Like many of his '80s action-hero peers, Dolph Lundgren has survived in show business for decades because he's smarter and more sneakily witty than his burly build suggests. And as the star and executive producer of the horror-comedy "Don't Kill It," Lundgren has made one of his most entertaining movies in years by playing to his strengths.
Director Mike Mendez (best-known for "Big Ass Spider!") brings a lightness and unpretentiousness to screenwriters Dan Berk and Robert Olson's clever story about a supernatural force that turns its human hosts mindlessly homicidal, and then leaps into the body of whomever kills that host.
Lundgren plays an eccentric demon-hunter who knows how to vanquish evil but has a hard time convincing the locals in the small Mississippi town that he's not nuts — and an even harder time persuading by-the-book FBI agent Evelyn Pierce (Kristina Klebe).
Mendez edited "Don't Kill It," and frankly his many, many set-up scenes are too clunky. But he cranks up the pace whenever the movie indulges in raw mayhem — such as whenever blank-eyed folks start emitting "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"-style shrieks and then charging at their victims, guns and axes in hand.
This is ultimately a set-piece-driven film, with long lulls between its highs. But even when "Don't Kill It" veers toward the ordinary, Lundgren is there with his lived-in face and playful eyes, waiting as ever to spring into action. It's great to see him in a fun movie again.
'Don't Kill It'
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Playing: Laemmle NoHo7, North Hollywood