Thursday, February 25, 2021

Lazarus, on Tubi

You can't keep a good cop down, not even in death. Ray Lazarus is about to find out how aptly he was named when he is brought back for a little life-after-death law enforcement. He is sort of like Treat Williams in Dead Heat, but less zombie-ish and more super-heroic (and with less humor and no support from the legendary Vincent Price). The tone is distinctly dark and post-industrial urban throughout R.L. Scott’s Lazarus, which premieres tomorrow on Tubi.

Lazarus was an honest cop, who was just crazy enough to think he could clean up crime-ravaged “Paradise City” (there, Guns N’ Roses should now be stuck in your head). He got killed for his efforts, but fortunately that wasn’t the end of the world. Much to Lazarus’s surprise, he is brought back to life and granted Wolverine-like healing powers by an untrustworthy demigod. He says he resurrected Lazarus to restore “balance,” but he clearly has a secret nefarious scheme in the works.

Regardless, Lazarus is perfectly willing to take advantage of his second chance to take down Paradise City’s evil drug cartel. He is also determined to protect Nina Jacobs, a former low-level gun dealer on the outs with the syndicate. Lazarus might be dead, but he is still attracted to her.

The film’s supernatural element is sort of like that seen in Timothy Woodward Jr’s schlocky
Checkmate, but the execution is vastly more competent (admittedly, that is a super-low bar to clear). It is still the weakest part of Lazarus. However, there are a number of impressively tough and gritty fight scenes, which is really what you want from a film like this.

Despite playing a strong, silent (and deceased) type, Sean Riggs is quite charismatic as Lazarus and he brings some solid action chops to the party. Andre McCoy is really terrific playing Chapel, the leader of a group of veterans that aligns itself with Lazarus. It is always great to see a tough older guy get his licks in—and McCoy makes them count. Plus, Kevin Lukata shows off some impressive moves and skills as “Endless,” the martial arts super-villain recruited to combat Lazarus. (On the other hand, the rest of the gangsters are regrettably bland and the game-playing entities are mostly rather silly.)

Still, this film is considerably better than you might expect. It certainly looks like Scott was inspired by
The Crow, but that isn’t a bad thing. Honestly, we wouldn’t mind covering future sequels, especially if Scott dials down the fantastical elements and leans into the martial arts even more. Recommended for fans of straight-to-VOD action movies, Lazarus starts streaming tomorrow (2/26) on Tubi (it’s a free service, so what do you have to lose?).