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Cy Voris (co-rewriter): "It was actually an old Sayles script that some producers bought and wanted to make for action star Dolph Lundgren! The Sayles script needed to be brought up to date a little, more action scenes added and, most importantly, had to be made into an ensemble movie because the producers were worried that Dolph just couldn't carry the movie that John Sayles originally wrote. And that an audience wouldn't sit still to watch Lundgren tackle all those great John Sayles monologues. ... We were actually pretty deferential to Sayles' original script and the finished movie is actually quite a good little action flick. ... Probably the only time we'll ever get a chance to rewrite John Sayles."
interview from the Cincinnati Enquirer April 16, 2003

The following but uncomplete synopsis clearfuly comes from one previous draft of the script. It reveals some changed or removed details, and mostly, it gives an overview of an unproduced or deleted prologue that was set in Afghanistan.

In a Kabul prison, an AMERICAN SOLDIER is being brutally tortured by his SOVIET INTERROGATORS. Handsome but currently bloodied NICK RILEY (Dolph Lundgren) still won't talk, despite the repeated vicious blows. His torturers, disgusted, throw him back into his dingy cell along with with his two comrades, KEEFER, an American soldier like Nick, and BADGHIA, an African.

Badghia is hauled out, and it's not long before the prison resounds with his screams of pain. Nick, moved to new heights of fury, pulls on the chain which binds him. The chain is connected to the ground with a cement with a stake. With a superhuman effort, Nick actually pulls out the stake! He then uses it to stab the GUARD, who dies instantly.

Nick grabs the guard's gun, frees Keefer, and they go for Badghia -- almost a suicide mission, considering the tight security in the prison. When the alarm sounds and more armed Russians pour onto the scene, Keefer abandons Nick, preferring to save his own skin instead. Nick can't believe Keefer would abandon him and Badghia like this, especially after Nick just saved him.

Nick's efforts to save Badghia are in vain, for Badghia is riddled with bullets as they run. Nick himself barely makes it out from the prison, as his escape turns into one long, horrible blood-bath.

We suddenly realizes that all this happened long ago; we' ve been seeing it in a FLASHBACK by Nick. Nick, vividly reexperiencing this awful memory, screams with anger as he empties a machine gun into a wall of his suburban house. Suddenly he snaps out of it -- and finds his WIFE and young SON cowering, terrified of his violence. They both want him out of the house, and in fact his wife gets a restraining order that bars nim from coming near either of them.

Nick, a prisoner of his own past, goes on a steep downward slide. He moves into a seedy motel and hits the bottle hard. He stops shaving and lets his appearance go to hell. Nick even comes close to committing suicide.
But from deep inside he summons his will to live, and starts working out hard at a local gym. Nick's return to self esteem is hastened when he gets a job. An old military commander of his -- dynamic and authoritative COLONEL MERRICK, recommends Nick for a freelance gig. It's a potentially dirty job, one that requires a top-notch warrior and munitions expert. Nick takes a meeting with sophisticated WARREN and his short, unimpressive sidekick LYLE, executives in a company called Nitrodyne Corporation.

They've found some extensive mineral deposits on a little South Seas island. One problem, though: the NATIVES won't sign a contract handing over the rights, even though Nitrodyne is willing to pay them a bundle. Nick's job is get together some soldier-of-fortune buddies of his, and go "persuade" the natives to sign the contract -- one way or the other. If violence is required, then so be it. Nick's job shouldn't be that difficult, for the natives are unarmed. It sounds like a good deal to Nick; it will be simple, quick, and it pays well. He goes about the job of rounding up some fellow soldiers he used to serve with:

DEWEY has turned into a manic-depressive. TI-JEAN ( "TJ" for short) is just the opposite of Dewey. A high-spirited Cajun who speaks a mixture of English, French, and Creole, TJ is the ultimate playboy. Lots of fun and very sensual, women seem to gravitate to him like a magnate. OCKER is a big Australian who has seen a lot of fighting. But like TJ, he's basically a happy guy with an understated sense of humor. If TJ's weakness is women, Ocker's is gambling. Besides being a tough soldier, JAMAAL X was once a hell of a football player. But he had problems -- attitude problems. In short, Jamaal hates everyone.

In addition to Jamaal, Ocker, TJ, and Dewey, Nick also picks up TWO OTHER MEN, both seasoned fighters who like nothing better than killing. The entire group gets off for the South Pacific.

The first stop is Poona Bay.At a sleazy bar there full of ROUGH MEN and young, jaded PROSTITUTES, Nick runs into an old enemy-- Keefer. Keefer sits surrounded by his own crew of surly FIGHTERS. They too are guns for hire. To Nick, Keefer is the lowest kind of scum -- a man who deserted his friends. Keefer is equally contemptuous of Nick. Keefer insults Nick, trying to provoke a fight -- and he gets one.

Nick's guys and Keefer's men battle it out, devastating the bar as they go for blood. Only the arrival of the local POLICE averts certain death for several of the fighters.

It's then on to the real exploit. Nick and his men take a small boat to their island destination. They're loaded down with weapons when they hit the beach. There they're greeted by a happy native man named PO, who speaks pretty good English. He's colorful, he's got a great sense of humor, he's brilliantly ironic, and he's warm and self deprecating. Po gladly takes on the role of tour guide to Nick and the group.

Nick and his men came here prepared for a fight. Instead, they find that all the VILLAGERS welcome them like long lost family. Although some of Nick's soldiers think the entire friendship thing is a trap, soon it becomes obvious that it's not. Nick and the others come quickly to realize that they've landed in paradise! Balmy weather, beautiful beaches, and friendly people...who could ask for more? One stunning native woman, LOKI, seems to fancy Nick. Despite Nick's initial reservations, the attraction is just too strong, and before long they're lost in passionate love-making. It seems like all the rest of Nick's men also find what they need on the island-- whether it be inner peace, acceptance, a female partner, or in Jamaal's case, the love and adoration of the island's many CHILDREN.

Of course, Nick and the others came to the island for a purpose, and Nick is distressed to learn that the natives won't sign the contract. They enjoy their lives and don't want the island overrun with civilization. Nick, desperate, explains that they'll all get killed -- if not by Nick and his group, then by others who will surely follow.

An OLD MAN answers Nick by taking an ax -- and chopping off his own wrist! He then bleeds to death without even complaining ! Nick and the others are completely stunned. They realize that these people are ready to willingly die for their cause. Worse still, all the children in the village approach the soldiers, and aim the soldiers rifle barrels right at their own small foreheads. They silently wait to have their brains blasted out. Nick and the others -- especially Jamaal -- can't take it.

Warren and Lyle, the heads of Nitrodyne, wait in a ship off the island. Nick pays them a visit and informs them that he's no longer going along with the program. No mineral rights are worth destroying forever the lives of these gentle people. Warren and Lyle are predictably disgusted with Nick's behavior and warn him that they're going to have that island -- one way or another.

Nick returns to his followers and gives them the option: leave the island, or stay with him fight -- only this time, they'll fight to protect the islanders. A few of Nick's men leave, but Jamaal, Dewey, Ocker, and TJ all remain. The group wastes no time, teaching modern warfare methods to the natives. However, the natives aren't very good at handling weapons. Things don't look promising.

Soon the invasion occurs. Warren and Lyle have sent in new fighters to take the island. They're leader is Nick's former commander Colonel Merrick, who is also a co-owner of Nitrodyne... (incomplete)