Dollman (1991) review

Director: Albert Pyun

Starring: Tim Thomerson, Jackie Earle Haley, Kamala Lopez

OVERWEIGHT KID – “That’s a Kruger blaster! The most powerful handgun in the universe!”

DOLLMAN – “That’s right, fat boy.”

While Full Moon Features is still going these days, it’s probably fair to say that most of the stuff it puts money into is utter shite. The likes of Dangerous Worry Dolls, Gingerdead Man and Killjoy, while entertaining to those who get a kick out of watching bad movies, just can’t cut it overall. This wasn’t always the case though – back in the late 80s and early 90s Full Moon Productions (as it was known then) was a powerhouse in the world of low-budget, straight-to-video sci-fi and horror. Film series like Puppet Master, Subspecies and Trancers were much-loved by genre fans at the time, and the Videozone making-of features at the end of each tape (long before DVD, mind) helped gain Full Moon a cult following of fans. Dollman was one of the films Full Moon released during that time period, and it’s easily one of the silliest.

The cast of Cheaper By The Dozen were somewhat taken aback by Steve Martin's diva attitude

Dollman opens on a planet many light years away with its hero Brick Bardo coming face-to-face with his nemesis, the criminal Sprug. On this planet if you commit a misdemeanour and are caught you have a body part removed as punishment, so when you consider Sprug is just a head on a floating platform, it’s obvious he’s a nasty bugger. Still, that doesn’t stop him jumping (well, rolling) into his spaceship and trying to leave the planet, with Brick following in hot pursuit. The two ships crash-land on Earth (the Bronx, to be precise), so Brick has to find a way to repair his ship and get back to his own planet before Sprug finds him. There’s just one thing – on Earth, Brick is only thirteen inches tall. 

"I hear the ladies like a man who's thirteen inches"

Despite (or perhaps because of) its ridiculous premise, Dollman is brilliant fun. Tim Thomerson is the cheesiest 80s action hero you can think of (despite it being released in 1991), peppering the film with horrendous one-liners and moody acting. Combine that with rubbish sunglasses and a constant sneer and you’ve got the closest you’ll ever get to a movie version of Duke Nukem.

Brick is found by a Bronx woman called Debi. She hates the gang warfare that’s taken over the Bronx and she wants Brick to help her fix it. The leader of the gang causing Debi the most hassle is Braxton, played by a young Jackie Earle Haley, who clearly enjoys playing the role. Eventually Sprug ends up out of the picture and the real battle between Brick and the gang begins.

The major disappointing aspect of Dollman is the hero’s gun. In his planet it’s the most powerful weapon ever created – at the start of the movie we see him shooting two criminals with it and they explode in a shower of gore with just one shot each. This bodes well for the rest of the film but when he gets to Earth and his gun is reduced, so is its power. This means that while it does damage to the countless gang members he guns down in later scenes, it’s not powerful enough to do more than create a wound on them. It seems clear this was a budgetary decision, so scenes where enemies are shot would just have them falling over rather than pricey gore effect shots.

Woo, it's Jackie Earle Haley! No relation to James Earl Jones. Or Hayley Joel Osment. Or Jackie Chan, while we're at it

Dollman is dumb. Dollman is funny. Dollman is crude and doesn’t care, sometimes taking the piss out of itself with ridiculous dialogue (“What the fuck are we fuckin’ waitin’ for? I mean, fuck this shit! Fuck man, the fuckin’ set-up is fucked up! The little fucker knows what kind of fuckin’ shit is waiting here to fuck him up. So let’s get the fuck out of this fuckin’ deal and go looking for the tiny little mother fucker”).

Most importantly though, Dollman is fun to watch, and at only 75 minutes (which might as well be just under 70 minutes given that it has the longest bloody credits sequence ever created) it’s a quick laugh that lends itself to much hilarity when watched in a group. This is the sort of film where the trailer sums it up perfectly, so give it a watch below and you’ll see why this is so fun, if a little cheap and cheesy.

Dollman is relatively rare in the UK because the DVD’s out of print now. You might be able to grab a relatively cheap copy on Amazon, or failing that try eBay. If you can play US DVDs then I recommend you go for this Region 1 DVD box set because it’s pretty cheap via Amazon UK and features Dollman, Demonic Toys and, of course, Dollman Vs Demonic Toys.

If you enjoyed this review and would like to read more, here’s a complete list of reviews on That Was A Bit Mental complete with brief descriptions. There’s a whole bunch of crazy pish in there.

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