Everybody still loves Cuba Gooding Jr., right? The man hasn’t been in a theatrical film in some time, yet he still keeps on pumping out direct-to-DVD stuff like One in the Chamber. He co-stars in William Kaufman’s film alongside Dolph Lundgren, who has been making a respectable comeback in Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables films.
One in the Chamber is a walk in the park for both men, but a sluggish one for the viewers as it contains every plot beat from a dozen other recycled assassin movies that deal with double-crossing and finding innocence in such nasty line of work. It’s a passable film though and that is all you can ask for whenever stars like these align.
Ray Carver (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is a killer. He works for whoever pays him the most and the only regret he ever had was killing a man in front of his daughter. Aside from innocent women and children, Ray doesn’t care who he kills for whatever reason. It’s just a job to him and it’s a job that is slowly losing its appeal, due to his loneliness and constant reminder of the past. He often recites Bible verses in his head, because that somehow makes him calm and focused.
He’s given a job that he sort of completes, but he ends up pissing off the wrong people, so those people hire Aleksey Andreev (Dolph Lundgren). He’s mostly known as The Wolf, but most consider him a legend and not a real man. He’s real though and he comes to town and leaves a giant puddle of blood behind him where ever he goes. The two men work for opposite ends of the field and eventually they meet up for a good old fashioned brawl of strength and speed.
One in the Chamber is one part assassin vs. assassin movie and another part a tale of redemption and acceptance in a line of business that doesn’t offer either of those luxuries. William Kaufman’s film focuses mostly on Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character and his interactions with both sides of the mob and a pretty girl that he’s been slowly following from the past, ensuring her safety. The film comes loaded with your typical gunfire action sequences that end in chases through an abandon alleyway. There’s nothing too exciting going on, but there’s enough to keep the bottom-of-the-barrel action fans somewhat attached to Gooding Jr.’s character, if only because he’s sort of become a master at these particular films.
I’ve witnessed some truly awful straight-to-DVD films and I must say One in the Chamber is not nearly as bad as it looks. It has a modest budget, with decent action and watchable acting. Cuba Gooding Jr. sort of knows a thing or two about these types of flicks, so he mostly carries the dead weight, even though his specific charms and traits aren’t all that impressive. I’m not sure why he settles for movies like this, because he clearly shows a talent for being in stuff much bigger than One in the Chamber.
Dolph Lundgren gets the top bill, but he mostly plays a secondary character that sort of appears whenever it’s convenient for the plot. He goes toe-to-toe with Cuba very briefly, but is mostly seen on screen alone, picking off the bad guys by himself. The two represent the same lifestyle lived out by two very different men and you can certainly appreciate the different effects killing people for a living has on men. I very much enjoyed watching them interact, but only wished for more screen time with them both.
One in the Chamber is a Redbox rental that will do the job, but not much of anything else. The people that are even remotely interested in a film like this will probably like it, but it shouldn’t be kept high on your must-watch list.
The 1080p video transfer yields remarkable clarity and consistent colors that glow and shine in the most exotic locations. You’ll notice right off the bat just how clear the facial texture and detail is. I was honestly surprised by the quality of this transfer, because most DTV movies don’t strive for picture-perfect quality.
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD mix is a front-loaded example of how to make a generic audio mix that focuses too much on explosions and bullets than dialogue and even-leveled environmental noises. You shouldn’t have a problem enjoying this track when the stars are blasting holes in each other, but the second things slow down for dialogue you’ll start reaching for the remote to turn up the volume. Dialogue sometimes becomes hard to hear, while mostly everything else gets muted out in exchange for loud blasts and gunfire.
The package only comes with the following bonus materials:
- One in the Chamber: Behind the Scenes (HD): A brief behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.
- DVD Copy
One in the Chamber is a good example of how to make a good straight-to-DVD film. It’s not something that could get by on a theatrical wide release, but it gets the job done for those willing to watch it at home. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Dolph Lundgren make the film feel a little better than it probably is and the Blu-Ray disc has a video transfer that will make the watchable action all the more watchable because of the strong 1080p video encode.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.