Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The final product is something you really need to see... and Ramon Productions did not stop there! They have unleashed the trailers for two new movies: "The Return of Uncle Benon" and "Rescue Team". You can mock the bad effects and wooden acting but you can't mock the A-grade effort that has gone into these productions. Plus some of the martial arts actually looks pretty good!
Who Killed Captain Alex?
The Return of Uncle Benon
Monday, February 21, 2011
The year is 2020. He's mostly human and totally invincible. Until now...
I saw this a couple of days ago in one of the local-ish video stores that I insisted with a mate that we just had to go in to. They were flogging off all their VHS for cheap and I got a few more beauties for the collection, one of them being this Billy Blanks, Bolo Yeung, Jalal Merhi, Bobbie Phillips and Matthias Hues sci-fi action movie, TC 2000. For a moment when I saw the cover and Jalal Merhi and Matthias Hue's inclusion I thought TC 2000 was just a localised pseudonym for Talons of the Eagle. But with neither of those having Bolo Yeung I knew I was getting an action movie I did not already own. And with this stellar line up how could this be anything but awesome?
It's the near future and like any good B-grade sci-fi future, it's a dystopian one. The rich live beneath the surface of the planet because of all the pollution that has ruined the atmosphere. The poor are exiled to fend for themselves in an Escape from New York way of life on the surface. We never see any actual evidence of this pollution but we do see the usual gangs dressed as punks and old women wrapped in grey blankets by barrels on fire. Billy Blanks plays the awesomely named Jason Storm and lives to protect the rich people as a "tracker"; basically a special security force that keep the riff-raff away from the snotty rich folk. His partner is Zoey, played by Bobbie Phillips (who is a very attractive actress whose also been in Back in Action with Blanks, and three TV sci-fi movies called Chameleon).
Blanks and Zoey are called to a routine mission to stop some surface scum infiltrating the underworld. During the recognisance Blanks sees that they have a piece of Tracker hardware that allows them access to the base freely. Then there's a pretty good shoot-out here and Zoey, when looking in the wrong direction, is shot by the rebel leader Niki Picasso (Jalal Merhi, whose having a whale of a time in this role, complete with Che Guevara hat). Blanks has a pretty hilarious "you're not gonna die on me now" blub as he holds her in his arms and even pulls out a "Nnnnooooooooo!".
After the funeral he runs into his boss and tells him he's quitting being a Tracker now that his partner is dead (who unbeknownst to him, is being resurrected as a cyborg - in a slutty outfit!). His boss gets pissed at this and demands Blanks has his tracker implants removed. Next thing Blanks knows, he wakes up at home and is being attacked by thugs and his place is being trashed. He throws a couple of TV's at them (seriously) then flees. Blanks must now survive on the surface world, and he forms an alliance with Bolo Yeung to get revenge on Picasso for killing his partner. He learns from Bolo about the weapons plant that will soon drop a bomb on the planet and wipe out all life so that the underworld can reclaim the surface, so he decides to kill two birds with one fist-sized stone.
My colleague in bad cinema Ty at Comeuppance Reviews did not think much of this movie. I will have to politely disagree with my learned friend in this case as I thought that this was a ripping example of bad sci-fi action. It had everything in it that you need (with the possible exception of boobs); martial arts, firearms, bad sets, worse effects, technobabble, Billy Blanks flat-top, Billy Blanks facial expressions, Bolo Yeung's in-proportionate physique, a smoking hot blonde cyborg in a slutty outfit and a countdown clock that is stopped two seconds before the world is destroyed. Sure a lot of the movie doesn't make real sense but as we've discussed many, many times before, if the action quotient is high enough you forget about the inconsistencies in the plot.
That's definitely where TC 2000 excels - the action! It basically doesn't stop for a breather, or if it does it's only for a few minutes. There's the initial operation with Blanks, then he has a fight with Mathias Hues, then there's the killing of his partner, a street fight between Bolo Yeung and some randoms, fights with the rebels (actually they are called Lifers), and a big showdown with everyone beating on everyone else... AND we even get not one, not two but THREE training montages! All the main five players in the movie put on a good martial arts show and I was especially impressed with Bobbie Phillips high-kicks.
There is one downside to TC 2000 and that is Matthias Hues; he's not in it enough. We see him get his arse handed to him in a sparring match with Blanks early on in the movie and it's revealed that the two aren't on the best of terms. He really only pops up a few times briefly before the final bout at the end of the movie. Such a shame as you can never have too much Hues.
This movie comes highly recommended to fans of movies like American Cyborg: Steel Warrior and Timecop. Great stuff!
Really good quality print on this VHS, in full-screen of course. IMDB says the movie should be 1.85:1 but I don't think any home versions exist in that ratio. Runtime 91 minutes.
