One Man. One Gun. One Chance…
Starring: James Jude Courtney, Joe Hulser, James Geralden, Mark Thorne, Derek Stewart, George Le Porte
Director: Darren Doane
1993 | 35 Minutes
“Convince me, Ronnie, because your script is boring and that means death at the box office.” – Firearm
Alec Swan aka Firearm (James Jude Courtney) is an ex-British Secret Service agent turned P.I. and he’s involved in a dangerous cat and mouse game with a demon-possessed Ultra assassin known as Duet (Joe Hulser).
If you’ve been reading my site for any amount of time, you probably already know that I’m a bit of comic book nerd. The height of my comic book fandom was from about 1992 to 1998. For a couple years in the early ‘90s Malibu Comics produced a line of comics within what they called the Ultraverse. It was a shared universe much like what we see from Marvel and DC Comics. The super powered heroes and villains were called Ultras. The most popular characters in the Ultraverse were Prime and Ultraforce, which was essentially the Ultraverse’s Avengers or Justice League. Ultraforce even had a very short-lived cartoon series, which of course spawned a line of action figures. Malibu was pushing for big things for the Ultraverse.
One of Malibu’s big marketing ideas was to produce a #0 issue as a start to their Firearm series and to sell that #0 issue with a 35 minute short film on VHS introducing the character of Alec Swan aka Firearm, starting the ball rolling for the overall series storyline… all for about $15. A pretty sweet deal I must admit. Attempting Hollywood level production for this short film was certainly a lofty goal for the mid-tier comic book company.
We’ve seen plenty of examples of what happens when someone who shouldn’t attempt Hollywood-type production does. That’s pretty much what you should expect with Firearm, with a bit of a film noir aesthetic applied. Low grade writing, acting, directing, plot, dialogue… There isn’t much good about it.
The one redeeming quality that Firearm has going for it is the special effects. There’s no CGI. There IS some pretty great squib blood effects, some decent facial prosthetics for Firearm and Duet and a real explosion. There are also a couple cool references to the rest of the Ultraverse, most notably Ultraforce member Hardcase.
And, of course, the whole movie is only 35 minutes long so it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Firearm is an interesting movie to check out if for no other reason than to see this crazy marketing ploy at work. Did it work? Well, Marvel bought out Malibu about a year later and with 18 months all Malibu / Ultraverse comics had ceased publication altogether. This movie certainly didn’t push Malibu toward bankruptcy but it certainly proved to be an unnecessary expense and didn’t give Firearm the push that I’m sure they hoped for and expected. After seeing it, there’s no question in my mind why this wasn’t a success. It’s a mess of a movie.
Sidenote: In case anyone is interested, director Darren Doane also created a music video style Hardcase short film starring Gary Daniels as Hardcase. The whole thing is maybe 4-5 minutes long and has no dialogue… just action. It’s a lot better than Firearm.