Chaos Factor  [DVD]
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In this political thriller, Fred Ward stars as Max Camden, exployed by the US government to run a covert prison camp in Cambodia in the 1970s. Ordered to dismantle the camp without implicating the government, Camden misses one soldier who manages to escape. Although the soldier is later killed, his journal survives, and is discovered years later by anti-landmine activist Jack Poynt (Antonio Sabato Jr). By this point though, Camden is now a senior figure brokering a deal with China, and Poynt has to go up against serious opposition to expose him.
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The story: Army Intelligence Officer Jack Pynt (Antonio Sabato, Jr., The Big Hit) seeks to expose murder and war crimes perpetrated by a corrupt officer (Fred Ward, Tremors) during the Vietnam War.
If you like movies filled with righteous indignation, this one's for you. I don't know if there's any factual basis for the story of the film, but the very real history of obsessive soldiers and the proliferation of crimes against humanity during Vietnam doesn't make it hard to believe that setups like this have happened. It sort of feels like an earlier Steven Seagal film in that sense, with a bit less nonsense. The overall soundness of the writing and the acting helps: Antonio Sabato's not a fantastic performer, but Fred Ward's more than acceptable as a villain and he has R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket) helping him out for the first half of the picture, giving the film some legitimate dramatic worth. With that said, the script can't help but indulge in a few unaccounted-for clichés, like a from-out-of-nowhere mandatory make-out scene.
One half of the participants of this scene is stuntwoman/lifetime bit-player Susie Park, and the biggest mistake the movie makes is not utilizing her more. Though she dominates the cover of the most recent DVD release, she doesn't make an appearance in the film until after the first 40 minutes and then disappears again for another half-hour. Now, my impression of her might be unbalanced due to the fact that the film doesn't offer up a plethora of martial arts action otherwise, but I was pretty blown away by her initial scene, wherein she - playing a Chinese undercover agent - flees a hospital and takes out half-a-dozen henchmen in the process. Choreographed by Simon Rhee (Best of the Best), she's got surprisingly good kicks and is obviously doing all her own stunts, including one where she leaps a landing and lands in a cart. I can't believe she hasn't done any other starring work. There's a couple of decent car chases and a surprisingly tense scene wherein Antonio disarms a mine, but Susie's the highlight of this otherwise thrills-over-action type of movie.
The production quality is pretty good. Impressively, there's even a scene involving fighter jets which doesn't seem to be made of stock footage - pretty unheard of in low-budget movies. Another person could easily rate this movie higher than me, but I guess I'm just missing more of that cool hand-to-hand stuff Susie brought to the picture. Fans of Antonio and post-Vietnam flicks can definitely do worse, but action devotees like me should, overall, look in other places for their kicks.
Not bad for a direct to video action flick.I was prepared to stop watching it half way through but sat through it engrossed to the very end. It has an interesting plot which surprisingly was not as predictable as I thought that it would be and has quite a few twists and turns. The film starts off pretty slow but then picks up. As for Antonio he was real suprise! Unlike other action heroes he has none of the preening machismo that I can not stand. He played the character with a great deal of seriousness but without the "Everything will be all right because I'm here!" kind of attitude. In fact I found that I could relate to the character more because he sort of fell into the situation instead of being sent. I can't recall the name of the actress who plays along side him but she was really great too.
This film is a great buy and one which you will want to watch over and over again.
Time: 1997 Place: Cambodia
25 years ago terrible things happened in a prison camp which was destroyed to eliminate the evidence, but 25 years later a soldier stumbles upon the camp and a journal with evidence condemning a top adviser to the President.
Antonio Sabato Jr. (1972) plays the soldier. He is best known from his continuing role as Jagger Cates in "General Hospital" (1992-5). He moved from TV series to TV movies and then the big screen, then back again.
Cult favorite Fred Ward (1942) gave us memorable performances in films like "Tremors" (1990), "Henry and June" (1990), and my personal favorite "Miami Blues" (1990) but he's probably best known for his role as Remo Williams (1985). He plays the Presidential adviser.
R. Lee Ermey (1944) is everyone's favorite Marine drill instructor, a role he played in real life as well as in films ("Full Metal Jacket", "Boys in Company C", "Toy Story"). Ermey plays an Air Force Col. involved in the scandal, but he is in the film far too briefly.
Hot Susie Park plays a karate chopping spy who comes to Sabato's assistance, but who has an agenda of her own. Primarily a TV actress, she is best known from her recurring role as Joss Nakano in "Level 9" (2000-1)
This was the first time directing for Terry Cunningham who previously was an editor at MGM/UA and wrote several screenplays. He made a few more films then transitioned to TV where he's worked on various series.
This is your standard B action flick with nothing very special that stands out. There are plenty of car chases (maybe too many), lots of shooting and things getting blown up, etc. But neither Sabato nor Ward fully embrace their roles, so you'll all too aware that you're watching a film rather than enjoying it or participating in it.