The Minion (1998)

At the end of the last millennium, Dolph Lundgren acted in an action supernatural horror movie about the oncoming apocalypse. Surprisingly, this was done in 1998, the year before Arnold Schwarzenegger would release his own action supernatural horror movie End of Days. Of course, there are some similarities between the two, both involving fighting the forces of Satan to prevent the coming armageddon, which has a chance of happening every 1000 years. And there is violence, what with shooting and all. That’s pretty much where the similarities end.

For one thing, Schwarzenegger was put in the non-believer role as a cop in New York City who comes up against a Satanic cult. Instead, Lundgren goes for a full on Knights Templar, while the non-believer role is handled by the sidekick character, Karen Goodleaf, played by Canadian actress Françoise Robertson. Also, while both movies start in New York City (actually Montreal in Dolph’s case), The Minion ends up heading out to a Native American reservation/toxic waste dumping ground, because where else would the US choose to dump its toxic waste than on a people it’s already busy dumping on? Oh, and then we end up in the holy land for a really bad gun fight and some sword play and over acting. Because this movie needed more cheese than a wheel of parmigiano-reggiano.

The plot of this movie focuses on subway workers finding an ancient Knights Templar tomb while doing construction. Karen Goodleaf gets sent in to study artifacts and ends up finding the key to the antichrist’s prison, which the Knights Templar have been protecting for about 1500 years. Dolph shows up to protect the key, but a body-swapping demon arrives known as the Minion to get the key and free the antichrist through whatever means necessary…which mostly means really awkward gun fights.

As an aside here, the Minion transfers itself by looking into the eyes of the next victim. This is actually a weird theme for Dolph’s choice of horror movies, as his later entry, Don’t Kill It, also featured an unkillable monster which would transfer bodies to whoever killed the current flesh puppet it happened to be inhabiting. Why is this a thing in Dolph-fueled horror movies? I have no idea.

Anyway, back to the plot. To stop the Minion getting the key, Dolph and Karen decide to head upstate to Karen’s family reservation to drop the key in radioactive toxic waste. Only the Minion shows up and engages Dolph in a fist fight while they wear radiation suits over pools of nuclear sludge. The Minion gets the key and catches a flight to the holy land, with Dolph and Karen somehow managing to get their own flight shortly after despite the fact they are wanted for the deaths of multiple cops, including one scene that involved a police station in a terrible nod to The Terminator. Come on, you knew I’d find a way to bring up a Schwarzenegger film again.

End result? The Minion overacts his way through a gun fight with the Knights Templar (complete with a scene where stuntmen are thrown back by a non-existent explosion!) and takes over the body of another over-actor who then tries to free the antichrist. Dolph and Karen arrive, fend off the Minion, talk to a weird CG stone head of the antichrist, and pull the key from the door. Karen asks to become the first female Knight Templar. I wonder what I just spent the last 90 minutes of my life doing.

Oh, as another aside, this is still better than Steven Segal’s vampire film Against the Dark, which mostly consists of Segal walking around in a trenchcoat while other people deal with vampires. However, the idea of an entombed demonic figure coming back to take over had already been done in a 1990s action film, with Satan’s emissary being bested by a mullet-wearing Chuck Norris in the 1994 action thriller Hellbound. Surprisingly, this movie features about the same level of overacting, but Dolph’s priest has a metal glove, while Chuck’s cop has his mullet…I’ll let you decide who wins.

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