Once again I'm too lazy to encode the video to get some screenshots so these are photos I found on Google Images. Cheers to those that originally took them.
Ex-rental CIC VHS for $2.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The SnakeEater is about to clean up the street. No matter how dirty he has to get.
I reviewed the first Snake Eater back in October last year and found it generally enjoyable with plenty of silly elements to keep me entertained. What I didn't like was the fixation on creepy rednecks. Thankfully the sequel, "The Drug Buster", doesn't have any creepy rednecks and is all the more better for it.
As you might assume by the title, the Soldier (played by Lorenzo Lamas) is back and this time he is busting drug dealers - though it's not as straight forward as it may sound. The movie begins at a cracking pace; a young black man that for some reason goes by the name "Speedboat" (Larry B. Scott) runs a community centre for the local youths and has them breakdancing, doing gymnastics, DJ'ing and other wholesome activities to keep them off the street and away from drugs. Soldier waltzes in, freshly suspended from his job as a cop (most likely for not doing things by the book) and after a few seconds talking to Speedboat two of the girls in a dance troupe falls to the ground. Before one passes out and Soldier does come CPR on the other, she says she "took something to give her the edge". DRUGS! Not only that but drugs cut with POISON!
From that moment on it's vigilante revenge-time for Soldier and Speedboat (that sounds like a kids morning television cartoon doesn't it? Soldier and Speedboat: The Crime Fighters!) who take it upon themselves to clean up this town. Soldier prepares his weapons belt and heads for a known drug sales operation and starts blasting away everybody that stands in his way. It's some top action and we are only ten minutes in to the movie. Just as he finishes laying waste to everybody, Speedboat turns up at the scene ready to kick arse but finds that all arses have been kicked by Soldier. The cops are on their way so he splits, leaving Soldier to face up to his actions.
After the initial awesome ten minutes of gunfire and bad fashion it starts getting weird again, just like the first movie. Soldier is on trial for killing four drug dealers that night and his incompetent comic-relief lawyer wants him to plead insanity. It's agreed that he will undergo psychiatric testing and is remanded to a nut house full of comical types and a cute female psychiatrist. The movie from this point on, for the most part, is a revenge themed adventure-comedy with plenty of in-nuthouse highjinks and daily escapes onto the street to take out another drug kingpin.
The other patients are what you would expect for cliche nuthouse patrons; we even get a perverted evangelist who gives sermons that turn quickly into the praising of breasts. There's a real strange scene in this incredibly low-security nut house facility: As the 'new guy' Soldier must compete in a game where he and another new guy fight each other while strapped to wheelchairs with one foot sticking out in a metal boot, jousting style. I'm not making this up. A movie about a suspended cop busting drug dealers features wheelchair jousting. My favourite line in the movie is in this scene and I actually burst out with a big "HAH!":
Soldier: "Why is that other guy not strapped to his chair?"
Patient: "Oh he's not a combatant, he's a cripple."
CHAMPAGNE COMEDY! Another strange scene has Soldier sneaking out of the nuthouse via the air conditioning ducts. As he progresses along the duct he runs into a prostitute going in the other direction, off to see one of the other patients. If that wasn't enough Soldier then encounters a pizza delivery guy in the vent asking for directions ("They should put a traffic light in here.") This movie is too much of a comedy sometimes.
And that's the real downside to the movie - the lengthy wait between each action sequence. Ultimately it's a case of quality over quantity because when they do come they are either truly explosive or plain hilarious. One of the funnier ones would be Soldier and Speedboat, pretending to be health inspectors, sneak laxative into another mob kingpin's pasta in a restaurant. Oh the hilarity as the guy clutching his arse runs to the toilet with the runs! But then Soldier has also planted an explosive in the toilet and blows the fucking bathroom up, kingpin and all. I guess that's when you are meant to stop laughing but I just laughed louder.
Ultimately Soldier and Speedboat get their revenge on the top drug kingpin and we get a proper old-school machine gun shootout at the end, although Speedboat does get captured and tortured for a bit until Soldier rescues him. The main bad guy, Joey Garcia (Richard Jutras), is a real piece of work - he slaps a prostitute and then presses a button in the wall that reveals a concealed bed - and really does the "don't worry, they can't get into my impenetrable fortress!" act well when attempting to appease other kingpins he is entertaining.
Snake Eater II is stupid fun but it's still not the movie I was expecting, or really wanting, though it is better than its predecessor. Perhaps with the third movie I'll get the ninety minute shoot-em-up that the first five minutes of the previous two Snake Eater movies eludes to... though I doubt it. Oh and be sure to pay attention to the fantastic checker-board wipe transitions between scenes, hah!
Good enough full screen presentation. Looks like they used the same cameras from Degrassi High.. the video just has that colour and feel to it. Runtime 90 minutes.
eBay for $8.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
From the makers of American Ninja.
