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I’m typically pretty forgiving of most direct-to-video action movies. I can easily overlook shoddy acting, weak special effects, watered-down fight scenes, and illogical scripting as long as the entertainment factor is present and accounted for. I’d like to think I’m a pretty easy guy to please, especially when I’m sitting down with a motion picture that contains more explosions than dialogue. However, one thing I simply cannot tolerate is being lied to. If you advertise a mutant attack dog with seventeen different heads on the cover, you’d better deliver the cinematic goods. Making a crappy movie is one thing, blatantly lying to get people interested in your product is another.
Enter director Dan Garcia’s 2011 actioner “Flesh Wounds”, a cheap, made-for-TV yarn that borrows heavily — and I do mean heavily — from John McTiernan’s 1987 classic “Predator”. The similarities are extraordinary, but that’s not the film’s worst offense. Planted directly in the middle of the DVD artwork is some sort of badass cyborg wielding an enormous minigun, a character that is strangely absent from the entire picture. Unless I nodded off for a minute or two at some point during my screening, I didn’t catch a single glimpse of the guy in action. What the hell is that all about? I’d expect this sort of chicanery from the likes of Lionsgate, but Phase 4 Films? Come on, guys. I understand marketing a turd can be tough, but this sort of nonsense isn’t cool at all.
Even for a low-budget knock-off constructed to fit the confines of the small screen, “Flesh Wounds” is remarkably bad. Exceptionally bad, even. I could easily watch both dodgy installments of The Asylum’s “Transmorphers” franchise on a 24-hour loop without achieving the same level of mind-altering boredom I experienced here. I’m particularly irritated because the film seems to take itself way too seriously; Garcia and company really think they’ve crafted a hardcore action flick, one that’s going to warp the boundaries of your brain with its taut, fast-paced story. How Garcia managed to wrangle both Kevin Sorbo and Bokeem Woodbine is perplexing. I understand that both actors aren’t exactly the cream of the crop, but they do what they do rather well, and they should be way above such drivel at this point. Then again, a paycheck is a paycheck.
Kevin Sorbo stars as Tyler, the head of one of the those ultra-secretive military outfits that are frequently forced to embark on dangerous missions in exotic locales. Their mission to eliminate a terrorist threat starts out ordinary enough: explosions, dead bodies, and lots of empty shell casings quickly cover their surroundings. However, there’s something much deadlier than armed insurgents lurking in the jungle, an otherwordly being that makes peculiar gurgling sounds and has the ability to turn itself invisible at will. And when it gets injured during its adventures, this alien assassin employs the assistance of a bizarre mechanical device strapped to his arm. Before you can spell Schwarzenegger, Tyler and his crotch-driven crew of badass soldiers are forced to defend themselves against the galaxy’s ultimate killing machine. Along the way, they’ll sexually harass their female companion numerous times in a variety of disgusting ways. Seriously — I half expected “Flesh Wounds” to transform into “The Accused” at any moment. It’s pretty bad.
When we finally get a glimpse of this impossibly deadly antagonist, the end result is beyond disappointing. He doesn’t look like the guy promised on the artwork. At all. Hell, he barely looks like the guy on the back of the cover, who, I might add, has also received more than a little spit and polish in Photoshop. And I guess I could have accepted the movie for what it is had Phase 4 been completely upfront with me about the film. A movie starring Kevin Sorbo as the head of an elite military unit is probably going to suck, so there’s no use trying to make this thing look any better than what it really is. Anyone with one sizzling brain cell knows this going in. Trying to make us think otherwise is only going to piss us off. Case in point. I hate to sound like a douchey blogger with no life (ahem), but these are the breaks.
There’s really no need to watch “Flesh Wounds”, even if you’re the worldest bigger Kevin Sorbo fan. Which, I suppose, I am. The action sequences are pathetic, the liberal borrowing from “Predator” is unforgivable, and, above all else, it’s a violent bore. Phase 4 Films is a great distributor, and I typically tend to gravitate towards the films they release simply because they are releasing them. “Flesh Wounds” is an unfortunate step in the wrong direction for the company, and I seriously hope it’s not an indication of things to come. And if I just missed the robot gentleman depicted on the artwork, by all means, tell me where he’s at. I have absolutely no problem eating crow. Sometimes it just comes with the territory.
Dan Garcia (director) / Gabriel Saint (screenplay)
CAST: Kevin Sorbo … Tyler
Heather Marie Marsden … Cassandra Mason
Bokeem Woodbine … Jackie
Kirk Kepper … Monster Predator
Johnny Lee … Trey