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Killing Machine, The – aka Icarus (BluRay) 
Written by: on August 19th, 2010

Theatrical Release Date: Canada, February 9th 2010
Director: Dolph Lundgren
Writers: Raul Inglis (written by)
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Stefanie von Pfetten, Samantha Ferris, David Lewis, Lindsay Maxwell, John Tench, Bo Svenson.

DVD released: August 16th, 2010
Approximate running time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16×9 Full Screen & Letterboxed
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English, DTS-HD Master Audio English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Anchor Bay Entertainment UK
Region Coding: Region B PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £19.99

Eddie Genn (Dolph Lundgren) appears to be an ordinary man, a divorced father with a steady job working for an investment company but to the Russian mob he’s known as Icarus, a reluctant hitman, blackmailed into doing the syndicate’s dirty work. His secretive constant trips abroad have cost him his marriage but with the escalation of an internal Russian mob conflict he may be about to lose much more. The opposing faction has put out a contract on Eddie and his family, including his young daughter. Now Eddie has to protect his family by uncovering those who are after him and killing them all before they can get to his loved ones.

Shockingly enough this is Lundgren’s sixth outing behind the camera, he’s racked up one film a year since he began directing in 2004 (with another in the pipeline for 2011) but that’s about all he has in common with Woody Allen. A string of workmanlike action thrillers for the most part, produced for the straight to DVD/TV market’s, usually filmed in Bulgaria or the like featuring a plethora of unknown eastern European actors. That said his last flick, Command Performance, did have a tongue-in-cheek streak of dark humor running through it that gave me hope he might actually be maturing as a filmmaker. Unfortunately presented with Icarus (retitled The Killing Machine for western audiences) I’m afraid he’s regressed back to the banal it seems. Despite it’s penchant for gut-ripping, ultra-violent, bullet to the head-style action this is really just a forgettable little cheap and cheerful TV movie thriller at heart, quite obviously filmed entirely in Canada (despite Eddie’s supposed trips to Hong Kong, etc).

Lundgren’s acting ability, apparently frozen in time since the early 80’s, hasn’t improved here with his mumbling narration over the film almost indecipherable at times and his family scenes coming off as just plain awkward. Canadian TV regular Samantha Ferris (most recently seen in the CW’s Supernatural) does her best as a butch back-stabbing arms dealer as does Stefanie von Pfetten as Eddie’s confused missus. It doesn’t help that the story is a bit of a mess, it’s True Lies-lite really with odd transitions, incessantly repeated flashbacks and one decidedly ill-timed and inappropriate sex scene; minutes after her new boyfriend is gunned down in front of her and the whereabouts of her daughter still unknown Eddie’s ex-wife just has to have some of that Swedish beefcake! Bland, colorless cinematography pervades and some of the action scenes feature a dodgy slow-mo technique that I haven’t seen used in movies since the 90’s and even then mostly in cheap TV shows. Just to be fair though I’ll mention that Lundgren originally wanted to play a villain in this one but the producers didn’t approve plus they gave him only 18 days for principal photography and in the end they re-edited the film so what we have in the end isn’t Lundgren’s director’s cut – which I’m going to stick my neck out and say would likely have been an improvement on this pile of tosh. Watch it with your mates and a healthy selection of alcoholic beverages close at hand or not at all folks!

The BluRay:

50GB Disc. Picture is presented in what appears to be 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen labelled as ’16×9 fullscreen’, MPEG-4/AVC encode and 1080p transfer. The quality is excellent with a crystal clear image, colors are strong and vivid, excellent contrast levels, accurate fleshtones and details so sharp you can count the wrinkles around Dolph’s eyes. The image looks well framed despite some talk that it was shot in 2.35:1 (cinemascope) and that is the ratio featured on the French DVD / Blu-ray edition. Oddly enough there is also an option to watch the film letterboxed which adds black bars to the picture; effectively cutting out the top and bottom of the image. The DTS-HD master audio is an excellent track, clean and clear with the groovy rock theme tune pumping through the speakers nicely balanced with the ambient soundtrack and dialog plus the action scenes give your whole sound system a good workout. The stereo track is also very good just lacking that extra oomph though. There are no English subtitles.

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