Sunday, May 20, 2012

Command 5 (1985)

Command 5 poster

Tagline:

Four men and a woman of courage.. their mission: to combat violent crime! 

Quick Blast Review:

When recluse, action junkie ex-army Captain Blair Morgan (Stephen Parr) is ready to throw in the towel, he is persuaded to create a civilian task force to clean up violent crime. He agrees if only he can choose his team; a by-his-own-rules cop and demolition derby car driver, J. D. Smith (William Russ); female police psychologist and machine gun expert, Chris Winslow (Sonja Smits); alcoholic cop with a short fuse Jack Coburn (Wings Hauser) and demolition expert and general nutter, Nick Kowalski (John Matuszak). Together they are COMMAND 5! And as Command 5 under Captain Morgan's command, they get an awesome bullet-proof truck that make the Star Trek door sound when it opens its hatch,  and an arsenal of the latest weapons (and motorbikes in the back of the truck) to wreck havoc with.

After a relentless training montage, the team are called in for the first assignment - a group called The Brotherhood, let by Hawk (William Forsythe), have taken the Governer's daughter hostage and hold an entire town to ransom. They demand that their people be released from prison or the bodies will start piling up. Who else can save the day but COMMAND 5 - they have badges on their jackets and their own jumbo jet, too!

This is top shelf entertainment right here, folks! I had a whale of a time with this obvious A-Team clone. Everyone gives it their all to blow up as much stuff as possible. John Matuszak's Kowalski is the highlight for me, being the massive fan of One Man Force that I am. Kowalski grins insanely while playing classical music as background to his planned detonations, or just screaming at and pushing down walls instead of climbing over them. His best moment would be carving a statue of The Thinker out of explosive clay and blowing up a bridge with it, haha! J. D. Smith's constant "like my daddy always said" lines get a bit tiresome, but it's never tiresome seeing Chris Winslow with an automatic weapon in her hands!

Wiliam Forsythe is a baddy in everything he plays, and there is a reason for that - he does it so well! He's pretty slimy as Hawk and you just love to hate him. Stephen Parr's Morgan is a quality leader, showing restraint and good leadership skills, managing to group this band of misfits together without the colossal force of Wings and Matuszak causing the whole thing to explode. Wings is his usual great self, and his schtick of drinking scotch with milk is pretty amusing. He has a temper on him and is the cause of both bar fights in the film. That's right we get bar fights (one with hookers and a pimp!); we also get motorbike chases and countless rounds of ammunition used to blow up large set pieces.

Being a TV movie that is almost viewable by younger folk - I'd let a 12 year old watch this, for sure - only two guys are killed during the film, and there is no blood splatter. But a HELL of a lot of cars and buildings are decimated! That's more fun anyway, right? BOOM!

Command 5 01 

The Final Fifteen:

Just how you think it goes! Hawk won't release the hostages, the Governor won't release the prisoners, so how do we resolve this situation? Send in Command 5! The team go covertly in with the attitude of "secure the hostages first, nail the punks second!". Explosions abound as Command 5 battle their way through Hawk's brigade of scum and rescue the hostages, with Kowalski throwing guys out of windows and Coburn throwing grenades at everything else. After a quick bike chase to catch Hawk, the film ends in the TV-cheeseball kind of way that even gets a "Merry Christmas" thrown in for good measure.

Sourced From:

Japanese VHS I picked up from eBay. It was made for TV so 4:3 is the correct ratio to watch this in. Distributed by CIC worldwide from what I can see. 

Trailer:

Not a trailer, but it may as well be - the opening credits sequence that I recorded from my own tape. Sensational!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fallout (1999)

Fallout poster 

Tagline:

The world is waiting...

Quick Blast Review:

It's the "future" (2015, which must have looked a long way away in 1999), and NASA is planning a mission to the new space station, Skyhook. On the trip will be space veteran J. J. "Jim" Hendricks (Daniel Baldwin, ) Russian cosmonaut Capt. Previ Federov (Frank Zagarino). Hendricks keeps failing the pre-flight test scenarios and is grounded, which he reacts to by resigning. With a space on the launch freed up, NASA takes the opportunity to get some repairs done to the space station by sending up Amanda McCord (Teri Ann Lin, Pure Danger). And a guy from Family Ties (Scott Valentine) is the ground commander.

