Battle of the Damned DVD/Blu-ray

Sunday, 29 December 2013 00:00

Battle of the Damned - available on DVD and Blu-rayDolph Lundgren battles zombies with killer robots in a post-apocalyptic setting. As far as back-of-a-fag-packet synopses go it sounds tantalising if you like any one of the above elements, never mind all four. Throw in an “Escape from New York”-style rescue mission and we are all set, thanks to an irresponsible biotech firm who accidentally release a deadly pathogen into the world.

Lundgren (“The Expendables”, “Rocky IV”) stars as Major Max Gatling, a mercenary for hire tasked with rescuing Jude, the daughter of the biotech company's CEO. Oh, the irony. The good news is that Jude (Melanie Zanetti  - “Tracks”) proves to be quite easy to locate; the bad news is that she is holed-up with a slightly psychotic father figure (David Field – “Chopper”) and the blockaded city is about to be fire-bombed out of existence.

Fan-boy concepts like this are often a big let-down unless they have the acting talent and funding to do them justice. “Battle of the Damned” appears to be fairly low-budget but it actually stands up quite well. The action moves along very rapidly, the effects are solid and the movie has several tense scenes that might imperil your fingernails. Some of the acting is also decent and the same goes for a few of the characters.

The zombies (or ‘afflicted’ to use the film's terminology) are carbon-copies of the “28 Days Later” sprinting, rabid humanoids. They are quite scary to begin with but you quickly become tired of their lack of variety. Still, the basic make-up looks okay.

The robots, reminiscent of the Battlestar Galactica reboot's Cylons, do not make an appearance until thirty minutes into the story, and then barely do anything for another twenty. Thereafter they are definitely one of the successes of the piece, carving up the undead and looking cool whilst they do it.

There are unfortunately some major problems with the movie, chiefly to do with Lundgren himself (who looks bizarrely similar to Harrison Ford on the DVD cover). Whilst he certainly looks the part with his chiselled cheekbones and battle-weary demeanour, his acting is terribly wooden and laid-back. He does prove that he can still carry an action sequence, but ask him to run and he looks like he needs the assistance of a zimmer-frame.

The characterisation is often paper-thin and really would have benefitted from more development to help us care about the survivors as they battle through the hordes of snarling nutters.

Would I recommend it to a friend? I suppose so, in the sense that it is no worse than many other straight-to-video movies out there, ready and waiting for a post-pub, undemanding audience, and definitely better than 99% of the SyFy channel's low-budget nonsense!

Neither release format has any special features as such, though they do have optional subtitles and titles for the hard of hearing. The DVD version reviewed has pretty good picture quality and despite the stylistic dark and light visuals, the action very rarely becomes difficult to make out.

“Battle of the Damned” (2013) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Entertainment One. The main feature has a running time of 88 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £12.99 on DVD and £15.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Monday, 13 January 2014 09:22

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