For you youngsters out there, describing Bozmania is like describing the Polish–Moldavian War: you had to be there to truly understand its magnitude. In 1987 Brian Bosworth hit pro football like an Oklahoma-sized asteroid. He was big, blonde and had attitude to the max. His hybrid mohawk-mullet became haute couture for rural youths everywhere. His autobiography became a New York Times Bestseller. Then came the injuries. After only 27 games, the Boz retired from the NFL for good.

But the Brian Bosworth story doesn’t end there, no. In 1991 the Boz came back, reinvented as the action hero for the 1990s. The film was Stone Cold, an outlaw biker flick that made full use of the Bosworth persona. It cost $10 million. It made $9 million. Just like that, he was yesterday’s papers.

It would be four long years before audiences would glimpse him again - but his fate was to be on the small screen, not the big screen - which brings us to his direct-to-video effort, One Tough Bastard.

From frame one, danger signs flare ahead. This is gooey, sentimental stuff. The Boz, a family man? Where are the earrings? Who clipped the ape drape? Why has M.C. Hammer received special billing?

After years of building the Bosworth persona, he just tosses it away. Do we really wanna see the Boz in a corduroy blazer (with patches) and sensible khakis? When Arnold dresses like this, he plays it for laughs because it chafes against the very Arnold persona. But this ... this is serious. Bosworth is a Republican Party canvasser on steroids. And strangely enough, his antagonist Karl Savak (Bruce Payne), with his long peroxide locks and nose rings, looks more like the Boz than the Boz does.

Ah, but we take the hand we’re dealt and settle into our couches for some entertainment.

We’re not long in before Brian’s family is murdered by Savak’s incompetent hatchet-man, Marcus. This of course, has been a sturdy, reliable motivation for many action protagonists before, so why not revisit it again? So the Boz tracks down Marcus to LA but he’s under the special protection of FBI agent, Karl Savak. (Yes, he’s FBI and somehow his hair and piercings aren’t in direct violation of the strict FBI dress-code.) It seems Savak is involved with drug kingpin Dexter Kane (Hammer). He’s stolen some top-secret weapons from the the U.S. Military and plans to sell them to Kane for a king’s ransom. Unfortunately, he’s missing the special ammo required for the top-secret weapons which has accidentally fallen into the hands of “good kid going down the wrong path,” Mikey. Got all that?

No matter. There’s some decent, but never great, action here and probably one of the longest “plunge to their death” scenes in film history. We also get character actor Payne at his scenery-chewing best - as in a scene where he scrawls in large, red letters on his “Things To Do!!!" List to “KILL MARCUS.” Also, Hammer’s squirming turn as Dexter Kane is stunt-casting at its hysterical worst. Where else do we get to hear the pop-rap pastor uncomfortably spouting lines line: “Don’t you realize the only way you gonna talk to me again is through one a’ them straight-up psychic bitches?”

Bastard's director Kurt Wimmer would go on to make the criminally under-seen cult sci-fi flick Equilibrium (2002) - though those looking for the inventiveness of that film will find little of it here. If you’ve cultivated a thirst for more Wimmer, better to check out Ultraviolet. On second thought, just watch Equilibrium again.


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