Defiance ★★★½

It's two-fisted Mormons vs the mob! This 20-minute SOV action short by actual LDS Elders is ostensibly about following religious rules, but is really a stunt-filled, beat-'em-up chase movie set and shot in North Carolina. On P-day, the once-a-week chance that Mormons have to catch up on their personal chores, a pair of youthful missionaries accidentally get caught up in a drug drop due to a shopping bag mix-up. When one Elder is kidnapped by an eyepatch-clad dealer upset his giant ziplock bags of coke are missing, his companion must forgo the rule that they must get back to their faith work by 6pm to stage a risky rescue mission. Following a surprisingly exciting ten-speed/car chase, the rescuer recruits some more LDS brothers, who interrupt the kidnappers' planned drug deal in an abandoned factory. A gun-blastin', box-topplin', tire-tossin' brawl ensues as the Elders lay the smack down on the dealers' crew. Meant for Mormon viewers, the film doesn't bother with much in the way of a religious message; the focus is on one-liners and ass-kicking for the Lord as the protagonists are forced to extend P-day beyond the church's mandated time. The amateur stuntwork is far above par here, with the young male stars (there's not a single female character in the film) taking on dangerous set-pieces, from rolling out of vans, driving through (firework?) explosions, swinging on chains and launching into energetic and sometimes impressive fight choreography. VHS copies, which paired the film with director Rocco DeVilliers' earlier '89 action short HE'S NOT MY COMPANION were banned by Mormon bookstore chain Deseret Book in the early '90s due to what they considered an "unflattering" depiction of missionary life. But a Mormonism that takes a break from preaching to punch out eyepatch-wearing dope dealers makes for the kind of religion that could appeal to a whole new generation. "Now let's go get some mac 'n' cheese!"