Battle of the Damned Blu-ray Review
Swedish action star (and chemical engineering major) Dolph Lundgren’s pre-direct-to-video career saw him as Ivan Drago in ROCKY IV, He-Man in MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE and Frank Castle in THE PUNISHER. But he’s spent the better part of his career locked in DTV (at least in the U.S.) movies with titles like MEN OF WAR, BRIDGE OF DRAGONS and COMMAND PERFORMANCE.
His latest is BATTLE OF THE DAMNED. In it, he plays Max Gatling, a former major and current mercenary-for-hire. Somewhere in Southeast Asia, a “highly contagious pathogen [has escaped] from a research facility into an urban populace…turning people into rabid carriers.” (Did the studio think “zombies” was a term they couldn’t possibly get the rights to?) Early on, Max is tasked to save the daughter (Melanie Zanetti, John Curran’s TRACKS) of, um, some guy in a skyscraper. The timeframe? One day, because apparently the industrialist has tickets to the big game.
So Max straps on his automatics, secures his do-rag and sneaks into the undead territory to find and bring back Jude, who could very well already have turned into a zombie. Soon enough, Max locates Jude (who is quite the little zombie slayer), who introduces him to a group of survivors: Reese (Matt Doran, THE MATRIX), Duke (David Field, CHOPPER), Lynn (Lydia Look, TREMORS 4: THE LEGEND BEGINS), Elvis (Jen Kuo Sung, who has done stunts for STAR TREK and OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN), and Anna (Oda Maria, in her debut). How will the group get out alive before the city is firebombed? Why, with robots, of course.
BATTLE OF THE DAMNED is host to just about everything you’d expect in such a movie: there is a lot of blood, a lot of bloodthirsty zombies, a lot of dead ends for the heroes to run into, and a lot of muscled-out tough guys.
But those renting (or blind-buying) BATTLE OF THE DAMNED won’t care that they’ve seen variations of this before. They won’t even be bothered by just how terrible the script (by director Christopher Hatton, who was previously responsible for something called ROBOTROPOLIS) and acting are. They’re there to see Dolph Lundgren kick some zombie butt with the help of the giant robots standing over his shoulder on the cover art.
BATTLE OF THE DAMNED doesn’t mind recycling, nor does it mind mashing up elements that really have no business being together outside of a SyFy original movie. It’s just there to have fun getting awfully quite close to stooping to the aforementioned station’s fare. (The movie could have just as easily been called GIANT ROBOTS VS. NORMAL-SIZED ZOMBIES, but perhaps Hatton has a little more respect for his product.)
BATTLE OF THE DAMNED is nothing more than a big, dumb, noisy action flick with a fairly recognizable name to draw in viewers. And Lundgren’s following (Dolphins? Lundgrenades?), as always, will love seeing him go through his usual motions of whooping the baddies and spouting lines like, “I believe in my mission,” while barely breaking a sweat or messing up his hair.
BATTLE OF THE DAMNED BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1.78:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Since there is a small array of colors in the movie, the high-definition transfer seems fairly limited at first. Overall, though, the black levels are strong and there are fine textures and details throughout, particularly in close-ups and medium shots.
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The audio transfer is very strong, as both the sound effects and music cues heighten the excitement of the action sequences.
Battling the Damned (6:40) compiles on-set footage.