No doubt hoping to share his expertise as a legitimate ex-pentathlon trainer and simultaneously erase his residual Rocky IV image as an evil Communist, Dolph Lundgren combined a complicated Olympic sport and evil Neo Nazis for his ninth action vehicle, which ends up being arguably one of his worst ever. Short on action and high in bare clichés, implausibility, and pro-America propaganda, it's concurrently one of the most toothless and stylistically inept vehicles of his career and will only serve as entertainment for those looking for an unintentional laugh.
The story: Eric Brogar (Lundgren) is an East German pentathlete venerated at the Seoul Olympics. When the violent and obsessive antics of his vindictive trainer Mueller (David Soul, Starsky & Hutch) become too much for him, he flees to America but is injured in the process. An American citizen and alcoholic two years later, it will take the support of his best friend Creese (Roger Mosley, Magnum, P.I.) to get him back into shape for the national trials and turn his life around...just in time for Mueller to arrive in the States and resume his fanatical hunt for his former star athlete.
The actual pentathlon incorporates five events: shooting, swimming, running, fencing, and horseback riding. You'd think it'd be fairly easy to base an action movie on all of these activities, huh? Well, apparently director Bruce Malmuth didn't think so: four years after directing the Steven Seagal classic Hard to Kill, he seemed to have nothing left in his tank - supplying only an on-foot chase scene, a couple miniature shootouts and fisticuffs, and a fencing match...plus a silly instance in which Eric shoots a villain holding a rocket launcher and causes him to explode. While it was cool seeing Dolph wield a sword, you really begin to wonder what he's doing in a movie where his real-life physical skills aren't called upon very often. Maybe this was Lundgren's first attempt at serious acting, but even if it's the case, he fails terrifically in doing a German accent and generates a snigger during a few uncomfortable would-be romantic scenes with co-star Renee Coleman (Who's Harry Crumb?).
He's easily overshadowed by the villainous trainer, though in a bad way. I can only conclude that David Soul really hates Nazis and therefore intentionally hammed it up to a near-unbearable level: his character's a murdering racist but you'll loathe him more for his striking overdramatism, ceaseless banter about discipline and obedience, and the fact that his obsession with Eric gets extremely creepy as the movie progresses - at times, he reminded me of Dr. Lecter stalking Clarice in Hannibal. The novelties of seeing Dolph in a sexy Speedo and dorky riding attire are complimented by the idea that Eric could have somehow boarded a plane to America without a ticket and a bullet in his leg and the propagation of the German athletes being managed by the secret police and engaging in blood doping. I mean, I know the movie's not to be taken seriously, but couldn't the filmmakers have found a less silly way of making Lundgren a good guy?
Still, the film is competently shot and Roger Mosley gives a catchy performance, so it dodges a one-star rating. You get a few so-bad-they're-good scenes that are worth a laugh (e.g. upon revealing his plan to bomb a peace rally, Mueller the Nazi is inexplicably exposed to a Rabbi and German-American folk singer preaching peace on television; his immediate response is "I vill kill you"), so connoisseurs of corniness will have something to look forward to. Alas, the movie just isn't likable enough to merit more than half a watch for those who are curious, and those who wouldn't watch a Dolph Lundgren flick in the first place shouldn't convert for this one. For once, I can see why nobody's made the effort to get a movie like this released on DVD.