Monday, 29 November 2010



Yet more crash bang wallop in the pleasingly overstated manner of the Hong Kong action pic, with a healthy level of bloody violence (enough to get it an 18 certificate in this country) and some quite surprising moments of utter stupidity. That's not necessarily a bad thing: it's an enjoyable enough 90-odd minutes' worth of brainless entertainment that does the job more or less efficiently and doesn't hang around like a bad smell after the story's finished. And as a modern action thriller starring Jet Li, it's got the kind of immaculately choreographed fight sequences that I always enjoy.

The frankly meaninglessly-titled Meltdown is also a shameless rip from the original Die Hard, except that instead of an office block, a group of supercriminals take over a posh hotel (The Grandeur) during the exhibition of some priceless jewels and hold all the guests hostage. Jet Li, bodyguard to a cowardly action movie star (originally conceived as an unflattering caricature of Jackie Chan), essentially plays the Bruce Willis role and gets a string of terrific fight sequences. Also among the guests are a TV reporter who manages to get some surreptitious footage of the evil mastermind known only as The Doctor; in a moment of insanity the villains decide to deal with her by locking her in the lavatory and filling the room with snakes.

It's a more callous movie than you'd expect: the opening scene has a busload of innocent children blown up by The Doctor to no advantage, and the crunchy violence, whether through martial arts or firearms, is pretty bloody (and the film predates the current fad for CGI blood splatter and so the bullet hits look far more real). The Doctor is a hateful character, and both the actor and his dubber appear to have been channeling Tim Curry, but his comeuppance is frankly a bit on the weak side. It's certainly not a lost classic but it is reasonably good fun although it's only released in a poor American-English dub (there's no original language track on the DVD), and the music score is thumpy techno stuff that doesn't fit and doesn't work. Although the copyright date on the film is 2000, that would appear to refer to this English-friendly version whilst the IMDb suggests it dates from 1995.


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