Post Expendables action cinema is seeing a rise in old action legends going back for a slice of their lovable heyday Z-movie nonsense. The latest is Randy Couture/Dolph Lundgren co-produced action-thriller Hard Rush (AKA Ambushed), directed by Giorgio Serafini.
By the time its gets round to explaining the outcome of its introductory sequence, (the story is told as a flashback) you’ve already stopped caring. The film plods along highlighting the highs and lows of criminal life in the most mundane way possible, your attention slips with all the rapidity of the film’s common sense. Lundgren and Couture pop up as feuding good and bad cop, whilst Gianni Capaldi and Daniel Bonjour play dislikeable young jack-the-lad types out to make some money. The two pairs are on the road to an inevitable but lacklustre clash with Vinnie Jones’ laughable shadowy gangster in the wings. Many action films pull off enjoyable gun fights and over the top set pieces that prove endearing, but Hard Rush seems to settle into the lazy comfort of an awful thriller.
The fact that there’s little action is the film’s worst slip up considering the cast of action stars. Boring characters get boringly executed, and the rest of the testosterone fuelled lads seem to get away with cussing at each other or dying seemingly insignificant deaths that the camera flashes past. The carrot on the stick is the inevitable Lundgren/Couture finale scrap, a fight that must surely occur between two masters of muscle in the most bloody and brutal way possible. But no, even the short-lived Stallone/Van-Damme fight at the end of The Expendables 2 was worth more viewing credit than this. There’s practically no fight at all, just two ageing action stars dancing around each other in an awkward and anti-climactic final battle.
A Self-righteous waffle about the inherent corruption in American sociology doesn’t help either. Show, don’t tell. Usually the message of a feature is shifted to and fro under the complex network of cinematic processes in order to allow that message the chance to be worked out by the viewer. Think Wall Street, think Scarface, think Goodfellas. The short and tedious sequence of explanation has no place in the film, other than to make it seem a little edgier than it actually is.
That is the main problem with Hard Rush: it is always attempting to be something it’s not. The whacky disco editing, attempts at clever plotting, and the laugh-out-loud escapades of all its characters are simply too ridiculous to be A. clever or B. so bad they’re good. Here is a film malcontent with being Friday night fun, but lacking the components to hoist it up as anything else.
If Hard Rush were shot on film, I’d call it a waste of celluloid. Lack of character, plot, and -most disappointingly- action plunge it into a pit of cinematic despair that not even the hilarious exploits of Vinnie Jones can save. Avoid if you possibly can and if you’re desperate to see Lundgren and Couture on screen, wait for The Expendables 3.
Dir: Giorgio Serafini
Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Vinnie Jones, Randy Couture, Gianni Capaldi, Daniel Bonjour