Lock Up [DVD]

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ith vanity projects like 1989's schlocky Lock Up to his credit, it's a wonder Sylvester Stallone survived to make some better movies in the '90s. This is a brutal dose of macho action that Stallone squeezed in between Rambo III and Rocky V, and his fans didn't seem to mind, so who's to judge? It's not as bad as Sly's other 1989 disaster (Tango & Cash), but you'd have to be demented, drunk, or have really low standards to call this a good movie. But if you're in a primal mood you'll get a kick out of this grimy flick, which would qualify as Z-grade exploitation if it weren't for Stallone's beefy presence as Frank Leone, a cooperative prisoner who's six months shy of parole when he's relocated to a hellhole called Gateway Prison. The wretched high-security facility is commandeered by Warden Drumgoole (Donald Sutherland), who is determined to settle an old score with Stallone ... and you can pretty much guess the rest. Director John Flynn didn't exactly distinguish himself with this one (he'd go on to direct forgettable fare like Out for Justice and Brainscan), but there's more visual style here than you might expect, and Sly manages to take it all so seriously that you can easily enjoy this gut buster as an unintentional comedy. --Jeff Shannon