Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blood Hands (1990)

Blood hands poster

Tagline:

One man. One neighbourhood. A new set of rules.

Movie Review:

Blood Hands 6

Teddy Page (going by Ted Johnson here) took a break from filming jungle action in the Philippines to churn out this little kickboxing "gem". Four kickboxing champs are happy and drunk over one of their kin winning a championship medallion go to a supermarket and get rowdy, After accidentally killing the store owner the four flee but their car breaks down. Within walking distance of an ex-wife, they go to get water for the engine. Another fight ensues and both the girl and her new partner are killed. In their haste the medallion is left behind, and it turns out that the dead ex-wife was the step mother to Steve Callahan (Sean Donahue). Steve's girlfriend recovers the medallion from the scene and shows Sean who makes it his mission to get revenge.

This is a by-the-numbers bad kickboxing revenge movie, but if that's your thing then there's a lot to like here. It's hard to write about as it's so completely generic but I think it's worth your time to check it out. Sean Donahue is up there with Reb Brown in the hilarity stakes, constantly yelling and pulling awesome fight-faces that are worth the price of entry alone. The acting is awful but who cares really, the plot is so wafer thin you only come here for the fights and bad dialogue.

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They are pretty good by the way (the fights, not the dialogue although it's pretty funny too). The beatings from the bad guys at the beginning are all quite funny and pointless - why would four slightly drunk guys kill a shop owner when they weren't trying to steal anything? Callahan takes on a few street gang types which is amusing, but the real fun begins in the third act when he starts taking revenge good and proper. After a payback attack on his girlfriend's father that hospitalises him, Callahan decides he has to get into shape. Cue montage (see video below). After that he gets stealthy and follows the four of the guys around before picking them off one by one in more and more hilarious ways; following them into bar bathrooms, pretending to be interviewing for a Kickboxing magazine etc. One guy even gets tied to train tracks which ends how you expect it to.

The film is filled with Filipino action staples; Jim Gaines (Robowar, Blood Ring, Strike Commando, Phantom Soldiers), Ned Hourani (Bloodfist 1 and 2, Black Cobra 2 and 3, Kill Zone) and Nick Nicholson (Raiders of the Sun, Live by the Fist, Eye of the Eagle, Zombie 4: After Death) being the highlights. I'm also very surprised it was filmed in 1990. It looks far more like a 1979 kung-fu movie in denim jeans than the year portrays.

Sorry for the shorter than usual review but there's not much to say here. It's a bad kickboxing movie that's funnier than it aught to be. If you get a few beers and mates in I think you could have a great time laughing at Sean Donahue's antics and his lame girlfriend (Christine Landson, whose only other credit is SFX Retaliator with Linda Blair) and her father's cue-card line reading. If the cover didn't sell you then the screenshots will. Beyond that I can't convince you much more. Well okay, check out the video below it's pretty awesome.

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The Video:

It sucked, basically. The DVD is an out-of-print Payless R4 that was dark and murky, which I could deal with. The real problem was that the film must not have been properly aligned as it was being scanned in and the picture jumps quite a bit throughout the entire picture. The audio is muffled a bit as the production on set was cheap and nasty. Keep your sea sickness pills on standby for this one. Runtime 88 minutes.

Sourced From:

A lucky pickup in a second hand store for a dollar.

Trailer:

Thanks to Karl Brezdin for finding the trailer! I couldn't find one when I did the review so to make up for the shorter-than-usual review, I have captured both the hilarious montage scene and one of the best fights from the end. Enjoy!

More Screens:

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Charity Hurts (2010)

Charity hurts poster

Movie Review:

Charity Hurts 8

"Look I don't want any trouble, I just want to talk to your boss. And by talk I mean beat up."

A short while ago I was approached by Andrew Thatcher, the writer, director, producer, editor and leading star in the Australian independent martial arts movie Charity Hurts to do a review. This was the first time that I had been asked specifically to do a review for something so I was a bit chuffed, and independent movies can be great fun. Having little budget (or in this case NO budget) limited resources and a cast of entirely amateur actors can often result in a bad film, but what Andrew managed to pull off with a Sony Handycam and a few friends is applaudable.

