Bullet Points: The Russian Specialist
After turns as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV and Nikolai Rachenko in Red Scorpion, Dolph Lundgren proved early on in his acting career that playing Russian characters was one of his specialties.
So who better to star in the 2005 movie titled The Russian Specialist than Dolph Lundgren?
- Backstory: Lundgren plays Nikolai Cherenko, a former member of the Russian Special Forces who saw his share of action in Afghanistan. But as our movie begins the only action Nikolai is seeing is under the hood. Nikolai is a mechanic, and not the Charles Bronson or Jason Statham type of mechanic, an actual auto mechanic. Nikolai is enjoying his simple life with his wife Alina and their son Vanya. But Nikolai’s life will be changed forever after Aleksandr “Sasha” Popov rolls into town. The drug dealing Sasha quickly proves he has no regard for human life, whether it is the nefarious people he does business with or even innocent bystanders like Alina and Vanya Cherenko. Nikolai’s Special Forces training kicks in quickly when his family is violently taken from him. Nikolai takes out five of Sasha’s men and ends up shooting Sasha in the face. Side note: The guy who plays Sasha, Ivan Petrushinov, is nothing more than a poor man’s Paul L. Smith.
- Career Opportunities: With his family murdered and realizing the Russian mob would no doubt be looking for him, Nikolai gets out of Russia and makes his way to Los Angeles (illegally I may add). Now going by the name Nick, he gets a job as an auto mechanic and does his best to move on after the tragic events that destroyed his world. But a wealthy woman named Mary Abramoff tracks him down (how she did but the Russian mob didn’t is the real question here). Mrs Abramoff’s daughter has been abducted and is being held for ransom in St. Petersburg. Mrs. Abramoff wants Nikolai to go back to Russia to retrieve her daughter Julia. At first Nikolai rejects the offer, even when his immigration status is threatened, but when Mrs. Abramoff shows him the picture of the man who abducted her daughter, Nikolai immediately agrees to take on this risky mission. Who was the man in the picture? You guessed it, Sasha!
- Back in the USSR: When Nikolai arrives in St. Petersburg, he meets up with his contact William Burton (Ben Cross of Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing fame). Burton provides Nikolai with the intel and the weapons he is going to need to rescue Julia. Burton has also assembled a crew to back them up, since just two men against the Russian mob isn’t the best case scenario. There is some definite tension between Nikolai and Burton. Burton is in this for the lucrative payday, but he isn’t aware that Nikolai is in this for much more, so a good chunk of the movie has them at odds about how they are going to accomplish their mission. There’s more tension in the air when word gets back to Sasha that the man who shot him in the face is back in the motherland. Sasha wants Nikolai dead almost as much as Nikolai wants Sasha dead. Action movie logic dictates before it is all said and done we will get a Nikolai/Sasha showdown.
The Russian Specialist is the type of movie where if you were laying on your couch some lazy Sunday afternoon watching and you fell asleep in the middle of it, then woke up to see the final showdown, you really wouldn’t have missed much. The front end and back end is where the action is concentrated, the middle felt like filler. There’s nothing terrible about it, but it is not all that memorable either. With all that said I’d only recommend The Russian Specialist to the true Dolph die hards.
And now for all the Bulletproof Action die hards, I give to you some bonus Bullet Points…
- AKA: The original title of The Russian Specialist was The Mechanik. The French DVD release utilized the original title.
- Whore Tip: Sasha plans on pimping Julia out while he is waiting for her family to pay the ransom. This terrifies Julia, but one of Sasha’s veteran whores tells her to just lay there and look up at a clean spot on the ceiling and imagine you are some place else. Sound advice.
- If You Ever: …wanted to see a Russian mobster giggle at stupid cartoons, then this is the movie for you.
- May I Be Excused?: When Nikolai and his crew meet up with an old war buddy the night before they are going to take Julia across the border, there is a huge feast. As everyone is finishing their meal one guy at the table breaks into song. If I were there I would have immediately went home.
- Familiar Face: Raicho Vasilev plays Sasha’s right hand man Achmed. Vasilev, while primarily known for his stunt work, has shared the screen with some of the action genre’s biggest stars including Scott Adkins in Re-Kill, Jean-Claude Van Damme in In Hell, Steven Seagal in Submerged and most recently with Jason Statham in Mechanic: Resurrection. The Russian Specialist would be the first time he shared the screen with Dolph Lundgren, but not his last. The two would work together again in Command Performance, Direct Contact and Diamond Dogs.