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  Pentathlon Fighting Fit For Freedom
Year: 1994
Director: Bruce Malmuth
Stars: Dolph Lundgren, David Soul, Renée Coleman, Roger E. Mosley, Evan James, David Drummond, Daniel Riordan, Philip Bruns, Gerald Hopkins, Erik Holland, Bruce Malmuth, Mel Stewart, Anthony T. Pennello, Barry Lynch, Andreas Reinl, Alex Rodine, James Paradise
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Eric Brogar (Dolph Lundgren) has been trained since childhood to compete in the pentathlon, that most gruelling of sporting contests. But he remembers his trainer, Heinrich Muller (David Soul), who would berate and even hit the kid when he failed to achieve everything he could, and a resentment builds in him. Now, at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, Brogar has a very good chance of attaining a gold medal in the event that was chosen for him all those years ago, but as an East German he feels little of the rivalry with the United States that men like Muller tell him he should. He even wishes to swap jackets with the American team, something his mentor steps in and puts a stop to forthwith...

So obviously Brogar is not going to stay in East Germany for long, indeed he's never going back, in this curious, and not to say absurd action flick from the point where Lundgren's thrillers were tending to go straight to video rather than bother the cinemas, though there were still regions where he made it into a proper theatre with nonsense like this. The star's physical prowess and presence was not in doubt, what was more problematic was his ability to accept scripts that failed to show him off to his best advantage, though it could be these were all he was offered to work on. Nevertheless, Germans in particular found this example of his oeuvre completely preposterous.

That was thanks to a plot twist halfway through that had been implemented way back in the nineteen-fifties with paranoid camp favourite The Whip Hand: the Communists were basically the Nazis, and given enough space would revert to type. Muller represented the Reds, and was happy to have Brogar shot as he defected in Seoul, but they just got him in the leg and he is able to make it to the States, yet in a rare moment of realism, he doesn't find a pot of gold at the end of this particular rainbow, he ends up in squalor working not as an athlete but as a cook in a low rent diner owned by Roger E. Mosley off of Magnum P.I. But Muller, as you might imagine, harbours a major grudge.

Therefore in a hard to believe development, he decides to kill two birds with one stone: he will execute Brogar once he finds him, but also - and this is the "good" bit - start a revival of Nazism across the globe by broadcasting a video of him explaining the tenets of Adolf Hitler over the television station broadcasting a small peace celebration. Exactly how many people would be tuned in for that is debatable, and even more debatable is whether the viewing hundreds would be tempted to turn to the far right - maybe Muller should have interrupted Baywatch instead, this was the nineties after all - but there's no reasoning with an absolute maniac as Brogar already knows. What was not explored was why a Communist should change horses midstream when the Berlin Wall came down.

We just have to take it as read (or as Red) that these bad guys were interchangeable, though Soul's dodgy 'Allo 'Allo accent may have you wondering if Muller is an actual German and this is not some kind of double bluff (triple bluff?). In the meantime we had supposedly heartwarming scenes of Brogar getting his groove back as he rekindles a romance with an athlete he met back in '88 (Renée Coleman, the Evil Leaper from the latter season of Quantum Leap), though given she has zero personality to speak of we may be sceptical that a lot of thought went into her character. Mosley in the meantime trains our hero so that his success can advertise his diner, since greasy burgers and ribs go together with the pinnacle of human physical success so ideally, and Muller does his best to upset the applecart, both personally and internationally. You might have anticipated the titular Pentathlon skills to come in handy, but only running and shooting do. Just like every other action movie. Music by David Spear.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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