Very Pale Rider
A mysterious man named Ryder (Dolph Lundgren) arrives in town on his motorbike with a bible in hand for the funeral of an old friend and quickly makes enemies when he intervenes when he sees a Native American being beaten up in the streets. Discovering that his friend's death was no accident he sets about confronting local businessman John Reno (Matthew Tompkins) who plans to build a casino on an Indian reservation and will not let anyone get in his way.
One thing I never thought I would say is congratulations Dolph Lundgren but I am because "Missionary Man" is a surprisingly good movie. I suppose what I am saying is that having watched numerous movies which starred the muscular Swedish actor my expectations had been lowered but here he not only stars in the movie but directs and does a smart job of it to.
Now it doesn't take a genius to work out "Missionary Man" is nothing more than an update on the classic western tale of a stranger coming to town and dealing with the corrupt businessman who is capable of murder to get the land he wants. You could say it's an update on a Clint Eastwood movie when in truth this sort of story goes a lot further back than that. But with Ryder being a real man of mystery who carries a bible and knows the scripture the similarities to Eastwood's movies are all the more apparent.
But this is where Lundgren has been smart because he knows full well that anyone who knows their movies will spot the storyline and he doesn't try to disguise it. In fact he plays up to it with several nice touches from the horse being traded for a motorbike, Ryder walking in to a hotel with motorbike saddle bags over his shoulders to the welcoming women hotel owner who makes eyes at him like an old fashioned saloon Madame. The thing is that all of this could have ended up cheesy but Lundgren gives all of these touches a modern style, a washed out look with some powerful imagery be it light streaming in to a bar via a window or the wind rippling Ryder's trousers as he dismounts his bike. It is because Lundgren doesn't shy away from stylizing the movie and playing up to its heritage that it ends up a lot more entertaining than you expect.
There is of course the action side of the movie and whilst I wouldn't say the action lets down the "Missionary Man" it is the most ordinary aspect of it. But if you excuse the pun it still packs a punch and builds to a good climax like a western would.
What this all boils down to is that "Missionary Man" is a lot better than you might expect from a movie starring Dolph Lundgren. But it is Lundgren's smart direction which stands out as he not only plays to the movies obvious heritage but does so with a focused style.