Dolph Lundgren plays a crime fighter with a strange phobia in this hilarious John Woo movie. (The image is unrelated but amazing)
It’s probably sensible to clear one thing up first: Blackjack is not strictly speaking a foreign film, in as much as it was made in the US and the dialogue is delivered in English. But if you use the alternative meaning of foreign, as in something that feels alien, then this definitely fits the bill.
Starring second tier Swedish action hero Dolph Lundgren as a bodyguard called Jack Devlin, Blackjack was actually created as a TV movie. While this is not that unusual, the fact that director John Woo originally intended to use this project as a launch pad for a multi-part series based around the character does ring some alarm bells. Particularly when you learn that Devlin’s main character trait, and a lynchpin of the plot, is his fear of the colour white.
Devlin develops what a quick Google search reveals to be called leukophobia early in the film and from then on it’s a massive hindrance. He can’t look at innocent breakfast milk. He can’t look at sheets. In short, he’d be a nightmare at a B&B.
Of course the villain of the piece uses his fear against him, at least until he learns to overcome it. When it comes to gimmicks, it’s not quite the same as having a talking car or pair after pair of sopping wet breasts, both of which served David Hasselhoff well in his search for TV commissions.
What makes Blackjack low-rent fun is the cheap looking set pieces and the dire dialogue delivered with about as much respect as it deserves. It makes the film feel like it is a 1980s Japanese TV series which has been dubbed into English. But it was made in 1998 and features plenty of native English speakers, which should give you a good idea of its quality.
Given that Woo released it a year after Face/Off, it feels like a project conceived and agreed upon by a team deep in the elated ravages of hubristic self-confidence. That ended up being half baked, not Hard Boiled, is the very reason that Blackjack is brilliant.