Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Storm Catcher (1999)

Storm catcher poster


To fight the winds of war, he must enter the eye of the storm.

Movie Review:

Storm Catcher 1

Major Jack Holloway (Dolph Lundgren) is a test pilot for the Army and along with his copilot Captain Lucas (Jon Pennel) and ground support/comedy relief Captain "Sparks" Johnson (Mystro Clark). Sparks is a name you would give to an engineer, not ground support, but anyway. After a successful test of the new Storm Catcher stealth fighter, Holloway takes a short holiday with Sparks and his family where he helps coach his daughters little league and roasts marshmallows while camping. It's pretty strange to see the guy who once wore a necklace of ears in Universal Soldier roasting marshmallows but it's funny all the same. His wife Jessica is played by Kiwi super model actress Kylie Bax and she keeps her accent throughout, which stands out a country mile. Also she can't act, at least in this one her first role. She went on to join Dolph again in the thriller Jill Rips which I haven't seen so perhaps she got better.

Anyway, Holloway gets bleeped back to work so has to leave his family shindig. Cut to the army base where a person in Holloway's uniform (why do they need space suits for a stealth fighter anyway?) has entered the Storm Catcher hanger and proceeded to shoot all the other soldiers with a silenced pistol. The mask is down so we never see his face but his thumb print security matched Hollway's so it must be him, right? Outside, a pair of rebel assassin/sabotuer types dressed in black clothes and black face paint arm bombs to the hanger door, blow the place watch as Captain Lucas flies away with the secret jet. Yup, he's crossed the Army.

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The next day in the desert heat, Major Holloway stumbles onto the road looking for his family, with no clue as to how he got there. He is questioned by the military and all evidence points to him having killed all those soldiers and stealing the secret jet but he has no memory of it. He's piled into a prisoner security van and taken away but on route the van is hit with a missile and explodes. Luckily Holloway is okay and is pulled from the wreckage by more rebels who take him away in an ice cream van.

This is pretty good Dolph. It has a stronger storyline than some of his other movies (and also more stock footage) but it still hits pretty high on its action quota, and doesn't get lost in any convoluted plot-trappings. Put simply, Dolph gets framed so tries to clear his name and get his plane back. There's a few beatings but it's mainly firearms action here and resulting explosions in slow motion, and there's quite a lot of that. Holloway manages to free himself from the confines of the Ice Cream truck and steal a weapon. He heads home to check on his family but more assassins were waiting and gas the place. Holloway protects his family and takes out the bad guys but his wife is shot and hospitalised. From then on Hollway is on the run and trying to find out what's really going on here, mowing down bad guys on the way.

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There's a bit of light-hearted comedy on display here and not all of it works. I'm not sure what the producers were thinking with the inclusion of the two X-Files style CIA secret agents - Agent Lock and Agent Load, and no I'm not making that up - but they are surely only there for the comedy relief. Agent Lock is played by Kimberley Davies, a name familiar to any Australian who watched the daily soap Neighbours during the 90's. Thankfully she attempts to fit in with the crowd by emulating an American accent; I wish Kylie Bax had done the same.

Agent Load, played by British actor Anthony Hickox (also in Jill Rips, and Seagal actioner Submerged) puts on an awful southern drawl that's gotta be played for kicks. He asks the General if he had noticed any strange "BEE-haviour" with Holloway, to which the General responds "No strange.. BEE.. haviour." Sigh. Oh and the kids that slap the bomb on the door kiss it first and say "Blow me". Ugh. Some of Dolph's quips are worthy, however, and one of the scenes he has when he pretends to be from Brooklyn so that he can steal a plane is pretty funny. He also has a punch-on with a 250Kg beast of a man who collapses on top of him when he goes down.

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Storm Catcher does feature one of my personal dislikes that I've mentioned before; somebody hacking the Hollywood OS. This shit annoys me in every movie I see. While on the run, Holloway asks "Sparks" to investigate the dog tags from the assassins in the ice cream truck. No problem, "Sparks" is a computer whizz it seems and sneaks into a secure lab and starts typing away. When greeted with the usual 'access denied' red rubber stamp message, he just taps in some random gibberish and away she goes, 'access granted'. I hate this crap.

Storm Catcher is better than some of his other movies like Detention and The Defender and with higher production values, but it's not as good as his later crazy movies Command Performance and Direct Contact. About on par with Sweepers or The Shooter I'd say. You can't really go wrong with it but nothing really stands out. A solid Dolph effort, recommended to anyone who likes a bit of airforce action.

