Bullet Points: Dangerously Close
When I think of Albert Pyun directed films I can’t help but think of all his doom and gloom futuristic features like Cyborg, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush or Radioactive Dreams (featuring a singing and dancing Michael Dudikoff).
But in 1986 Pyun directed Dangerously Close for Cannon Films. Dangerously Close at no point felt like your typical Albert Pyun movie. Come to think of it, Dangerously Close didn’t feel like your typical Cannon Films movie either.
- The Sentinels: When well to do high school Vista High begins experiencing crime on their campus, a groups of students forms a watch group called The Sentinels. The Sentinels are not unlike the Guardian Angels in New York City. The Sentinels’ spokesperson, Randy McDevitt (John Stockwell), will tell you since they have been on patrol, no cars have been stolen and graffiti is at an all-time low. And while McDevitt touts that the student body feels safer, there are some in the school, both students and faculty, who feel that The Sentinels are nothing more than vigilantes. And not just across the board vigilantes either, The Sentinels have a reputation of being elitist by nature and seem to be targeting some of the students who are attending Vista High thanks to a special program that has opened the doors for students with high GPA scores but from families with lower income.
- The Editor-in-Chief: One student who has his brains to thank for getting him into Vista High is Danny Lennox (played by J. Eddie Peck in his feature film debut). Lennox is the editor of the school newspaper and being a journalist of great integrity, he is all about giving Randy McDevitt a chance to rebut the scathing editorial the paper ran about The Sentinels being vigilantes. Randy takes things a step further and invites Danny over to his house for dinner and then out for a night at the club with The Sentinels. This is a huge change for Danny, whose previous interaction with the rich kids of Vista High involved him cleaning their pools. This change does not sit well with Danny’s friend Krooger Raines (Bradford Bancroft of Universal Soldier and Damned River fame). Randy and Krooger have never gotten along and now that Randy is coming between him and his boy Danny, Krooger is super pissed.
- The Danger: Shortly after a big blow up between Randy and Krooger, Krooger goes missing. This has our intrepid reporter Danny Lennox suspicious of Randy and The Sentinels and with some help from Randy’s now ex-girlfriend Julie (played by Carey Lowell of Licence to Kill fame) he infiltrates The Sentinels off campus headquarters (known as The Shelter) and finds some pretty damning evidence. Randy, as you might expect, is not pleased with Danny for hanging out with Julie and dissension begins to grown within The Sentinels, really pushing Randy to the brink. All this puts an immediate halt to the budding bromance between Randy And Danny. And if our hero Danny Lennox learns only one thing while attending Vista High, it is just how dangerous journalism can be.
- The Verdict: When I reviewed the horribly awful film Cyber Vengeance and skewered the “star” of the movie J. Gregory Smith as one of the worst action heroes I had ever seen, I made the statement that J. Eddie Peck would have been a better choice as an action hero. Mind you at the time I only knew Peck from his work in Lambada and had no idea if he was ever in an action movie. After watching Dangerously Close, I can safely say my theory was correct. Peck, who again was starring in his first movie ever, did a great job in the role of Danny Lennox and held his own with his more experienced co-stars. Dangerously Close made me wish Peck had more action movies in his filmography.
You can add Dangerously Close to my list of hidden gems from the 1980’s. The very un-Cannon like Cannon Film directed by Albert Pyun blended elements of action and mystery into a thrilling 95 minutes.
Dangerously Close also featured a legit soundtrack with acts like Robert Palmer, Depeche Mode, The Smithereens and Fine Young Cannibals contributing. I’m not sure how big of a deal it was when it was initially released, but when watching the movie today the soundtrack helps set the mood and takes you back to that era in a way some generic tracks could never do. It proved to be a really nice bonus for the film.
And speaking of bonuses, it is time for some bonus Bullet Points…
- Meet the Sentinels: We are first introduced to The Sentinels as the movie opens. The four protectors of Vista High are hunting down a fellow student with paint ball guns, although the poor sap thinks they are real guns and doesn’t find out it isn’t until he’s hanging upside down from a tree. Two of the Sentinels are familiar faces in the action movie game. Ripper was played by Don Michael Paul of Rolling Vengeance and Winners Take All fame. Brian Rigletti was played by Thom Matthews, who played Brick Bardo in the Albert Pyun directed Bloodmatch, Matthews and Pyun would work together again in the movies Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor and Heatseeker.
- The Midnight Movie: Danny comes home one evening to find his dad asleep in front of the TV. And what is playing on the television? Cannon’s The Delta Force.
- Another Familiar Face: Leon, one of the students who The Sentinels target, was played by Miguel A. Nunez Jr. Action fans may remember Nunez as the guy who tries to cut off Jericho Jackson’s balls in the pool hall in Action Jackson.
- His Stock is Rising: John Stockwell continues to contribute to the action genre, but now it is being done behind the camera. In the past year alone he directed the WWE Studios film Countdown and the fantastic Kickboxer: Vengeance!