Ablaze Release Date:2001 Genre:Drama | Action | Thriller Director(s): Jay Andrews (aka Jim Wynorski) Writer(s): Steve Latshaw (Rangers, Militia) Starring: Ice-T, Tom Arnold, Michael Dudikoff Ablaze is probably one of the more high-class titles in the Phoenician library. Sure, it may “star” Ice-T and Tom Arnold, but it’s impressive when you look at it from […]

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Ablaze
Release Date:2001
Genre:Drama | Action | Thriller
Director(s): Jay Andrews (aka Jim Wynorski)
Writer(s): Steve Latshaw (Rangers, Militia)
Starring: Ice-T, Tom Arnold, Michael Dudikoff

Ablaze is probably one of the more high-class titles in the Phoenician library. Sure, it may “star” Ice-T and Tom Arnold, but it’s impressive when you look at it from a budget perspective. While Wynorski still throws in a Completely Unrelated Opening Action Sequence™ featuring plenty of stock footage, which is followed up by plenty of stock footage of explosions and fire, things get professional when the plot hits the second and third act.

Essentially what we’ve got is an evil oil refinery owner (Arnold) neglecting necessary repairs for so long that an explosion occurs. Thanks to the shoddy conditions, much of the city is engulfed in flames and black smoke. The uncaring mayor eventually agrees to evacuate the city, but thanks to his delay, one prime spot remains when the threat of a firestorm is apparent. That is the hospital, which houses among a large cast of Nick at Nite alums, a firefighter who got a huge dose of smoke in his lungs, that man’s investigator brother (leading to a little subplot about the bad guys trying to track down his evidence-filled file), a little boy who burnt his house down earlier that day, and an aging TV actress. I don’t even know if they ever explained why the actress is there, but that’s life.

Due to the firestorm and general threat of fiery buildings all around them, it’s up to the people in the hospital to band together in order for everyone to get out alive. This is where the finer points of the movie come in, as Andrew Stevens actually shelled out the money for an elaborate stage on the backlot of a large production company. During the twenty minutes or so that take the characters there, it is engulfed in real flames. It kind of has to be on fire since it appears the stage is designed to look like 1940’s New York, but once again, that’s life.

While it’s nothing breathtaking in terms of what we get in the end, Ablaze is actually quite good for those who don’t mind a cheap ride. For almost the entire movie the focus is on non-name actors, as guys like Ice-T and Tom Arnold don’t do much. Tom Arnold’s in things for less than ten minutes, Ice-T shows up for two scenes, and Dudikoff is more of a supporting character than anything. Why Dudikoff doesn’t play the lead is beyond me, although I’d guess it was due to budget concerns.

There was actually a part of me that, when it came time for the end, expected more. I don’t know exactly what it was, as it certainly was played out nicely, but I felt letdown when the credits rolled.

DVD: Jim Wynorski provides his usual great commentary track.

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