Dilemma (1997, directed by Eric Larsen)


Delfina, a precocious ten year-old, desperately needs a bone marrow transplant.  Unfortunately, the only available donor is Rudy Salazar (Danny Trejo), a sociopath who is currently sitting on Death Row.  (We’re told that Rudy is the only possible donor because both he and Delfina are “half-Mexican, half-Greek.”  I’m not a medical expert but I imagine there’s probably more to finding a donor than just that.  And, even if it was that simple, surely Rudy and Delfina are not the only two people of Mexican-Greek ancestry living in Los Angeles.)  Lydia Cantrell (Sofia Shinas), who works for the governor, arranges for Rudy’s death sentence to be commuted to life in prison in return for him donating his marrow.  At the hospital, Rudy stages a violent escape and soon, he and his old gang are on a rampage.

It falls to renegade Detective Quin Quinlan (C. Thomas Howell) to track down Rudy and bring his rampage to an end.  The only catch is that Rudy has to be captured alive because Delfina still needs that transplant.  Complicating matters is that Quinlan really enjoys shooting the bad guys.

If the plot of Dilemma sounds familiar, you may be one of the handful of people who remember an old Michael Keaton/Andy Garcia film called Desperate MeasuresDesperate Measures may have had the same plot as Dilemma (along with a bigger budget and bigger stars in the cast) but it didn’t have Danny Trejo.  Trejo appears without his trademark mustache and he really plays up the idea that Rudy Salazar is one evil dude.  Rudy’s so evil that he even laughs at shooting people in the back.  When a member of his gang is wounded in a shootout and begs, “Don’t leave me, dawg!,” Rudy takes one look at him and says, “You’re of no use to me.”  Only Danny Trejo can make a line that work.  With the rest of the cast not making much of an effort one way or the other, Danny Trejo is the best thing about Dilemma and one of two reasons to watch the movie.  The other reason is to watch in amazement as both the police and the criminals fire thousand of bullets at each other without ever having to stop and reload their guns.  Luckily, they’re all terrible shots who only have good aim when its convenient for the plot.

There’s no dilemma about skipping this one.