There can be little doubt that 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption is rightly regarded as one of the finest prison movies ever made but five years previously in summer 1989 Stallone had made his prison movie, Lock Up. Stallone played Frank Leone, a convict who can’t seem to escape the wrath of the villainous warden Drumgoole played by Donald Sutherland. With only six months of his sentence left Leone finds himself transferred from a minimum security prison to a maximum security prison by the spectacularly vindictive warden.
Written by Richard Smith (who’s not written a script since) Jeb Stuart, (who wrote Die Hard probably the defining action movie of the 80’s) and Henry Rosenbaum (which would be the last film he wrote) it followed the usual template of the likeable prisoner trying to stay alive despite the obstacles of murderous gang members and a near psychotic warden out to wreak revenge on Leone believing he was professionally humiliated by him. Directorial duties fell to the proficient John Flynn known for his stripped back stories and economical shooting style and the brutal punch ups would serve as a calling card for his next film the Steven Seagal punch up extravaganza Out For Justice. The film also saw the feature film debut of Tom Sizemore as a twitchy and excitable sidekick to Stallone’s Leone and if you look carefully there’s also an early appearance by Danny Trejo too.
Stallone had taken the film as he had a window in his schedule but the script was rewritten in record time by Stuart who was a hot name at the time and ultimately the script was still being written as they were shooting with Stallone no slouch himself hipping in having been nominated for writing Rocky, also chipping in. Lock Up was shot in real life prison and production used some of the inmates as extras too, notably in a football scene where they had to be told to stop targeting Stallone who almost broke a leg during one of those sequences.
Released in the US on 4th August 1989 the modestly budgeted film made a modest $22m going on to fare better when it was released worldwide and ironically it would be the first of two prison based movies Stallone would have out that year with Tango & Cash released at Christmas.
Now given a 4K transfer the film is out on Blu Ray as well as dvd and UHD and has a number of bonus features that include a Making Of plus a number of interviews including Stallone, Sutherland and the late Sonny Landham. The bonus features are a little vanilla unfortunately with a trailer and a behind the scenes filling out the bonus features a little more. Looking back Lock Up was not one of Stallone’s most memorable films and it’s probably Sutherland chewing the scenery as the wicked warden that is best and the film would have benefited from more scenes with him but for completists this uncut version of the film is a decent enough addition to any Stallone collection.
Here’s the Lock Up trailer…….
LOCK UP IS RELEASED ON 4K UHD, BLU RAY & DVD ON SEPTEMBER 23RD 2019