Men of War (1994) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes


Dolph Lundgren has retired from his former life as a mercenary soldier, but

... guess what ......?

 ... you get a perfect score if you guessed that he is lured into "one last job". The ol' "one last job" gimmick must be the single most used cliché in the history of films.

Dolph has been chosen to head up a mercenary band whose job it is to get the tribal elders of some obscure Pacific Island to sign over mineral rights to the usual greedy corporate scumbags, under penalty of being toasted. Dolph and his men think that the corporate greed must be about jade, and some other mercenaries who track them seem to agree, but it turns out that it's really about nitrate, extracted from millions of years of deposits of bird shit and bat shit.

That revelation is too much for Dolph. He was willing to kill thousands of peaceful unarmed indigenous people and their barefoot children for jade, but he decides that he can't kill them all over birdshit. So he and a few of his mercenaries turn against the corporate scumbags, and send the other mercenaries back empty-handed. Unfortunately, the remainder of the force returns to take over the island anyway, accompanied by the other independent mercenaries who had been following them, plus an army of about 200 Asian guys with automatic weapons, and Kevin Tighe. This sets up a major war which pits the force described above against Lundgren, four of his troopers who chose to fight with him, and the unarmed barefoot natives, mostly women and kids and elders.

Guess who wins?

At one point, Kevin Tighe was killed by a direct hit from a rocket launcher shot from five feet away. Talk about overkill. The director actually showed the corpse. Let's just say that he would not be able to make into a "regular" basket at Kentucky Fried Humans. Of course, the only reason Tighe died from the wopund is that he's a pussy. The head psycho baddie survives a direct hit from a rocket launcher, which carried him far out to sea. He not only managed not only to survive the hit, but then also managed in that condition to swim out to the corporate boat in the open sea. That's one tough cookie. In the next scene, he looked really messed up, with a big festering wound on one side of his skull, but was meaner and stronger than ever.

In the film's climax, Dolph Lundgren and Psycho Bad Guy fall through the ground and into a burial cave that belongs to the "old ones" - the warlike former inhabitants of the island. Although the place hasn't been used or visited in centuries, it is filled with lit candles and torches! Those are some long-burning suckers.

Some of the comments at IMDb try to contend that this is a brainy action flick because John Sayles wrote it, but they are being swayed by his name. For whatever involvement he had with this, Sayles should flog himself for about a month with those whips that medieval monks used to use, and he should figure out a way to disavow all connection with this movie, perhaps by establishing an alibi that demonstrates conclusively that he was being held prisoner in Tajikistan while this was being written by an imposter. I don't believe Sayles had any significant involvement, because the script is just plain dumb, and Sayles is not a stupid man, but there is one remote possibility.

This film could be interpreted two different ways. It's either dumber than a box of rocks, or sheer genius if it was written tongue-in-cheek.  There are some other clues that the film was not meant to be taken seriously. The natives were sometimes quite funny, for example. At one point the mercenaries ate a native feast, something they conceived to be a bonding ritual. Lundgren asked the translator, "Aren't you going to have any?". The native replied, "Are you kidding? We don't eat that shit. National Geographic fell for the same trick!" Given that Sayles is a very smart man and that the script has a lot of the same earmarks as Road House, or Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (wildly over-the-top action, silly dialogue, people almost uninjured by obviously fatal wounds, etc.), I'd say there's a pretty good chance that this is meant to be parody/comedy, and in that case it includes more than a hint of genius!

No matter whether the comedy is intentional, you'll probably have to admit that this film, like Road House, is really fun to watch. One IMDb commenter got it exactly right:

"Dumb ... but entertaining. Dolph Lundgren's got a rocket launcher. Charlotte Lewis has a great body. And B.D. Wong is hilarious. Bring snacks. Turn off brain. Enjoy."




2.35:1 letterboxed widescreen, enhanced for 16:9.

No features except trailers.


