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  Dangerously Close Lords Of Discipline
Year: 1986
Director: Albert Pyun
Stars: John Stockwell, J. Eddie Peck, Carey Lowell, Bradford Bancroft, Don Michael Paul, Thom Mathews, Gerard Christopher, Madison Mason, Anthony De Longis, Carmen Argenziano, Miguel A. Núñez Jr, Dedee Pfeiffer, Karen Lorre, Greg Finley, Angel Tompkins
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A young man is running through the countryside at night, stumbling through a pond and into the bushes, pursued by masked figures taunting him by calling his name. He cannot run forever, and sure enough his foot is caught in a trap, lifting him by one ankle into the air to dangle from a tree branch whereupon the pursuers catch up and gloat over having captured him, a video camera running all the while to record his humiliation. Then things get even more serious as one of them pulls a gun, and aims it straight at his forehead; the yelling rises to a crescendo but once the trigger is pulled, that red stain between his eyes is merely paint and they let him down. He is furious, and as they drive away he throws a rock at the car - bad idea.

That's because shortly after this the unfortunate chap has his throat cut and his body dumped in the pond, establishing Dangerously Close as a murder mystery even though it appears obvious who the killers are. But you would be recommended not to take this on face value, as this was one of the few films directed by the prolific Albert Pyun to actually enjoy a fair reputation rather than the usual complaints his work received that he was a proponent of utter garbage second only to Uwe Boll. Boll, too, has his fans, misguided or otherwise as they may have been, but it seemed by toiling almost exclusively in low budget genre flicks Pyun could not catch a break either with critics or the public.

Yet don't go thinking the second you see his credit as director at the beginning of a movie that you had every excuse to turn it off immediately and go do something less boring instead, because while he did make Vicious Lips the same year, and that truly is a tedious film, with this he was produced by Cannon just at the mid-point of their eighties heyday. It was arguably downhill for them all from this stage onwards, but there was a neat little thriller trying to break out from the script's ho-hum secret college society shenanigans, and it did sustain the interest thanks to a weird, off-kilter atmosphere. For a start, the cast looked far too old for their roles - you had to imagine they were playing teenagers, but that added to the wonky mood.

In fact, you could be mistaken for thinking Dangerously Close was the main film Rian Johnson was attempting to emulate when he made a splash with his Chandler-esque high school mystery Brick, as there were some similarities, yet while he went on to be fairly well respected, Pyun, well, the opposite of that. Our hero was Danny (J. Eddie Peck), the editor of the school newspaper whose motives are difficult to read, whether by design of the screenplay or because the actor was simply behaving that way, anyway Danny starts to cosy up to the resident gang of enforcers, called the Sentinels. They have the permission of the dean, Corrigan (Madison Mason), to act as his security, taking care of the students, but what if they are now really taking care of them, knoworrimean?

As in inflicting violence on them, that's what I mean, and when Danny makes tentative friends with their leader Randy (John Stockwell, already developing an interest behind the camera by contributing to the writing) he invites him out to a nightclub they're sure to gain entry to despite being underage (possibly because they all look about thirty years old). Randy's subdued girlfriend Julie (future Bond Girl Carey Lowell in her debut) looks like someone Danny could take an interest in, but only because Randy comes across as a little strange, not to say dangerous, though not as much as certain other Sentinels like the charmingly-named Ripper (Don Michael Paul, who also turned director) who harasses apparently the college's sole black student. This questioning of authority when it goes off the rails may be metaphorical, though it's too vague when you boil it down, but did contribute to a tone that kept you guessing more than you might have anticipated. If it remained a minor effort, that was not to say you wouldn't be entertained. Music by Michael McCarty, along with hits for the tie-in album.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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