'Mean Guns' (1997) Blu-Ray Review - Albert Pyun Film

Back in November of 2023, genre fans lost Albert Pyun, one of the most unique and misunderstood filmmakers of his generation. Despite being diagnosed with dementia and multiple sclerosis, he continued to make his art until his illness rendered him incapable of doing so. Not always appreciated by critics in life, Pyun’s fans were rabid and loyal (me included), so it’s a real delight to see that the MVD Rewind Collection has released one of his more noteworthy titles, Mean Guns (1997), on special edition Blu-ray. With a cast full of beloved genre favorites such as Christopher Lambert, Thom Matthews, Yuji Okumoto, Deborah Van Valkenburg, and Ice-T, it can finally be discovered by a brand-new audience and continue to grow in cult status.

The night before a new prison is about to open its doors, criminal mastermind Moon (Ice-T) calls in all the world’s most dangerous criminals to take part in a game he’s conceived. The rules are simple, kill or be killed, the three survivors will win themselves $10,000,000 each. It’s an amazing payday, and soon, weapons are given out to all the players, and it’s game on. Moon watches the bloodshed from his surveillance room as the carnage begins.

Lou (Christopher Lambert) is one of the players and he’s not going out so quickly. He fights his way through the blood as he witnesses alliances deteriorating, bodies piling up, and friends betraying one another. Does he have what it takes to be one of the survivors?

Mean Guns offers up a rather simple premise, but it also delivers on the promise of action. It’s an over-the-top bullet-fest, elevated by strong performances and wonderfully staged action sequences. I’ve seen Ice-T on Law and Order: SVU for so long that I’ve forgotten how much fun he can be to watch with lighter material like this. Christopher Lambert is an action icon, and it is always a pleasure seeing him on screen.

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Pyun has always been a confident filmmaker. Even when experimenting, he knows how to keep it entertaining for the viewer. The new 1080p transfer preserves the natural grain while cleaning up most of the blemishes noticeable in previous versions. It’s a darker-looking film, so the colors are rather drab and muted, but that’s most certainly the intent of the director.

The disc includes an older audio commentary and introduction by the director, new interviews with producer Gary Schmoeller, executive producer Paul Rosenblum, and composer Tony Riparetti, the original theatrical trailer, reversible artwork, and a mini-poster.

This is a wonderful presentation for an under-appreciated action classic. I’m thankful to see Albert Pyun being shown the love and respect he and his resume deserve.

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