The 1980s was the make-and-break decade for Sylvester Stallone's career, and Lock Up
typifies the direction he took in his post-Rocky
days. It's a concept movie in the same mould as Rambo III
just before it, and Tango & Cash
just after. The hero (Frank Leone) is put in jeopardy (Gateway Prison), establishes a nemesis to defeat (in the shape of Donald Sutherland as Warden Drumgoole), makes a few friendships that can be sacrificed along the way (Tom Sizemore as Dallas) and does what he does in the name of love (Darlanne Flugel as Melissa). The revenge-twisted warden puts him through hell over a shared back-story. The torture ranges from being made to hold his breath in a delousing chamber to sanity-stretching periods in "The Hole". It's all about how far a man can be pushed. But being a Stallone vehicle, it's not all depressing. Composer Bill Conti reunites with the star to put the same sort of heroic fuel behind a prison-yard football game as he did for Rocky
. A couple of feel-good songs pep up the love story and a montage of camaraderie in rebuilding a broken-down car. There's a healthy sense of realism achieved by having Sly doing all his own stunts and the use of a real-life prison. If the elements lead to a by-the-numbers conclusion (it's no Shawshank Redemption
), remember this was some years before the actor wanted to get serious.
On the DVD: A surprising amount of footage has been assembled in the two behind-the-scenes featurettes: we see Stallone directing his own fight scenes, and how use of New Jersey's Rahway Prison came with 2,500 real inmates to keep under control. Sound bite interviews reveal Stallone's worldly philosophies, then a trailer and gallery of 17 photos round out a decent overall package. --Paul Tonks
Whilst Frank Leone (Sylvester Stallone) is serving time for beating up some thugs, the prison's governor Drumgoole (Donald Sutherland) puts him through a hellish regime. Leone manages to escape and goes to the media to tell his tale of injustice and abuse. He is rewarded by being sent to an 'open' prison to finish his sentence but, six months before his release, he is grabbed in the night, taken to a maximum security prison and reunited with his old enemy...