Sunday, 15 May 2011



Remember Die Hard? When it came out, it was followed by a succession of breathtakingly similar films whose sole concessions to originality and innovation were setting the action somewhere else. Not counting the Die Hard sequels themselves, which diluted the formula by widening the arena every time, from office block to international airport to New York City to the whole of the Eastern Seaboard (presumably in Die Hard 5, Bruce Willis will be saving the entire solar system): we had Die Hard on a battleship (Under Siege), Die Hard on a train (Under Siege 2), Die Hard in a shopping mall (Irresistible Force), Die Hard halfway up a mountain (Cliffhanger), Die Hard in a water processing plant (Lethal Tender), Die Hard on a cruise liner (Speed 2: Cruise Control), Die Hard in an aeroplane (Passenger 57) and Die Hard in an ice-hockey stadium (Sudden Death). Etcetera. So prevalent were Die Hard clones that one producer allegedly tried to pitch his new project as Die Hard In A Skyscraper.

Sudden Death was a perfectly decent Van Damme action movie, but it must have left some kind of impression on Dolph Lundgren because Command Performance, which Dolph co-wrote AND directed as well as bagging the Willis/Van Damme role, is basically Die Hard In A Moscow Concert Arena. A charity rock event aimed at eradicating poverty is taken over by heavily armed villains, the Russian premier and his daughters, the American Ambassador and sundry music types are held hostage unless a billion sterling is transferred into blah blah blah, although the leader of the terrorists has a separate, more personal agenda. But they've reckoned without Jean Claude Dolph as the open-shirted drummer of the support band who just happened to be having a dodgy cigarette in the gents when the mayhem started - and just happens to be mighty handy with firearms. Can he save the hostages and defeat the bad guys?

This is nonsense even by the standards of the modern-day DTV action picture, although there are a couple of amusing touches, including a great moment when Bruce Dolph disorients a couple of goons by chocking out a heroically overamplified power chord. And it looks like Dolph is actually doing his own drumming (although I probably wouldn't swear to it). But the film basically comes down to the level of too many recent low-budget shoot-em-ups: ugly people emptying machine guns at each other in drably photographed corridors and basements. It's very slightly better than The Killing Machine, but not much, and too similar to too many other films - why watch Command Performance when you can watch Sudden Death, or indeed Die Hard? Rubbish, but tolerable.



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