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Sanctuary 1998
Description: Luke Kovak is part of a covert group within the CIA that works on illegal black ops involving blackmail and assassinations. When his boss orders the murder of one of the team, Luke realizes how expendable they all are and gets out (taking proof of their activities with him). He actually lives as a priest until the group begin to receive close to tracking him down.
Released: 20 Feb 1998 Director: Tibor Takács Writers: Michael Stokes Actors: Mark Dacascos, Jaimz Woolvett, Kylie Travis, Alan Scarfe Genres: Action
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Sanctuary Reviews:

I turned to this film late at night mainly to see Tag Dacascos who is great to look at, and not a terrible actor either! I tend to fall asleep if a film doesn't hold me interested. Well, I felt that, for a cable action film (on Action Max) it was entertaining and had an current plot that made sense. In a series of flashbacks, we see the happenings that shaped Dacascos's character. It's got plenty of guns, a several explosions, a government conspiracy, terrible guys, nice guys, a possible nice gal, and an ironic ending that is both unexpected and appropriate. This is a flick that both guys and gals can watch - lots of action but not any gore. I want Dacascos luck in catching a mainstream film and riding it to the large screen. He deserves it!


SANCTUARY was Dacascos' first film after the perfect DRIVE, I think, and it shows all the hallmarks of direct-to-video Hollywood junk on the surface. I really wasn't expecting much from it at all, but found myself pleasantly surprised. Tag plays a priest who has something of a dark past... in fact he was a CIA secret agent, trained from childhood to do the dirty off-the-book jobs for the agency without questioning. But he couldn't support questioning, and fled the agency after one particular job. He ended up becoming a priest in an attempt to atone for his past life. But his past life doesn't wish to allow him escape so easily. The plot sounds incredibly cheesy and gratis of subtlety, but the script and direction manage to flesh it out into something with a bit more subtlety. The film splits its time between flashback to Mark's past and the hunt-chase after he is found doing his priestly work. Tag shows much better acting skills here than in Drive, perhaps because the film is generally darker & serious in tone. He should have been more expressive and convincing, but I think he did a passable job. It's not really his acting that has got Tag noticed by the HK cinema crowd though, it's his extremely impressive martial arts skills, which are arguably the greatest of anybody working in films anywhere in the globe at this time (if we assume that Jackie/Jet/Biao etc are unlikely to ever match their early work again). Although there's a moderately high degree of action in the movie, there's not all that much acrobatics or hand to hand fighting required, so we don't receive to see Mark's skills to anything like the extent that they're showcased in DRIVE. He still handles the action well though, and I really can't imagine how some reviewer came to the conclusion that he was "a terrible man's Jean Claude Van Damme". The action scenes are better filmed than I expect from a Hollywood movie, and quite realistic - bullet impacts in particular are almost disturbingly convincing. It has to be noted that Tag gives up his priestly vows a tiny too easily, and should have been much less lethal at times than he habitually is. I guess it's just his training :D A less forgiving reviewer might dismiss it as the Hollywood b-grade film it probably is in objective terms, but I found myself pleasantly surprised and am glad I purchased the DVD, as I'll probably watch it again a couple of times. It's a shame the DVD distributors chose, in their unlimited wisdom, to release it Pan & Scan though.


Luke Kovak is part of a covert group within the CIA that works on illegal black ops involving blackmail and assassinations. When his boss orders the murder of one of the team, Luke realises how expendable they all are and gets out (taking proof of their activities with him). He actually lives as a priest until the group begin to receive close to tracking him down.I'm a large fanatic of Dacascos, and I'm constantly at a loss as to why folks like Seagal have had large hits but he remains very much part of the `direct to video' stable. This movie has a cute standard plot in that an ex-CIA agent is on the run from the very group that he was once part of. The plot is still passable, what it lacks in originality it makes up for by being cute dark and gritty. The movie has a several action scenes but these too manage to be quite dark and work the better for it, coming off as more than just the usual bangs for the sake of bangs.The direction is cute nice and the test of a gritty movie stock makes the dark topics matter feel a lot better for it. A downside is that Dacascos doesn't have too many possibilities to do his martial arts stuff, going for more traditional action instead. That said, he is still quite nice in the lead role. Aside from being moody in the first bits of the film, he is now quite charismatic despite his character. The rest of the help cast is not so good, they are workmanlike but there are a several really terrible performances in there.Parts of the movie don't work that well, and this isn't a blockbuster or class act – it is just an above average video thriller. The flashbacks are a tiny confusing early on, and those that flashback to Luke's childhood are terrible and too simplistic. Despite this I enjoyed the movie – it isn't anything fresh but it has a nice gritty feel and the dark nature of the movie makes it feel a slash above the usual video thriller things.



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