On the basis of the low-rent but ridiculously enjoyable Detention, I wish Dolph Lundgren had been allowed to front each and every Die Hard rip-off. Although about a decade and a half too late to capitalize properly on the yippee-ki-yay, this film definitely is that, which its use of Bizet’s “Habanera” from Carmen makes perfectly clear.
One of the most dependable of those Expendables, Lundgren plays Sam Decker, a “soldier … teacher … hero!” (per the poster) who follows up a war stint in Bosnia with a teaching gig at the public, prison-like Hamilton High School. “I’m phys ed … and you’re history,” he tells a thug at the beginning of his last day of work. Decker will end it by supervising after-hours detention (hence the title), which he intends to spend with his nose buried in a rip-snortin’ Clive Cussler adventure novel.
But damn those well-armed bad guys who planned on using the school grounds that night as part of their getaway plan after stealing $300 million of cocaine! Led by the smarmy, swarthy Chester (Alex Karzis, whom I’ve never seen before or since) and his pink-wigged “pussy puss” girlfriend (Kata Dobó, Basic Instinct 2), the foes have no problem shooting at the students, but Decker certainly has a problem with it, quickly moving into action-hero mode for a cat-and-mouse game that plays out all over campus, including the gymnasium that’s already conveniently set up for full-on archery.
Karzis delivers his lines — including “To be or not to be … that’s the bitch!” and “Being a dick is a great job. I fuckin’ love it!” — with the too-big theatricality one would expect from … well, the high school stage. The star of this show, lest we forget, is Lundgren, and Iron Eagle series director Sidney J. Furie wisely just lets Lundgren be Lundgren, the quiet badass. Class dismissed. —Rod Lott