This is a truly bad movie, but just like a car crash on the side of a highway you slow down to check out how bad it is. Firstly, to clarify: this is not the David Heavener movie of the same name (aka For Hire). It's a 1993 Nu Image production that proudly claims to be from the makers of American Ninja. I checked all the crew members on IMDB and I couldn't find who the tagline was referring to. It is however from the director of Michael Pare's Merchant of Death, Yossi Wein.
We start off with Dominique (Kathyrn Hill) out in Africa doing an environment study into the acidity of a lake, for some reason. Her boss says it is definitely man made acid then out of nowhere a bunch of friggen ninjas turn up, crossbow her boss in the back, knock off the other workers (including pushing them into the acid-water lake inducing chemical burns) and then a guy in a white suit with a monocle kidnaps her into a helicopter. Elsewhere, Joe (Ross Kettle) is an ex CIA something-or-other who now lives life teaching women how to breathe in yoga. He interrupted when an old CIA buddy comes to tell him his wife (Dominique) has been kidnapped by evil-doers in Africa. He doesn't actually want to help Joe so Joe enlists the help of his long time buddy Pete (David Webb; "Come see Africa he says. Come see your roots."). I love that when asked by customs "Anything to declare?" and they say "Yes, some crossbows.... for.... hunting" that the customs guy just smiles and says "Oh! Hunting! Have a nice trip!".
The pair fly to Africa and check into a posh hotel where we briefly meet the owner who is also a co-kidnapper of Dominique. We then move onto a nightclub where we witness what is, without a doubt, the absolute worst musical number in the history of recorded video. That might be an exaggeration but man, the chick can't sing and her backup dancers are definitely extras from a George Romero movie. They get into a punch up with security and are asked to calm down by the same guy in the white suit and camp accent. There's a few little fights with Joe kicking Ninjas around and Pete shooting them over the course of the movie and they are mostly hilarious. Even Pete exclaims once "Ninjas? With machine guns?!" We also get a pretty lame car chase and a token scaffolding finale battle that ends with a hundred foot drop to his doom for the bad guy.
There's a lot of walking around and people talking for the 15 to 45 minute mark; Pete and Joe doing investigations, Dominique being propositioned by the guy that owns the hotel and is co-holding her hostage, etc. We do get to meet this guy called Ndumo, a black African man that has some insider-knowledge about what's going on and where Joe's wife is, though he meets a grisly end in a car bomb. He's quite funny because he has obviously been dubbed by a middle-aged white man, the only dubbing (I think) that occurs in the movie. At about the 45 minute mark the pace picks up again in a hilarious way as Joe infiltrates the Ninja-base dressed in a stolen ninja outfit and finds all the other ninjas... roller skating. It's almost surreal as Joe stands there in the centre of what looks like a basketball court, the bad guy in the white suit surveying from the rafters co-ordinating the performance whilst the ninjas circle Joe on roller-skates with blades in the heel. It's like a bad ballet and easily the funniest part of the movie.
The plot is so convoluted; it just doesn't make sense. Why did white-suit and hotel guy kidnap Dominique? We are told it is so she can help in making more acid for putting into the water supply because that will give white suit guy 'power'. How? By killing everyone? She's not even let out of her motel room or put anywhere near a chemistry set so what is it she is actually doing? Why are they keeping black slaves in cages? Why did the hotel guy get involved? And then of course there's the big issue of ROLLER SKATING NINJAS IN AFRICA.
There's a whole lot of Nostradamus references in Lethal Ninja and I'm not sure why. The flick starts with a scrolling text of one of his prophecies, his pictures are all over the town and his name is used as a secret code word over the phone. I don't get why they bothered with all this; there is an allusion to his prophecy of water turning into acid and a man from the west saving the world, which I think they are trying to say refers to the poison water and Joe. The poison water turns up again when Joe and Pete sneak into another factory which is totally just a kids water-slide complex, complete with loops and sharp turns that I imagine would be quite fun to slide down if it wasn't supposedly filled with man-made acid.
The back cover of the tape says "An evil force is at work unleashing terrifying Ninja power". These ninjas aren't particularly terrifying, although they do snap a lot of necks (their trademark, apparently). They do successfully make that 'whoosh' sound found in all good chop-sockey flicks whenever they come into view. The real question is, since when were there so many ninjas in Africa? I wouldn't really say it was really Africa's forte.
Recommended for a laugh and not much more, though that being said you should see it at least once. I'm far too lazy to capture the video for this one for screenshots so you are getting the photos from the back of the tape; check out the trailer as well to see more.
I watched the Australian PAL "Entcorp" video as an ex-rental. Quality was really good for a VHS actually, I can't imagine the UK DVD looking any better at all. Runtime stated is 90 minutes but the feature is only 75.
