Frank and Eddie tear up Los Angeles streets as pragmatic cocaine dealers. Frank (Daniel Bonjour) carries a philosophy in which illicit drug use is central to America’s economy. It fuels jobs and cuts off unemployment lines. Drugs are business and they’re good for the USA, so says Frank.
Movies are are critical too, a key component of our consumable media and culture. They employ people from line workers to actors and provide us with an escape or an outlet. Movies like Ambush? They make you wish for the drugs.
Dolph Lundgren sort of stars as an FBI agent tracing steps back to Frank & Eddie’s clumsily delivered cocaine side gig, running over corrupt cop Randy Couture during his investigation and entirely missing Vinnie Jones. For his cover credit, Jones sits in limited light, brooding as a violent kingpin with eight minutes of total screen time. It’s great work if you can get it.
Ambushed is sold as a three-way action rumble. Cover art contrasts dual pistol wielding Lundgren above Jones and Expendables co-star Couture Yet, this is a film of dreadful sexism and splattering violence. Those cover stars are secondary to the low life existence of Frank & Eddie.
Italian Director Giorgio Serafini is responsible for video duds with snappy and cheesy titles, things such as Blood of Redemption (another Lundgren/Jones mash-up) or Game of Death. Paired with cinematographer Marco Cappetta, Ambushed has no credible visual space. Styles clash scene to scene, and shaking cameras seem to be hovering unnaturally on some type remote controlled drone to spy the action.
Ambushed is a trio of nonsense narratives, confusingly threaded into one another with errant jump cuts and indecipherable action sequences. Cinematic style here means to smear Vaseline on one side of the lens to add haze and it looks like… someone smeared Vaseline on one side of the lens. Ambushed makes itself difficult to see, let alone follow.
People are gunned down in empty locations. Who they are or what they did is negligible. Frank functions by shooting those in his way, snorting coke and running a strip club included here for the sake of nudity. Frank has a normal life with girlfriend Ashley (Cinthya Bonacelli), someone he can settle down with as she is too oblivious to determine Frank’s alter ego.
Somewhere in this debacle sits Randy Couture, snorting cocaine as a gruff cop. He wanders rundown buildings, taking payouts from street level thugs and attempting to do… stuff? Couture’s character exists to rough up Lundgren in a closing fight on an unspecified rooftop. Both characters chase each other down, leaving every open element of the film behind them merely to trade superficial punches. At their hands, partners and friends are dead or dying. Ambushed shows as much concern as its characters do. They’re needless and so is this movie.
Ambushed appears digital, sporting some light noise and faces flattened in terms of definition. Most of the visual controls are conceded to post production tinkering which produces unbearable results. Images smear, light sources falsely glow, lighting schemes change between shots, color timing is pulled from seven different movies, and style is determined on a shot-by-shot basis.
Los Angeles aerials, almost certainly stock footage, render the highest level of definition. The city sights are reproduced gloriously in 1080p. Anchor Bay compression sells the pitiful visual scope without intrusions, Ambushed inconsistently sharp if nothing else. AVC encoding will bring no harm.
Black levels are substantial, certainly the immediate impact of the feature. Most of these dull drug deals and cruddy conversations are held together by closeout special Wal-Mart lamps leaving much of the frame soaked in darkness. Respect is paid to shadow detail and density is impressive. If anything remains consistent throughout this scattered mess, black levels are said component.
Ambushed does present capable levels of fidelity when it absolutely must. Tense close-ups pull facial definition and other texture, assuming it is allowed. The film is cranky about showing its top materials, choosing instead to cover most with oddball focal choices or scattering light. Maybe Ambushed is hiding the aliasing which tends to frequent the video. Then again, with the film appearing as a resume for every known camera process, maybe aliasing was intent too.
TrueHD is the codec of choice, making a resurgence in the Blu-ray market as of late. Here it serves as a hip-hop delivery system. Loading the LFE with bass, the heavy beats overwhelm the soundfield. Whether a key element or part of a background event, music bursts from the speakers. Outside of a club at 1:02:50, Couture approaches with the interior bass muffled but still pounding to sell the volume. The effect works.
Ambiance is artificially layered into the rears. Stereo effects are nominal if included at all. Party goers laugh and shout in the surrounds only, which creates an odd empty space in the fronts. Gunshots during the finale are inconsequential sonically.
One 15-minute bonus feature is included, a promo piece with praise all around.
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