Jason Jones (Andrew Thatcher) is an every day man that is sick of being constantly harassed by door-to-door charity workers all wanting money for the poor, the blind, the deaf and the pandas. When two girls collecting for their school won't take no for an answer, Jason gets mad. Hilarity and mayhem ensue as Jason uses his fists to solve the charity worker menace but he soon discovers that all charities are in league with each-other - in fact they form an organised mob - and so takes it upon himself to end the menace of charity once and for all by taking out the big boss John Scaglioni (John Tsoutis).

Charity Hurts 5

This film is a riot. Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect when I put the DVD in but the sheer passion that Andrew and his co-stars display on screen overwhelms any lack of resources or "professionalism" that one comes to expect from traditional cinema. Most of the cast have at least some form of martial arts skills and Andrew himself also lists among his repertoire Fight Choreographer. Some of the punches and kicks are off target and pushing someone against a chain link fence is done slowly so as not to hurt them, but the skills are all there and on display in earnest. When it comes to resources it's obvious that the local school hall and probably Andrew's own house double as set pieces, and abandoned car parks as fighting arenas. I wonder if some of this was guerrilla film-making at work or if the local council gave the go-ahead? Either way it was quite refreshing to see an action movie being so thrifty.

"I'm gonna stop it one way or another. You've seen my one way - want to try for another?"

The acting is very amateur but honestly I didn't care after the first few minutes. Some of the lines are so hilarious I couldn't imagine a veteran actor delivering them any better (well, apart from Bruce Campbell). The action is delivered in a fast and sometimes brutal fashion. All effects are done with basic computer graphics which is pretty funny itself; lots of flames, bullets and blood explode digitally on the screen. The one exception I noticed was one of the bad guys party tricks of breathing fire. It's not all just martial arts either as there's plenty of machine gun shootouts, a rocket launcher accidentally fired backwards and even a flamethrower. I never got bored watching because I was so interested to see how Andrew and co. would manage a car chase or jump out of a ten story building window (the answer to both questions is 'hilariously'). I found the constant techno music grating but it did push the action along a lot. The movie is also only 70 minutes long which is the ideal length for an old school chop-sockey action-comedy with a linear plot.

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Where I was really impressed was with the editing. Andrew knows how to cut scenes together well and give the illusion of more than one camera being used (though I'm fairly sure this was a single-camera production). There's a couple of scenes that waffle on a bit and some not-so successful attempts at humour, but on the flip-side there's about a dozen fights and even a sexy dancing number. I hope Andrew gets to follow up with a sequel to Charity Hurts and gets a little bit of money to polish the rough edges a bit. I thought the storyline was a brilliant idea. Imagine how it could turn out with a five or even six figure budget. This movie oozes charm and is just plain fun - something that a lot of DTV action movies can't manage with multi-million dollar budgets and overweight Val Kilmer's.

To obtain a copy of Charity Hurts, head on over to charityhurts.wetpaint.com or email andrew_thatcher_2@hotmail.com.

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The Video:

The DVD is presented in widescreen with a motion menu (a nice touch). The video is sharp when the lighting is right, but as with all handycams, sunlight is detrimental and causes lots of white-wash outs. The sound appears to have been recorded from the inbuilt microphone so at times is a little hard to hear, but generally you can follow along. The thumping techno track is overly loud and got on my nerves. Runtime 70 minutes.

Sourced From:

Provided by the film maker for review.

Trailer:

More Screens:

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Charity Hurts 1

Friday, April 22, 2011

Future Fear (1997)

Future fear poster

Tagline:

Something's eating away at humanity.

Movie Review:

Future Fear 1

It's the future or something and humanity has been mostly destroyed by a virus that crashed to earth, orchestrated by the evil Nazi-like General Wallace (Stacy Keach, from actual good movies like American History X) who wants to bring about the coming of the next Aryan race. Dr. John Denniel (Jeff Wincott, The Killing Man, No Exit) flies a helicopter badly, trying not to be shot by his ex-wife Anna (Maria Ford, Alien Terminator, Ring of Fire, Future Kick) in another helicopter also flying badly. They are both scientists who have created an embryo from a gibbon that will, for some reason, save humanity. She's shooting at him because they are having a lovers quarrel about whether they keep the embryos alive or harvest them to save the planet. Wincott eats a sandwich in the middle of a battle and complains about the lack of pickles.

