Review: ‘Showdown At The Grand’

Terrence Howard And Dolph Lundgren Fight Gentrifiers In Orson Oblowitz’s Love-Letter To B-Movies

I am of the age where I was able to witness the retirement of “Mom & Pop” cinemas, smaller (or sometimes even bigger) theaters that were independently run and gave the audience a much-needed reprieve from their everyday problems. They had a different feel from today’s conglomerate-owned multiplexes as they were more intimate. Writer/Director Orson Oblowitz’s latest film Showdown at the Grand is a love letter to that dying breed as it critiques corporate greed, but also finds a way to remix it to have gonzo bloody action in it as well!

George Fuller (Terrence Howard) is the owner/proprietor of a classic picture house the Warner Grand, and his whole life has been dedicated to helping people enjoy the cinematic experience. On a daily basis, he hosts screenings of movies of the past, collects props and memorabilia which he displays at his theater, and overall is content with his life as it makes him happy. He’s been working on trying to get 90s action hero Claude Luc Hallyday (Dolph Lundgren) to come to his theater for a special screening of one of his many cult classic films (such titles as Necropolis,” “Moses vs. The Nazis,” and “Cyber Cartel” are a few) and make an appearance for his audience.

Unfortunately for him, the times are changing. In the offset of the COVID-19 pandemic, not everyone is eager to head to the theaters (something that rings true even today). To top his bad luck even more, rich developer Lynn (Amanda Righetti) wants his property so that her company can build luxury homes where his theater is. George is not interested in selling the business that has been in his family for eons, no matter how many zeroes come along with the potential check. After his first refusal, Lynn sends her henchmen Reed (Mike Ferguson) and Burton (Jon Sklaroff) to basically force him to sell his theater. First, they offer idle threats. And when that doesn’t work out, they rough up his friend Lucky (John Savage) pretty badly.

But does that make George back down? No, not at all! He fights back and equally puts the fear of god into them. For a while in Showdown At The Grand, George and Lunn play a little tit-for-tat with each other, but eventually, they’re going to have to have a full-out battle royale (hence the title of the movie). Of course, her goons attack the theater Assault on Precinct 13-style. It just happens to be on the day that Claude Luc Hallyday is at the theater for the special screening of his past movie. George has already made use of his crossbow and katana swords he’s collected, so why not use another weapon in your arsenal: a famous action star who knows how to fight? In the grand finale of Showdown At The Grand, it’s up to George and Claude to fight back against hordes of stormtrooper-looking bad guys armed with machetes. While the action doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it is highly entertaining. With George being a theater owner, you know at least one kill will have to be choking a bad guy with a reel of film.

With a different cast Showdown At The Grand wouldn’t be as fun. Terrance Howard (who better not retire like he says he will) elevates the film as he displays a theater owner who just wants to hold onto what he loves, he just happens to also be kickass with a crossbow and completely nails the “urban cowboy” look to a T. Dolph Lundgren continues his renaissance tour (whether that be Creed 2, The Expendables movies or Old Spice commercials) as plays the role of an aging action star flawlessly. Director Orson Oblowitz’s choice to splice “footage” of Lundgren’s Claude’s movies into various scenes that fit the narrative tone of the movie is also genius. Another great character in the film is actually the Warner Grand Theater itself. The set is a throwback to when single movie theaters were almost like palaces dedicated to the theater experience. It also makes great scenery for a siege film!

Is Showdown At The Grand over the top? Sure. Is it outlandish as hell? Absolutely! But that doesn’t mean that you won’t have a blast in an overexaggerated film about cinema and holding onto it (and what you love doing) and screw these big corporations! It’s ironic that a movie dedicated to the theater experience is getting an On Demand/streaming release because this is the type of movie that if released in theaters would have the potential to be a cult classic. That said, Showdown At The Grand is a fun ride!

Showdown At The Grand is currently available On Demand.