Director Giorgio Serafini, who recently directed Dolph Lundgren, Gianni Capaldi and Vinnie Jones in the fairly disappointing Blood Of Redemption goes some ways towards redeeming himself with this next in the three picture deal that will see the three action stars on screen together. The story, written by Agustin (who evidently doesn't need a last name) is set in Los Angeles where we meet to coke dealing pals, a hot tempered Scot named Eddie (Gianni Capaldi) and the cooler tempered but ambitious Frank (Daniel Bonjour). Hoping to make some quick cash and then settle down with his ‘good girl' lady friend, Ashely (Cinthya Bornacelli), Frank decides it's time that he and Eddie cut out the middle man and start dealing large quantities of mobster Vincent Camastra's (Vinnie Jones) cocaine themselves. To make this happen, Frank kills two of Camastra's men, the idea behind this rash move being that it will prove to him that his men aren't capable of protecting his goods and simultaneously prove that he and Eddie are.
Two DEA agents show up at the crime scene to check it out, Maxwell (Dolph Lundgren) and Haraday (Michael Rivera) and there they meet an LAPD officer named Jack Reiley (Randy Couture) who seems unusually annoyed by their presence. When Reiley spots a subject, chases him down and shoots him dead Maxwell starts to wonder if maybe there's more to this guy than meets the eye. As the movie plays out, Eddie and Frank ramp up their operations using Frank's strip club and their apartment as their bases of operations. Drugs are plentiful, as are three ways with hot chicks, one of whom, Bevery (Carly Pope), has ties to Maxwell. Given that the DEA wants to bring Camastra down for good, it only makes sense that before this is over, everyone's path will cross and a lot of people will get punched in the face and shot.
First things first, while Lundgren, Jones and Couture are top billed and featured prominently, they really only have supporting roles here. The bulk of the story follows the two characters played by Capaldi and Bonjour, neither of whom are quite as interesting to watch. Capaldi goes pretty nuts here, he's at least amusing as he chews through the scenery. Whether he's screwing a big breasted stripper, strutting around in a fur coat and underwear, doing lines of coke or throwing shot glasses and yelling at a bar tender he definitely gives the part some energy. He's not really particularly believable, mind you, but if you don't need to take things too seriously he's fun. Bonjour's character is way more serious, he's trying to build a life with Ashley, who his character describes as ‘the only pure thing in my life.' Somehow he's kept the strippers and coke thing somewhat hidden from her, she just thinks he runs a nightclub and forgives him for disappearing for long stretches at a time. This isn't a movie particularly concerned with logic.
Lundgren spends a lot of time watching people. He's on surveillance detail, so it sort of makes sense, but when you've got Dolph in a movie, give him more to do than that. He does get a pretty decent fight with Couture that serves as an entertaining enough finale to the picture and there's some good action in the last twenty minutes that he does get to play a part in, but he's underused. Jones, who is good at playing slimy English mobsters, plays a slimy English mobster here but only gets five to ten minutes of screen time tops. He's fun when he's on camera though. Couture handles himself well in the fight scenes and looks the part, taking his beatings well, but he honestly doesn't have a whole lot of range and there are a few dramatic scenes that he sort of sleepwalks through.
Ambushed is watchable though. Yes, it dabbles pretty much exclusively in clichés and none of the acting is really what most would consider to be good but it ups the sex and violence factor enough that, with a few okay twists thrown in, it's a fine pizza and a six pack movie. The fact that it doesn't seem to be aiming any higher than that helps, of course, this isn't high art it's dumb fun, but there's nothing wrong with dumb fun. You more or less know exactly what you're getting into with this one.
Ambushed is framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. The transfer is fine and for the most part, quite nice. Shot on digital video (the end credits note the use of a Canon Red camera) there are no print damage issues to note and the image is crisp and clean. Some of the darker scenes don't show the greatest shadow detail and some crush mares a few shots, but there are no problems with compression artifacts to note nor is there any obvious edge enhancement. Detail is generally pretty good, close up shots offering the most fine detail but even long distance and medium shots have a lot to look at. Take the scene that takes place at the warehouse where the murder occurs, you can note peeling paint and dirt on the walls and make out fibers in some of the wood on the pallets. A pretty solid transfer for the most part.
The English language Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is decent enough. There are scenes where there isn't quite as much surround activity as you might expect but the rears are used well in a few of the action sequences to spread out the sound effects. Dialogue stays clear throughout and the levels are nicely balanced. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion, nor should there be with such a recent movie. Bass response is strong enough to make you take notice, particularly in the club scenes where the music is blasting, and the score, which is heavy on hip-hop, sounds alright. Optional English closed captioning is provided.
Extras are slim, limited to a few trailers for unrelated Anchor Bay properties that play before the main menu loads and a fifteen minute behind the scenes featurette. We get a few brief interview snippets with Dolph Lundgren, Vinnie Jones and Gianni Capaldi and a few of the crew members along with some behind the scenes footage shot on set. All involved seem to see this as a throwback to eighties style action movies and use that to justify the copious drug use and nudity used in the movie. We also get to see Dolph and Randy Couture staging their fight scene, which is kind of interesting.
Ambushed won't blow you away but it is at least a reasonably entertaining B-action picture. It's fairly trashy, offering up quite a bit of nudity and violence, but that's not a bad thing, it just adds to its wonky charm. Vinnie Jones is underused but Dolph does well enough as the top cop in the picture while Gianni Capaldi chews through the scenery like nobody's business. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray only offers up one supplement but it looks and sounds fairly decent. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.