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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Sweepers

July 12, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Sweepers Dolph Lundgren

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #514: Sweepers

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never had to jump from an exploding train in slow motion, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and fourteen, I take a look at the low budget Dolph Lundgren action vehicle Sweepers, which hit video store shelves in late March 1998.



Sweepers, directed by Keoni Waxman, under the name Darby Black for some reason (he also apparently rewrote the script under the Darby Black name after Kevin Bernhardt came up with the story and wrote the original script), is part badass action flick and part “real world issue” movie, sort of like Lundgren’s Skin Trade, which came out in 2015 (check out my review of that flick here). The real world issue in Sweepers is the presence of landmines in war zones all over the world, especially in the African nation of Angola, which is where the movie takes place. According to imdb, Sweepers was actually made in South Africa, so at least the movie was made on the same continent.

In Sweepers, Lundgren plays Christian Erickson, a badass ex-American Special Forces operator turned expert mine sweeper, working for the anti-mine outfit known as the Humanitarian Order of Chivalry. While working at a mine filled site in 1993 Angola, the site is attacked by rebels and all hell breaks loose, with U.N. troops and Angolan army soldiers taking on the rebels. Erickson gets in on the action, too, taking out several rebel troops singlehandedly. In the midst of the chaos, Erickson’s young son Johnny (Rowan Southern), who wanted to hang out with his father and decided to stow away on the trip to the mine site, panics and tries to run to his father for safety. Unfortunately for Johnny, he steps on a mine and dies. Erickson sees this happen and immediately falls apart. Johnny shouldn’t have been there, Johnny shouldn’t have died, the world sucks.

Flash forward five years to 1998, and Erickson is still operating in Angola, although now he’s a depressed drunk who fights people in bars for spending money. Yes, Erickson, on occasion, still clears areas of landmines, but trying to save people isn’t necessarily his first priority anymore. He’s got way too much going on in his head. While that’s happening, Michelle Flynn (Claire Stansfield, doing a sort of concerned and worldly Kate Beckinsale/Angelina Jolie thing years before it actually became a thing), a former weapons designer turned concerned citizen of the world, shows up to lead a sort of fact finding commission on the prevalence of a new super mine that may have been deployed to the area. Called the A6, or “butterfly” mine, this new mine is way more technologically advanced than anything else in the mine world. It shouldn’t have been deployed, though, as it’s way too deadly and dangerous. And Flynn should know, since she helped design the weapon when she worked for Consolidated Mines (I think that’s the name of the mine making company). So Flynn goes to Angola to track down Erickson, track down the guy who created the A6 mine in the first place, Michael Lewis (Jurgen Hellberg), and figure out how the hell the A6 mines got “deployed.”

As soon as Flynn arrives in Angola and starts poking around, she is followed and, eventually, attacked, by mysterious armed men led by a guy named Yager (Ian Roberts). And when she finds and hooks up with Erickson, the attacks grow in frequency and insanity (at one point the bad guys send two helicopters after Erickson and Flynn). What the heck is going on here? Who, exactly, wants Flynn and Erickson dead?

It doesn’t take long for Erickson and Flynn to find out that the A6 mines are connected to a local diamond mine scheme that isn’t exactly on the up and up. On top of that, there’s a real chance that a presumed humanitarian medical operation is, in fact, a front for selling those A6 mines to the worst of the worst around the world. What the fuck, man? Who the hell would do that?

Sweepers has an awkward opening segment. It’s filled with all sorts of action, including gun battles and explosions, but for some odd reason it seems as though a good chunk of it is moving at half speed. Some of the action is smooth and fluid, while other sequences come off as a filmed rehearsal. Once the story shifts to 1998, that awkwardness disappears and the movie is consistent to the end. Now, that isn’t to say that the opening isn’t exciting or cool, because it is. That slowness that pops in, though, every so often, is noticeable. The explosions are top notch, something you would expect with a movie that features landmines. All of the explosions are real, they look real, and that’s always a good thing.

When it comes to the “mine detection and removal” scenes featuring Lundgren’s Erickson and his trusty knife, I have no idea how realistic they are. Is that how professional mine detectors actually deal with mines out in the field? Do they really take out a knife and start poking around the edge of the mine? The sequences where Erickson admonishes people to only walk where he walks seem plausible, but the “knife around the mine’s perimeter” stuff comes off as something you’d only see in a movie. I could be wrong, though. Maybe that is how professional mine detectors do it out in the field, or at least that’s how they did it back in the day.