This is a steaming pile of horse shit. I've only seen a couple of Jeff Wincott movies so far but surely this has to be the worst one by a country mile. In it's 77 minute run time I've made a cup of tea followed by a strong black coffee, got some cheese and crackers for a snack, had a power nap for an hour and have already begun writing this review. After this sentence I have to go back and watch the last twenty minutes and I am not looking forward to it, but I can't procrastinate any longer. I have dinner to cook.

Future Fear 2

Roger Corman movies are usually fun to a degree but this was even worse than Starquest II aka Mind Breakers, which was filmed the same year (probably back-to-back with this). Outside of a pretty funny fight between Wincott and Ford involving a toilet plunger, and hearing the same "whhoOOOOoooaaah!" yelp from Wincott whenever he falls off or into something, this movie was devoid of any redeeming qualities. The producers were trying to be too serious and clever by filling it with Alice in Wonderland quotes and hell, even a couple of hallucinatory scenes involving Alice herself holding a white rabbit. The sets look like they are going to fall apart and the production is so cheap that when we see footage of 'humanity on the brink of collapse', it's just a bunch of Indians fighting police at some kind of rally - I'm not sure if this is stock footage or ripped off from another movie.

As usual the cover of the DVD makes it look pretty awesome but those gunships are nowhere to be seen; the only things in Future Fear that fly are the missile that launched the virus and the ridiculous helicopters. I don't know why any of the cast agreed to perform in this piss, but here we are. Stacy Keach no more than phones his lines in than stands in front of a black wall and reads them off cue cards. He finally leaves said room in the last five minutes to enact his evil plan. I never really understand why Anna is that annoyed at her husband that they get into a helicopter fire-fight in the first place but it at least started the movie off with a 'so bad it can't possibly be bad' note (it was).

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There's a ridiculous scene where Wincott goes into a bar (there are bars in high-security scientific research buildings?) that has an electrified floor. He defeats this floor by standing on top of a tray of glasses then hurling water at a control board to short it out. Wincott discovers a nursery filled with dead teachers and children (there are nurseries in high-security scientific research buildings?). Wincott hurls his machine gun into a spinning blade to stop it moving, and succeeds. At one point in the movie Wincott says to the camera "I feel like I'm in a poor man's Raiders of the Lost Ark." Not even close, buddy.

Amazon has the American VHS for sale, brand new and not from a third-party seller, for $47.90. That's apparently a saving of 20% off the RRP of $59.98. You would have to be suicidal to spend that kind of money on a piece of arse movie like Future Fear. I got this as a present and I still feel ripped off. Water torture would be more pleasant than sitting through this dreck again. It's totally incoherent with its jumping time between "now" in 2018 and "1 year ago". The acting is appalling, the plot abominable and the effects abhorrent.

At least Maria Ford got her kit off. And Jeff Wincott ate two sandwiches.

Future Fear 7

The Video:

I reviewed the New Concorde R1 DVD, part of the "Maria Ford Collection". The fullscreen video does the job well enough, though it can be grainy at times. The audio is quiet but adequate. Runtime 77 minutes.

Sourced From:

A gift. So I can't return it. As much as I want to.

Trailer:

More Screens:

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blood Out (2011)

Blood out poster

Tagline:

He's laying down his badge to lay down the law.

Movie Review:

Blood Out 1

Luke Goss (Mercenary for Justice, Death Race 2, Tekken) plays Michael Spencer, a Sheriff in a small town who learns that his brother David has been killed by a gang for wanting out. Not receiving any help from the city authorities on the case, Michael throws in his badge and positions himself as a thug without a gang to call home (ala Raw Deal) so that he can get to his brother's killer. He also discovers that his brother's widowed girlfriend is a habitual drug user and sister to one of the members of David's gang, as well as pregnant with his child. Michael advances the ranks of the gang whilst also taking out other scum on the streets from rival gangs in the area, but always keeping his eye on the prize - gang leader Elias who ordered the kill on his brother.

