Bullet Points: Without Mercy
When I saw that Frank Zagarino was in a movie titled Without Mercy, I thought to myself… I don’t think there could be a better title for a Frank Zagarino movie.
For more than three decades no matter how bad Zagarino’s performances were, there were still people willing to pay him to “act” in their movies. Those sadistic producers showed no mercy for the action movie loving audience as they churned out one Airboss movie after the other. Frank Zagarino showed no mercy on the viewers either as he soullessly recited his lines with that “the lights are on but nobody is home” look on his face with no regard for the people who actually paid to see the trash he was starring in.
So it was an ironic twist that 1995’s Without Mercy was the only Frank Zagarino movie to date I have not completely despised. Although I give little to no credit to Zagarino for this anomaly.
- The Prologue: The movie begins with our hero John Carter (Frank Zagarino) as part of a United Nations operation in Somalia. Some of his fellow UN soldiers have gone missing, so Frank is part of the team looking to bring them back. They arrive in a small town and Carter recognizes some of the seedy characters inhabiting the town and calls bullshit on the whole “peace keeping mission” he is on. And that is when the shooting starts! This peace keeping mission is history and now Carter and his men are in for a fight. During the fire fight, Carter comes across a young girl and saves her before she stumbles over a trip wire. He then asks the girl to take her to where “the men with the blue hats” are being kept. Carter ends up trusting the wrong little girl and before it is all said and done Carter’s men die in an exploding helicopter thanks to a stuffed animal with a bomb in it. Feel free to re-read that last line before moving on.Carter then ends up imprisoned by the bad guys being tortured physically by the Somalian scumbags and mentally by the memories of what happened to his men.
- Kovert Operation: The movie then jumps ahead three years and John Carter finds himself a stranger in Indonesia. Carter pretty much just wanders the streets and occasionally does some underground fighting when he needs money. And it is at one of those underground fights that Carter meets Wolf Larsen (Martin Kove) and the lovely lady on Wolf’s arm, Tanya (Ayu Azhari). After the fights are over, Larsen invites Carter to join him for a night on the town. Wolf Larsen is not just a high roller who loves to watch the fights, have a few drinks and smoke some cigars. Larsen is looking to control all the criminal enterprises in town but first he has to knock off the current underworld kingpin Tomo (Advent Bangun). Larsen orchestrates a scenario where Tanya invites Carter back to her place, then after a night of bubble bath lovemaking, Tanya invites Tomo over the next morning… this sets up a Tomo vs. Carter fight that results in Tomo falling to his death from Tanya’s swanky high rise apartment. Now the police are involved and they believe Carter murdered Tomo at the behest of Wolf Larsen, making Carter a wanted man and opening the door for Larsen to become the new crime boss in town.
- The Positives: Tanya is the straw that stirs the drink in Without Mercy. She uses her feminine wiles to placate Larsen, she seduces Carter, manipulates Tomo and is even stringing the police captain along. I knew what I was getting with Frank Zagarino. I knew what I was getting with Martin Kove. But Ayu Azhari’s portrayal of Tanya was a pleasant surprise. The wild card character that was Tanya, paired with a proven movie villain like Martin Kove really made Without Mercy work and gave Frank Zagarino the kind of support he is often lacking in his films. The other key ingredient in Without Mercy was the action itself. Two scenes immediately come to mind, the first is where John Carter is evading the authorities after he killed Tomo in self defense, resulting in Carter repelling from the side of the high rise apartment building and taking the Nestea Plunge into a garbage truck. The second is the action packed finale that features Carter and Larsen battling it out on a speedboat.
Without Mercy was not without mercy. Instead of another Zagarino horror show, the movie gods smiled upon the world making Without Mercy a rare highlight in the not so illustrious movie career of Frank Zagarino.
Before I wrap this unexpectedly positive review of a Frank Zagarino movie up, let me assure you this Without Mercy review will not be without Bonus Bullet Points…
- AKA: Without Mercy was released as Outraged Fugitive in Italy. Without Mercy is a pretty generic name for a movie, but I’ll take the generic name over the horribly named Outraged Fugitive any day.
- If You Ever: …wanted to see a naked Frank Zagarino whipped with a chain and locked inside a prison cell that was nothing more than a hole in the ground, then this is the movie for you.
- Action Movie Insurance: After establishing himself as a premier movie villain in theatrical releases like The Karate Kid series and Rambo: First Blood Part II in the 1980’s it feels like Martin Kove became a go to guy if you wanted to make sure your direct to video action movie had a quality villain in the 1990’s. Kove would play the villain in DTV movies like Death Match, Shootfighter: Fight to the Death and Mercenary and he brought all three of those movies up a level.
- Credit Check: Aside from being the top billed star of Without Mercy, Zagarino is also credited as the second unit director and as the “fight co-ordinator”. The spelling of “fight co-ordinator” implies that there is such a thing as a fight ordinator and that Without Mercy required two of them and that Zagarino was one of the “fight co-ordinators” and I guess the other one just didn’t get any credit.