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The Video:

The R1 disc is dual sided; 16:9 on one side and 4:3 on the other. I watched the widescreen version and it was nice and sharp with well-defined colours and strong blacks. The soundtrack was clear and explosive. The movie really benefited from the orchestral scoring and not typically mindless, generic rock. Runtime 95 minutes.

Sourced From:

eBay for one English pound.


More Screens:

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Out for Blood (1992)

Out for blood poster


Lawyer by day... Vigilante by night.

Movie Review:

Out for Blood 1

DTVC reviewed this the other day and Comeuppance Reviews in late 2010, and it reminded me that I have had this PM entertainment movie on a double-disc with Lorenzo Lamas Final Impact for months now. So, I decided to give it a spin today and see if my thoughts on the movie were in line with Matt's and Ty's.

Don "The Dragon" Wilson plays John Decker the attorney, which is hilarious in itself as the few scenes we see of him in his office surrounded by books, wearing big glasses and ordering an unseen secretary to bring him files, is about as far removed from Don the kickboxer as you could get. Don is seeing a psychologist for the recurring dreams he is having from his past where on a night out with with wife and son he is brutally beaten and his family killed by drug runners. Some doctors say he has 'selective amnesia' as he only remembers brief glimpses of the night. On a late night run Don disturbs a cocaine transaction, and that's when Don "The Vigilante" Wilson takes matters into his own hands to clean up the drug runners in the town. The media gets behind him and he is dubbed "Karateman", the vigilante cleaning up the town where the cops have failed.

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This is a pretty sweet PM action flick. Don is definitely at the top of his game here, sporting his martial arts prowess and his famous grimmeses when attacking foes. In fact, his facial expressions are so awesome I have dedicated the screenshot gallery in this review purely to Don's face. There are at least half a dozen real fights in the Out for Blood, spred out pretty evenly so that when the movie does get a little bogged down in plot exposition it isn't long before someone's jaw is broken or groin displaced. This is also a benefit as Don, let's face it, is no Academy award winner. He is at his best when applying foot to face or clinging to the hood of a moving vehicle. Don also gives a few not-so-classic quips ("What are you looking at?", "Dirt!") when he dispatches bad guys so be sure to pay attention to those.

Don's love interest in the movie Joanna is played by Shari Shattuck, who has previously been in Seagal's On Deadly Ground, little-known horror movie Death Spa and 1986 Canon produced 'Women in Prison' movie The Naked Cage. I don't know what she is like in those movies (I haven't even seen On Deadly Ground yet at the time of this review) but in this she sports a terrible British accent, like Angelina Jolie as the Tomb Raider. IMDB says she was born in Atlanta, USA, and I don't see why the producers felt the need to give her the accent. Perhaps because she is an art dealer, therefore needed to sound upper-class? Also, Michael Delano from one of my favourite early reviews, Peter Weller's Top of the World, is back at a Lieutenant again, which is nice to see.

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The movie has most of the ingredients from the action movie checklist to make it a near classic. Plenty of brutal hand to hand combat? A machine gun shootout at a train yard? A drug runner with a mullet haircut and cowboy boots who kills his own men when they fail him? Crashing vans through the door of a warehouse? Stuntmen falling off eight story buildings onto a car? A sensei who dispatches helpful advice on Chi? Running from an exploding drug lab full of cardboard boxes? Beautiful girlfriend being held hostage? The hero a lone warrior with a dark past? All boxes checked.

Out for Blood could have only been better if Don was actually a grizzled ex-military and visited a strip club at least once, after his partner of eight years was killed during a raid - then it would have ticked all the boxes. However it makes up for this with the awesome ending that has the bad guy explain Don's past to him in full detail before attempting to flee in a biplane in the middle of a shootout! It's even better when Don chases after the biplane on a Jeep!

There's not much more I can really say on the movie as the plot is wafer thin and the fights speak for themselves. This should be easy and cheap to pick up so make sure you do if you want a night of solid bad-action entertainment, curtesy of Don, The Karateman.

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The Video:

Simply put, this was bad. Australia's Payless Entertainment do a great range of RRP $2 double-feature action DVDs however they jam two movies onto one single layer disc. This results in serious encoding artefacts that spring up when there is any motion. The source video was soft enough to begin with being a cheap DTV PM movie, but the quick NTSC to PAL conversion makes it even harder to deal with. Still, it's watchable but if you see the VHS around I'd suggest picking that up instead or importing the R1 or R2, but for $2 with Final Impact on it as well you really can't complain. Runtime (of Out for Blood) 90 minutes.

