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Lions Gate presents
Corrupt/Mean Guns (1999)

"Redemption separates the wheat from the chaff."
- Moon (Ice-T)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: July 11, 2002

Stars: Ice-T, Silkk The Shocker, Christopher Lambert
Other Stars: Michael Halsey, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Miss Jones, Ernie Hudson, Jr., Karen Dyer, Yuji Okumoto, Thom Matthews, Kimberly Warren, Tina Cote
Director: Albert Pyun

MPAA Rating: R for (violence)
Run Time: 02h:56m:23s
Release Date: May 07, 2002
UPC: 031398802723
Genre: crime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+B-B B-

DVD Review

Director Albert Pyun is a moderately prolific B-movie director, with a string of thirty-five films to his credit since 1982. He's done psuedo-serious sci-fi like Cyborg with Van Damme, as well as comical sci-fi fluff like Alien From L.A. with Kathy Ireland (one of my genuine guilty pleasures). This double bill from Lion's Gate gathers up a pair of his late 1990s projects, thematically connected by the presence of rough and tumble rapper Ice-T, who appears in both.

Corrupt (01h:06m:26s)

The best thing about Pyun's 1999 release Corrupt is that it's only sixty-six minutes long. The worst thing about it is that it's almost sixty-seven minutes long. No matter how hard I try, I will never get that wasted hour and six minutes back, and I don't know who to blame.

Pyun has grubby Slovakia double as some anonymous U.S. urban ghetto (which never really works), and he populates the film with a couple of rap music figures to give things more of a domestic feel: Ice-T and Silkk The Shocker (brother of Master P). Silkk is MJ, a young chap looking for a way out of the crime-filled streets, while Ice-T is the gun-toting title character who struts around spouting off his mouth and weapons indiscriminantly. The story, loose as it is, focuses on a long standing and deadly gang-war that may get put on hold, thanks to a truce. Corrupt shoots numerous people, lots of Slovakian extras don't speak (because they don't know English), and Silkk The Shocker joins the list of musicians who can't act.

Mean Guns (01h:49m:57s)

Every cloud has a silver lining, and on this disc it's Pyun's 1996 hilariously testosterone-driven macho crime drama Mean Guns, starring Ice-T and Christopher Lambert. I love the premise of this one, and it is so far removed from reality that it is actually entertaining. Moon (Ice-T) is the thuggish leader of a crime syndicate so powerful that they control the government of some large unnamed city, and he organizes a deadly form of revenge on a group of assassins who have betrayed him. On the eve of the opening of a new maximum-security prison, Moon invites all of the out-of-favor killers there for a six-hour game of kill or be killed, with the last three survivors splitting ten million dollars; if more than three people are left alive at the end of six hours, everyone dies. Moon's henchman dump barrels of weapons and ammo on the floor, and then the stylish shooting starts (and doesn't end for 110 minutes), all set to piped in mambo music. Alliances are made, and then broken, as the bodies stack up quickly and the number of survivors gets increasingly smaller.

Michael Halsey is great as the cadaverous Marcus, and even the aging Lambert looks good here. All of the assassins dress like the extras in The Matrix, with basic black (dusters, leather, dresses) being the order of the day.

Pyun sticks with his trademark of excessive violence with little or no blood. The violence in both of these, particularly Mean Guns, is almost cartoon-like in nature, and the lack of blood gives the proceedings the feel of a videogame at times. Unfortunately, Corrupt is just a bad film on many levels, with its only real redemption being a short runtime. Mean Guns, on the other hand, while exceedingly silly, is ridiculously entertaining in an overly macho kind of way.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Rationono

Image Transfer Review: Corrupt is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, and if you like heavy grain you'll love this transfer. The film was shot on digital video, which may account for some of the image woes, but the overall look is flat. Colors are lifeless, with no significant depth or warmth. Pyun might have been trying for a distinctly cold, alien look, and if so he succeeded. However, the image transfer just looks like a generally poor one.

Mean Guns gets a 1.33:1 full-frame treatment that is a vast improvement over Corrupt. Colors are a steely cold blue, with some of the scenes almost looking as if they were shot in black & white. Colors sometimes get a little overexposed, for dramatics, but typically they remain natural. Black levels are fairly strong, with decent shadow delineation. Likewise, image detail is solid, though it has some minor grain issues, but with very little in the way of print blemishes.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Corrupt features two primary audio options, in 2.0 and 5.1 surround. While the 2.0 mix is clean, the music is the only element that sounds exceptionally full and deep under the 5.1. The film score (which features a lot of Ice-T) is available as an isolated audio-only track, as well.

Mean Guns has only one option,and it's a standard 2.0 surround track. Much of the dialogue, clear as it is, occasionally bleeds into the rears to create an unnatural soundstage at times.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Leprechaun, Chinese Box, Warlock
Isolated Music Score with remote access
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Ice-T, Ernie Hudson, Karen Dyer
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Extras are a little lopsided on this double-feature, with Corrupt getting an isolated music track in addition to two commentaries, while Mean Guns gets only a handful of trailers.

Ice-T handles the first of the two commentaries on Corrupt, and while he is fun to listen to, he doesn't offer much in the way of valuable content. He mocks the opening credits, making such disparaging remarks about most of the crew that I couldn't tell if they were supposed to be jokes or not. He spends a lot of time telling us what we're seeing, before lapsing into a number of silent gaps. I imagine if you're a fan of Ice-T, his bravado swagger on this track will appeal to you.

The second track features cast members Ernie Hudson and Karen Dyer, who are both apparently seeing the film for the first time during the commentary. Their comments are polite, and much of the discussion centers on how Pyun tried to turn Slovakia into an inner-city ghetto for the film.

Corrupt is split into 24 chapters, while Mean Guns (the longer of the two) only gets 8 for some reason. This is a two-sided disc, with one film per side.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Albert Pyun has made a lot of bad movies, and he's made a few fairly good ones. This disc gives an example of both, with the immature urban posturings of Corrupt in direct contrast with the stylistic shoot-em-up silliness of Mean Guns. Though a pair of commentaries adorn Corrupt, I would have preferred to hear comments about the other feature instead.

Worth a rental for Mean Guns only.


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