Federov and co. make it to the space station and Amanda soon discovers that the computer on the station isn't broken, it's been sabotaged. That's when Federov and the Russians already aboard unpack some weapons and take over the place. He demands that Russia pulls back their invading army from his home country of Tajikistan or he will blow up world cities with satellites he now controls, thanks to the space station. This is despite the fact that NASA is an American organisation and has no sway over Russian politics, but whatever, this is a TV movie. Who's gonna save the day? Why that's freshly discharged "Jim" Hendricks of course, who will fly the experimental X33 shuttle - that launches like a regular jet plane (!!?) - along with a team of soldiers to infiltrate the station and take it back from the invading Russians.

This is decent but unremarkable, and chock-a-bloc full of stock footage. For two bucks I'm not complaining, and if you catch it on TV (where it belongs) then give it a go. The action isn't in massive quantities but its worth the price of entry alone to hear Zagarino's hilarious Russian accent! His true Zagarino accent shines through constantly, though he is still better than the Scottish-Russian abomination Sean Connery flaunted in The Hunt for Red October. Baldwin is okay enough as the Bruce Willis character, though action is not his forte. He sneaks around a lot and doesn't crack any good one-liners. He's pretty generic, overall, but serviceable. He should have gotten angry and thrown something, I would have cared a bit more. 

The science is lame but it's the future, so they can get away with that; magnetic boots for gravity, though nobody's hair stands on end etc. There is still the special toilet with the hose pipe though. The opening act is ripe with dialogue such as "If you didn't have such a chip on your shoulder, you wouldn't have such a crack in your record." 

Fallout 01Fallout 02Fallout 03Fallout 04Fallout 05Fallout 06

The Final Fifteen:

Hendricks has snuck on board and freed the captive American astronauts, including Amanda who has been trying to send messages back to Ground Commander Family Ties using random bits of circuit she found in their holding cell. They manage to turn the life support power off to the station which co-incidentally gives the exact same amount of time to stop the satellites auto-firing their payloads - fifteen minutes.

Cue some wrestling and gun firing to and from Federov and the other Russians until he's finally taken out by Hendricks. The power is restored and the payloads aborted with, you guessed it, one second to spare. But that's not all; now Hendricks has to overcome his failed attempts during the opening acts' training scene and land the damn shuttle. Oddly the voiceover says "Catastrophic failure", fades to black, and then everyone is on the ground hugging and cheering at their safe return?! 

Sourced From:

My bargain-basement two buck shop RAAM Multimedia DVD. Picture was fine though overly compressed, so in fast scenes it was a little messy. You get what you pay for!

Trailer:

The only trailer I could find was in German, which makes Zagarino's Russian accent even more hysterical!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ninja's Extreme Weapons (1988)

Ninjas extreme weapons poster 

Tagline:

The day of the Ninja is here!

Quick Blast Review:

Isn't that cover just the best? Ninjas with spiked knuckle-dusters and broadswords, helicopters, masked men with machine guns and a freaking jumbo jet crashing out of the sky and splitting in half.. being set on by an entire platoon of men. That is the best movie ever, right there. So... what the hell did I just watch!? It is impossible to do a proper review about this so I'm going to have to bullet point it.

  • There's a bunch of multi-coloured ninjas working for a mob boss in a wheelchair (who keeps telling us "I am the boss.. and don't you forget it!").
  • By multi-coloured I mean their clothing. These are all white men. One has a porno moustache.
  • Some sort of drug deal happens in the forest and a renegade Blue ninja steals the suitcase of drugs.
  • The boss drinks cans of Coke at a camping table.
  • Somewhere else, there's a bunch of Chinese people (apparently this was filmed in Hong Kong). 
  • One of them is Sergeant Kim and he's a total playboy. He says lines like "Some people judge me for being a playboy... but I get the job done."
  • Kim cracks onto a singer in a nightclub. She's singing a completely different song to what we are actually hearing.
  • There's some army guys walking through tall reeds littered with skulls, after jade treasure in a mountain. They get attacked by a White ninja who disguises himself as a Chinese dragon with a flamethrower in the mouth. Then he literally does a "ninja vanish".
  • There seems to be a story about prostitutes tattooed with dragons being forced to work for an Underworld boss. I'm pretty sure it's not the wheelchair bound boss who drinks Coke, either.
  • The playboy is dubbed by an Australian voice actor. He gets attacked by randoms of the Underworld. He throws an old lady at them as defence.
  • Back to Ninja-land, the boss tells his Red ninja to protect his magic ring from his son who he can't trust. Also if the Blue ninja got a hold of it, the world would end.
  • The boss gets a full body massage from three Black ninjas.
  • We get a decent three-colour-Ninja fight. The Blue ninja flies horizontally through the air then does a quadruple backflip.
  • A chinese dragon is a great place to hide two guys with mullet haircuts brandishing machine guns. And they kill the parents of one of the prostitutes (yes we are back in the second movie again)
  • I think everyone in the Hong Kong part of the movie died except the playboy. I can't recall. No, I'm not re-watching.
Ninjas Extreme Weapons 01Ninjas Extreme Weapons 02Ninjas Extreme Weapons 03Ninjas Extreme Weapons 04Ninjas Extreme Weapons 05

