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Thursday, 26 July 2018

Retro Review: Deadly Outbreak (1996)

Deadly Outbreak
Cast: Jeff Speakman, Ron Silver, Rochelle Swanson, Jack Adalist, Jonathan Sagall
Genre: Action

Plot: A soldier tries to prevent a disaster after a terrorist takes over a biochemical research facility

'Enjoyable & Entertaining Action B-Movie'

At a chemical plant in Israel, a female scientist develops a highly dangerous and explosive chemical weapon and when an evil baron and his henchmen show up, they take over the institution and they aim to get their hands on this nuclear arsenal. An ex-special forces embassy guard, Dalton plans to foil the terrorists, when really all he wants to do is spend time with his doting son. 

Though I often accuse Jeff Speakman of not having charisma and screen presence compared to the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, in Deadly Outbreak, he shows more of a performance that combines both his martial arts and acting abilities on show. Plus, he gets to blow things up. I think that when he is given a character that has depth, personality, not to mention a not too bad script, it definitely helps him bring more to the performance that makes him watchable. Dalton is amusing at times, likeable, easy-going, but when he is thrown at the deep end, he manages to get out of those situations, all thanks to Speakman's lightning fast Kenpo attacks.

Rochelle Swanson of Secret Games 3 and who usually dabbles in softcore thrillers, is in this one in her first accredited outing, whilst managing to keep her clothes on for a change and she fares all right as a scientist/love interest aiding Dalton.

The action fares pretty well and I enjoyed it a good deal and whilst it doesn't do much that is new to the formula, it is the performances by and more so Speakman, followed by Ron Silver and Rochelle Swanson that give this film a boost. Speakman thrives both in his role and fighting-wise and is a major improvement over The Expert and Street Knight. 

One of the much lesser known Die-Hard type flicks, Deadly Outbreak is also a very good one so to speak and so, not only was I surprised by how much I enjoyed this one, I am also rather surprised this currently has an IMDb score of 3.8, which I find ludicrous. But as ever, since when have I ever based my movies tastes and likes based on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes scores? Never.

According to IMDb also, some parts of this film was edited and put into Steven Segal vehicle, Ticker, although that movie was panned, nevertheless. 

This is far from the Steven Segal straight to DVD action Z-grade filler and was one of the last overly decent B-movie actioners right towards the end of the 1990s. The action is really good from explosions, fight scenes, & gun battles and Speakman does better here than in the disappointing, Street Knight and The Expert after taking off with the impressive The Perfect Weapon, mixing up his Kenpo fighting with the gunplay battles. 

Where it does well in is the action and performances as a whole are somewhat good for a B-movie. The late Ron Silver never overplays his villain role, much like with Timecop with a level-headed turn and yet unlike 1990's silly, Blue Steel, where he was really overdoing it. 

Final Verdict:

I wasn't expecting Oscar winning performances, but they were for the most part good, especially Speakman's charismatic turn, which really is the main reason to tune in. Although really, without him and had his character not been well written and the script had not incorporated his Kenpo martial arts skills, Deadly Outbreak would be a forgettable action movie.

The Perfect Weapon still reigns as Jeff's best, but this one is a clear second for me and is just as, if not as great as that effort. Watching his fights here brings back memories of The Perfect Weapon and how he can be a bad-ass hero. 

As formulaic as it is, this Die-Hard like film, though under-sourced and low budget, whilst it pales in comparison to Hollywood's big-budget hits, Deadly Outbreak was a fulfilling and engaging watch. Arguably this was Speakman's last hurrah and whilst he didn't go on to become a major action star, one must say that Deadly Outbreak and The Perfect Weapon were, and are in probably some action movie fans eyes, Speakman's best efforts in his uneven & far too brief career. 


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