There is something genuinely interesting about a home release of a movie that one has never watched, much less heard about, that sucks you in by the name of the movie and the stars in the project. That is what drew me into James Glickenhaus’s (The Protector) McBain, a movie so perfectly made for its time period that feels like a throwback to those early over-the-top action movies of the ‘80s that gave some of the most recognizable names their starring projects. Well, that is not to say that McBain is in the same vein as let’s say Rambo (1986), but it’s in the same type of “let’s see how action-packed and adrenaline-fueled we can make a picture” vein. The clearest comparison to know what one is getting themselves into with this Christopher Walken-led (Joe Dirt) action thriller about overtaking a crooked Columbian government would be to compare it to the movie that Tropic Thunder (2008) is trying to make. If that doesn’t entice you to strap in for this early ‘90s, clearly inspired by the ‘80s action flicks, madness, then McBain will not be your adventure into chaos.
The movie starts off with McBain (played by a very in-character and unbelievable action star, Christopher Walken) being a prisoner of war in Vietnam being saved by Santos (Chick Vennera). Upon their initial meeting, Santos hands McBain half of a $100 bill, essentially telling him he owes him one. Fast forward to the present, Santos is trying to take down the Colombian government, and essentially fails, but has given his half of the hundred dollar bill to his sister, Cristina (Maria Conchita Alonso). She then finds McBain and informs him of the situation her brother was in and asks McBain for help to take down this Columbian dictator. While McBain and Cristina certainly cannot do this alone, he enlists the help of some old pals played by Jay Patterson (Ted 2), Thomas G. Waites (The Thing), Steve James (I’m Gonna Git You Sucka), and Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers). While the task is something none of them could’ve predicted all these years later, it is certainly a wild ride that pays its dividends in bloodshed by the time it’s over.
McBain doesn’t boast excellence, it boasts absurdity, and, quite frankly, it works for what the movie set out to do. While there are a plethora of action movies that are excellent, especially from the ‘80s and early ‘90s, how many of them feature Christopher Walken being Christopher Walken in the most ways possible? I assume only one. McBain is a very over the top, bafflingly fun excursion of entertainment. It is absurdly entertaining in that way only B-level action movies can be. While this movie has no relation to the McBain in the Matt Groening Simpsons-verse, thinking it’s connected, to an extent, will be reason enough to see how over the top Glickenhaus’s movie truly is. Unfortunately though, no one belts out “Mendoooooooooza” in agony.
When diving into the home release of McBain, something I have never watched before, I was shocked how clean and crisp this Blu-ray looked. It also appears this is possibly the first time this film has been released on disk in any format, so that is a huge win for physical media. Though everyone wants to argue that if we’re making new transfers, it should always be onto 4K, and while I agree if a 4K exists, yes, but this did not already have a 4K, and if you can get a Blu-ray looking this spectacular, what difference does it ultimately make? The transfer is simply sublime and that really is what should be focused on. So, if you’re a fan of the movie or just enjoy a good time and want to see Christopher Walken as a gun-for-hire, essentially, in a wildly entertaining movie, McBain is the movie for you.
The features are singular with only an audio commentary with director James Glickenhaus and film historian Chris Poggioli, which is an interesting piece that focuses on a lot of behind-the-scenes aspects and is certainly worth listening to. The other details are a 5.1 surround mix that was created specific to this release, new translated English subtitles, and the original theatrical trailer.
Overall, McBain is a slightly bare-bones release, but as it’s possibly the first time this movie has been released on Blu-ray and it looking as spectacular as it does is certainly enough to convince fans of the movie to strap themselves into this adrenaline-fueled ride.
McBain Special Features:
- New 5.1 surround soundtrack created specifically for this release (original theatrical stereo mix also included)
- Audio commentary with director James Glickenhaus and film historian Chris Poggioli
- Original theatrical trailer
- Newly translated removable English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Available on Blu-ray from Synapse Films July 11th, 2023.
For more information, head to the official MVD Entertainment Group McBain webpage.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.