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  Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe The Big Jesse
Year: 1990
Director: Damian Lee
Stars: Jesse Ventura, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Damian Lee, Jerry Levitan, Marjorie Bransfield, Ken Quinn, Marilyn Lightstone, Moses Znaimer, Robert Nasmith, Kris Michaels, Layne Coleman, Francis Mitchell, Sonja Belliveau, Jim Belushi, Erica Heenan, John Blackwood
Genre: Action, Trash, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Abraxas (Jesse Ventura) is a Guardian of the Universe, an interstellar cop whose job it is to ensure bad guys like Secundus (Sven-Ole Thorsen) do not win, no matter what the odds. They are both enhanced with plas-steel and carry wrist-computers that speak to them and give advice, but Secundus has the advantage as he wishes to spread his space seed across the galaxy, and to do so he has headed to a small planet the locals call Earth. Once there, he finds himself in the snowy forests of Canada and soon stumbles across a courting couple; he drags the boy out through the car window and starts to chase the fleeing girl, Sonia (Marjorie Bransfield), with designs on her womb...

Mr Ventura was one of those wrestlers who, having established a no-nonsense tough guy persona in the ring, went on to politics, not that unusual a path in the United States, and one which Arnold Schwarzenegger took as well, though he was a body-builder turned movie star before his political ambitions took over. However, he was important, because a stop-off between the wrestling and the politics was often a film career, however brief, and Ahnold was the model by which those musclebound chaps and, more rarely, chapesses adopted to further their ambitions, presumably believing if the Austrian Oak could do it, why, they could be President one day, just you wait!

Ventura never went that far, maybe because his career as a governor was not as successful as he would have preferred, but we do have a handful of movies to otherwise remember him by, and in Abraxas, seemingly named after a Carlos Santana album, he seized the opportunity for a lead. Now, in something like Predator he was fine in support, not called upon to do much but growl and flex and fire bullets, but with substandard material of the sort Canuxploitation auteur Damian Lee served up for our delectation, let's just say he was never going to cover himself in glory. Indeed, here he came across as if he had merely a passing awareness of how to act human, never mind alien.

Mind you, he was playing an actual alien, so it could have been he was going method and delivering the closest approximation to an otherworldly presence he could muster. Or it more probably could be he was ripping off Schwarzenegger's performance in The Terminator, which was curious for Thorsen as his screen rival was doing the same. They were both friends with the star, so perhaps they could be excused as presumably he would take this in good humour, but if this was the best either of them could do it was not exactly flattering, and while Arnie had a self-deprecating sense of humour (which cunningly doubled as a self-inflating ego booster), there was no evidence of that here. Not that the pair were not enjoying themselves, it was more that they didn't have the talent to rise above this.

Not assisting was the script, which seemed to have been given to Lee's children to write for him while they were high on sugary drinks - watch the movie's heavy promotion to work out which brand. From Secundus impregnating Sonia by placing a glowing hand on her tummy, to minutes later her giving birth without pausing to remove her trousers, reason was not in effect in this ludicrous enterprise, and that was why Abraxas picked up a cult following of bad movie buffs who couldn't get enough of, say, a topless Jesse in bed telling the resulting Secundus offspring his idea of a bedtime story (it was like a hellish version of The Princess Bride). Except the space aliens call this boy a "comater", one of a number of jargon terms bandied about as if we were supposed to know what they referred to without being told. There were signs Lee was being deliberately humorous (V.D.? Jim Belushi?!), yet others where aspects like the elevator music soundtrack or barely coherent action scenes indicated he was severely lacking. Still, it was memorable, and weirdly was also a would-be heartwarming Christmas film.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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