As you can see this is basically two movies smashed together; about twenty minutes of cheap, Ninja related goodness and an hour of underworld prostitution rings and playboys dubbed by Australians. It should have been called Ninja Book-end.

Godfrey Ho, you've done it again.

The Final Fifteen:

The final fifteen is really the final five and the only thing truly worth seeing. The Blue ninja meets with the boss to discuss terms for returning the drugs. It's a heist of course and we get a Ninja battle. The best thing in the movie then happens - the crippled, wheelchair bound boss leaps forty feet in the air, landing on the Blue ninja. Why couldn't the whole movie be like that? Blue gets hoisted up a tree as punishment and the Red ninja retrieves the stolen drugs suitcase. When he opens it it's actually a bomb, and everyone except Blue explodes in a pretty satisfying, slow-motion death sequence. 

Blue looks down from the tree and says "In the name of God, Amen."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Sourced From:

I have absolutely no idea how I got this tape.

Trailer:

Not a trailer but it's a scene from the Ninja portion of the movie.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Direct Action (2004)

Direct action poster

Tagline:

Can one man make a difference? 

Movie Review:

Direct Action 01

It really is about time I reviewed another Dolph on the site. After all, excepting Schwarzenegger he is easily my favourite action star. There is something about this well-built Swedish brute (meant in the nicest possible way, folks) that keeps me coming back. His physique leads him to action films but I think it's his way of delivering lines that I enjoy so much. He always sounds like he enjoys his work so much. Direct Action is no exception, as the gum-chewing Dolph here again demonstrates.

Dolph Lundgren plays Sgt. Frank Gannon, a veteran member of the Direct Action taskforce - an elite force given special powers to clean up the city; and they have been mightily successful. Crime is at the lowest it has been in a decade. However, these statistics and extra powers have gone to the heads of the team who have taken their elevated stature as an excuse to commit crimes themselves. Profitable crimes, headed up by Captain Stone (Conrad Dunn, Death Warrant, Silent Trigger). All that is except Frank Gannon, who refuses to take any part and Sgt. Ed Grimes (Rothaford Gray, Exit Wounds, Max Payne) his partner who wants to protect his wife and children.

Direct Action 02

Gannon is assigned a new transfer as his partner, Billie Ross (Polly Shannon, No Contest, The Girl Next Door). When the corrupt Stone can't convince Gannon to take part in the scams he is caught, tasered and lined up to be executed by the other officers on the take. With the help of new partner Ross, picking off his would-be executors at a distance with an assault rifle, the two escape. Stone tries another tactic by implicating them both in the drug ring and issuing and APB for their arrest, for the murder of three police officers. As well as that, Sgt. Grimes' family is kidnapped.

It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to learn that that Direct Action was meant to have been a Steven Seagal film. I'm only speculating here, but the good cop getting to the roots of corruption/mafia/drug syndicate plot is usually Seagal's signature. I am glad to see Dolph doing one of these too as he does a great job as the good cop, breaking in a new partner and taking down the bad cops in his unit. I had been putting off seeing Direct Action as it has a reputation of not being one of his better films. I disagree; this is a solid DTV Dolph on par with Command Performance, Direct Contact and The Mechanik, better than Icarus/The Killing Machine and FAR better than Retrograde and Diamond Dogs (in my opinion the worst of Dolph's DTV output).

Direct Action 09

Plenty of action to enjoy in this one. Dolph shows off both his hand-to-hand and foot-to-face unarmed combat skills, but also he gets to blast away with a pistol and machine gun frequently. His partner Ross gets many opportunities to wipe out bad guys with an assault rifle, which is pretty amusing to see a girl in full makeup, hair done for a night out and hooped earrings - standard police outfit? - not even break a sweat. Over the ten hours or so that the film takes place we see the relationship between Ross and Gannon establish very quickly and she takes her position as his new partner, covering Gannon's back as many times as he covers hers. He keeps offering her gum throughout the film stating "you don't know what you are missing out on" each time she refuses. She finally relents after being shot at enough.

