Agent Red Release Date:2000 Genre: Action Director(s): Damian Lee (Terminal Rush) & Jim Wynorski (uncredited) Writer(s): Damian Lee (Specimen) & Steve Latshaw (uncredited) Starring: Dolph Lundgren “Damian Lee should really stick to producing.” – Anthony Hickox on Jill the Ripper’s commentary track. That statement rings very true after seeing Agent Red. Not only is the […]

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Agent Red
Release Date:2000
Genre: Action
Director(s): Damian Lee (Terminal Rush) & Jim Wynorski (uncredited)
Writer(s): Damian Lee (Specimen) & Steve Latshaw (uncredited)
Starring: Dolph Lundgren

“Damian Lee should really stick to producing.”
– Anthony Hickox on Jill the Ripper’s commentary track.

That statement rings very true after seeing Agent Red. Not only is the version released around the world a very bad movie, but fact is, Agent Red was actually worse at one point. After the film was completed, producer Andrew Stevens deemed the movie too inept to be released. Damian Lee screwed things up so bad that writer Steve Latshaw was brought in to at least make the movie half-competent, while Jim Wynorski was hired to direct some new scenes and insert stock footage where appropriate.

So when you’re reading this review, just remember, there’s another version of Agent Red floating around that is even less watchable than this one.

Ahhh those pesky Russians. Even after the Cold War came to an end and the Soviet Union separated into a mass of countries left without enough money to buy a can of soup, they kept trying to mount themselves a comeback in direct-to-video films through terrorist methods. In Agent Red, it’s a chemical called ‘agent red’ that they want to get their hands on. A brutal and deadly chemical compound, the secret development of the product was stopped during World War II when even the military realized that it was just too dangerous. Some of it was stolen by the Russians, though, and resulted in a whole village of men, women, and children having to be exterminated. Discovered by government officials in post-Soviet Russia, which does not have the manpower or knowledge to dispose of it, a submarine is sent in to bring it back to the United States.

Leading the mission is Captain Matt Hendricks (Lundgren), who soon learns that his ex-fiancée is also aboard the submarine. In this situation a filmmaker has three options; opposing submarine starts firing on them, killer ocean creature wrecks havoc, or Die Hard on a [submarine]. Agent Red goes for the third choice (with the first coming later), as a huge group of Russian terrorists inexplicably board the ship with the ultimate goal in mind of setting the agent red off in a major U.S. city. As with all Die Hard on a [ ] films, the lead actor then proceeds to spend the rest of the movie picking off the terrorists all while eventually rekindling his romance with the ex.

While incredibly absurd, stupid, and choppy, Agent Red isn’t Dolph Lundgren’s worst movie. Quality wise, yes, it’s the worst. But as a whole, Agent Red isn’t entirely offensive. Why? It follows the Die Hard on a [ ] formula, and it features Dolph Lundgren kicking terrorist ass. That’s the extent of it.

Someone who worked in post-production at Phoenician during the Agent Red crisis let me in on this tidbit of knowledge.

“Back in the day we used to pass around a VHS of the first assembly of Agent Red as it was an example of probably the most unwatchable film ever to be pumped out of that company. We went through three editors and two directors trying to “fix” the film WITHOUT any reshoots, until finally the powers that be were convinced that reshoots HAD to be done. I love the commentary with Damien Lee where there’s a cut from a stock shot of a jet to an interior of Dolph as a pilot and he actually has the balls to reference Eisenstein and the “art” of editing. Amazing.”

And direct from fixer-upper screenwriter Steve Latshaw…

“As I recall, 40 minutes of the original 100 minute assembly was dumped, then replaced with 40 new minutes. The original assembly opened with shaky video of Russian bio teams (shaky VIDEO… from sequences supposedly filmed in 1971) and ponderous narration… The film was missing entire halves of dialog sequences between Randolph Mantooth and the President (no footage of the President), the US sub commander and Russian military officers (no Russian military), connective scenes, transition scenes, action scenes only partially covered, etc. We created the new action opening with all the stock from Storm Catcher and Solo, new briefing scenes with Dolph and Stephen Macht, a terrorist attank on an oil tanker, new scenes with President Bill Monroe and new scenes with Steve Franken and Pete Spellos as Russian military leaders…”
“We also added a lot of connective sequences and action pieces to the rest of the film. It was quite a chore. The film itself had an interesting origin. In 1999, at a party at Fred’s, Andrew Stevens asked me if I’d like to rewrite Counter Measures for Dolph Lundgren. I said sure, just name the price. Apparently a short time later, Damian Lee made a deal to write AND direct so they went with him… in fact, one entire sequence from Counter Measures – directed by Fred – was actually dropped whole cloth into Agent Red. In the film, the American sub taken over by terrorists is pursued by another American sub. A tense battle ensues, with the good guys eventually blown out of the water when the terrorists fire “counter measures.” They lifted this entire sequence – actors and all – only shooting new footage of the Agent Red terrorists. So the best scene in the movie was directed by Fred Ray.”

DVD: The best part of Agent Red is listening to the commentary track with director/writer Damian Lee. Never once does he mention the problems that went on after production, the reshoots, the new footage, etc. He just finds a different topic to speak about before eventually fading back into the movie.

Also known as Captured.

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Agent Red, 2.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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