The Boz is One Tough Bastard (1996)
If you’re on this site, then you already know how awesome Stone Cold is. A flop in its initial theatrical release, the Brian Bosworth Biker Saga is 1,000 metric tons of badass-ness that has gained a sizable cult following over the years.
And it truly deserves it. Stone Cold is one of the most entertaining ultimate action flicks to ever get made. But what if I were to tell you that there is another awesome, action packed Boz flick that you probably haven’t seen?
One that, in my opinion, sits toe to toe with Stone Cold in the amazeballs department? For those who don’t know, and the lucky few who do, I am talking about the criminally under-seen, direct to video action masterpiece… One Man’s Justice.
The Boz Man’s Justice
Also known as One Tough Bastard, One Man’s Justice is a 1996 revenge actioner “directed”* by Equilibrium’s Kurt Wimmer (*he was removed fairly early on into production, and the rest of the film was finished by producer Kurt Anderson, director of bad ass flicks such as Martial Law 2 with Cynthia Rothrock and Jeff Wincott, and Bounty Tracker, starring Lorenzo Lamas and Matthias Hues).
In it, The Boz plays John North, an Army Drill Sergeant and hand to hand combat instructor whose life is sent into a tailspin when his wife and young daughter are viciously gunned down by Marcus, played by Jeff Kober, after the daughter witnesses Marcus killing soldiers in cold blood who were attempting to sell him ammunition for a high tech new rifle. Although he is arrested, Marcus is set free due to his connections to Karl Savak, a corrupt federal agent, who Marcus was getting the ammunition for, played by Bruce Payne. Furious, North decides to take matters into his own hands and deliver bone snapping justice to all of the guilty parties.
Action Movie Alley
I remember seeing One Man’s Justice come on Action Pay Per View as a kid, and as a fan of Stone Cold, The Boz being in it piqued my interest. Watching it then, I remember thinking “Wow, this is pretty badass!”
As a kid who loved all things action, One Man’s Justice was right up my alley. Competently choreographed and well shot/edited fight scenes, gaudy shootouts, and high velocity chases, you name it. This flick had it all in spades. And with flair. This is a really well made DTV action flick. You couldn’t even tell there was a change in directors if I hadn’t just told you.
Now, I’m a fan of what Wimmer did with Equilibrium (Not so much Ultraviolet, though), and I would have loved to have seen what he could’ve done with this. But as is, the movie works perfectly. And I feel if Kurt Anderson was responsible for the movie we got, he definitely deserved the credit.
A Direct-to-Video Classic
Some of you may not remember, but this was a great time for action movies. A time when direct to video action flicks were not only just as good, but sometimes a lot better than the flicks we got in theaters. PM Entertainment were responsible for a whole bunch of those type of movies.
Movies like The Sweeper, Rage, Last Man Standing, and Zero Tolerance put a good portion of the action genre’s bigger budgeted, theatrically released brethren to shame. And this is one of them. A real kickass, old fashioned revenge flick with enough great fisticuff sequences to go around.
Bosworth Goes Steven Seagal
Speaking of the fisticuffs, while I was re-watching the film for the purposes of this review, I began to wonder if the movie was written with Steven Seagal in mind.
It has a standard Seagal movie plot, and all the combat techniques used throughout the movie seem to be somewhat inspired by Seagal movies. Lots of wrist twisting, body tossing, and neck snapping going on in here. Luckily, The Boz is up to the task, and he actually looks pretty damn good during the fight scenes.
And being a former football player, that’s really an achievement, as football players are not known for their fluid, graceful movements. He may not be as fluid and graceful in his movements as Seagal, but he looks proficient enough when he’s kicking all the ass. So big kudos to whoever his trainer was.
The Boz’s Greatest Performance
And while we’re on the subject of The Boz, in only his second leading role, he really had grown as an actor since Stone Cold, turning in a pretty good performance as a man who wants justice for his family, but comes into conflict with the actions he must take to get it. In the scenes where he is mourning his family, you’ll be surprised at just how believable he is.
The Boz actually makes you feel for him. He’s really good when he’s sad… but he’s a lot better when he’s mad. Because when he’s mad, he’s 100% badass! Perfect example is the scene where, right before he takes on a group of 5 guys, he calls 911 to request 5 ambulances! Ultimate badass stuff there!
Introducing DeJuan Guy
Supporting him is DeJuan Guy, playing the role of Mikey. Mikey is a troubled youth who, because of an absentee father, and a loving mother who unfortunately is always working, becomes a mainstay in the seedy streets of LA, and ends up running drugs for Marcus. Through a series of coincidences, he ends up helping North get the information he needs to track down the bad guys. Guy has the most difficult part in the movie: smart mouth kid who thinks he’s tough. Parts like that can get annoying VERY quickly.
But Guy makes it work, creating such an authenticity with his performance that you begin to believe him when he says the things he says. When Mikey threatens to beat up North on a few occasions, most would probably laugh.
Like “Look at this little punk acting tough.” But Mikey isn’t acting. He actually thinks he can. And Guy portrays that very well. His relationship with North becomes the heart of the movie, as North becomes his newfound protector and father figure, in hopes that he can set this kid on the right path to a better future.
The Ultimate Bad Guy – Bruce Payne
Well, I have now come to the point where I explain why this movie is a must watch, and here it is: Bruce Payne as Karl Savak. There have been a lot of great bad guys over the years in action movies. Gavan O’Herlihy as Manny Fraker. Vernon Wells as Bennett. Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. John Lithgow as Eric Qualen. Just to name a few. And I firmly believe that Bruce Payne deserves to be mentioned among those names.
Seriously, the performance of Bruce Payne as corrupt FBI agent Karl Savak has to be seen to be believed. I know fans of this movie will definitely agree with me when I say that. Payne gives one of the greatest bad guy performances to ever grace an action flick. Everything about him is amazeballs! His look: Flashy suits, 2 nose rings, and a glorious 80s hair metal mullet. His cocky swagger. And especially, his dialogue. The lines this man delivers in here… dear god. No spoilers, just watch it to see what I mean. You just can’t get enough of him.
The Rest of the Cast
Backing him up is the underrated Jeff Kober as Marcus, Savak’s sniveling, street level lackey and the man who killed North’s wife and daughter.
His character provides a good amount of laughs, as Marcus is the subject of a lot of embarrassment throughout the movie, particularly at the hands of Savak. Also, MC Hammer is in here as street gangster Dexter Kane. Yes, you read that right. MC Hammer. Is in here. Playing a badass gangster. I kid you not. He’s not great by any means, though. He spends the entire movie sitting down.
He shows up intermittently to say something menacing and look tough. But just the fact that he’s there. Is that not enough to give this flick a try? Admit it. That right there has to be intriguing enough for you to look for it and give it a shot.
A Low Budget Success
I get it if you’re not intrigued, though. A lot of people might be turned off by the fact that this went straight to video, but I think the direct to video quality actually helps it more than harms it. Some people feel that if the film has a low budget and is DTV, it’s automatically a bad movie. I couldn’t disagree more.
The low budget gives this movie a charm that makes it more likeable than a lot of its bigger budgeted ilk. And while the plot is standard action movie plot, the well handled/fast paced action, the compelling story, and the great cast & characters really help elevate the movie beyond its low budget origins. So give it a shot. What have you got to lose?
Score another one for The Boz.
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