There’s quite a bit of gunplay in the movie, from both the heroes and the villains. For some reason, going into the movie I didn’t think Lundgren’s character would actually engage in much gunplay. I figured Erickson would be one of those “only uses a gun when he absolutely has to” kinds of guys, because he was more interested in dismantling a mine than shooting a bad guy in the face. Erickson isn’t one of those guys. Erickson has a gun on him at all times, and, goddamit, he knows how to use it. Erickson also wields a shotgun in a portion of the movie, a running motif in Dolph Lundgren movies. It isn’t the small, sawed off one he’s used in movies like Army of One/Joshua Tree or Missionary Man, though. Maybe the production couldn’t procure one for the movie?

The “social issue” aspect of the plot, the whole landmine thing, is handled reasonably well. The movie is interested in promoting an agenda (“land mines are terrible”), but it knows that it’s an action movie at heart and wants to succeed on that level before getting the audience to buy in on its anti-landmine message. I think it works. I have no idea if the A6 mine is based on a real world weapon, but its presence makes you believe that land mines need to be stopped/banned before something like the A6 actually happens. Because, really, if the A6 ever becomes a real deal mine, the world is fucked.

Lundgren is in top form here as Christian Erickson, the badass ex-Special Forces operator turned depressed mine sweeper. He makes you feel Erickson’s pain and shame. He couldn’t save his son, and now he doesn’t know if he can continue on saving everyone else in Angola from the scourge of landmines. He looks fully engaged in the action scenes he’s asked to do, even when they may come off as ridiculous (there’s a scene where Erickson slides down some stairs while shooting two handguns at the same time, which is awesome to see, but it’s something that would only ever happen in an action movie. You ever try sliding down a flight of stairs? Yeah. Exactly). Lundgren’s most “what the hell?” scene involves Erickson jumping onto a moving train while riding a dirt bike. It’s insane. What isn’t insane is the hat Erickson wears throughout the movie. It’s cool as hell. It’s like Indiana Jones’s fedora. It’s too bad that Lundgren hasn’t worn that hat in other movies, either Sweepers sequels or just other movies. The hat is cool enough to be like his shotgun.

Now, there’s a trivia note on the movie’s imdb page that claims Lundgren doesn’t care for the movie and that he was “disappointed” with director Keoni Waxman’s work. I have no idea if that’s true or not (I looked a little bit around the internets and didn’t find a second source for that claim). If Lundgren is disappointed with the movie, why is he disappointed with it? I don’t get it. Anyone out there have any info or insight on this claim?

Claire Stansfield does a fine job as Michelle Flynn, the ex-mine maker turned concerned world citizen. She has terrific chemistry with Lundgren, and she’s able to keep up with Lundgren in the action scenes she shares with him, and she’s credible in the action scenes where she’s on her own. She has no idea how to hold a gun, but that doesn’t stop her from having one on her person and going it alone in a dangerous part of the world. That’s cool. She doesn’t seem to work anymore, in movies or in television, and that’s a shame. What the heck has she been up to since her last acting credit, two episodes of Frasier?

Ian Roberts is quite the sleazebag as Yager, the lead henchman for the bad guy. And you know he’s a henchman because of his sort of South African accent, beard, and hat (white bad guys in movies that take place in Africa always wear that same sort of get up). I think you’ll enjoy the way he goes down.

Bruce Payne, as Dr. Cecil Hoper, is incredibly weird. Instead of doing a British accent or some version of a British accent, Payne does a pseudo American accent and it sounds like he has a big wad of gum in his mouth every time he speaks. Payne powers through it because he’s a good actor, but, in the big scheme of things, his performance is a downer because of the accent. If he had a British accent, I bet his last scenes would have played better.

The soundtrack by Serge Colbert is fairly memorable, as is the music of Angolan musician Waldemar Bastos that’s used throughout the movie. The song “Sofrimento” that plays over the end credits is haunting and beautiful. How the hell did the production get Bastos involved in this movie?

Sweepers is a terrific action movie. Filled with multiple explosions and copious amounts of gunplay, it’s one of the star Lundgren’s best of the 1990’s. It has an odd opening, sure, but even when the movie is awkward it’s still quite good. If you’re a Dolph Lundgren fan and you haven’t seen Sweepers, do yourself a favor and track it down and check it out. I think you’ll like it.

