Genre: Action Running Time: 1 hr. 34 min.
Release Date: April 29th, 2008 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Samuel Dolhasca Actors: Dolph Lundgren, Nan Yu, Xue Zuren, William Shriver, Raicho Vasilev, Noming
t may not be possible for Dolph Lundgren to make a good movie, especially now that he’s nearing the status of Steven Seagal’s one-a-month, straight-to-DVD career. “Diamond Dogs” is just such an indication – it’s about as generic as they come, with uninventive action, substandard personas, wasted character development, and plenty of tiresome events that fail to impact the plot. This project is Lundgren’s version of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which is to say that it involves treasure hunting and half-hearted rip-offs of Indiana Jones-styled adventures. But with all the forced inclusions of violence, explosions, and derivations, it begs audiences to simply switch back to that aforementioned, tried-and-true action hero.
Ronson (Dolph Lundgren) works as a security man for hire and as a fraudster who cons gamblers (with the help of an Asian cohort) when he fights in illegal underground tournaments. His profession causes him to frequent the jails of Inner Mongolia due to constant bankruptcy, various accruing debts, and regular quarrels. After being arrested during a bout with Mongolian champion Urga in a typical fistfighting hustle, Ronson is given four weeks to pay off his hefty score of nearly $20,000 by the local police.
Down on his luck and filled up with alcohol, Ronson is confronted by the mysterious businessman Mr. Chambers (William Shriver), who propositions him on an outlandish treasure hunt to locate the Tangka, an ancient Buddhist tapestry. Readily accepting the mission for a generous fee, Ronson guides the eccentric client and his crew of bodyguards, interpreters, and stepdaughter (Nan Yu as Anika) into the desolate Mongolian mountains. Quite expectedly, they’re not the only group searching for the rarity, as they quickly attract harassment by random bandits and a merciless ex-military gangster who wants the valuable artifact for himself.
“Diamond Dogs” makes every mistake in the book, from its amateurish camerawork to its abominably pitiful dialogue. Even the action scenes, which are bland and repetitive, offer up the best of what can be assumed to be badly choreographed outtakes. Sluggish and poorly edited, these moments take great care to offend anyone who is a fan of action movies.
It’s difficult to say what exactly audiences might find appealing about the picture, with all of its unnecessary supporting characters (such as a cryptic, singer girlfriend, who has no backstory to explain why she’s an appropriate love interest for Ronson), unconvincing acting, a gross lack of action, and the feeling that every scene is a leftover bit from more memorable treasure-hunting adventure films. Shriver’s Chambers is particularly dreadful, arguably scripted to be annoying on purpose (“Who I am is of no consequence”). Even the lessons it attempts to impart (concerning the molestation of sacred religious relics) feel careless and unimportant. And an out-of-place, film-noir narration routinely butts in, just in case the number of incongruous filmmaking components doesn’t already utterly disgust viewers. “Diamond Dogs” might be a direct-to-DVD product, but that doesn’t mean that everything about it has to be so torturously uninspired.
– Mike Massie