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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Silent Trigger (1996)

"In war, at least you know who the enemy is."
- Waxman (Dolph Lundgren)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: December 18, 2001

Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Gina Bellman
Other Stars: George Jenesky, Christopher Heyerdahl, Emma Stevens, Alexandria Haber
Director: Russell Mulcahy

MPAA Rating: R for (strong violent content and language; some sexuality and drug content)
Run Time: 01h:33m:35s
Release Date: December 18, 2001
UPC: 024543028031
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Swedish born Dolph Lundgren made his feature film debut in the 1985 James Bond installment, A View To A Kill, playing alongside his girlfriend at the time, Grace Jones. That same year, his second feature pitted him against Sylvester Stalone in Rocky IV, after beating out 5000 other hopefuls for the part. Typecast for his brawny attributes, his roles in films like Red Scorpion, I Come in Peace or Masters of the Universe did little to suggest that this muscle-bound Swede actually holds a Masters degree in chemical engineering. Silent Trigger falls into the same mold, though tries to give its hero a conscience, under the direction of Russell Mulcahey, whose breakthrough film, Highlander, offered up the first glimpse of the stylish visuals that would become his trademark.

Lundgren plays Waxman, a professional hitman who works for a secret government agency but is questioning his job. Shown in flashback, he and his spotter, Clegg (Gina Bellman) are in position to take out a target on a secret mission, when Waxman hesitates. For this reluctance to act, the spotter is ordered to shoot him, but before she can the pair are attacked by an enemy helicopter—someone has blown their cover. A fierce gun battle erupts, and they have to escape through enemy territory...

During a torrential downpour, a new security guard (George Jenesky credited as Conrad Dunn) shows up for his shift at a high-rise construction site. As he exchanges unpleasantries with the current night watchman, O'Hara (Christopher Heyerdahl), Waxman enters the building covertly. Avoiding detection, he begins his way to the top floor of the building for his next assignment, awaiting his spotter, whose identity he doesn't know. When Clegg shows up posing as an electrical engineer, the stage is set for a night of action. O'Hara, drunk and high on cocaine, decides he wants to have some fun with the young woman he has escorted up to the penthouse. Meanwhile, tensions are running high between the pair of assassins as neither knows whose side the other is on.

The look of the production follows in Mulcahey's tradition of elaborate staging, sweeping tracking shots and stylized lighting. Unfortunately, Fox has chosen to present the DVD in only a pan & scan version, which completely destroys the framing of this scope film. Compositions are either too tight or vacuous, with the odd shot that couldn't be recomposed left with matte bars intact. The special effects are okay for the most part, aside from a couple of stock blue screen shots which look pretty tacky in the poor execution. There is lots of gunplay, utilizing Lundgren's oversized, large calibre rifle. The story however, gets bogged down once the initial skirmish is over, as we wait endlessly while the real plot—the battle between a hallucinating security guard and the assassin team—tries to build some character for its principles and their relationship. The whole center part of the film plays like a bad version of Die Hard, with a highly implausible storyline and unbelievable characters playing in a cat-and-mouse thriller. When the action finally picks up again, it follows a very clichéd pattern, with even more clichéd special effects. While theoretically, having an assassin debating the morality of his profession can be noble, for an action flick like this, it simply doesn't work. Lots of things go "boom," but the plot leaves much to be desired. Lundgren fans may be happy, but this was pretty disappointing overall.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Instead of its correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio, we get a 1.33:1 pan & scan version which, despite the claims on the packaging that the film has been modified to do so, does not fit my 16x9 screen. Colors are vibrant, black levels good and grain is minimal, with only slight evidence of edge enhancement. If you factor out that the composition has been completely destroyed, the image is pretty fair.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio fares pretty well with an active surround field, and lots of explosions to keep the audience happy. Dialogue is clear and distortion free.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Single page, select filmographies are available for Russell Mulcahey, Dolph Lundgren and Gina Bellman are included.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Big on style, low on substance, Silent Trigger falls apart with a ridiculous plot about a security guard turned would be rapist. Things blow up, there are some heavy munitions, but this is pretty run-of-the-mill as far as action flicks go, and the chop and crop transfer blows any points for artistic merit. Catch it on cable if you must.


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