The 1990’s was a decade best described with the words “rich”, “fertile” and “loamy”, where just about any old pop-culture seed dropped on this heady mixture of adjectival modifiers yielded some sort of cinematic fruit. In Expect No MercyBilly Blanks and Jalal Merhi cultivate their first team up since TC 2000 introduced us to the millenarian concept of next-week future dystopian Canada. I know it must be hard to believe that such a thing could actually exist, but in the future, Canada, or at least the immediate Toronto/Scarborough area is going to be perpetually threatened by some white guy or other with ambiguously evil plans from which Billy and Jalal will repeatedly be called upon to save it.
In this installment, anchored firmly in the center of the decade, evil white guy Warbeck runs a giant Virtual Reality dojo where he trains an army of mercenaries which he hires out for various unspecified industrial espionage conspiracies. Justin (Blanks) and Eric (Merhi) are both posing as “students” at the complex, and soon get hip to Warbeck’s nonspecific dastardly plot and attempt to thwart it with some martially artistic action versus exponentially ineffective faceless lackeys. Despite their overwhelming numerical inferiority, the heroes are captured and subjected to a series of virtual reality battles with goofy ‘90’s video-game vilains. The digital environments are actually more aesthetically appealing than the industrial-park architecture and interior design styles in the rest of Expect No Mercy proving beyond a pixelated shadow of a doubt that unfinished slabs of bare concrete will be at the cutting edge of the future. A disappointment to be sure.
Justin and Eric escape again of course and drag Expect No Mercy to its conclusion in a hail of gunfire and “kee-ai’s!”, but the Mortal Kombat-esque virtual reality scenes and Billy Blanks fishnet shirt prove to be the high-water marks and historically significant touchstones of this engagingly asinine film. For the benefit of fisherman-fashion enthusiasts and very-near-future science-fiction fans throughout the Toronto metropolitan area, this makes Expect No Mercy one of the most visually exciting parochial dystopias available for retinal consumption.