"An avalanche of thrills." (Jami Bernard)

Filmed high above Cortina, Italy, in the Dolomites, Cliffhanger has been described as "A non-stop action picture, peaked with suspense and capped with heart-quaking terror."

It is further described by its marvelous director, Renny Harlin, "as a roller coaster ride, that was a lot of fun to make."

The story involves an experienced, if troubled, climber called in to help rescue five endangered climbers. When the climbers turn out to be a gang of hijackers on a treasure hunt for boxes full of stolen money, a deadly game of mile high cat and mouse takes place, with their lives in the balance.

This is one film where Stallone's muscles come in handy. Sly looks quite good in the climbing scenes. He plays a "Rock Jock", Gabe Walker, whose job it is to rescue stranded climbers. The movie opens on the tragic event of his equipment failing, which causes the falling death of a young woman, Sarah. A year later, he is asked to rescue stranded hikers in the same mountain range of the later incident, taking two team members with him, Hal Tucker and Jessie Deighan, that haven"t forgiven him for Sarah"s death. These supposedly stranded climbers turn out to be nasty villains with bad attitudes, looking for three boxes filled with $100,000,000 and they want a guide to lead them to their ill-gotten goods. They had attempted a mid-air robbery, that resulted in the money boxes being thrown out of the plane, onto the mountain range below. Besides not having any moral conscience at all, they never heard the saying, you get more flies with honey than vinegar, and try to threaten and strong-arm Sly and his team, which is a major mistake on their part.

To overcome this overwhelming threat from these heartless, money grubbing brutes, Sly's character, Gabe, must find his confidence from within himself once again and make sacrifices for a higher goal, to not only to beat the heinous bad guys, but to receive personal redemption.

Although set in Colorado, the film's vertigo educing mountain climbing scenes were shot in the Dolomite mountain range in Italy. The film"s stunts and "you are there-almost" photography, by Alex Thomson, really puts you into the action. If you are prone to motion sickness, you might want to consult your physician before viewing this film. Sly trained vigorously for his role with experienced mountain climbers, who also helped the cast and crew work safely during the filming. The filming itself was an adventure in itself, experienced by the cast and crew.

The action is further enhanced on film, because the technicians used the IBM Power Visualization System, to digitally manipulate the film for seamless special effects.

There are several memorable action scenes and surprises throughout the film, which all action film lovers must see and experience. John Long III wrote the premise of this storyline, Michael France wrote the screenplay, and Sly himself did the final script rewrite.

The resulting final script produced a shimmering jewel for the action film category. "Cliffhanger" has death defying mountain climbing, shooting, punching, plot twists and turns, tension and adventure galore and acts of courage, bravery, guts and determination. In other words, it has everything that makes up a terrific, heart-pumping, thrilling action film. The talented director, Renny Harlin, did an excellent job portraying the story and action of this unique film, giving great direction to the cast and crew. Harlin is no stranger to the action genre. He directed "Die Hard 2," "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master," "The Long Kiss Goodnight," "Deep Blue Sea," and "Driven."

Sly Stallone does a great job as the film's determined hero, and the screen chemistry sizzles between his character and the woman he loves, Jessie Deighan, expertly played by Janine Turner. As is common in action flicks, characters aren"t fully developed or used, as the focus is on the storyline action. TV star, Janine Turner, is underutilized as Stallone's girlfriend, Jessie Deighan. We wanted to see more of her. She does a great job, with the part that was written for her though. She came to fame as the female pilot on the hit series "Northern Exposure."

Bad guy characters in action flicks often have no redeeming qualities, and are portrayed as real scumbags. However, the weakest aspect of the film is Lithgow"s overly enthusiastic performance of the oddly accented bad guy, Eric Qualen, the ruthless international terrorist, who is the cruel mastermind behind this motley gang of thugs. While over the top may work in wild comedy, (hence Lithgow"s recent Emmy for his work in the comedy, "Third Rock from the Sun"), here it just seems a bit too much. Perhaps the director, Renny Harlin, should've toned down his performance a bit. However, this minor flaw doesn"t affect the greatness of this fabulous action flick!!

This awesome mountain climbing adventure is rated R, for good reason.

If you liked "Cliffhanger" you may enjoy "Rambo," "Die Hard, "The Long Kiss Goodnight," "The Deep Blue Sea," and the "Lethal Weapon" series.

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