One in the Chamber is the sort of movie that from staring at the front cover or poster you think “they are going to say the name of the film at some point” — and they do.
The plot is fairly straight forward, however, apart from Dolph Lundgren and Cuba Gooding Jr., the rest of the characters are weather-beaten eastern Europeans who have names like Sergei and Ivanovich. With so many of these names being thrown around I was never really sure what the mobsters were called, but fear not! Each of these mobsters has their own distinct scarred, haggard features which allows for recognition and smooth plot development, despite never knowing their names. I could have looked on IMDb, but I felt this would be cheating.
So Ray (Gooding Jr) is a ‘fixer’ – some sort of hired gun – for aged, leathery faced eastern European mobsters with thick accents. Ray is hired by one group of these eastern Europeans to kill a second and third group of equally gruff tough and eastern European mobsters who are working together. But Ray doesn’t finish the job; only killing the second group of aforementioned mobsters. So the first group hire The Wolf (Dolph Lundgren), a seemingly mythical assassin mobsters tell their kids about to keep them out of trouble, to clean up the mess. In retaliation the third group hire Ray (now unemployed) to kill the first group, pitting he and The Wolf against each other.
If you are anything like me, you will spend the first 25 minutes of One in the Chamber waiting for Dolph to appear (don’t worry, it’s worth it). And when he does the movie improves tenfold. Inexplicably dressed in a fedora and Hawaiian shirt with a small dog accomplice, Dolph is a seemingly invincible Terminator-type character who reduces crowds to corpses. Everything that he does in this film is either hilarious, badass or a great cocktail of the two: From shooting rooms full of people, throwing those he towers over through windows or uttering irreverant one-liners, never is there a dull moment. While nothing he does particularly stands out like his mad preacher in Johnny Mnemonic or Sgt. Andrew Scott from Universal Soldier, The Wolf is a crowning achievement of Lundgren Gold and a worthy addition to his hall of fame.
One in the Chamber has the standard way-too-serious narration to be expected from this calibre of B-movie and its cast. Ray’s monologues are a mixture of Bible quotes and pseudo-profundity of the highest degree. In fact, the biblical allusions in this movie are so frequent, if I were to have a shot for every time it happened I would be ready for Ocean. They seemingly can’t go five minutes without someone quoting, holding, seeing or kissing the bible. It’s quite brilliant how the movie tries to say so much without managing to say anything at all.
On top of all this greatness there is also a poorly developed subplot/love interest in which Gooding Jr. creepily stalks and scrapbooks the only American female in Eastern Europe. Without wanting to spoil how this subplot tails off, I can only assume this was chucked into the mix to bolster Ray’s rather bland, introvert, religious, suffering character.
One in the Chamber is never going to make waves at any awards ceremony, but it does not fail to entertain. And being under 90 minutes, who could disagree? It’s not long enough to be bad. Plenty of blood, ass-kicking, Dolph Lundgren and inept eastern European mobsters being slaughtered, all held together by a (more or less) novel story.