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Yet again our video stores are graced with yet another low-budget action flick. This one is about L.A Private Investigator Spears (Casper Van Dien) who is asked by old friend Rick (Russell Wong) to go to New York and help find his sister, Spear’s ex-lover who was kidnapped after a violent gang-land shoot-out. The two enlist the help of cab-driver and former army soldier Carmen (Francoise Robertson) for help as they uncover various plots and conspiracies within two of the cities most violent crime families. Things get occasionally violent.

Tracker, The
Well what can you expect when you have a film where one-hit (or maybe two) wonder Casper Van Dien is the star? Not much, as I have come to learn over the years with terrible work such as The Omega Code and recently Dracula 3000. The Tracker starts out pretty much the same letting us know straight out that the action scenes are going to be cheap, the acting is going to be awful and the script will make pretty much no sense. Right away, the usual prognosis is that this film is awful, however, The Tracker manages to get away with the good old “so bad it’s good” excuse.

When the film first ended, I had to visit my old friend imdb.com to see if this film actually had comedy listed under the genre to see if it was meant to be this funny. Alas, only action was listed. No bother, the film is still so silly and so badly acted that you don’t need to be told it’s funny. You figure it out yourself. It’s made clear instantly when you get a quiet maid who suddenly becomes a screaming, gun-toting maniac. Or better yet, when Van Dien walks into a wedding he’s not inviting to and starts making out with the bride before arresting her for fraud. It does not end there either.

The film is packed with some many stupid moments. A personal favourite is a scene when our “heroes” are trying to follow a suspect in a cab, then pull over, rip the medallion off the roof, bash in a headlight and have someone duck in the hope that the car in front will mistake them for another car. A scene with Van Dien getting into a fight with a cripple makes one think of some Tom Green work. And apparently you can get a fully trained martial arts expert with full automatic weapons training as a cab driver when you need one most in New York. It’s very silly.

Also contributing to this films terrific awfulness is the performances by pretty much every actor in it. Caper Van Dien smart-arse smiles his way through the whole film, Russell Wong, Francoise Robertson, Andromeda’s Lexa Doig and cripple Jason Blicker are all also so terrible that in the end the film pretty much feels like a violent episode of Days Of Our Lives. There must be many out-takes from this film because there is no way the “talent” could hold a straight face to deliver this dialogue.

Although this film is very funny it is also an action film, so of course there is a healthy dose. A very healthy dose in fact considering the budget and brand of film. The gun fights are pretty good but do lack logic as paraplegic Jason Blicker sits in one place during a warehouse shootout with lots of bad guys and gets lightly clipped once. The martial arts scenes are also fairly good with Russell Wong and Francoise Robertson showing some decent talent. Van Dien’s moves seem a little forced though. There are no spectacular car chases, but there is a scene when a car runs a red light causing many cars to crash. This being low-budget however, we do not see them crash, we see them brake, cut to another angle, then hear a crashing sound effect. Overall, some fairly entertaining brawls.

The fact that this film is so bad it’s funny probably kept it away from the Razzies. Each and every character delivers a corny and soapy performance, the script is flawed and the action scenes lack much logic. However, when this is so obvious that there is no effort made to cover it up, you get a very average, but still very funny action film that is worth a rent perhaps if you’ve seen everything else and you feel like pointing and laughing at something.

Tracker, The
Video
The film is gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer on this DVD. For the most part it is a decent transfer considering it’s a direct-to-video release. The colours and skin tones are all fine and don’t have any defects or distortion. There didn’t seem to be any problem with any sort of film artefact and I didn’t notice any edge enhancement. The only persistent problem is grain, which mainly manifests itself in the night skies and in other dark places. Aside from that, some really irritating issues come from some terrible shadow detail in the later warehouse scenes. The shadows are so poor that they come across as green. In the finale some people even look like they have green hair which is both a shadow and colour problem. It’s a pretty up and down transfer, but it’s still pretty good for a video-release.

Audio
Two English tracks are available. A default 5.1 surround track and a 2.0 Stereo track. Both tracks are fairly good and do everything they should be doing. Dialogue seemed clear most of the time and there only seems to be a minor lip-sync slip about mid way through. No clicks or dropouts either. The surround track gets decent usage mostly for the music, but still some nice directional effects with bullet ricochets and explosions (notice the glass being blown out in the opening shootout). The sub only really is used for music which at time does overpower the dialogue. Again, it’s acceptable for this type of release.

Extras
Just the trailer here, and it’s about as exciting as a Best of the Best sequel.

Tracker, The
Overall
The Tracker is very, very funny. Not intentionally of course, at least I don’t think so. It’s a movie to watch with film buff friends and just laugh away at the silliness of it all. Almost everything about it sucks, but again, it’s funny. The DVD is not too bad either, delivering a decent audio and video transfer for the release. The trailer is the only extra though and it’s pretty cheap looking. Only worth a rental, but only just. Laugh away.


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