Friday, July 27, 2012


Over the weekend I was delighted to be able to view the 2001 action thriller ‘Extreme Force’.

Yep, that’s how low I’ve sunk. Awful made-for-TV movies bring on a sense of delight rather than one of doom. I am a sick puppy.

Like all good terrible movies, ‘Extreme Force’ was created by a small, select team of idiots. Star Hector Echavarria was not only the lead actor but also a producer and second unit director. Michel Qissi was not only his onscreen foil but also his director, producer and scriptwriter. And Michel’s brother Youssef played the villain, meaning that the entire cast and crew could probably commute to and from set each morning in a couple of Volkswagen Polos.

We first meet our hero, Marcos de Santos, as he’s bravely committing armed robbery. He’s like Robin Hood, another character declares; he robs from the rich and gives to the poor. He admits, however, that his life of crime has amassed him more money than he could ever spend, so presumably he robs from the rich and gives to the poor minus his overheads, retainers, contingencies, production costs and so on. Like all really successful criminals, he’s better at PR and marketing than he is at actual theft.

Marcos is all set to retire on the proceeds of his work that somehow didn’t make it to the poor, but his partner, Cole, wants to try one last big score. And so they raid a lavish reception in Miami for the President of Mongolia, stealing a big wad of cash and jewellery and also a diamond signet ring that is a symbol of office and Mongolia’s greatest treasure. Presumably it’s Mongolia’s greatest treasure due to the fact that no one else in the history of lapidary has ever managed to make a signet ring out of a diamond, but that’s just conjecture on my part.

Then at the last minute Cole betrays Marcos, shooting him and leaving him for dead before escaping with the loot. However the Mongolians manage to save Marcos and decide to nurse him back to health, because they know he is their best chance for getting their ring back.

Marcos is now working with the Mongolians, and it is at this point that the central mystery of ‘Extreme Force’ fully blossoms.

These people aren’t Mongolian. They aren’t even slightly Mongolian. In fact here is a list of people who are more Mongolian than these supposed Mongolians:

1. Rihanna
2. Ke$ha
3. Maria von Trapp
4. His Holiness The Pope (it doesn’t matter which one)
5. The Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan (it doesn’t matter which one either)
6. Betty White
7. Admiral Ackbar
8. Angela Merkel
9. Stephen Fry
10. Santa

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea. I’ve eaten Vegemite sandwiches that were more Mongolian than these people.

So one has to ask: is it really that hard to find some actors who look vaguely Mongolian? Or if it is, is it really that hard to simply make up some quasi Eastern European country like Fauxvenia or Transylatviastan and have the characters come from there?

Part of me wonders if this whole Mongolian thing was just some sort of overarching meta-joke. But then I figure that these are guys who work out 23 hours a day, drink protein shakes and undergo laser hair regrowth treatments. They don’t do overarching meta-jokes. They do big punching and kicking scenes that are beautifully choreographed but narratively nonsensical. They probably chose Mongolia by spinning a globe around and jabbing it with their finger. We should count ourselves lucky that they didn’t claim the dignitaries were from the far off land of Tropic of Capricorn or Copyright 1974.

But back to the plot. To track Cole down, Marcos teams up with Kong Li, the only Mongolian who looks vaguely Mongoloid… in all senses of the word.

Sweet merciful crap! Although his entry doesn’t mention any horrific car accidents, there’s obviously something wrong here. He looks as if he’s had half his face torn off then filled with spackle and covered up with foundation, applied by a drag queen with OCD.

Somehow hiding his revulsion at being teamed up with what appears to be a golem, Marcos sets off with Kong Li to find Cole and the loot. This leads to a fight with heavies in a nightclub, then a fight with inbred yokels in the Florida swamps, then… well, more fights. Hector Echavarria’s fighting style unfortunately involves punching someone then posing in a threatening position while bellowing “GAAAAAHHHH!” for a second or two. This gets a little old after the twentieth or thirtieth smackdown.

Eventually Cole is tracked down, the final conflict is held, and Marcos emerges victorious. The Mongolians get their ring back and are at last able to confidently return to Delaware, or Nebraska, or wherever it is scriptwriters Jonathan Davenport and Michel Qissi assumed Mongolia was.

The audience, meanwhile, is just left to drink heavily, ponder why this movie didn’t have more yurts, and yell "DAMN YOU MONGOLIANS!" at the now empty screen.


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