MEAN GUNS (1997)
Directed by Albert Pyun
Dozens of assassins are summoned to a meeting with Vincent Moon at a closed off prison. Upon their arrival, their weapons are seized and each are given a card with their name and ‘crime’ on it. Moon announces that their boss, the Syndicate, are unhappy with each and every single one of them and that the assassins are to fight one another to the death until three individuals are left standing who’ll each take home $3.33 million in prize money. The game must be played and anyone found trying to escape the prison facility will be shot. With the assassins raring to go, buckets of weapons followed by ammo are dumped onto them as they scramble to arm themselves and take out their enemies before being killed themselves.
Crime thriller MEAN GUNS has an essence of Battle Royale in its make-up but where that was a tense and bloody thriller well worth watching, this is completely the opposite. From the get-go, it’s difficult to work out what the heck is going on as Cam (Deborah Van Valkenburgh – The Warriors) finds herself being followed onto the underground. It appears she has some photographs that could prove vital to prosecuting some known criminals but when said criminals show up, she finds her ass dragged into the meeting. Her presence, other than being picked up at the wrong time, seems illogical but then so does the entire film. As soon as Ice T’s Vincent Moon kicks off the life or death game, it’s every man and woman for themselves and even those who’s presence is accidental, such as Cam and whore Barbie, find themselves fighting for their lives. That’s pretty much the entire film as assassins battle one another and some form allegiances to fight towards becoming one of the last three standing with a fat stash of notes in a briefcase to take home.
Whilst the film has plenty of action scenes, the editing and camera angles don’t exactly do a good job of making them exciting nor entertaining with most of the fights ending up as a comical sketch minus the Benny Hill theme tune. The film is so cringeworthy that it pained me to watch even after 5 minutes but in vain I forced myself to watch the full 104 minutes. I can confirm it doesn’t get any better after the opening scenes.
Performance-wise, Christopher Lambert and Michael Halsey put in good performances as their respective characters Lou and Marcus even if they’re not especially well written. Lou is wild, dances to his own beat and isn’t afraid of living on the edge to get what he wants. However, his crime of accidentally killing a child still haunts him to this very day and he’s trying to make amends by bringing up a young girl. Marcus on the other hand is straight-laced and serious, a veteran of the game and one who can reason and cooperate with others. Don’t be fooled though. He’s as much a killer as anyone else.
Unfortunately for MEAN GUNS, there’s no redeeming qualities to the film. Ice T’s cryptic speeches are incomprehensible and the rest of the film follows suit. It’s like one big scene with no story and when you have to sit through an hour and 45 minutes of it, it becomes a rather tiring experience.