Riot Blu-ray Review
Direct-to-video action flicks do have a lower standard to uphold than wide release movies of the same genre. You are looking at miniscule budgets and the lower rung of acting talent. That’s what you have to remember when watching a movie like RIOT. This will never be said in the same breath as “Die Hard”, but it gets the job done in what it is trying to accomplish. That’s all you can ask for.
The biggest name is this action opus is Dolph Lundgren, AKA Ivan Drago, who specializes in these sorts of films. He plays a mysterious prisoner named William in a maximum security facility where the guards wear Darth Vader style masks. William shuffles along at a slow pace and wears glasses to signify that he’s nonthreatening. He acts like he doesn’t have all his facilities as he works in a janitorial role in the prison. Lundgren though is a minor player in the film.
The real lead is Matthew Reese who also was an executive producer of the flick. He is disgraced ex-cop Jack Stone. With a name like that you know he means business. Jack is sent to prison after he and some others robbed a mob run bank. During the commission of the robbery, he kills another cop. The reasons for these actions are slowly drawn out throughout the film.
But Jack’s target in prison is Russian mob boss Balam (Chuck Liddell). Balam killed his wife and tried to kill him because he meddled in his affairs. Liddell is known for his fighting skills from his MMA days. He however is not much of a thespian. His Russian accent comes and goes and this basically provides the only humor in this picture. Balam runs his empire from the prison. This way he is fully protected from his enemies. Most of the guards and the warden are under his control. Money and drugs flow freely throughout.
Meanwhile Jack left behind incriminating evidence against Balam and many of the city officials. He had it delivered to intrepid reporter Trisha Sinclair (Renny Grames). For a reporter, Trisha isn’t the smartest bulb out there. She doesn’t realize at first that the evidence was against Balam and not Jack Stone. She experiences some problems when trying to present the material to the district attorney.
Revenge and rooting out corruption is the theme presented by Director John Lyde. His main focus is the action sequences and there are plenty of them. Reese shows off his considerable karate skills as wave after wave of prisoners and guards take their shot at Jack. Everything is well choreographed and the stunt people seem to take great glee in slamming people into bars and tables. It does bug me that bad guys still take on the hero one by one instead of overpowering him or her with overwhelming numbers from all sides. It makes no sense, but it is a time honored tradition in action films that this must be done. And the guys aren’t the only ones having the fun. We also have Danielle Chuchran kicking major ass as Alena. Her fighting acumen is quite impressive and fun to watch.
With a name like RIOT for your title, you expect to have a riot at some point. And near the end you do. All the participants basically go after each other like wild animals. You get the Jack-Balam showdown as expected. This is one grand old time that would cause major problems for the person who set it in motion. But in movieland, it is the price of doing business. The one minor quibble I have is the lack of humor displayed. That would have lightened the tension a bit and made this more enjoyable.
As I said RIOT isn’t going to win any awards or make you forget any action classics. It is something to pop in on a rainy day.
Video: The video is fine throughout.
Audio: The sound is generally solid. You can hear the dialogue relatively well.
There are no special features.