dir. Albert Pyun
"Elections are next week and I don't need dead fat ladies on video screens all over the city"
Albert Pyun has built a steady career filming trashy, often straight to video, genre flicks. Often vituperated as a hack director of disposable, cheaply made trash, his films are nevertheless marked by a distinctive, if slightly borrowed, voice. Given his tutelage under Kurosawa, and his love of Sergio Leone, it is no surprise that his frequently close to budget-less pictures still contain striking visuals. Even though many of his pictures would be released straight to VHS, and thus horribly panned and scanned, he has opted to shoot in scope (a ridiculous rarity in his niche), thus aiming to give his pictures the look and feel of the works of his mentor. His reach may be beyond his grasp, but at least the motherfucker's reaching.
With his Tim Thomerson (Trancers) and Jackie Earle Haley (Breaking Away, [I think he was also in a comic book movie earlier this year.]) starring, straight to video, sci-fi/action pic Dollman, Pyun proudly wears his influences on his sleeve. [Side note: sadly, the Dollman DVD I received from Netflix was pan and scan.]
After coming up with the idea for Dollman, an eager Pyun, likely called up his producer and exclaimed, "Hey, I like Clint Eastwood. Let's make a Clint Eastwood movie."
"Ok, yeah. That'd be cool. We could do a sly homage. Borrow a few things from his movie persona, but make our character different enough that we can call him our own."
"Fuck that noise. Let's just take every Clint Eastwood character cliche, jam it all into one movie, crank that shit up to eleven, and see what happens. Give Clint the script. He'll be so flattered by it that I'm sure he'll take the role."
"I hate to break it to you Albert, we can't afford the man with no name. I don't even know that we can even afford film stock."
"Alright, get Trancers star Tim Thomerson instead."
Significantly (for me anyways), Pyun birthed Dollman in 1991, the year that I was eleven. This is significant because Dollman has the sort of plot that I would have dreamed up back then and subsequently creamed myself over (believe me, it is not far from the sorts of movie ideas I had in '91). Because this movie made me feel like a kid again, let me explain Dollman's plot the way I would have described it to a friend if I had thought it up at that age.
"Alright, so there's this cop who's like Dirty Harry and stuff and he's got this gun, this space gun. It's like really powerful and stuff. It's like the size of a regular Dirty Harry gun but it like shoots...when it shoots, it shoots like a bomb. It blows up whatever it hits."
"Space gun? So did it fall to Earth from another planet?"
"No, no. I forget to mention, but he's from another planet."
"What, like Mars or something?"
"No, he's from really far away. Not one of the close planets. A planet we haven't heard of."
"What kind of alien does he look like? Is he like E.T. or is he like Close Encounters of the Third Kind or something?"
"No, no. He's like us. He looks human. His planet is like ours, but more advanced and stuff. They got like flying cars, but it's also really dirty. It's like Earth but in the future. But anyways, he's like a cop here on his planet. He's really good at his job but his boss hates him and stuff because he's too violent."
"Yeah, so he's in a space ship chasing this bad guy who's like just a head."
"Just ahead of him? Does he catch up?"
"No, no. I meant the bad guy only has a head. He doesn't have a body."
"Holy shit. That's weird. I thought you said the people on this planet were just like us."
"No, but yeah they are. But this guy used to be whole, but Brick Bardo, that's the name of the Dirty Harry cop guy, had shot off the rest of the guy's body so now he's just a head."
"So he's chasing the head guy in space and he flies through this like dimension thingy-"
"So he's from another dimension? I thought he was just from another planet."
"No, sure, um...well, he is, but no, but yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I guess It's like another dimension and stuff, like The Twilight Zone or something. That's why it's like Earth and stuff and why they speak English and stuff. It's like our world but different."
"So why don't they speak Spanish? Why English."
"I don't know...they just...that's just the way it is. But, anyways, they fly through this space hole and they end up falling to Earth. Then he fights crime here."
"Oh shit. So he fights crime on Earth, blowing up bad guys with his gun?"
"Almost, but here's what's different. When he comes to Earth, he's only thirteen inches tall. See, on his planet, this like...they're all...this is their regular size. Everything on Earth is the same, just bigger. We don't know this until he gets to Earth, though. Because how would he know that he's too small if this is regular size on his planet.
"Rad. But couldn't the bad guys on Earth just step on him if he's only thirteen inches tall here?"
"No, cause he's still got his gun. On his planet it's like really powerful and stuff, blowing stuff up, but because it's so much smaller on Earth, here it's like a regular Earth gun. When he shoots bad guys, they don't blow up, they just like get shot...you know and die regular. But he can still kill bad guys with his gun."
[Thirteen inches of raw man, Brick Bardo don't treat 'em gently.]
"Oh, that's pretty rad."
"Yeah, you know, because in these movies whenever aliens come to our planet they're like our size. No one ever thought about, well what if they're small and stuff."
"Wow, that's smart, I never thought of that stuff before."
"Yeah, I thought it was pretty cool when I thought about it."
"Will it have boobies?"
[Side note: Dollman does not contain boobies.]
Yes, Dollman is a dumb and obvious movie jukebox rip-off pastiche. But, for catering to the kid in me, this movie is a winner.