It’s pretty hilarious to see old 80s movies drudged up and given a bit of spit and polish whenever its star is given a bit of rejuvenation in the public eye. Such is the case for two titles from Lionsgate—both Lock Up, starring Sylvester Stallone, and Johnny Handsome, starring Mickey Rourke, tout the films as if they’ll be something brilliant. They even feature a sticker that advertises Stallone’s next big action film, The Expendables, on the cover. Also for some reason it seems Lionsgate has inherited the rights to every crappy 80s action movie ever made because these films they drudge up are some truly terrible wastes of time.
Asking the question how far can a man be pushed before he pushes back?, Lock Up stars Sylvester Stallone (Rocky), Donald Sutherland (TV’s “Dirty Sexy Money”) and Golden Globe® nominee, Tom Sizemore (Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV “Witness Protection”, 1999) in a gripping action-thriller. During the end of Frank Leone’s (Stallone) sentencing in Gateway Prison, a new warden (Sutherland) takes charge. Just when Leone is up for parole, he finds that the only thing standing in his way of becoming a free man is another who only has revenge on his mind.
So apparently there exists a world in which a man can escape from prison to attend the funeral of his mentor and then down the line get put in a minimum security prison where it’s essentially a men-only dorm room at college. Everyone is friendly with one another and everything seems to be honky-dory until Stallone’s character gets captured and dragged away to another prison. It’s here that Warden Drumgroole (Donald Sutherland) reveals that he is behind Frank Leone’s (Stallone) capture. I will expand on the story further, but I want to pause first and dwell on Sutherland’s character’s name because it’s so wonderfully evil sounding. I’ve never even heard that name before but it has the same kind of malevolent quality to it like Voldemort or something. Then again Drumgroole does sound like something out of Harry Potter anyway, so perhaps that’s where my line drawing between the two comes from.
Anyway, the rest of the story is basically if they took an amalgam of Rocky and Rambo and threw him in prison. Stallone isn’t his usually tough guy self at first, as he’s seemingly rather whipped by his girlfriend and doesn’t seem to be all that confrontational. In fact it seems like he’s dealing with the equivalent of high school for prison inmates, with bullies and whatnot out to get him and his group of friends who restore (and name) Ford Mustangs. Anyway, it’s a stupid movie is basically what I’m getting at. It’s got that classic 80s charm (barely—it was released in 1989) and it was also towards the end of Stallone’s career. I’m not sure what happened to him or his career but it sure went wonky rather quickly.
In any case Stallone isn’t solely to blame for this mess. Sutherland’s villainy is quite hammed up and there just really isn’t anything about this film that helps sell it in the least. It’s like any of those breaking-out-of-prison-for-a-girl films (of which there are a stupid amount) and once it starts treading into familiar and boring territory, you quickly lose interest in it. Sadly the film is near two hours long so that means you’re almost brought to tears over its longevity. Admittedly if I enjoyed 80s movies (or Stallone) more I’m sure I’d find it not nearly as dull or horrible, but as is it’s just one of those bad action films that should’ve stayed forgotten. Worth a Rental if you’re a Stallone fan; otherwise you can ignore it completely.
Lionsgate releases Lock Up on Blu-ray in a single disc Elite Blu-ray case. Strangely enough it’s a Region A and B release…of course I say strangely because that’s the only interesting thing to look at on back of this Blu-ray case. It’s pretty mundane.
Video is a 1080p 1.85:1 transfer and it’s clear they didn’t try to clean it up much. It’s very dated looking, but were anyone other than Stallone in it I doubt we’d even see it on Blu-ray so I guess I shouldn’t begrudge it too much. Considering it’s pushing past twenty years old at this point it doesn’t look overly terrible, but there are copious amounts of film grain and whatnot floating around it. Paired with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which is sadly rather flat at times, the film looks and sounds as it’s ever going to be, short of a full restoration…which I doubt Lionsgate would ever want to waste their money on.
Extras include a pitiful mixture of an old Making Of, Sylvester Stallone Profile, the Theatrical Trailer and some generic other things brought over from the 2007 DVD release. Overall a strict Rental for the curious.
Lock Up arrives on Blu-ray on July 27th.