From the Archive – Blast (1996)

Blast

 

Directed by Albert Pyun
Starring Linden Ashby, Andrew Divoff, Kimberly Warren and Rutger Hauer

Based on a story that might have been true if we hadn’t made all of it up, this is a rather tacky entry into the Die Hard sub-genre by Hawaiian bad movie auteur Albert Pyun.

Jack Bryant (Ashby) is a janitor working the pool complex at the Atlanta Olympics as work furlough after a prison spell for an undisclosed crime. But once he was a contender, a Tae Kwon Do bronze medallist in Barcelona, until an injury in his winning match sidelined him. But, fate deals him a chance at redemption when the US women’s swim team – coached by his ex-wife, Diane (Warren) – are taken hostage by mad terrorist Omado (Divoff), who has had a couple of bad missions and wants to prove to the terrorist community at large that he’s still got it. With all of the security guards dead, only Bryant can save the day, with the external assistance of European Security Consultant, Colonel Leo (Oscar-nomine and Golden Globe-winner Hauer).

What’s wrong with it?

Well, to start with the obvious, this is an absolute knock-off of Die Hard, just set in an Olympic swimming pool. Man tries to talk to his ex-wife, ends up the only man left free in a terrorist controlled building. He has to take out the terrorists one at a time, while his wife gamely tries to protect the other hostages. Damn it, we even have our hero limping around – from his old injury, rather than from walking on broken glass, but still – and the wife’s slime-ball coaching partner selling everyone out for his own freedom, then getting shot by the bad guys anyway.

Alas, Linden Ashby – while an affable and fairly charismatic lead – is no Bruce Willis (not that Willis was before Die Hard), or at least is not given a John McClane of a role (for starters it’s been done before now). Moreover, Andrew Divoff – the genie in Wishmaster – is certainly no Alan Rickman, and Rutger Hauer is in pigtails.

What’s right with it?

Good question. Not much really. This film fails to deliver on almost every level.

How bad is it really?

Bad, but not to the point of being actively painful, which is pretty much damning with faint praise.

Best bit?

Nothing is interesting enough to spring to mind.

What’s up with…?

  • The Olympic security contractors responding to terrorist threats by issuing security passes without photos?
  • The intro which claims the story is based on events which could have been true if a terrorist threat against the Olympics hadn’t been nipped in the bud, and the janitor had been a kung fu bad-ass? It’s frankly pretty silly.
  • The meticulous terrorist a) gratuitously gunning down potential hostages for shits and grins, and b) stating that the two janitors unaccounted for ‘aren’t important’? He’s rigging the whole building to explode if anyone tries the doors, and he reckons two people wandering around ‘aren’t important’.
  • The terrorist with a detonator hidden under his skin, having somehow got it in there without leaving a scar?
  • Rutger Hauer’s pigtailed euro-soldier security consultant?
  • Albert Pyun? I mean, here’s the thing: He keeps making films that are this close to being pretty good, and yet in the end they almost inevitably blow.
  • The ‘freelance terrorist’? It’s like a career for this guy, and the Olympic hit is designed to take out the President, more or less so he can put it on his CV. There’s also some concept of a terrorist community, like Al Quaeda and the Real IRA get together on weekend retreats and swap tips on bombing and AK-47 maintenance.

Ratings

Production Values – For a film about terrorist bombers, even the explosions are kind lame. The props budget was also plainly very limited, as the terrorists all run around with handguns; not an Uzi or AK-47 between them, and those things are pretty easy to get hold of… So I understand. The camerawork borders on competence in a way that really only aggravates. 13

Dialogue and Performances – Workmanlike performances fail to cover a pretty patchy script, and Andrew Divoff sadly comes off as more of a sleaze-bag than a terrifying, cold-blooded terrorist. Everyone suffers from the inevitable comparisons to Die Hard, which is the fault of the script for creating such direct parallels more than the actors. 16

Plot and Execution – The plot loses points, big-time, for being almost a scene-by-scene rehash of Die Hard, only nowhere near as good. The execution has Albert Pyun’s trademark moments of genius, punctuating acres of cack-handed misdelivery. 15

Randomness – Pretty low-level, except that the whole plot makes no damn sense. 8

Waste of Potential – Die Hard plotline, a little Tae Kwon Do; it could have been good. Not great, mind you, but certainly an enjoyable ninety minutes in which to disengage the old brain. But no. 16

Overall 68%

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