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It's all well and good to pay attention to guys like Stallone and Schwarzenegger, marquee stars who draw a crowd and what not, but if you consider yourself an action movie fan you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't pay attention to the solo efforts of some of their The Expendables co-stars. Those in the know have probably seen a lot of Dolph Lundgren's recent solo efforts, many of which are a lot of fun, but so too should they spend some time with Gary Daniels. The star of early 90s action flicks like Ring Of Fire and American Streetfighter has had a string of solid straight to video fight films released recently, and 2014's Misfire continues the trend started by pictures like Forced To Fight and Hunt To Kill.
Directed by R. Ellis Frazier, the movie stars Daniels as a D.E.A. agent named Cole who is bound and determined to put a stop to the activities of the drug cartels roaming around the American border with Mexico. The plot picks up when Cole's brother calls him, he's been accused of the kidnapping of his ex-wife, Gracie (Vanessa Vasquez), a journalist who has been sticking her nose in where it doesn't belong. Cole believes his brother to be innocent and so he sets out to infiltrate the underworld of the Tijuana drug trade to clear the guy's name and save his ex-wife and as he does so, he starts to realize that all of this may lead him to the top, where one of the cartel bosses, Raul Montenegro (Luis Gatica), hopes to use his considerable power and influence to launch a political career.
There's not a whole lot more to the story than that, this is a pretty straight forward movie, generic even, about one man out to rescue a lady from a bunch of very bad dudes. It's reminiscent of Taken in that regard but Daniels is definitely ‘strong, silent type' mode here. His character is a man of few words but many moves as he punches, kicks and shoots his way through as many disposable bad guys as you'd care to count. This is the type of role that Daniels excels at. He's not got the most range you're ever going to see (though he is a much better dramatic actor than many are willing to give him credit for) but he is a highly trained and incredibly capable martial artists. As such, the movie plays to his strengths and focuses on his physical abilities more than anything else.
There are some quieter moments here, a scene with Cole and his brother stands out, but Frazier seems more intent on building tone and tension rather than defining a whole bunch of characters that we know are just going to wind up dead at Cole's hands anyway. We get a bit of set up, and then we're off. Ninety minutes later it's all over and more or done the way you'd expect it to be, but at the same time, it gives you just what you want out of a simple action movie. This is a picture that puts one or two high octane brawls and a few well-choreographed shoot-outs ahead of unnecessary subplots and it's almost beautiful in its simplicity. The movie is nicely shot on location in Mexico and while there is occasionally a bit too much handheld/shaky camera work, for the most part the action scenes are shot in such a way that we can definitely see what's going on. Where too many action moves go ‘close in' this one pulls back a bit and by doing so shows off the solid martial arts skills and fight scenes that we all came to this one for in the first place.
Would a more interesting and original bad guy made the movie better? Would Daniels' character have been more motivating with a bit more backstory? Yeah, probably, but as far as action thrillers go, this is well put together and plenty entertaining as is. It's slick, stylish and efficient and while it takes about a half an hour or so to start moving, once it does it works quite well.The DVD:
Misfire is presented on DVD in 2.40.1 anamorphic widescreen. Shot on high end digital video the image is pretty much pristine and obviously there are no issues with heavy grain or print damage, dirt or debris. Color reproduction is very strong here, at least as strong as it can be given that this movie has had a fair bit of color tweaking done throughout resulting in a sort of bleached/sunwashed look for much of its running time. Detail is typically pretty strong here, at least by DVD standards, and texture is also pretty solid. You get the impression that this is how the movie is ‘supposed to look' and the Blu-ray picture quality on this disc leaves little room for complaint.Sound:
The sole audio option on the disc is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track, there are no alternate language options and despite the fact that the packaging says there and English SDH subtitles included, they're not actually on the disc. As you'd expect for an action movie this recent, the mix is a pretty engaging one. The more intense scenes benefit from some good rear channel activity and feature some great directional effects while dialogue stays clean, clear and easily discernable. There are no problems at all with even a trace of hiss or distortion while depth and clarity are quite good as well. The score also features good range and depth.Extras:
Aside menus and chapter selection there are no extras on the disc, though there are a few trailers for unrelated Image properties that play before the main menu loads.Final Thoughts:
If the idea of watching Gary Daniels running around Tijuana kicking the snot out of a gang of nasty criminals appeals to you, and if you're a fan of B-grade action movies then it definitely should, then you'll have a good time with Misfire. It isn't the most original film ever made by anyone's standards but the Mexican settings are nice, Daniels is in fine form and it's well paced and sometimes pretty tense. Image's DVD release is, sadly, barebones but it does look and sound good. This is a fun action thriller. Recommended.
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.