Mean Guns [1997]

Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Direct-to-video stylist Albert Pyun sets this plotless, gun-crazy frenzy to the mambo beat of Prez Prado and runs with it. Mobster Ice-T calls dozens of associates to a newly built prison the day before it's dedicated, locks them in, and pits them against one another for a prize of $10 million, which the last three survivors will split. Bleached blond Christopher Lambert is a grinning psycho having a little too much fun, while the soul of the group belongs to the craggy-faced Michael Halsey, a ruthless killer with an odd sense of purpose and a code of honor. The story is merely an excuse for unending gunplay and giddy violence and Pyun rises to the occasion, executing everything from riotous free-for-alls to elaborate chases to Western-style standoffs (complete with a haunting spaghetti Western style guitar and trumpet theme). The video titles, dingy lighting, and dusky color give away the low budget and ultimately the script doesn't make any sense, but Pyun wisely avoids the confusing plot (which he himself sometimes loses) and concentrates on his particular strength: wild, wicked, practically nonstop action driven by a restless camera and rat-a-tat editing. --Sean Axmaker

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