For an ultra low budget director, Albert Pyun proves game enough to up the stakes. While his style over substance robbed Cyborg and Dollman of any B-movie charm, Mean Guns takes the Battle Royale scenario and plants it inside a prison.
Vincent Moon (Ice-T) invites friends and associates to his new penitentiary before opening day. What's the catch? The Syndicate has become aware of every betrayal. He explains how bumping them off would be too easy, so he gives them a chance at life... only it's every man and woman for themselves. Guns and ammunition are supplied, while the whole place remains on lockdown. No in or out. The three lucky enough to survive walk away with a share of $10 million. On your marks, get set... shoot!
Pyun manages the greasy mechanism holding his film together with all the spright of a bike messenger. Evidently, he hasn't quite mastered the transition between cause and effect. The frequency of mismatched eyelines, questionable frames, disjointed quick cuts and assorted failures means that he's far from inheriting the slow motion elegance of Sam Peckinpah and John Woo. These men could shoot then maximise coverage in the editing room. Meanwhile, Pyun and editor Ken Morrisey slap takes together and hope we won't notice any jarring effect. Remember, the eye is quicker.
The action has a real time, stream of consciousness, inelegant, jump before you look stodginess to it. But it's fun. During his introduction, Christopher Lambert smiles, rather amused that he knows the plot before anyone else.
I wouldn't say Pyun was incompetent to the same degree that Edward D. Wood Jr embraced self-delusional perfection. However, Mean Guns falls apart because it takes way too long. Hoping for an epic, Pyun should have aimed for that sweet 75 minute happy spot. As seconds drag into minutes, whole sequences of expository fluff and posturing could be ditched. While guns are being fired and close quarters combat ensues, it's a diversion. Yet I wouldn't pay a shilling for the dialogue.
(Released by Trimark Pictures and rated "R" by MPAA.)