Though Phillip Noyce has gone on to bigger (Clear and Present Danger) and more respected projects (Rabbit Proof Fence, The Quiet American), his best film has long been one of his earliest: 1989's Dead Calm. And, as D.K. Holm mused in his review the film, there's a special magic to it that seems to have nothing to do with the rest of the director's body of work. This may or may not have something to do with producer George Miller. To add more fuel to the fire, Noyce directed two films that year, Calm and the Rutger Hauer vehicle Blind Fury. And the difference between them is night and day. Hauer stars as Vietnam vet Nick Parker. On one of his missions he was blinded, but then rescued by nice villagers and trained in the art of the samurai sword. A white man's Zatoichi, the story picks up in (then) present time as Nick looks for old 'Nam buddy Frank Devereaux (Terry O'Quinn). While going to Frank's Florida home, it turns out Frank is in Las Vegas being used by evil casino owner MacCready (Noble Willingham) to make designer drugs to pay off his gambling debts, and to convince Frank, MacCready plans on keeping Frank's kid Billy (Brandon Call) and ex-wife Lynn (Meg Foster) as hostages. Of course the moment MacCready's men show up at Lynn's house is the moment when Nick drops in on Lynn and Billy. Though he's quick to protect them, shortly thereafter Nick is stuck in the position of chaperoning Billy from Florida to Vegas in an effort to free Frank from the gangsters. An amusing B-movie with a modest and charismatic performance by Hauer, Blind Fury belies a director who would be well suited working in the B idiom for the rest of his career the picture never is more or less than solid, if not all that imaginative drive-in fodder. The most amusing element of the film is that two of the villains are named Lyle and Tector Pike (played by future director Nick Cassavetes and comedian Rick Overton), a combination of the names of the Tector brothers and Pike Bishop from The Wild Bunch. Though entertaining for what it is, had Noyce only directed Fury in 1989, he would surely be helming direct-to-video Steven Seagal films by now. Columbia TriStar presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio with an array of subtitles. Extras consist of a Hauer biography and selected filmography, and a trailer for this and two other Hauer efforts. Keep-case.
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