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Sunstorm (March 8/04)

Sunstorm takes a surefire premise - four sisters that have never met before team up to avenge their father's death - and squanders it by throwing in a variety of elements that detract from the inherent campiness in the story. The needlessly complicated story includes references to mercenaries, rogue CIA agents, money laundering, drug dealers, and even Richard Nixon (!) - a potpourri of clichés that seem as though they'd be more at home in a Stephen J. Cannell pilot.

The film concerns a wealthy General named John Parker (Stacy Keach) who's assassinated for monetary reasons (there's more to it than that, but there's really not enough space here to get into it). His aforementioned daughters are reunited and immediately come under attack from the same man that had their father killed. Along with Parker's guilt-ridden bodyguard, the girls begin an investigation to determine who was behind the murder of their departed dad.

With a setup like that, Sunstorm should've been a decent cult flick (Bo Derek pops up in a cameo role, for crying out loud!) instead of the mess it eventually becomes. The film occasionally seems to be operating as a parody of '80s action movies and TV shows, as it often resembles the over-the-top style of such fodder. But director Mike Marvin, along with co-screenwriters Stuart Sheslow and Alise De Hare, turns what should have been a fun romp into a tedious exercise in patience. There's no point in trying to follow the plot, which is convoluted to the point of absurdity and destroys any positive aspects in the film.

The climactic showdown between the sisters and the various bad guys is easily the highlight of the movie, though it's awfully short (gotta squeeze in more references to counterfeiting and gambling, don't you know). More proof of the film's trashy potential can be found here, as every punch and kick is accompanied by appropriately cheesy sound effects. Consider Sunstorm a missed opportunity, though it's probably fair to say that you could certainly do worse in terms of straight-to-video action.

out of

About the DVD: Sunstorm arrives on DVD courtesy of First Look Home Entertainment with a full-screen transfer (the feature looks like it was shot on video, so that's likely the correct aspect ratio). Extras are limited to trailers for the feature and Don't Tempt Me.
© David Nusair