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February 14, 2013

Movie Review: The Package (2012, DVD/Blu-ray)

Review By: Rob Sibley

“The Package” coming out February 19th courtesy of Anchor bay is a superior action film then most. A few things to get out of the way before this review starts. Direct to DVD action films are my specialty. I live, eat and breath them. These days Hollywood is so concerned with giant explosions and huge robots that it takes away the fun. Mean while the lower budgets of DTV action films, actually help the films. They feature real tough guys kicking ass and taking names. The heroes are usually anti-hero's and do things that their Hollywood counterparts never would do. This harkens back to the hay-day of action films when real tough guys like Bronson, Lee Marvin would take out anyone who was in their way. With no fear of the consequences of their actions. This take no prisoners attitude has vanished from Hollywood action films. But that spirit is still very much alive in DTV action films. 

“The Package” stars Steve Austin who has become one of the best actor turned Wrestlers. He has a fun “I'd have a beer with him” attitude and he's always got a fun one-liner to spout. Now my favorite action star of all time plays the villain in this one. That man is Dolph Lundgren who is probably the best actor working in action movies. He's got more depth and smarts in him then most guys. He always brings something special to his characters.

Outside of the Universal Soldier films, Dolph never really plays the villain that often. But he pulls it off big time in this flick. The plot is simple, Steve Austin is Tommy Wick a bouncer and enforcer for a Seattle mob boss.

He's propositioned that if he delivers this mysterious brief case, his brother's debt will vanish. The package is to be delivered to “The German” a brutal international crime lord. “The German” is played by Dolph and he's not your typical villain. He's got problems... mainly a blood disease which plays a major part in the film.

From the plot you may think this is “The Transporter” with Steve Austin. It's not, this is a better movie. It's gritty, it's violent and it features some of the best punch em up sequences committed to celluloid.

This is do to the director Jesse V. Johnson, who is one of the best current action directors. This man can take a small budget and put every single penny of it on screen. His resume is an action fans wet dream. Pit Fighter was an excellent no-budget fight flick. The Last Sentinel starring Don The Dragon Wilson and Katie Sackoff was an above average sci-fi shoot em up fest. Alien Agent with Mark Dacascos and Billy Zane was a solid film all around. But Jesse's masterpiece was his most personal film “Charlie Valentine”.

Johnson was first a stuntman before he was a director so he knows how to properly film an action scene. All of the fights in “The Package” are hard hitting and realistic. When Steve Austin with his huge frame hits someone they hit the ground hard. Usually in most films the hero would trade fist-a-cuffs for four minutes and never get hurt. Not the case here, Austin get's bloodied and beaten. Every punch and kick is felt. The ending fight between Dolph & Austin is a memorable one to say the least. When you have two titans collide it's like watching two heavy weight boxers go at it.

Johnson understands that action needs emotion. There needs to be emotion connected to the action, that's what the Hong Kong directors do so well. Am I calling Johnson the American John Woo? No, but I'm calling Johnson the next Vic Armstrong who also is a stunt man/director. Who just so happened to work with Dolph on the gem of a film “Joshua Tree”.

Very few DTV action directors give a shit about there films but Jesse does. He's an action fan who delivers the goods for the fans of these kinds of flicks. I put Jesse right up there with John Hyams and Roel Reiné. Two directors who also crank out quality action films.

Action films may be dying slow horrible deaths at the cinema's. But “real action” is still very much alive on the small screen. Thanks to folks like Jesse V Johnson who understand what elements are required to make a solid film.

Anchor Bay releases “The Package” on a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and the film looks outstanding. The film was shot on HD on a Arri Alexa so the film looks slick! It's presented in it's orginal widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78 : 1.

The audio is equally impressive, the music never gets in the way so you can clearly hear every bone breaking and every bullet fired.

Extra's are non existent which is a shame because both Dolph and Jesse can deliver really good audio commentary's. It's a small gripe, but it's a great film so I don't mind so much.

This film comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for fans of Steve Austin and Dolph Lundgren. I'll tell you this, I reviewed a screener of the film but I liked it so much that I still am picking up a copy of it on Blu-ray when it hits the streets on Feb 19th. You should to, otherwise you'll be missing out on one of the best action films of the year.

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