Welcome to discount “Die Hard.” I mean, “Welcome to Sudden Death,” a movie so blatantly ripping off the popular film, it’s even directly mentioned.
Jesse Freeman (Michael Jai White) is a veteran working as a security guard at a new sports stadium in Phoenix. A group of terrorists kills every other security guard and rigs every exit to blow up when the crowd leaves at the end of a basketball game. To make matters worse, the mayor (Kristen Harris), the governor (Paul Essiemebre) and the owner of the stadium — Diana Smart (Sabryn Rock) — are taken hostage. The movie is a weird, wild trip that’s bad in all the right ways and doesn’t try to claim otherwise with sloppy action scenes, loose character motivations and awkward dialogue.
Each character’s story is thinner than one-ply toilet paper. Jesse’s backstory is that he’s a generic military badass now working as a security guard to provide for his family. The head terrorist — Alpha (Michael Eklund) — wants to blow up the stadium and kill Diana because she called him out years ago for killing an innocent family he believed were terrorists. Now, he leads a group of no-name terrorists because her actions caused him to break away from his family.
The gem of the film — and the epitome of absurd characters — is Gus the janitor (Gary Owen). Throughout the movie, he assists Jesse in locating bombs while acting like an idiot. For instance, by the time it’s been established that every other security guard is dead, Gus decides to fight a shorter woman thinking he has a shot. He’s instantly kicked in the face, admits he doesn’t have the situation under control and then falls flat on the ground as Jesse is forced to step in.
Every fight scene is equal parts unrealistic, careless and comical. There’s never doubt that Jesse will win a fight as the cliche action hero, but the efficient ways he takes opponents down is sometimes hilarious. From bench pressing someone to causing them to shoot themselves in the stomach, there are many varieties of hilariously stupid ways that fights are finished off. When fighting multiple terrorists at once, Jesse effortlessly knocks them around and bounces people off walls. The moment it’s one-on-one, the last remaining enemy is suddenly more challenging for Jesse despite the situation switching from multiple armed people to unarmed combat.
The clunky dialogue and broken logic is fantastic. Despite his supposed love for his children, Jesse only uses his son’s name once before using the loving title of “son” the rest of the time. Nobody questions Alpha’s motivations despite his weak premise for such an extreme plan. Gus’ assistance is entertaining as he’s practically just around to give Jesse direction in the arena and drive him around. At any moment, he could be seen eating stadium food and refusing to help against the terrorists or bombs.
Diana’s boyfriend — Milli (Anthony Grant) — is the only one to ask questions and question the legitimacy of Alpha and his crew’s guns, thinking the hostage situation is a prank show at first. At the same time, the terrorists’ guns are some prototype that acts like a revolver but somehow only works at close range. Why terrorists would use a terrible gun with only six shots isn’t explained either since they have hand-to-hand combat skills that are more effective.
“Welcome to Sudden Death” is a silly ripoff of “Die Hard” that does everything in its power to act like a B movie. A loose string pulls the plot along as needed, only stopping to do something ridiculous for no reason or use violence as a punchline. In conclusion, please watch this beautiful film. Bad movies are an incredible art form deserving of love.
Contact Caleb Barbachem at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.