In a bulk VHS haul, about 50c I guess.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
A fantastic ecological action adventure. A life and death struggle to save the Amazon rainforest.
Antonio Margheriti was a great Italian action movie director, commanding such genre classics as Cannibal Apocalypse, Yor, The Last Hunter and Alien from the Deep. He also directed an ecologically-minded action movie called Indio in 1989, about a half-Indian ex-marine Daniel Morell (Francesco Quinn from Platoon, Hell Ride and a whole lot of TV series) who fights alongside the native population of the Amazon rainforest to hold back an evil corporation's attempt to log the forest. Indio 2 follows the same general plot.
Filmed two years later and with Marvelous Marvin Hagler reprising his role as Sergeant Iron, the story starts with the execution and cruel decapitation of Daniel by corporation boss Vincent van Eyck (German actor Dirk Galuba in a rare English-speaking role) who is both referenced as being Dutch and South African; yay for continuity. The US Army get wind of this and ask Sergeant Iron to go check out what's been going on in the Amazon armed only with a camera for some reason.
This was a great little eco-action flick; I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and didn't look at the time once. The acting is pretty woeful accross the board but it didn't really affect anything. The story and direction was strong enough to carry the actors, and the action was bountiful enough to keep me entertained with what Marvelous Marvin was doing and not what he was saying. When he did speak, it was generally wooden and on more than one occasion acciddentally hilarious.
"Will you lead us my friend?" "...Yes. I will lead you."
There's plenty of solid action throughout. Moments after he arrives in the Amazon he knocks two armed guys unconscious with his bare hands. He meets the local tribe and one of their leaders, Ugadi (Frank Cuervo) who tells him all about the issues they have with the corporation that wants to build a highway through the Amazon. When the tribes did not agree to the plans they were killed or put into forced labour. One of the early scenes of the tribespeople working chainsaws and tirelessly chopping trees actually made me well up a bit inside, it was moving. Anyway, Marvin "frees" the slaves early on in the movie so it's obvious that there will be a retaliation. Marvin goes all John Rambo on the mercenary's arses, setting explosive booby-traps and the like. Fed up with losing his men, van Eyck bombs the crap out of the villagers with nerve gas leaving them with horrible burns. That's when Marvin declares that they've lost and needs a good pep talk from Ugadi about leadership.
The ending is reminiscent of everything from Avatar to Return of the Jedi, especially the Ewoks hurling stones at the high-tech stormtroopers. That's exactly what we get here with the Indio firing arrows at mercenaries with machine guns, and Marvellous Marvin Hagler performing the Han Solo role of providing modern-age weaponry to assist in fighting back. Silos and warehouses explode in a satisfying manner and we then get the one-on-one showdown between Marvin and van Eyck with the hilarious line that I end this review with.
"Who the hell is Mama Lou?" "She's... a lady." "Well we mustn't keep the lady waiting!"
Special mention has to go to Jacqueline Carol. Why this woman didn't do any more roles than this we may never know, but she should have. She's hysterical as the fat bar owner and guns-for-drugs cartel runner Mama Lou. After concluding what must be the only successful drug deal in cinema (where everyone gets what they want and no-one dies) she meets Marvelous Marvin and offers him a woman (she's a pimp as well). What Marvin really wants is access to the weapons storage. After ditching the girl, he and Ugadi break into the storage room and start loading up their van with munitions. Soon after, Mama Lou and a guy that looks like Borat catches them and Ugadi is strung up from a tree while Lou starts beating Marvin with her girth and bites his arm solidly with her golden grills! Marvin gets her in a headlock while she still has her teeth wrapped around his bicep and starts punching her in the head! It's solid gold entertainment.
I've gotten this far and not mentioned the also-tagged Charles Napier, van Eyck's boss. He's really just tagged as a courtesy. Man, if there was a better definition for bait-and-switch than Napier in this movie I'd like to hear it. He literally flies in, tells van Eyck he's just been fucked by a native and a black man, calls in reinforcements and then fucks out again. This all takes place in all no more than ninety seconds. It's like when Krusty the Clown does his lines for the Krusty doll ("Bada bing, bada boom, I'm done. Learn from the professionals, kid.").
Hunt this down if you can. I was lucky to trip over this in an opportunity shop but eBay appears to have a few copies of the US tape going quite cheap and still new in shrink wrap. Well worth your time.
"This is for Daniel Morell! And because I'm black, mother fuckeeerrrrrrrr!!!!!"
Solid enough fullscreen VHS presentation. IMDB lists the movie as being filmed in scope but either that's incorrect (there is no DVD to check up on) or the centre of frame was always kept in mind when filming, because everything is contained nicely. Sound was stereo and in fine shape. Runtime 95 minutes.
A local Vinnies op-shop for $2 on VHS.