Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

There’s no truth in advertising here my friends, not with this movie calling itself ‘The Mercenary’. Or ‘The Lazarus Papers’. Either way, both box covers feature action heroes Danny Trejo, Gary Daniels and Tiny Lister… if you’re holding ‘The Mercenary’, Bai Ling in place of Tiny Lister if you happen to be clutching ‘The Lazarus Papers’, amidst a scene of action and explosions. That’s not what’s happening here. No soldiers, no helicopters, no explosions. In fact GD, Trejo, Tiny and Bai Ling aren’t even the main attraction in this movie, with these honors going to actors Johnny Lee and Krystal Vee, but who the hell are they and why would we put them on the cover of this fractured, mystical, esoteric, metaphysical love story. Nope, can’t do that. If we do that, then no suckers, such as myself, would actually pick this movie up. Soulless marketing executives have got me again.

I’m not even sure who The Mercenary is this movie. It starts out with us looking at the brutal character of Sebastian (Daniels) who certainly looks like a mercenary, but after hanging out with Sebastian for a minute in this Thailand shantytown and watching him slaughter these villagers for no particular reason, Sebastian turns out to be more of a dick than anything else, but I guess we couldn’t call this movie ‘The Dick’. Sebastian is in this little town to grab some females, take them back to the big city get them hooked on heroin and infected with HIV and then marry them off to mail order bride dudes and then rob and kill these dudes. Hey man, that’s what Sebastian does.

Also in this town that Sebastian is in the process of slaughtering is a guy who heals people with his hands named Aroon (Trejo). He’s not a mercenary either but we can’t call the movie ‘The guy who Heals and Whines Incessantly’. Sebastian kills him too. Too bad this guy is immortal and stuff. It’s kind of complicated, like to the point I don’t understand it all, so we’re going to conveniently skate past all of that. Also in this town is the beautiful Nana (Vee) who is like the prize of Sebastian’s kidnapped recruits as the poor girl is snatched and carted off to the big city to be an HIV infected whore.

Fast forward a bit and we meet Lonny (Lee), the terminally ill virgin who just wants to know love before he kicks the bucket and has cashed in a life insurance policy to make this happen. He is really excited because his future bride is going to be sizzling hot Nana, now a strung out junkie prostitute with HIV. Bai Ling figures into the story because, I think, Sebastian turns the village girls over to her to get them strung out and infected. I don’t know why they infect them, but we have observed that Sebastian is a dick. Tiny Lister figures into all of this as one of the future grooms who will eventually be robbed of his loot, and he’s not a mercenary either but I guess we can’t call the movie ‘The Guy who got his Penis Bit Off’. Just doesn’t have a ring to it.

Eventually Johnny and Nana meet, and while their relationship was touch and go for a minute, somehow the HIV infected Junkie and the Virgin with the bad ticker who will be dead in a few hours, will find love. The Guy who Heals and Whines is also hanging around looking for somebody to take his place while Sebastian the Dick is looking for the virgin and the junkie because they have his money. Mystic, esoteric, metaphysicalness shall ensue. No explosions though. Or soldiers. Or helicopters like we saw on the box cover. Didn’t see any of those.

Want to know what’s great about this movie? Right before Gary Daniels went on his quest to find the Dying Virgin and Junkie in the pink wig, he put on this electric green velvet suit, and let me tell you that suit was straight pimpified. GD was killing that suit. I hope they let Gary keep that outfit after they wrapped this movie because that suit was awesome. GD kicked some poor security guard asses while wearing that suit, and while there’s no shame in getting your ass kicked by Gary Daniels, I’m afraid there’s ever dying shame in getting your ass kicked by a guy wearing an electric green velvet pimp suit.

Back to ‘The Mercenary’ directed by Jeremiah Hundley, I’m feeling the need to tell you how simply awful this movie was, and the way it was playing out, this movie seemed like it well on its way to being completely awful. But while I’m not here to tell you the ‘The Mercenary’ ever became a ‘good’ movie, far from it, but as it wore on the charm of the two leads won me over a bit. And by two leads I mean Johnny Lee and Krystal Vee, not Gary Daniels and Danny Trejo.

Once you get over the misleading cover art and realize you won’t be watching an all-out action movie, the thing gets better, even though the film still moves far too slowly. Director Hundley tends to linger on images, for dramatic effect I assume, when I would’ve preferred him to keep things moving. And while we love Danny Trejo here at the FCU, his Lazarus Man character had me completely baffled. In fact, I bet if you got rid of The Lazarus Man in this movie, scenes I doubt you would miss, and replaced his scenes with more images of Gary Daniels kicking people in the chest in a velvet suit, I bet you it would’ve been a better film.

Even the characters of Lonny and Nana, when they were first introduced, were difficult to get behind mainly because of how scattershot the presentation of this film was, but the movie does gain some focus within their story and their characters start to develop somewhat. I don’t know if I’d call Johnny Lee or Krystal Vee good actors but they are appealing actors, they did have some chemistry together and they did well enough with what they were asked to do.

If nothing else ‘The Mercenary’ is a different kind of movie. Maybe too different since I don’t think I ever truly understood what was going on. But if you can get past the misleading cover art, which will be difficult, and a meandering storyline, which will be more difficult… the movie isn’t a total loss. And that suit GD was wearing. Man, I gotta get me one of those.

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