By: Robb Antequera
During the 90s, video shelves across America were flooded with an onslaught of Direct to Video movies starring guys who producers were hoping would catch on as the new big action star. Well, at least on the direct to video market, that is. Guys like David Bradley, Gary Daniels, Jeff Wincott, and Bryan Genesse, just to name a few, all vied for the top spots along the video rental charts with action favorites such as Cyborg Cop, Rage, Last Man Standing, and Live Wire: Human Timebomb.
One of those guys was Actor/Stuntman Matt McColm. A black belt in kenpo karate like fellow action star Jeff Speakman, McColm has had an incredibly illustrious career in Hollywood throughout the years, with credits including but not limited to: Assassination (1987), They Live (1988), Shakedown (1988), Above the Law (1988), Cyborg (1989), The Rookie (1990) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).
Then, after playing bit parts and stunt work on films for many years, he got his chance to play the lead hero in Red Scorpion 2 (1994), the sequel to the Dolph Lundgren one man army action flick. He had other starring roles in other action movies such as Subterfuge (1996), Acts of Betrayal (1997), and Fight and Revenge (1997, but is now considered lost) before getting the lead role of Johnny Domino in the syndicated superhero show Nightman (1997-1999). Before that, he played the lead in one last DTV action flick, titled Body Armor (1998). So, the question stands, does he go out with a bang? Let’s find out!
Matt McColm as Ken Conway, a soldier of fortune who’s hired by his ex-girlfriend to find her scientist friend who was working on creating a super virus for an evil businessman (Ron Perlman).
This was a pleasant surprise! A slick, charming, low budget DTV action flick. Directed by career stuntman Jack Gill, Body Armor delivers enough awesome shootouts, fights, and stunts to leave you with a smile on your face by the time the credits start playing.
But first, let’s talk about McColm for a second. McColm, who looks so much like an 80s jock douchebag asshole version of Ben Affleck that it kinda gets distracting, is totally charismatic in the hero role. Conway as a character is presented as a bit of the old tried and true slick & arrogant, secret agent type, but is also emotionally vulnerable, and with a conscience, and McColm conveys all those aspects of Conway with complete believability, so kudos to him. He also gets to show off his awesome Kenpo Karate moves, so that’s a plus.
The supporting cast also deserves kudos. Just look at some of the genre favorites contained in this cast: Ron Perlman, Clint Howard, John Rhys-Davies, Carol Alt, Michael Paul Chan and Morgan Brittany. They come together to help give the film a level of classiness that you don’t see much of in DTV movies. Especially Perlman who, as the main antagonist, knows exactly the level of villainy to project into the proceedings. The way he chews the scenery so subtly is so awesome. The man missed his calling. He could’ve easily been a Bond villain.
But we’re here to talk action, so let me get right down to it: it’s badass! As I mentioned before, the movie was directed by Jack Gill, a career stuntman who is still rocking to this day, with credits as recent as second unit direction on The Fate of the Furious. And he gives the action sequences such a vibrant, frantic energy that you can see why he has persevered so far in his career.
Also, the staging of the stunts and action are pretty cool. Chases, shootouts and kenpo karate beatdowns are abound in this one. Also, extra cool points for them for featuring a scene where McColm has a quick fight with a man on fire. It’s quite amazing that they made this for barely a million dollars.
Any issues? A couple. The story is pretty generic and cliched. It’s obvious that the plot was conceived purely to string the action sequences together. Also, the movie drags in spots. Once or twice I found myself saying “Ok, let’s get on with it.”
But other than that, I found this flick to be a very enjoyable experience. Matt McColm made for an excellent hero, and it’s a shame he didn’t do more lead roles in movies. Here’s hoping he makes a return to badass action hero roles. But if not, that’s ok. We still have awesome flicks like Body Armor to watch him in.
Robb Antequera, aka The Cinema Drunkie, is a simple man from Brooklyn, New York who was raised on Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, Comic Books, and Saturday morning cartoons. He’s the host of the podcast The Action Drunkies, and a permanent panel member on the Horror podcast The House that Screams, as well as a writing contributor to Ultimate Action Movie Club, Film Combat Syndicate, Behind the Screams, and his own personal blog The Cinema Drunkie.