Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Pushed too hard. Pushed too far. Now they're pushing back!
Jim Roth (David Carradine, Kill Bill, Kung Fu, Deathrace 2000) owns a bar which is frequented by his father Burt (Lee Van Cleef, The Good The Bad The Ugly, Escape From New York) and his brother Tommy (Brent Huff, Cop Game, Strike Commando II). Third brother Clay (David Goss) and partner Cory are private investigators hired by crime boss Akira Tanaka (Mako) to retrieve a stolen jade statue from a couple of professional crooks. The trade of a suitcase full of money for the statue, of course, goes sour and Clay is killed. Now it is up to the rest of the Roth clan enact their ARMED RESPONSE and avenge their brother.
Sometimes you put a DVD in the player, hit start and you can't wipe the smile off your face for the next hour and a half. That was this film. I thought I would be in for a good time when I saw the cover: David Carradine. Lee Van Cleef. An exploding car. This was going to be vintage 1980's action and it was going to be awesome. But the second the credits rolled it was even more awesome than I was expecting. The aforementioned Brent Huff. Mako from The Perfect Weapon as the crime boss Tanaka. And Directed by genre stalwart Fred Olen Ray - whose 80's films are a guarantee for a good time - what more could you ask for?
The names keep coming too. This film is just filled to the brim with 'that guy' guys. As well as the previously mentioned names from the credits, we also get Michael Berryman (a very unique looking man, most famous for The Hills Have Eyes, Cut and Run, Weird Science) who plays lead thug for Tanaka, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa in a non-speaking thug role that would traditionally go to Al Leong - I was actually waiting for him to show - and the 'that guy' to end all other that guy's, Dick Miller. His scene as the criminal with the stolen statue is so short they probably kept his car running, but his amazing red suit jacket is totally worth the price of entry.
Is the film violent? To quote Clarence Boddiker from Robocop; "Guns, guns, guns!" Shotguns, machine guns, massive .44 Magnums, sniper rifles, grenades exploding that throw a guy into the air backwards in a fireball, Japanese torture, knives, bottles of scotch over the head - and it wouldn't be a David Carradine film without some kung-fu! All it needed was a freaking crossbow. You won't be disappointed with the action in this one.
There's some choice dialogue to be heard here, primarily from the Roth clan. Jim, in reference to the statue; "Take your jade suppository and get outta here!". Burt in discussing Tanaka's style; "He's a two-bit thug in a three-piece suit." and best of all, Clay after Cory blows away a blonde with a well-endowed chest; "You shot her tits off!" Wow. Just, wow.
The 80's-ness of Armed Response is spectacular. All the cliches you want to see are here. Carradine has a Nam flashback (I swear this footage is pulled from one of Carradine's numerous Nam films, too) when he pulls a shotgun on a guy in his bar. The ubiquitous scene at a titty club. Yakuza vs. Tongs. A car chase that involves a car smashing through a phone box and a trolley full of tin cans, and a cop car flying up the back of three other crashed cars, then exploding. Carradine quipping "Go in pieces" after blowing up a guy. The electro-rock soundtrack with wailing guitar solos. Chicks with machine guns.
Armed Response never bothers itself too much about a complicated plot or any subplots at all. It's a very simple revenge-vigilante flick and it works so well for that. It's all here, folks, and it's all amazing. And at 82 minutes long it never, ever gets boring.
I mentioned a few choice lines above, but this exchange made me truly laugh out loud.
Mako: "Tell me where the statue is!"
Huff: "Go play with yourself!"