’m confused. Did Vic Armstrong not know the rules? There may however be an explanation. This flick was made in ’93. Bill Clinton was in office at this point, and with him came the “idea” that fucking women was an OK thing to put on film again. Damn you Bubba, you ruined our male-only fantasies, like Cobain ruined hair-metal. Dammit, I miss the 80s.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
The best moment has to be a little over 58 minutes in, when the film suddenly turns into a John Woo movie. It’s completely unexpected and never explained. All of a sudden Dolph Lundgren is an olympic level marksman? The guy was a fucking truck driver! This does not compute. Anyways, right before it does this, Dolph threatens the bad guy, “You should just pay me the money. It’s cheaper!”
He was right. Will they ever learn?
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Just give him the money. It’s cheaper.
[THE LIST OF LUNDGREN: 5 outta 5]
[X] Ends The Movie Smiling
[X] Gets Captured
[X] Screams While Shooting
[X] Shows Off Buffness
[X] Teaches Values
[THE CHECKLIST: 15 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor” [Dolph]
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[ ] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[ ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[X] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting [Al Leong]
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[ ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justiceustice
Sometimes, One Man Is All It Takes
Joshua Tree a.k.a. Army Of One (1993) © Zilex N.V. and Artisan Entertainment