Stone Cold

Dir: Craig R. Baxley, 1991. Starring: Brian Bosworth, Lance Henrikson, William Forsythe. Action.
Stone Cold
Like Romeo & Juliet before it, the basic premise of Stone Cold has been recycled dozens of times since its release (Point Break, Good Cops Don’t Cry, The Fast and the Furious). Does this sound familiar? A maverick cop goes undercover into a dangerous criminal underworld and, under the spell of the bad guy’s charismatic leader, maybe gets in a little too deep. Skipping the Actors Studio or some other pansy thespian training, Brian “The Boz” Bosworth learned his acting ropes on the NFL field. At one time he was a big football star; with his way-out mullet dos and crazy sunglasses he was a sorta steroid version of David Lee Roth.

Joe Huff (Bosworth) is a loner cop who plays by his own rules. He’s stone cold, not just because he wears stonewash jeans, but also because underneath his long black dusters he’s fearless, with almost a death wish. After being blackmailed by a prick Fed (Sam McMurray), Huff is forced to infiltrate a tough, beer- drinking biker gang who've killed a judge and been involved in all kinds of naughty activity. No longer Huff, The Boz opts for the kickass undercover name Stone. To get to the big dog, Chains Cooper (Lance Henrikson), Huff has to get past his second-in-command, the psychotic Ice (William Forsythe). And as the formula goes, Chains, though a scary dude, starts to trust Huff, and even encourages his old lady, Nancy (Arabella Holzbog), to have a go at him, but his Lieutenant Ice smells a rat. 

There’s no lack of vision in this action flick, and no lack of body count. The Boz struts around without a shirt while Chains and the boys kill at random. This all leads to one of the craziest final action scenes of all time. The bikers have to get past the military to get one of their own out during his sentencing in a huge Mississippi courthouse. Less To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s closer to the motorcycle attack on the mall in Dawn of the Dead. They use a helicopter, bombs, machine guns, and Henrikson goes in undercover as the scariest looking priest of all time. Complete mayhem breaks out and in an Al-Qaeda-sized attack, hundreds of people are killed including bikers, cops, and innocent bystanders and somehow The Boz ends up again shirtless.

The Boz attacks his role with enthusiasm. After taking out some creeps in a grocery store his boss barks at him, “Huff, what do you have to say for yourself?” The Boz is obviously so excited to say his cool response, “you have a cleanup in aisle three,” that he just barely gets the line out. His acting is pure bleach-blonde stoicism, somewhere between Schwarzenegger's robot style and Steven Seagal’s “I’m trying to remember my lines” technique. He’s almost anti-acting which in itself can be considered a new post-modern style. Unfortunately his follow-up flick, One Tough Bastard, went straight to video, more or less putting an end to his reign.

Director Craig R. Baxley, once a director for TV’s The A-Team, had also previously directed Carl Weathers to glory in Action Jackson. However, the intensity of Stone Cold sent him back to the small screen where he’s directed dozens of TV movies since that you’ve never heard of. 

It should be noted that The Boz, being a novice, is not forced to carry all of the acting in Stone Cold on his gigantic shoulders alone (though Holzbog, as the potential love interest, is of no help). Two B-movie all-stars Henrikson (Aliens, Near Dark) and Forsythe (Raising Arizona, American Me) carry their load—matter of fact, the two seem to be having an acting ham-off against each other to see who can out gnarl, sneer, ogle, and wince the hardest. The two old pros are a joy to watch, so it’s no wonder that since Stone Cold, twenty-something years ago, the two actors have about 300 combined acting credits between them. 

Stone Cold represents the end of an era, the ‘80s. A non-actor like Schwarzenegger could become the biggest star in the world, Stallone gave up on acting to become a kill machine, and any dude with muscle had a shot at stardom as long as someone was willing slam together a script and bank a showcase movie. For every Jean-Claude Van Damme there are a couple Michael Dudikoffs, Don "The Dragon" Wilsons, Dennis Rodmans, and a bunch more I’ve never heard of. But there was only one Brian Bosworth and there’s only one Stone Cold—for my money, it may have more laughable dialogue and ridiculous stunts than any of its action competition from the era, which combine to make it pretty damn entertaining.


Posted by:
Sean Sweeney
Oct 4, 2011 10:46am
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