Youtube Film Club: Deadly Ransom (1997)

Long-term readers of this site may remember our series of Loren Avedon reviews, who took over the “No Retreat, No Surrender” franchise from Jean-Claude Van Damme and made a decent-ish career for himself before dropping off the map around 2004 – honestly, there was probably more money in being a martial arts instructor than a B-movie star when Blockbusters started dying off.

Although we’ve liked him in a lot of movies, he is apparently a difficult fella to get along with, and needs a firm directorial hand and a decent script to get the most of out him. Left to his own devices, he’s got rather an inflated view of his own charisma and ability to be a lead actor, and as he was the writer and producer of “Deadly Ransom”, it’s safe to say no-one was there to rein in his worst impulses.

 

So, what does full-on, unvarnished Avedon look like? Honestly, not good. He’s Max Lightener, a badass Navy SEAL who leads his wisecracking team into deadly missions; his girlfriend is the daughter of an international banking mogul, and she accompanies daddy on a trip to Rio to do some business, or go to a meeting, or have a business meeting. Who cares? So, they get kidnapped, and it’s up to Lightener to go to Rio, meet up with local Luis Mendes (Francisco Quinn) and kill a whole bunch of people.

There’s a few things worth commenting on – not too many, though, so this will be kinda short. It’s got a strong supporting cast, for one, with the great Brion James and John Aprea showing up; James is almost always entertaining. Also, Lightener has psychic powers? I’m not sure it’s ever explained very well, or at all, but he has premonitions of where he needs to go and what he needs to do, and they’re always right.

 

I think the main issue with this movie, though, was Avedon. It looks and feels pretty similar to dozens of other movies, many of which we’ve covered here – undistinguished straight-to-video fare. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily – the area we find ourselves in is often short on originality – but you need to have something to latch onto. A charismatic performance? Great stunts? Exciting fight scenes? “Deadly Ransom” has, for example, a stunt where Avedon ziplines into an enemy village, firing as he goes. Given he’s a large target, moving on a set path, one might think that would be unnecessarily dangerous and counter-productive, but not anyone on the set, sadly. One might hope that if a main actor had what amounted to a super-power, they’d explain it a little. Nope!

But the unforgivable thing, and this is tough coming from a site that has enjoyed Avedon’s work in the past a lot, is the star. He’s just not charismatic, not funny, not a great actor, and aside from a few half-decent fight scenes, doesn’t really look like he’s enjoying himself either.

 

I mean, it’s on Youtube so you can watch it for free, but I really don’t see many reasons why you’d pick this over, say, “the Hydraulic Press Channel” (two chilled-out Scandivanians crush stuff with a hydraulic press) or “Veritasium” (smart guy tells you about science stuff). The fact I’m praising random Youtubers will hopefully tell you everything you need to know about “Deadly Ransom”.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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