Directed by Jean-Marc Piché in 1998, The Minion opens in New York City on Christmas Eve where an MTA crew working on a subway tunnel inadvertently discovers a cavern containing a centuries old Celtic skeleton and a mysterious gold key. Archeologist Karen Goodleaf (Françoise Robertson) is called in to investigate the scene and she quickly realizes that, if it isn't all together completely clear what's been found here, it's nevertheless important. But before she can dig much deeper and sort all of this out, her friend Dante (Allen Altman) gets possessed and things start to get crazy.
Enter Lucas (Dolph Lundgren), a member of the Templar Knights Of Christ sent from his monastery in Israel to New York to get the key before it falls into the wrong hands. Understandably, Karen isn't keen on letting him have it but when the pair is attacked, she starts to figure that maybe she should listen to what he has to say. As it turns out, the key fits a lock that, if opened, would unleash the ultimate evil into the world… something they're not really keen on seeing happen. As such, she and Lucas wind up going on the run and hoping to get help from her semi-estranged grandfather, a Native American tribal leader named Chief Michael Bear (Don Francks). As whatever it is that possessed Dante moves on to one new host after the next, Karen, Lucas and their allies find themselves in a race against time to save humanity from the Antichrist!
A reasonably fast paced mix of action, horror and fantasy, The Minion isn't a great film but it is a fun one, and a big reason for that is Lundgren's presence. He isn't the actor with the most range, but this script plays to his strengths. His character here is on the quiet side, but he handles his dialogue without any trouble. If he's never completely convincing as a priest, it doesn't matter, he's got enough charisma to compensate and, being Dolph, he kicks plenty of ass in the action set pieces. He's also got a reasonable amount of chemistry with co-star Françoise Robertson. She plays her spunky character well, never really rising above the ‘tough talking female sidekick' role that her part is written as, but doing just fine. She's likeable enough that we don't mind so much.
The supernatural angle of the film isn't played up as well as it could have been. We see ‘the minion' move from one host to the next a few times and there's a statue that comes to life at the end of the movie but those moments aside, this is more or less an excuse for Dolph to fight bad guys. Thankfully, he's given enough opportunity to do that and as such, the film entertains in spite of its flaws.
Piché, in his directorial debut, paces the movie well enough. We don't get very much character development at all but there's fun to be had seeing the action flow from one New York City location to the next (some of the locations are clearly authentic, some are not and it looks like Montreal may have stood in a few times). The film finishes with a pretty big bang and a decent set piece that tops those that came before it. The end result? It's not deep, but it's a fun watch and if you've got a soft spot for the big Swede, odds are pretty strong you'll have a good time with this.
Kino presents The Minion on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a ‘new 2k master' and for the most part it looks really nice. There are some spots where it's a bit soft looking, likely due to how it was shot, but overall the image is clean and shows nice detail. Skin tones look fine, black levels are good and the transfer is free of noticeable compression artifacts, edge enhancement and noise reduction issues.
The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track on this disc is pretty solid. Levels are well-balanced throughout and the track is clean, there are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note. Dialogue stays easy to follow throughout and the effects are appropriately punchy when they need to be. There are no alternate language or subtitle options provided here.
Aside from trailers for a few other Kino Lorber Studio Classics action movie releases and a static menu, the disc includes a commentary with director Jean-Marc Piché. Here he speaks about how he came to direct the film, the locations that were used, some of the action set pieces and choreography involved in the shoot, working with Lundgren and the rest of the cast and more.
The Minion is flawed to be sure, it's hokey and riddled with clichés, but it's also entertaining enough that, if you're a fan of Lundgren at least, it's worth seeing. Kino's Blu-ray offers a nice presentation and a decent commentary from the director. A solid rental for fans of B-grade action pictures, recommended for Lundgren devotees.