The best thing about a Dolph action film versus a Seagal action film is that Dolph tends to not use stunt-doubles. Or if he does you at least cannot tell easily. The camera-work on Direct Action was solid and no ridiculous effects and zoomed-too-close action to ruin everything. Part of Dolph's Canadian-based film cycle (like Silent Trigger, Detention, Hidden Agenda) instead of the Bulgarian/Russian/Romanian set-pieces that would dominate his later work, the locations pass easily as the LA it is trying to portray; at least to an outsider such as myself.

This is a solid film with a solid final act and payoff. Gannon stays true to his badge and therefore gets shot at a number of times tracking down Stone and his grunts completing the drug deal with the Asian drug lords. Gannon and Ross show up with extra help from the CIA and after a sweet car chase dispose of them all... except Stone. He goes on to testify that everything is hunky-dory at Direct Action. That is until Gannon shows up in the car park, blows Stone's arse away, and spits his gum on the corpse! Recommended.

Direct Action 05

The Video:

Presented in the correct 1.85:1 16:9 ratio, as far as I can tell, the R4 DVD was only made available for rent. The R1 is easy enough to obtain online. The US Blu-ray is solid as well, though Region A locked. Runtime ~90 minutes.

Sourced From:

Ex-rental Australian DVD for a couple of bucks.

Trailer:

More Screens:

Direct Action 03

Direct Action 06

Direct Action 07

Direct Action 08

Direct Action 10

Direct Action 04

Direct Action 11


 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Deadly Force (1983)

Deadly force poster

Tagline:

The killer is too insane to be caught. This ex-cop is mad enough to try! 

Quick Blast Review:

Stoney Cooper (Wings Hauser) is an ex-cop ex-husband making a living as a Private Eye cum vigilante in New York. When he hears that the duaghter of his friend Sam (Al Ruscio) has been murdered in L.A by a serial killer called 'X', Cooper flies out to investigate - though his help is not at all appreciated. His ex-wife Eddie doesn't want him there, his ex-Captain threatens to arrest him, and the local mob boss he had previously rubbed the wrong way is out to get him. Once he starts getting too close to the killer, he finds himself being shot at by even more people. Can Cooper catch the guy that a whole police force seems cannot?

Deadly Force 01

Deadly Force is a strange one. It stands on that border between gritty 70's Dirty Harry style police thriller and 80's over-the-top action, taking portions from both eras. On one side the L.A. mob guys, the neon lights and the power-rock soundtrack cement its foothold in the 80's action film era - and the opening scene with Wings 'negotiating' with a dynamite-weilding terrorist by insulting him is very 80's. But the style of the (numerous) car chases, the well plotted and evolving police procedural storyline, and the almost giallo red-herring killers place it in the 70's. This makes for an interesting film that puts a lot more thought into the plot than the usual action film we review here. The secondary characters, particularly Cooper's ex-wife Eddie, are well established and all serve a purpose. 

Wings is great and a total smart-arse throughout. He beats information out of people on one hand or tries to buy them off with the other. Being of cop vintage his weapon of choice is a pistol, but it's mainly him that is getting shot at. One hilarious scene sees Cooper being shot at with a machine gun, from an adjacent apartment block, while he is in the bath! Most of the rest of the film involves Cooper interviewing people and being chased in a car. I could have done without the nude hammock sex scene showing more of Cooper than Eddie, however. Keep an eye out for a short appearance of Estelle Getty as Wing's cab driver Gussie!

The Final Fifteen:

The cops have what they believe is the body of the serial killer, but Cooper does not agree. After another glorious car chase where both cars burst through a wall, Cooper begins his final hunt for who he believes is the real killer, dispatching his associates and taking out the main player in a pretty tense cat-and-mouse scene. To remind us it's an 80's action film, one of the final shots is the killer's car exploding in flames after Cooper shoots it in the boot.

Sourced From:

Australian PAL VHS released by Roadshow only a year after the theatrical run (pretty good for 1983-4). Solid full-frame picture that appears to be open matte, as I saw quite a lot of boom mic's! Not yet on DVD.

Trailer:

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