Starring: Dolph Lundgren and Ben Cross
Director: Dolph Lundgren
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars
When a retired Russian Special Forces officer (Lundgren) finds himself presented with the opportunity to take revenge against the gangsters who murdered his family, he becomes an unstoppable one-man army that takes no prisoners.
Dolph Lundgren is often mentioned by film snobs in a mocking tone and the same breath as in the stalled-out, over-the-hill action star Steven Seagal. However, "The Russian Specialist" proves that Lundgren is in a class far above Seagal. But this is very unfair to Lundgren, "The Russian Specialist" proves that he has both more talent and sense than Seagal.
Seagal is still making the sort of movies he made when he first started out, despite being fat, old, and apparently crippled (since he doesn't seem to do any of his own fight scenes anymore). Lundgren, on the other hand, seems to be phasing himself out of the "action star" lead roles, acknowledging the passage of time, and moving behind the camera and to less physical parts. It would be a shame if someone with the level of talent that Lundgren shows for directing, acting, and writing embarrasses himself the way Seagal has in his recent movies by not moving on.
Under Lundgren's direction, we have Ben Cross giving one of the best performances I've ever seen him do, and virtually every other cast member gives a performance that's surprisingly natural and completely believable. The muted color-schemes of the film helps underscore the general tone, and the somewhat slow pace of its middle section proves to be the perfect mood-setter for the astonishingly well-staged, bullet-ridden violence extravaganza during the last twenty or so minutes of the flick.
Lovers of action films and those who simply appreciate a well-made movie will like this film almost equally. There might even be a snob or two who might sneer just a little bit less when Lundgren's name comes up.