WAR PIGS — Despite Luke Goss and Dolph Lundgren, An Underwhelming “DIRTY HALF-DOZEN”

War Pigs is now available from Cinedigm Entertainment.

Upon checking out War Pigs, the most obvious thing that will jump out at viewers is the cast. Luke Goss and Dolph Lundgren are solid action stars, and even in the world of DTV they have a pretty decent batting average. Goss starred in the ferociously great Death Race prequels, and Lundgren most recently appeared in the similarly stacked Skin Trade, which impressed our reviewers Victor and Ed. Given the strong cast which also includes Mickey Rourke MMA fighter Chuck Liddell, there’s plenty of potential here for a decent B flick.

Imagine a satisfying squad-based war movie that delivers a great story and action, and basically hits all the right notes. Now let’s suppose that it gets a low-key made-for-television prequel that fills in the squad’s origin story and basically does an acceptable job of it without excelling in any meaningful way. That second description is basically what War Pigs feels like, albeit without a prior film. It’s a no-frills origin story that covers an Army squad’s training and first combat mission with little in the way of style or scope.

Luke Goss plays Army Captain Jack Wosick, whose last squad was ambushed and killed under his command. A chance for redemption comes along in the form of a sympathetic Colonel (Mickey Rourke looking even more disheveled than usual): along with defected German officer Hans Picault (Dolph Lundgren), he’s assigned to train a ragtag group of grunts for a special mission. The team is already known as the “War Pigs”, not for any combat reasons but because they’re a bunch of sarcastic, lazy doughboys. When we first meet them, they’re stealing eggs from a French farmer. It’s a bit of the old Dirty Dozen formula with Goss and Lundgren filling in for Lee Marvin, but this Dozen (half dozen) isn’t as charismatic or charming as the likes of Bronson, Borgnine, Sutherland, Cassavetes, Brown, and so on.

After some mildly amusing training exercises to provide time to get to know the Pigs and their resentment of authority, the squad gets their orders: to confirm the existence on a Nazi superweapon some 17 km behind enemy lines, then hightail back and report their findings. The “millipede gun”, if it exists, could be capable of firing on targets hundreds of miles away.

This is obviously where the film should get into high gear, and it does amp up the intensity, but makes some weird shortcuts as well. The squad is particularly distressed by the prospect of infiltrating so deeply into enemy territory, yet the film glosses over this part — they basically drive a jeep most of the way and find the massive cannon in short order. It’s kind of a baffling decision to remove so much of the potential tension in this fashion, especially after calling attention to setting it up.

Two of the group’s number are captured while scouting, and the best part of the movie follows with a firefight against an enemy patrol, followed by our heroes breaking their orders to sneak into the Nazi compound to retrieve their captured comrades.

The film ends nearly as abruptly as the action escalates, and the action is hit and miss — Dolph gets a cool shotgun killing spree in, and Goss deals out a bit of terrific hand-to-hand damage as is his forte. The junior members of the War Pigs are given relatively little to do besides the occasional firefight. Unfortunately there really aren’t a whole lot of action beats, but the overall feeling is one of brisk movement and light action-comedy.

I do want to call some attention to the production design, though, which is aces — especially for an independent film. The movie looks and feels like it takes place in Europe in World War II, and that’s not an easy thing to accomplish on a small budget. Weaponry, uniforms, props, and sets — it’s all quite impressive and I wish there was a better movie filling it all out.

The script, while fairly ordinary, is not without merit. I particularly like that Captain Wosick’s opening troubles were the result of following orders, while his ultimate victory is obtained by breaking them.

Overall, the film is rather mediocre. Fans who typically like DTV action and Dolph Lundgren in particular will find it moderately entertaining as I did, but it would have been nice to see something more action-packed with these capable action leads. Given the disc’s barebones approach with no supplemental material to buoy a purchase, I’d consider War Pigs a rental for those inclined to give it a shot.

The Package

War Pigs was released on Blu-ray on December 1. My copy included a slipcover which replicates the cover art. The disc features 5.1 DTS-HD MA and English subtitles, but has no additional features.

Special Features and Extras


A/V Out.

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