Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back in Action (1993)

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Tagline:

One cop. One Vigilante. One Mission. One Chance.

Back of DVD:

An undercover drug bust in L.A. goes badly wrong. The most notorious drug smuggling ring in Los Angeles, the Kasanjian gang, is duped into making a deal with the undercover cops. When the ruse goes astray, an out and out gunfight ensues. Los Angeles Police Detective Rossi (Roddy Piper) witnesses his partner brutally murdered in the melee as the gangsters escape. Rossi isn't the only man determined to destroy the gang. Bill (Billy Blanks), an ex-member of Special Forces and a martial arts expert, is also after the gang when his sister disappears after getting embroiled in the gang's affairs. The stage is set for an all-out confrontation...

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Movie Review:

What a fantastic duo - Billy Blanks, the inventor of Tae-bo martial arts and star of Bloodfist, Wrong Bet/Lionheart and King of the Kickboxers, and Rowdy Roddy Piper, an 80's WWF wrestler and star of John Carpenter's They Live. With those two on the cover you can expect some arse-kicking action. This can't possibly go wrong.

Piper is going undercover at a drug deal with his partner and backup. As Roddy Piper bluffs his way through the deal Billy Blanks shows up in his cab (he's a cab driver, and his name in this is, creatively, Billy. They wanted to call him Ernie but Blanks tae-bo'd the Producer to the head. Probably.) His sister, Tara, is in one of the gang member's cars quietly minding her own business but Billy wants to save her (she's in with the wrong crowd, etc.). He upsets a thug in the way by beating him senseless and accidentally firing his machine gun. "Setup!" cries the lead bad guy in sunglasses (we learn later his name is Chakka) and it's on for young and old. There's a huge gun fight and in the process a barrel gets drilled with holes and water leaks out of it. Also Piper's partner gets shot. Not only shot but Chakka - after ensuring that Piper is watching - slits his throat. Cold, man. Later the escaped gang members get to a boat and Chakka kills one of his wounded men. Real cold.

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Blanks escapes with his sister. A reporter, Helen (Bobbie Phillips, who went on to star as a cyborg in a Die Hard ripoff called Chameleon, and its two sequels. Must track those down!) starts asking Piper questions but he avoids her. He's sleeping with her later; not sure how that happened, I must have blinked and missed it. Anyway the escaped gang members hand over the drugs and money to their boss Kasajian who orders Billys sister killed because they assume she was the snitch. When Blanks turns up at a bar looking for his sister he ends up getting in a three way fight with her sisters boyfriend and gang associates as well as Piper who is at the same bar with Helen. It's pretty funny seeing a tae-bo vs. wrestling punch-up. Piper says he "hate's that karate shit" and tries to take Blanks in. Instead tables and chairs get thrown around and Blanks escapes. Then Piper buys Helen a cactus which she says is "sweet". Sorry but I found that hilarious.

I know some movies write up that you are about to see some "non-stop action" but in this case it's actually completely accurate. Whenever Blanks is on the screen he is beating somebody senseless. Piper gets his share of the action as well but it's really Billy Blanks' martial arts prowess on display here and the director knows this and focuses on it. Twin henchmen in matching blue wrestling singlets, matching zebra pants and matching Freddie Mercury moustaches come to Billy's place to kill his sister, to which he thrashes them in his white denim shorts with an ironing board. I rewound this scene and watched it again.

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All the best fights are played in slow motion so you can see Billys' foot connect with some chumps face in clear detail. Blanks goes to a drag race to find the henchman and beats up a guy pissing on a wall and steals his hoody. He immediately fits in with the crowd in that hoody, but Chakka who is at the race doesn't buy it and another fight ensues. Blanks gut-punches a massive dude to the ground and Piper shows up, let's Billy into his car and they both get caught up in a mad car chase that ends in explosions when Piper blows the pursuers car up.

The action really just doesn't stop. Billy goes to all the Kasajian fronts (a car chop shop, and some sort of Japanese tea house/brothel?) and messes the places and occupants right up. He always tags 'Tara' on the wall before he leaves, a nice note for Kasajian. Blanks justifies it all by saying he is "protecting home and family". Blanks and Piper keep crossing paths, one saving the other one's arse, until finally they agree that their reasons are the same - revenge - and work together to take down Kasajian.

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As well as kicking arse the movie has some pretty funny moments. Piper busts into Kasajian's house while he is having acupuncture done. Piper silently takes over the acupuncture from the doctor at gun point and rams a needle into Kasajian. When asked who he is, he responds with "I'm the apprentice". Blanks busts up a card game by shooting blindly through the wall and demanding "I want Tara back. One of you will live! One of you will live!", so the quickest guy blows the other players away to ensure his own safety. Then Blanks knocks him out anyway. Blank's 'action face' is hysterical too (see last screenshot).

Blanks really can't act but it doesn't matter, Piper can get by okay. This movie is so much fun and keeps giving and giving, never once being let down by too much plot exposition or dull drama. Lots of slow-mo fights, lots of explosions and LOTS of shootouts. It even has a fantastic final climax with Blanks and Piper in separate fights; Piper with his fists and Blanks with twin machine guns. This IS the movie you want to watch tonight with other aficionados of bad action. They don't get much better than this. Bring the popcorn and enjoy the ride.

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The Video:

I reviewed the fullscreen R2 disc put out by Boulevard Entertainment. The video and audio are perfectly fine; the picture isn't that sharp or detailed but the colours are nice and the appearance overall is pleasing. The audio is clear and the gunfire and explosions dynamic. IMDB lists this as filmed in 1.85:1 ratio; if that is correct then I didn't notice any footage obviously missing off the side of the screen, and I don't think there is any DVD release in that scope available.

The only thing letting down the presentation is the god-awful menu they used on the DVD. It looks like it was made with some sort of My First DVD program, with a bad animated sky background, jerky-motion preview of the movie in the centre and soothing elevator music playing in the background. There is even a menu option for watching the trailer but it is not selectable! Just lazy. Runtime 88 minutes.

Sourced From:

eBay UK for $5 + shipping.

Trailer:

More Screens:

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4 comments:

  1. I loved this movie. As far as I know it's only available on VHS over here, and that's what I have it on. Great review.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes this movie was totally awesome. Strange that there is no DVD release over there, sometimes it makes no sense what gets released on DVD.

    If you get a chance check out the review I did for Ring of Steel. I think you'd dig that film.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I gotta buy this movie! Have you've seen the other Billy Blanks\Roddy Piper flick Tough and Deadly? It is very similar but just as awesome!

    Also Ring of Steel is really great!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This movie is worth whatever the asking price is.

    I've heard of Tough and Deadly as a similar movie to this but haven't seen it. I will check it out!

    ReplyDelete

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