Charlotte Lewis does two topless scenes. In one she is bathing in a waterfall with some other beauties, some of whom also flash briefly, all in clear sunlight. In the other, she is romancing Dolph Lundgren in a night scene while they are waist-deep in water, standing in front of yet another waterfall

Another island woman shows breasts in a bathing scene.

Catherine Bell, though very fit and very lovely despite her butch role, did not show any flesh.

Tuna's notes


Dolph Lundgren is a former soldier of fortune, lured out of retirement because a former commanding officer wants him to take a job. We find out why later. He is to form a team, go to a South Sea Island, and convince the natives to cooperate with two US capitalists. In what, Dolph is not told. He and his team surmise that the treasure must be jade.

The team assembled, they make an R&R stop before heading to the island, and end up adding Catherine Bell to the team, after one of the oddest fist fights in film history. After a bar brawl, the man in charge, who happens to be an old enemy of Lundgren, shows up and intends to throw them all in jail for five years. Dolph entices him to fight one-on-one. He agrees, but explains a special rule. Every time Dolph hits him, he kills one of his men.

Once on the island, they don't find the hostiles they were expecting, but rather a gentle people, including B. D. Wong, who was hilarious, and Charlotte Lewis, daughter of a European pilot who crashed there and never left. The playful natives elect not to accept the capitalists' offer. Dolph meets his bosses on the ship, and discovers that they are not after jade at all, but bird and bat shit, the mining of which will destroy the island forever. He decides he is on the side of the natives, especially when he finds that his old commanding officer owns a third of the mining company. He gives his troops a choice. Some stay, some leave, but those who leave return with an invading army to take the island.

If you believe everything I could find written about Men of War, is either Dolph Lundren's best film ever, with great action, a fantastic cast, wonderful photography and an intelligent script, or a mindless, implausible, lackluster actioner.  Critics were quick to denigrate this film, but a legion of viewers have left mostly positive comments. Thailand played the part of a South Sea Island, and did a wonderful job. I ended up on the side of those who think this is one of Dolph's best films. Granted, that is not a very high bar to clear:

  1. (5.99) - A View to a Kill (1985)
  2. (5.61) - The Mechanik (2005)
  3. (5.50) - Rocky IV (1985)
  4. (5.27) - The Defender (2004)
  5. (5.20) - Universal Soldier (1992)
  6. (5.18) - Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)
  7. (4.90) - Masters of the Universe (1987)
  8. (4.88) - Dark Angel (1990)
  9. (4.87) - Silent Trigger (1996)
  10. (4.83) - Direct Action (2004)
  11. (4.79) - The Punisher (1989)
  12. (4.77) - Men of War (1994)
  13. (4.68) - Joshua Tree (1993)
  14. (4.60) - Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
  15. (4.59) - The Peacekeeper (1997)
  16. (4.40) - Blackjack (1998) (TV)
  17. (4.31) - Hidden Agenda (2001)
  18. (4.31) - The Shooter (1995)
  19. (3.86) - Storm Catcher (1999)
  20. (3.84) - Bridge of Dragons (1999)
  21. (3.78) - Sweepers (1998)
  22. (3.77) - Detention (2003)
  23. (3.73) - Red Scorpion (1989)
  24. (3.64) - Cover Up (1991)
  25. (3.54) - Pentathlon (1994)
  26. (3.48) - Retrograde (2004)
  27. (3.26) - Jill Rips (2000)
  28. (3.21) - The Minion (1998)
  29. (2.91) - Agent Red (2000)
  30. (2.90) - The Last Patrol (2000)
  31. (2.71) - Fat Slags (2004)

Dolph showed more range than usual, the supporting cast was fun, there was a strong love story, there were plenty of bad guys, and not all of the twists and turns were obvious.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews.


The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-, a "dumb but entertaining," tongue-in-cheek actioner, and maybe the Citizen Kane of Dolph Lundgren movies.

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