See Sweepers. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: It has to be over 50, maybe even more than that.

Explosions: Lots. Big and small. Jesus Christ, this movie has a lot of explosions in it.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: An opening crawl talking about how dangerous landmines are, a dog named Argo, mine sweeping, a sudden rebel attack, exploding camp, Mortar attack, machine gun city, some really poor “getting shot and dying” acting, multiple big explosions, tank hooey,. Exploding child, a hostage situation, SWAT team attack, a shootout inside of a house, landmines in a house, a bar fight, gorilla press slam wooden chair to the back, blood spitting, hat throwing, alcoholism, raw meat cleaving, helicopter hooey, mine detonation, exploding helicopter, a drunk foot race through a chunk of land that has landmines in it, a diamond, cigarette snatching, shooting at a mine, bug eating, soccer ball kicking, dog harassment, exploding leg, walking in a field of mines, multiple instances of dirt digging, mine deactivation, grenade launcher attack, flare gun hooey, another exploding chopper, total jeep abandonment, a burning village, pipe smoking, stabbing, door kicking, a safe inside a closet, a shotgun fight, face spitting, cigar smoking, face slapping, multiple instances of people repelling down a rope, knife throwing, guy crushed by a heavy box, a very small flashlight, shovel to the back, wound fixing, a mine shootout, an underground chain reaction explosion, serious dirt bike action, multiple exploding crates, A6 mine to the gut, exploding bad guy, a kiss, and an end crawl that advocates for the United States to abandon the use of landmines.

Kim Richards?: Big time.

Gratuitous: Dolph Lundgren, Dolph Lundgren working for something called The Humanitarian Order of Chivalry, Dolph Lundgren driving, a close up of Dolph Lundgren’s eyes, a tool used to shoot into a landmine field to blow up landmines, Dolph Lundgren running is slow motion with massive explosions going on behind him, Dolph Lundgren operating a machine gun on top of a tank, FBI and ATF SWAT teams, Angola, Dolph Lundgren fighting a guy in a bar, Dolph Lundgren grooving in public to a local Angolan musician, bug eating, Bruce Payne, Dolph Lundgren digging in the dirt around a landmine’s perimeter, a weak driving through a metal gate scene, Dolph Lundgren sliding down a flight of stairs on his side while shooting two handguns, an underground mine operation, Dolph Lundgren on a dirt bike, Unicef crates filled with mines, and an end crawl that advocates for the United States to abandon the use of landmines.

Best lines: “So who brought the tin can?,” “See, I told you she still loved you,” “Watch your step, doc. Which one?,” “Johnny! Stay there!,” “We are here. The gemstone,” “I am getting so fucked up tonight!,” “We are looking for the American lady!,” “You are the white woman that wants Christian?,” “God, what are those things everyone is eating?,” “I don’t get it, have you always been an asshole or did you take lessons? I took lessons,” “I swept that field yesterday!,” “Hey, Doc, when did you collect all this junk?,” “You working for Uncle Sam now, big guy?,” “Step only where I step, unless, of course, I step on a popper,” “Give me a count! What? I said give me a count!,” “Hey, cowboy! I want my diamond back!,” “Do these places have back doors?,” “He’s on his way to kick your fucking ass!,” “He’s just doing his job,” “Still not convinced? I’ll give you some time to think about it,” “Wait here my ass,” “You stupid fucking bloodhound!,” and “Angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly.”

Rating: 8.5/10.0





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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.


Dolph Lundgren– Christian Erickson
Claire Stansfield– Michelle Flynn
Bruce Payne– Dr. Cecil Hopper
Ian Roberts– Yager
Fats Bookholane– Old Mo
Sifiso Maphanga– Arthur
Ross Preller– Jack Trask
Jurgen Hellberg– Michael Lewis
Rowan Southern– Johnny Erickson
Greg Melvill Smith– Senator Sheppard

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Keoni Waxman (as Darby Black)
Screenplay by Keoni Waxman (as Darby Black), based on an original screenplay and story by Kevin Bernhardt

Distributed by Vidmark Entertainment, Trimark Home Video, Image Entertainment, and Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Rated R for violence and language
Runtime– 96 minutes

Buy it here

article topics :

Sweepers, Bryan Kristopowitz