aka Prison Break
Written by Edward DeRuiter
Directed by Christopher Douglas Olen Ray
There is talk in the film world of an all-female Expendables movie with a bunch of names being tossed about and a plot that sounds dumb as crap. While Hollywood talks, Asylum does, and gives us Mercenaries, and all-female Expendables featuring tough ladies doing some dirty work. It’s more of a B-movie femme all star roster, but it’s still filled with cool chicks who go on to kick a lot of butt. Following more Escape From New York meets The Dirty Dozen, Mercenaries sees for female convicts recruited to save the daughter of the president from a female potential dictator. Along the way we have plenty of shooting, stabbing, kicking, punching, breaking, betraying, and quipping, making Mercenaries a must-see event for action fans!
The President’s daughter Elise Prescott is ambushed in Kazakhstan, and not by Borat. Military leader Ulrika demands the US invade her country and install her as leader, or else! The US keeps this under wraps for now, and CIA agent Mona Kendall figures the best way to sneak in is to send women because Ulrika hates all men (except her right-hand man Grigori Babishkov) and thinks women are weak. As there are no experienced women to infiltrate the prison, they need to “think inside the box” and thus grab some female prisoners at whom they can wave pardons.
Are these ladies bad enough dudes to rescue the president’s daughter? Of course! But it’s not that easy to just waltz into a prison and break out a high-profile captive. And you got to pad the film with violence. So things go wrong from the beginning and just get worse. The smuggling into the country hits a snag when the checkpoint guards want to sample the ladies, and they end up sampling lead instead. Ulrika is no dolt and knows the US will try some sort of rescue attempt, thus is immediately suspicious when the ladies show up pretending they want to join forces.
Zoë Bell shines complete with what seem to be almost constant fights with random guards around the town as she evades capture. This gives plenty of physical action in addition to the gun battles and explosions. It also probably helped in the final battle considering how many of the bad guys she took out while walking around. Though some of the women are captured and threatened with rape, there isn’t an exploitative tone to the scenes, it’s presented as an actual dangerous threat, complete with scary guy with a knife who seems more likely to enjoy peeling off skin than clothes.
The comic book style opening credits and transitions set the tone for this to be a gritty comic book flick even if it’s not based on an actual comic. The daughter’s security walks right into their ambush that a blind person could see coming. At one point the ladies steal a truck that has two very tiny ICBMs and a suitcase stuffed with gold bricks. They are helped by a street smart local girl named Lexi (Alexis Raich) who is cool but you shouldn’t get attached to her. The prison houses local women captured by Ulrika’s forces who turn them into prostitutes in order to control the local men. During the breakout, they give the ladies gun in a sequence that ends rather abruptly and not in the way you would think giving a bunch of angry prisoners guns would.
“We go PMS from hell on this place!” declares Cassandra Clay right before the ladies begin blowing and shooting the entire prison up. Zoë Bell is touch as nails as Cassandra, still embittered with what happened to her squad, but not willing to let it happen again, even if it means they can’t save everyone. Kristanna Loken’s Kat Morgan has the highest sense of social justice, seething with barely concealed rage at what is happening under Ulrika’s watch. Nicole Bilderback is awesome as Mei Lin, quick to throw out the sarcastic quips and gleefully ready to explode anything she can. On the other hand, Vivica A. Fox is also awesome as the bad girl Raven, who really comes alive when it comes to killing people. Fox is having so much fun it is infectious. Ulrika is threatening and dangerous, with Brigitte Nielsen ripping her way through the Mercenaries and providing a real danger the ladies will have to work together to defeat. The only sad point is we never get Cynthia Rothrock joining in on the action. Maybe in the next one!
Mercenaries gives plenty of low budget action fun with cool characters and a lot of real physical action. It delivers without veering into dumb territory, and spreads the action around enough to keep up the pace. The characters are defined and have their own agendas going on without being forced to dip too heavily into archetypes. Basically, it is a lot of fun, and you get to see some cool ladies team up and blow away a bunch of jerks!
Rated 9/10 (daughter, splatter, pizza day, CIA, Apple Logo cover, gold bricks, is that a cell phone cover?, detonator, surgery)
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