Doomsdayer (2000)


Philippines/Italy/USA. 2000.


Director – Michael John Sarna, Screenplay – Robert Couttie, Story – Robert Couttie & Michael Sellers, Producer – Michael Sellers, Photography – David Makoczy, Music – Jessie Lasaten, Visual Effects Supervisors – Raul Bulaong & Dodge Ledesema, Visual Effects – Roadrunner Digital Film Center, Special Effects Supervisor – Rolando ‘Apeng’ Salem, Production Design – Wilfredo Pleras. Production Company – ABS-CBN Entertainment/Quantum Entertainment/Eagle Pictures/RoadRunner OFC


Joe Lara (Commander Jack Logan), Udo Kier (Maximilian Gast), January Isaac (Dyna Castaneda), Brigitte Nielsen (Elizabeth Gast), Alexa Jago (Mary Silverbell), Paige Rowland (Valentin Daly), TJ Storm (Pettigrew Montgomery), Daniel Masisa (Emilio ‘The Toymaker’ Castaneda), Paul Houme (Commander Tanner)


Commander Jack Logan is an agent with Protocol 23, an organisation set up to prevent the proliferation of rogue nuclear weapons. Logan is on the trail of business magnate Maximilian Gast when he discovers that Gast has built the Doomsdayer device, which can trigger an electromagnetic pulse that can detonate any nuclear reactor around the world. As Logan converges on Gast’s private island of San Moreno in the guise of an insurance investigator, Gast commences his plan to trigger the Doomsdayer and activate a worldwide nuclear holocaust in order to clean humanity from the planet and rebuild a better world.

Doomsdayer is a routine action film that was shot for video. It becomes clear soon into the film that it is a low-budget attempt to copy the James Bond series. This is something that the film is more than happy to signal on screen – when a list of the missing ships is shown on a computer screen they all have the names of Bond heroines – Rider, Vespa, Lynd, Kitty Galore, Tilly, Tatiana and Domino. Later during one of the action sequences, we see a shop named Blofeld & Klebb blown up. Similarly, hero Joe Lara is surrounded and assisted by an endless supply of available women. Udo Kier’s Maximilian Gast could easily have served as a Bond super-villain and has a world domination scheme that is vaguely similar to the one in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Doomsdayer is clearly a Bond wannabe on a low budget – one where the villain has a tropical hotel instead of an elaborate hideout. Certainly, it is possible that reconceived on an A budget and with a much better director that Doomsdayer had the elements that could have served as a potentially decent Bond film.

The action is poorly directed by former stuntman/stunt coordinator Michael John Sarna. Sarna seems to look for any excuse to throw in an explosion or a money shot like someone going through a window, even if the scene has no dramatically rooted place. The action has a frequent absurdity to it. Case in point being the opening sequence where everything seems absurdly posed – a vehicle racing along a road weaves an obstacle course between fire pots that have been strategically placed in the way for no reason other than that they create an effect of a vehicle driving between flames; vehicles for no particular reason do stunt jumps – a bike leaping through the air, a jeep driving out through a window and up a set of stairs; and with the sequence climaxing on a chicken race between vehicles. As with many similar low-budget efforts, the result is a film that seems to have been arranged around a series of boilerplate action scenes. One scene that does work well is the fight between Joe Lara and henchman TJ Storm at the end where Storm more than clearly demonstrates that he knows his martial arts, as well as the subsequent battle with the equally agile January Isaac.

By the end of Doomsdayer, the cliches and references to other films fly a little too heavily. Aside from the numerous Bond references, there is the scientist (Daniel Masisa) who nobly sacrifices himself by locking himself in the nuclear reactor a la Spock’s death in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982); the nuclear reactor explosion that could with scientific impossibility trigger a chain reaction of other reactors resulting in worldwide disaster; while the organisation Proposal 23 appears to have been modelled on the then recent success of the big-budget action film The Peacemaker (1997).

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