Midnight Ride (1990)
Midnight Ride (1990)
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Michael Dudikoff stars as a cop whose estranged wife is kidnapped by madman Mark Hamill and taken on the wildest ride of her life. So-so chase film is hampered by Dudikoff's lifeless performance but buoyed by Hamill's over-the-top insanity, a cameo by Robert Mitchum, and some exciting action sequences.
A dark, murder-filled road trip movie in the spirit of 'The Hitcher' and 'Halloween," 'Midnight Ride' manages to be-paradoxically- one of Michael Dudikoff's darkest films, but also an unintentional comedy thanks largely to the "hammy" Mark "Ham"ill (Star Wars).
The plot of the movie is as follows: Michael Dudikoff plays a guy named Lawson Markman (cool name, huh?), who gets in an argument with his Russian mail order wife (or whatever she was supposed to be), and she runs out on him, and he swears up and down that he'll "have every cop in this city lookin' for you!" in a very creepy way, and spends most of the film chasing after her. While driving, Russian bride Lara picks up the unstable drifter, Justin (Mark Hamil), who is on his way to see his "best friend." Justin likes to take pictures of things with his polaroid camera. He also likes cutting out people's eyeballs and making it into a beautiful necklace for Lara; he also finds time to set a few people on firel. Along the way, people are strapped to car hoods, eyeballs are cut out, and shoot outs supposed to look "dark" and "scary" are dulled because of completely inappropriate 80s action synthesizer music.
Man, this one was hard. Once again, it's got a lot going for it because of the Dudikoff factor. On the other hand, it's a very different role for him (most of the movie). To be honest, his character is kind of a dick most of the time. I spent much of the first half of the movie wondering who the villain was, Hamil or Dudikoff. I don't know if the script wanted him to come off as passionate and Stanley from 'Streetcar,' but he more just came off as creepy and obsessed like one of those guys who tracks down his wife and kills them or something. That's just my take. Of course, by the end of the movie, he's just plain old likable Mikey, and he saves the day as always. He takes a lot of punishment from Hamil in this- in one scene, he's strapped to the hood of a car while Hamil drives maniacally. He's stabbed, thrown into shit, and just getting his ass kicked (in addition to having a broken foot), and that was kind of hard to swallow, because it's Dudikoff. But anyways.
In all honesty, Mark Hamil steals the show from everyone. He's deliciously hammy as the crazy Justin, and seems to kill somebody every 10 minutes or so. I guess he was going for a crazy guy who strikes terror into people's hearts, but I just found it more hilarious than anything else. He dresses up like every other scene and is always snapping photos. His facial expressions are almost as hilarious as Dudikoff's at some points, and that's just as important here as the physical: this was a showdown of the faces. I loved the bad, cheesy "evil" faces Hamil made almost as much as Dudikoff's vacant, worried expressions.
'Midnight Ride' is only on VHS, so it might be tough for you to find. Hardcore Dudikoff fans will find it well worth their while. It's a different film for our boy, Duds, but, thankfully, he ditches the creepy "obsessed husband" deal and is just the same big, lovable, "Dudarosa style house" designing, goofball we all know and root for by the end.
If you've ever been interested in what kind of performace Mark Hamill would have turned in as a live-action Joker (for those who don't know, he voiced the Joker in the animated Batman series from the 90s), this is your chance. And while it may not be very subtle or nuanced it is quite a lot of fun to watch him go crazy.
You do have to feel sorry for the female lead, who tries to get out of what certainly seems like an (at least mentally) abusvie relationship with Dudikoff and then meets Hamill's character.
Also not really a fan of the ending, but again the real reason to watch this is Hamill.
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