Trancers 5: Sudden Deth (1994)

Tim Thomerson

Trancers 5 results in back to back action from Trancers 4. It pains me to think that such a limp approach was taken to these two movies following the strength of Trancers III. Sure there could have been no sequels made at all, so something is better than nothing, right?

Trancers 5 should really just be cut down, alongside Trancers 4 and the two stitched together. It is completely unnecessary for there to be two films, aside from getting fans and enthusiasts to pay double. With a similar running time to Trancers 4, these 70 minutes feature some lengthy opening credits and insanely detailed prologue. It’s not outside the powers of a slightly skilled editor to lose a lot of the bloat from both and come up with a pretty tidy, and energetic sequel. Had this been the way, a condensing of 4 and 5 would have made for a fun and novel sequel, or perhaps served as a pilot for a Trancers TV show.

There is a tiny hint of an underlying theme that the writers have discovered, but avoided exploring as it might have actually required thought to write it; Jack Deth’s internal battle with his chosen livelihood. So much killing, such a hollow shell of a man and why he is so alone. Given the attempts in Trancers II to add depth to Deth it seemed that exploring this would not have been outside of the realm for one of these sequels. Certainly, it would have given the films a lot more material to explore and Thomerson more to work with. The darker nature of the 3rd film helped reinvigorate the franchise. So it goes that these two adventures do nothing for the development of Deth.

All sounds a bit harsh and deservedly so. Thomerson does his best to make it worthwhile borrowing greatly from Bruce Campbell’s Ash character from Army of Darkness. I drew parallels between Trancers 4 and Army of Darkness before and Trancers 5 continues to emulate. A bad variant of Jack Deth appears for a short while and there is a quest for an item that possesses the power to send Jack back to his own world. Not to mention more swordplay, horse riding and castles under siege.

Last we saw Jack Deth he was wading around a different dimension called Orpheus taking on the Trancers. Despite defeating the villainous Caliban in 4, he is brought back for Jack to tangle with. However, given the amount of time the writers had to play with on these two entries it seems they really hadn’t quite taken into account that an ending would be required. What we are treated to is a rushed addition to the story line, the mildest character development for Deth and too many loose ends to wrap up. Despite the lazy storytelling Director David Nutter does keep the film tighter than Band had done, with the first and second.

There is, however, significant effort into giving the supporting characters more to do, with Terri Ivens being a little bit bad-ass and Staci Randall providing a decent love interest for Deth. Some backstory and developments are added to help pad out the runtime, and feel exactly like that.

There still is greatness in the Trancers series, however, the weaker entries only serve to enhance the highlights. Trancers 5 is bland, just as 4 was. It has even more limited appeal than the 4th entry and truly should not exist as an instalment on its own. Given the strength of the first and third movies, plus how likeable a screen icon Jack Deth is, the opportunity to make the most of it was squandered more often than not in this series unfortunately.

Original poster art for Trancers 5 is particularly excellent as expected from the series. Beautifully designed to get folks to hire the video. New art for the upcoming remaster Blu Ray is nowhere near the quality of the original, however, I do prefer it over the newer art for Trancers 4‘s remastered Blu Ray.


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