Terminal Rush (1996)

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Long-term readers may remember our reviews of the “Bloodfist” series, 9 movies which mostly featured Don “The Dragon” Wilson, playing a variety of characters in a variety of environments. It could have been a “Bloodfist”, I suppose – released the same year as “Bloodfist 8”, it bears the same relation to the rest of the series as that one does (none whatsoever). “Terminal Rush” does bear a passing resemblance to one of the more enduring B-movie templates of all time, but more on that later.

 

“They’d have to be a real nutcase” to try and take over the Hoover dam, says a cop near the beginning. Luckily, the movies are lousy with erudite nutcases who want to blow things up and steal things and make a ton of money from doing so, and “Terminal Rush” is no different. Harrison Dekker (Michael Anderson Jr, “Logan’s Run”) leads a team of mercenaries into the Dam, killing some guards, taking others hostage and threatening to blow the dam up unless he gets $25 million. His sidekick is Bartel (the late, great “Rowdy” Roddy Piper) and if you’ve seen any promotional images for this movie, you’ll have noticed Bartel’s rather unusual make-up choices.

 

Wilson is local Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Harper (who spent 6 years in Special Forces, we are helpfully told at one point) and he seems to like the life in whatever small town it is that’s next to Hoover Dam. Unfortunately, his wife Katherine (Kate Greenhouse) doesn’t, I guess – it’s never really elaborated on – and as the movie begins, she’s packing her stuff to move out. She wants Jacob to go with her, but he won’t because his grandfather told him his destiny is to perform an act of great heroism in this town. We discover later that she’s pregnant, and her brother is one of the other Deputies, so her insistence on leaving town right at that moment feels a bit off; but literally no-one in the universe is watching this for accuracy in the depiction of marriage, so I won’t dwell on it too much.

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As you’ve probably guessed by now, it’s a “Die Hard” clone, with a bit of “Under Siege” thrown in for good measure. Don finds out that the Dam has been taken over so goes in through a secret maintenance tunnel and starts kicking ass. The FBI are brought in, and they try and stop him; then the Sheriff asks for the Army to be brought in too. In a moderately interesting twist, it seems some of the people on the outside are working for the people inside, and $25 million isn’t going to make much of a difference divided that many ways, so there’s a whole other reason for them being there and a whole lot more money to be made. Can Jacob stop them all? Can Dekker stop doing that thing where the villain shoots one of his own guys in cold blood to prove a point to the other guys?

 

There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be decent – I’ve liked a lot of those cheap ripoff movies, think Don Wilson is a decent enough actor and a great martial artist, and love Roddy Piper. It just feels like a cover version with no soul, though. Take the gunfire scenes (please) and watch how many people appear to be just firing randomly into the air. Or, even with a complete amateur’s limited knowledge of tactics, how stupid they all seem (set yourself in position before you start firing, don’t run and gun from the hip, you’ll never hit the bloke). It’s mostly in one of those disused factories that we B-movie fans know and love, but there’s no sense of where people are in relation to other people…

Terminal Rush - Die Herausforderung / Terminal Rush CDN 1995 Regie: Damian Lee Darsteller: Roddy Piper, Don 'The Dragon' Wilson Rollen: Bartel, Jacob Harper

It’s just poorly directed. Full of Dutch angles, and that thing where people are shot from a camera which appears to be sat on the floor, meaning we see up a lot of noses. Lord knows why, it becomes irritating really quickly. Director Damian Lee is in regular work (and made ISCFC non-favourite “Ski School”, among others), making those thrillers you’d see on the video shop shelves starring former big stars who still have some name recognition (Dominic Purcell, Andy Garcia, Forrest Whittaker, Cuba Gooding Jr, Christian Slater), and maybe he got better, but this is just bland. Even Piper is sort of bland in this, like he got the weird face-paint but wasn’t allowed to go over the top at all.

 

A word about screenwriter Mark Sevi, who seems to have written more sequels than any other writer ever. To list his first seven credits: Excessive Force II: Force on Force; Dream a Little Dream 2; Scanner Cop II; Relentless IV: Ashes to Ashes; Ghoulies IV; Fast Getaway II; Class of 1999 II: The Substitute; Dead On: Relentless II. “Terminal Rush” was only his second original screenplay – well, okay, “original” is pushing the definition a bit much.

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I expected the ending to be “well, husband, you’re good at your job, therefore I love you again” but they did a surprising (and quite welcome) twist on that sad sexist old trope. It is, unfortunately, the only remotely surprising thing about the movie, and while it’s certainly tolerable, it’s just a bit too amateurish. When you have a movie where Roddy Piper gets to blow up helicopters with a rocket launcher and you’re not grinning from ear to ear at the end, you’ve done something wrong.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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