Sourced From:

$2 bargain bins.


More Screens:

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Moving Target (1996)

Moving target poster


Now the hunter has become the hunted!

Movie Review:

Moving Target 1

Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja) is Sonny McClean (not quite Bruce Willis' John McClane but close enough), a bounty hunter who chases down guys who have skipped bail, much to the distaste of his long-time girlfriend who wants him to get a desk job. After a hilarious first ten minutes of chasing a bad guy, accidentally interrupting someones bondage session (complete with whips and gimp mask), cuffing the bad guy to a radiator and dragging him along the road tied to the back of his car, Dudikoff collects his reward and returns home to another fight of words with his girlfriend. When he returns to his car he is met by an elderly Russian couple who plead with him to find their son, Jonish, who has skipped out bail. He initially refuses but a ten thousand dollar downpayment reluctantly convinces him.

Dudikoff sets out to a cabin in the woods where he was told that Jonish was staying. After pretending to be a Pizza delivery guy to lure him out, Dudikoff finally takes Jonish in at gunpoint. As they are driving away Jonish tells him that his parents died years ago which gets Dudikoff worried that it's all a set up. Of course it is and they start getting chased by two guys on snow-mobiles firing at them. Dudikoff crashes the car, Jonish is executed by his persuers and Duikoff is knocked out cold. When he comes to, Detective Don Racine (Billy Dee Williams) informs him that he is the prime suspect for the murder of Jonish. If that wasn't bad enough now the Russian mafia boss, who is the father of the deceased, is out for Dudikoff's blood.

Moving Target 2

This was a pretty fun time. There's nothing that I would quite describe as explosive action; more like slightly singed action, so you better put a wet towel over it. That being said there is barely a moment when there is no action on the screen. Only the scenes when Dudikoff is quibbling with his girlfriend really have no action in them, and one of them does anyway - her birth class is interrupted by more thugs in motorcycle gear and machine guns, out to kill Dudikoff. Most of the action revolves around Dudikoff having a punch-on with Russian thugs or guys in motorbike helmets, fleeing armed attackers on snowmobiles in his jalopy and a few other shots fired here and there. The ending get's a little more explosive when rival Russian gangs break out the machine guns over a meeting table with Dudikoff stuck in the middle. There's a couple of funny moments in the fights, my favourite being when Dudikoff takes out a bad guy by throwing a billiard ball at his forehead and knocking the guy clean out.

It was also a little strange how the movie started off with Dudikoff being a bumbling bounty hunter and there being lots of comedy hijinks but then as the movie progressed it got slightly more darker and more serious. By the end there was no comedy left. It was an interesting way to change your perceptions of the character as the film played out.

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Billy Dee Williams is just along for the ride in this and to add another recognisable name on the movie poster. The first time you see him is pretty hilarious; he's stumbling around drunkely in a bar until Dudikoff escorts him out. He's not very good at acting drunk so perhaps the producers thought "you know, I think we could reduce Lando's scenes a bit." Other than that, he plays one of the detectives at the police station and has a friendship with Dudikoff, similar to that he has with another officer Jake (Ardon Bess). Both inevitably get in harms way to help out Dudikoff, which is nice I guess.

Moving Target was produced in 1996 but it looks more like 1989. Dudikoff drives a beat up old truck filled with what looks like Christmas decorations and his denim jeans and puffy jacket betray the actual year. It looks like a sleepy town so perhaps that's why it feels older than it actually is. The synth rock music, complete with drum machine, positions the movie well as an 80's action thriller that sat on the shelves unreleased for the best part of a decade. Picking the bad guys as Russians also helps with this case.

Pretty good overall and it probably shouldn't be as it's not hugely memorable. Dudikoff kicks enough arse to keep you interested and I didn't yawn once. The film was directed by the guy that did Dolph Lundgren's Agent Red which I haven't checked out yet. I'd happily watch it again one day, and at 85 minutes it won't eat into your day too much. I paid too much for this at $12 new but without importing I don't think I'd have gotten it any cheaper. Worth checking out.

Moving Target 5

The Video:

I reviewed the R4 disc put out by Force Entertainment a few years back. It sports a full-frame picture that looks like it was filmed for TV and probably was. Nothing remarkable but no particular issues either. The stereo soundtrack was clear though I had to crank the volume up a bit. Runtime 85 minutes.

Sourced From:

A random DVD shop which is probably luckier than you will normally get in Australia for this title. It would be easier for everyone else to just get the R1 or VHS from Amazon.


More Screens:

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