Action and gunplay combined with Blood and Gore have always held a soft place in my heart. "Movies such as John Carpenter's "Vampires" and Robert Rodriguez's "From Dusk till Dawn" are among my favorites. Not to mention the comic book film "Blade" and "Underworld" that incorporates vampire horror with fantasy-action. Director Neil Marshall (the same guy who gave us The Descent) made box-office success in England with his action-horror hybrid "DOG SOLDIERS" (2001), and became a sleeper hit here in the U.S. and acquired a cult following. I am not sure just why it took me this long to review this film, but hey, I can make amends right now.
In the Scottish wilderness, a British military unit led by Sgt. Wells (Sean Pertwee) has been dispatched to undergo a training exercise. They find themselves in the camp of a special forces camp that had been attacked with only one survivor; a lone man with his chest slashed named Capt. Ryan (Liam Cunningham) who had some bad blood with Private Cooper (Joe McKidd). The team evacuates and they find that the attackers were actually a pack of Lycanthropes (werewolves). In disbelief, the team corsses paths with a local woman (Emma Cleasby) and together they find shelter in an isolated cottage in the woods. The team decides to take a stand against their furry adversaries and what ensues is an intense battle between the trained soldiers and the inhuman beasts bent on devouring them.
Bullets and Training versus Fangs and Claws!
The film's main premise is quite simple, and its simplicity is actually one of its greatest strength. The events of "Dog Soldiers" take place in a 24 hour period and director Marshall wastes no time with a very simple set-up and minor character development in its first 20 minutes, then the film goes into overdrive; it becomes a chase film that becomes an action-packed "Guns and Gore" extravaganza that is guaranteed to provide a thrilling experience. The film is quite insane and at the same time has a brilliance around its proceedings. Part of its charm would have to come from its "quippy" one-liners and clever dialogue dipped in sharp-tongued execution. "Dog Soldiers" have plenty of memorable phrases dispersed throughout mostly coming from Sgt. Wells who calls his exposed innards "sausages" and Copper's clever cracks meant to give the team high spirits.
Blood and Gore is omnipresent in the film's proceedings, Marshall gives very graphic details as our werewolves maim, devour our heroes' body parts. There are beheadings, claw slashes, and multiple disembodied limbs that will give horror lovers reason to praise this film. Now, the film isn't simply a gore show, it also succeeds in generating a feeling of claustrophobia. Being stuck in a cottage is no picnic especially when you have a pack of hungry werewolves bent on devouring you. But instead of relying on dialogue, the script relies on action-packed sequences to deliver intense thrills. The gunplay is nicely shot as our protagonists display both fear and the courage to survive--stay alive until dawn. The film's adrenaline-pumping soundtrack also adds to the experience and manages to project attitude and the present emotion.
The direction is also to be commended that instead of focusing on a single hero, it focuses on the entire group. Each military man had their own chance to shine in the spotlight most notably the soldier who uses his boxing skills to fend off a Lycan, he uses everything he could find and the sequence is both amusing and quite intense. Character development will be found in the characters' actions, attitude and mannerisms. The script also has its share of surprises as to the reasons why the soldiers are actually in this area and as to the main antagonist.
There have been quite a lot of werewolf films that can stand out and "DOG SOLDIERS" is one of them. The film while simple in plot was not pretentious, and avoids the usual perfunctory elements of a werewolf film such as a tortured soul and guilt brought on from their lust for blood. Now it does avoid these routine elements but it does fall for the routine elements of an action film; explosions, routine sacrifice and textbook manipulations that points a finger at a government. Regardless, the film is a refreshing experience. There have been many attempts to make an action-horror "hybrid" and "Dog Soldiers" have done enough to get noticed. "Guns, Blood and Gore" is a legitimate horror genre now and this film had something to do with that.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! [4 Stars]
What did you think of this review?