From 1998, The Minion (no not THOSE Minions) is a straight to video action affair from the late 1990’s that actually has some decent action sequences to it despite being so laughably bad it almost qualifies in the “So Bad It’s Good” territory.
When a beautiful and ambitious archaeologist (Francoise Robertson) unearths a mysterious key beneath the streets of New York in 1999, the Templar Knights of Christ send Lucas (Dolph Lundgren) to retrieve it. With no time to lose, he must convince her to give him the key before unspeakable evil is unleashed on the world by the Minion, a demonic servant of the AntiChrist who will do everything in its power to possess the key and see that that its sinister master is freed. Only Lucas; a modern-day warrior trained in the ancient arts, can defeat this ultimate evil.
Please make no mistake, The Minion is ridiculous and is part of the reason why in decades past we would historically shudder when we’d hear the words “Canadian Co-Production”. That being said, it is at least a preview of how much we’ve developed in so many different aspects of the filmmaking experience.
It’s a good looking film despite being on an obvious budget, but its simply a ridiculous story from beginning to end. Director Jean-Marc Piche who shot most of the film in Montreal does allow for it all to give it a solid sense of atmosphere and doesn’t extend himself; trying to do too much with too little. It’s all competently assembled and we can’t take that away from this filmmaker, but the problem is that the narrative in the screenplay by Matt Roe and Ripley Highsmith is ridiculous. The story is hokey and pretty over the top and its almost campy in its execution. There isn’t a single actor in the film who can really elevate this material as the dialogue is bordering on funny when it really isn’t supposed to be.
Sure the visuals were solid and the effects for the time were decent and the score by Jean Corriveau was actually quite unique, but this story was so laughably bad that it actually helps it’s case if you just turn your brain off an go for the ride of it all. It works in the rhythm of it all, just don’t pay too close attention to the lyrics of the film.
Dolph Lundgren is just removed enough from the likes of Dark Angel, Rocky IV and Universal Soldier and settled into his Straight To Video routine, flashing just enough charm to keep us engaged and making us believe during the action sequences that he’s actually trying. There’s also good chemistry between Lundgren and Francoise Robertson as they actually have pretty good chemistry together and they carry the film well, but after that the ensemble plays it all either very wooden or trying to make it play campy and over the top.
The disc now in stores from our friends at Kino Lorber is pretty bare bones, but with a fresh 2K transfer in a crisp DTS-HD 2.0 audio track it all looks better than it really should as we see the obvious visual influences that it borrows from with films like Subway & La Femme Nikita. The special features are pretty minimal but there is a feature length commentary track from director Jean-Marc Piche which ends up being complementary of his experience while making it, but also pretty dry. There are also trailers for The Minion and films like Avenging Force, An Eye for An Eye, Revenge of the Ninja, Steele Justice and Assassination.
Unless you have a family member who worked on The Minion there’s no reason for this to be remotely shelf-worthy but it’s good looking film that actually highlights how far our nation’s film industry has come in the 21 years since its release.