A ‘performance’ for the ages

Nick Baker

It was late Saturday night. I had a column ready to go about Tiger Woods and my refusal to watch his contrived apology and how society should not feel entitled to any information about this man’s personal life, blah blah blah.

Then I watched a film that changed my life and could very well change yours, and I jolted my old column and everything I thought I knew about motion pictures along with it.

As such, I dedicated my column (a dubious honor, no doubt) to the greatest 93 minutes ever committed to celluloid.

The film was called “Command Performance.” It was written, directed by, and starring Dolph Lundgren as Joe (yep, just “Joe,” which I think signifies the character’s disconnect from his past or something).

Joe is an ex-biker human drum machine who — as could be best ascertained by simply watching the movie — lost his brother to Colombian drug lords or gunrunners or anti-abortion nuts or the Parents’ Music Resource Center (they were Colombians with assault rifles, and not much else is known or explained, but, come on, do we care?).

As a result, Joe has an aversion to gun violence, or at least he does for about 15 minutes, until he uses a drumstick to impale a terrorist under the chin and forces it out through his eye socket, warning him to “watch the hair, dude,” and realizing that to do so a couple hundred more times would be much more time-consuming than opting for a good old Soviet-surplus assault rifle.

Oh, did I mention what scenario would allow a drummer the opportunity to impale a man’s head with his drumstick?

Well Joe’s band, CMF, which we come to find stands for “Cheap Motherfucker,” is an opening act for a concert held in honor of the Russian president, but the concert is overrun by communist holdouts who want to do away with the Russian Federation.

As the terrorists fire into the crowd indiscriminately, Joe sneaks himself a little doobie and plays air drums in the bathroom. A la “Die Hard,” his convenient trip to the pisser allows for him to be on the inside and under the bad guys’ radar.

By the way, the film was inspired by a Madonna performance in Vladimir Putin’s honor, and Lundgren, a drummer in real life, wanted the opportunity to show off his two most honed skills: killing and drumming, through cinema.

Though my brother called it “piss poor” and my roommate added that it was “worse than watching an abortion,” it is clear they do not appreciate groundbreaking cinema.

A roommate with a more refined theatrical pallet called it “pure gold” after a moment of stupefied contemplation and head shaking.

Yet another put up the metal devil horns sign, which was exchanged at least half a dozen times by characters laden with bullet holes in dramatic, pre-death rock ‘n’ roll solidarity gestures, as he said to me, “Rock and load.”

I don’t want to offer any spoilers, but we can safely say that Lundgren’s “rock and load” line at the end of the flick will likely be the “I’ll never let go, Jack,” of this decade.

Lundgren is no stranger to finely tuned dialogue.

Remember “Rocky IV”? If you do, then likely there is an indelible image in your mind of a Soviet steroid superhuman named Ivan Drago staring blankly after murdering national American hero Apollo Creed. That mechanized Russian bastard was played by Lundgren.

Best we can figure, he had less than a dozen words of dialogue in that movie, but offered jewels like, “If he dies, he dies,” and, “I must break you.”

This is surely a film that will transcend generations and cinematic trends, a film so badass that it can ride its own wave of celebrity for decades to come.

As our beloved hero Joe pointed out as he readied himself for the final showdown with the terrorists, “Dying is easy. Rock ‘n’ roll is hard.”

And that is something to which we can all relate.

Nick Baker is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].