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The story of Fortress takes place in drastically overpopulated America of the year 2017, where each woman is allowed only one pregnancy. John Brennick (Christopher Lambert) and his wife Karen (Loryn Locklin) flee to Mexico when she becomes pregnant after the death of their first child. They are captured by border police and sent to the Fortress, a subterranean high-security prison owned by the Men-Tel corporation and operated by "Zed-10," an omnipotent computer system, and a sadistic, genetically "enhanced" warden (Kurtwood Smith) who has nefarious plans involving Brennick's wife and unborn child. Along with his cellmates (including Jeffrey Combs, a favorite of director Stuart Gordon), Brennick plots a breakout, and Fortress shifts into auto-pilot action mode. After making his reputation with such audacious horror films as From Beyond and Re-Animator, Stuart Gordon graduated to a bigger budget with Fortress, but his penchant for exploitation remains deliriously intact. While borrowing elements from a variety of better sci-fi movies, Fortress indulges every prison-flick cliché, but does it with such enjoyable B-movie vigor that it qualifies as a bona-fide guilty pleasure (indeed, it deserves to be ranked with James Cameron's original Terminator in terms of its budgetary ingenuity). Featuring such giddy (and gory) devices as "intestinators" (deadly obedience devices implanted in prisoners' bodies) and a torturous "Mind Wipe Chamber," this is really just a drive-in action movie with lofty ambitions, and the schlocky script hasn't a prayer of rising above the level of juvenile popcorn fodder. But there's no denying the energy and enthusiasm that Gordon brings to the film, which understandably became a global box-office hit and spawned a 1999 sequel starring Lambert and Pam Grier.

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IVE11605 Fortress DVD (1993/Christopher Lambert) $9.98