First thing's first; this is a serious bait-and-switch movie. If you are here to see Vinnie Jones, Val Kilmer or for some reason Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson you are going to leave this film sorely disappointed. The DVD cover (shown here) has 50 Cent right up the front, with Vinnie Jones to his left, Val Kilmer porking it up behind him and Luke Goss - the star of the film - sticking his head out in the rear. Honestly this kind of cover is just false advertising and should be subject to the same rules and regulations as a retail outlet TV advertisement. "Buy this couch for $199 today" then when you get to the shop they never had any in the first place, but would you be interested in this one for $499? It's just not cricket.

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Jones is only in the first ten minutes and has one scene when he starts the ball rolling by executing Michael's younger brother David, a member of Elias's (Tamer Hassan) gang who controls the North American region. He's not seen again until the final fight where he gets a handful more lines. 50 Cent has one scene as the lazy and arrogant cop Hardwick who refuses to follow up the case of David's death and tazers Michael for pushing him - he does appear briefly later though I won't spoil that.

And Val Kilmer.. well, he finally turns up in the last act as rival gang leader for the South American region, Arturo, and his "presence" certainly fills the screen. The guy has stacked on more kilos than Seagal ever did and he really, really needs a haircut. He chews the scenery with glee, walking with a cane with ivory handle and spouting dramatic lines of prose from invocation The Rite of Mars. The less said about his involvement in the movie the better, though you will laugh yourself silly when he's on screen, just liked in Hardwired.

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With that out of the way, I did enjoy this movie. It was filmed in that modern hyperactive way but the fights were clearly visible, just shaky. Luke Goss did a terrific job as a vigilante cop infiltrating a gang and truly is the movie's saving grace. He was very believable and looked the part when he got tattooed and chain-smoked. This is definitely a good role for him and reminds me of Jason Statham quite a bit, both in character and in build. The opening five minutes was pretty weird though and left me wondering where this film was going. Michael heads up a drug-bust that goes bad when one of the bad guys holds a little girl hostage. Michael doesn't see the girl and fires, killing both man and hostage. The next scene you would expect to see him getting raked over the coals, his badge taken away and put on suspension, but instead the Captain gives a "Good job today everyone, no-body killed." speech. Michael asks "What about the girl?" to which the Captain replies "Collateral damage." What the hell? It's also never referenced again and is not a catalyst for any other part of the movie. There's a few other "why is this here?" scenes as the movie progresses, like the S&M stuff.

Other worthy mentions are Tamer Hassan (Layer Cake, Unleashed, 7 Seconds) as gang leader Elias who plays the role convincingly without going over the top (unlike Val Kilmer who orders his girls to "Dance!" while on a phone call from his pool side reclining chair). A real star here was Ed Quinn (TV's Eureka), a "nice" thug that befriends Michael and is brother to David's ex-girlfriend. He tries to get her cleaned up and he also has a strong sense of loyalty to Michael which is one of the film's best chemistries, far better than the thrown-in-because-we-have-to-have it sex scene between Michael and one of Elias' (hot) female lieutenants and keen sadomasochists (the gorgeous AnnaLynne McCord, also in 50 Cent / Val Kilmer vehicle "Gun").

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I won't give it away but there is a fantastic moment right on the one hour twenty-minute mark where Michael is involved with a car crash. Notice I didn't say IN a car crash, but with, as in the cause of it. I had to watch it in slow-motion three times to make sure I was seeing it right but the scene is one of the most ridiculous I have ever seen, right up there with Steven Seagal decapitating Japanese businessmen from the third story of a building in Out For a Kill.

This is Director Jason Hewitt's first film, although he has produced many DTV films in recent years - Cabin Fever 2 and Wrong Side of Town stand out the most to me. He did a pretty reasonable job, though he would do well to put the camera on a freaking tripod every now and then. You could get motion sickness watching too many modern DTV movies. Overall Blood Out is a pretty decent vigilante-revenge action movie with a few silly sub-plots and needless scenes, but with a straight-shooting main plot with enough shoot-outs and fights to keep you interested throughout it's not-overlong 85 minute runtime. And you get to laugh at Val Kilmer's hair to boot.

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The Video:

Video was sharp and clear though strangely enough appeared to be incorrectly framed. The DVD is presented in scope at 2.35:1 ratio which, on occasion, leaves you looking at talking necks, not heads. It was clearly meant to be full-frame 16:9. It's a little distracting to be honest. Sound is fine though quiet. Runtime 85 minutes.

Sourced From:

A new release rental DVD.

Trailer:

More Screens:

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