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  Dollman Think Big
Year: 1991
Director: Albert Pyun
Stars: Tim Thomerson, Jackie Earle Haley, Kamala Lopez, Humberto Ortiz, Nicholas Guest, Judd Omen, Michael Halsey, Frank Doubleday, Frank Collison, Vincent Klyn, John Durbin Merle Kennedy, Luis Contreras, Eugene Robert Glaser, Richard D'Sisto
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Light years across the galaxy, far from Planet Earth, lies Arturus, a planet more advanced than ours but with a similar problem with crime. Take today, when a criminal on the run from the police seeks sanctuary in a laundry room and takes hostages of those in the basement of the apartment block who usually use it. There's only one thing for it, believes the cop in charge: call in Brick Bardo (Tim Thomerson). Yes, he may be suspended from the force currently for his strongarm tactics, but he does get results, and so it is that he enters the laundry room with his washing, puts it into one of the machines as the creep looks on aghast, and makes sure he doesn't get a chance to shoot...

In fact, what Brick does is topple the fat lady standing in front of the crim who he has tied himself to as insurance, and she promptly squashes him, which was about the level of sophistication you came to recognise in Dollman. This was one of the Charles Band empire's efforts, but not his Empire studio, as this was from the Full Moon Productions as his attempts to be the next Roger Corman continued to bear fruit, if not exactly high quality projects. As ever, his ambitions and concepts were high, but his means and budget were decidedly low, which worked against the overall effect of a science fiction epic with snazzy special effects: no wonder these went straight to video.

Mostly, or at least by 1991 in any case, when Dollman arrived on the scene. While earlier Band productions had secured big screen releases, the landscape had changed alarmingly quickly and many of the lower budget genre pictures found it more lucrative to bypass the theatres entirely, or maybe play the odd grindhouse or drive-in of the sort that themselves were a vanishing breed. No wonder, some of the harsher critics would observe, when what was on offer was of the Band's sort of entertainment, determined to pack as much action into eighty minutes or so (including lengthy credits sequence topping and tailing the plot) but without a clue of how to make the most of it.

Well, that's probably unfair, the Bands were closer to the higher end of the quality threshold, if only thanks to having made the genuine cult favourite Trancers in the eighties, which was promptly followed by sequels of sharply declining value. Thomerson starred in those as well, Band's own personal Clint Eastwood - Brick Bardo made no secret of the fact it was Dirty Harry he was emulating, even down to a close resemblance to his more celebrated lines of dialogue. What made him a "Dollman", however? As the story unfolded, our hero chased a villain he had once reduced to a floating head through some form of dimensional barrier in his spaceship which naturally plonked them both down on Planet Earth, where they found themselves at something of a loss, as far as height went.

Now, by the laws of physics they should have had squeaky voices as well, which might have made this more diverting, Thomerson all helium-toned and barking out threats sounding like a budgie, but they were not about to ally themselves too closely to real life. This was in spite of a gritty milieu on a housing project that was riddled with drug abuse and violence, which single parent Debi (Kamala Lopez) is trying to counteract with a Neighbourhood Watch scheme; when the newly-landed Brick saves her from murder by gang member, she takes him and his ship home to her apartment and ponders her next move. In truth, rather too much of this stranded the hero in said apartment, but he did break out eventually to combat both his original quarry and Jackie Earle Haley in his wilderness years as the gang leader. It was cheap and (relatively) cheerful, with even Irwin Allen's sixties TV series Land of the Giants boasting more convincing effects, but it was also really last choice in a nineties video store time as far as amusement went, much like Albert Pyun's other movies. Music by Anthony Riparetti.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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