Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Depth Charge (2008)

Depth charge poster


A deadly weapon. A high profile target.

Movie Review:

Depth Charge 01

After the awesome Deadly Outbreak from the review prior to this one, I was in the mood for another Die Hard in a Something type of film. After browsing the shelves I pulled out this one. Depth Charge, starring Eric Roberts and some guy called Jason Gedrick who doesn't seem to have much worthy of note since 1989's Iron Eagle. Still I quite like submarine films so the one-man-force deal should be fun, and RHI Entertainment are known for their decent bad-action and creature feature films.

On a routine training mission, the USS Montana receives a distress call from a sinking ship. Once they have assisted the refugees, seasoned naval officer Commander Krieg (Eric Roberts) seizes control of the sub along with the refugees, who are actually hired mercenaries. Now fully in control, Commander Krieg ejects the Montana crew to the (not so) sinking refugee boat and declares his demands to the President (Barry Bostwick, Spin City) via video feed; pay him the sum of One Billion Dollars (pinky finger to the mouth) or he will use the sub's nuclear warheads - and experimental stealth technology - to blow up Washington.... for world peace? What he didn't bargain on was medical officer Doc Ellers (Jason Gedrick, from (snigger) Desperate Housewives) and young sailor James Piersall (Chris Warren, from (haha!) High School Musical) hiding on board, and their uncanny ability to pick off his mercenaries one by one.

Depth Charge 02

Well. That was that then I guess. It's hard to write about Depth Charge as it was just so.. bland. I was strangely intrigued for the most part and the 80 minute run time went by smoothly without too many groans at the bad acting (the President was hilarious and his aid was just.. terrible) but it's really just a 'blah' kind of film. You get that feeling as well when watching it, that the entire cast knew they were in a TV movie, that there were absolutely zero chance of getting an Oscar from this, so giving it your all wasn't a requirement.

This is Under Siege, Red October, Crimson Tide and Die Hard all wrapped into one low budget TV film. Gedrick is the star here; the Steven Seagal/Bruce Willis of the piece. He's okay in the role of the Doc and can fire an assault rifle, as well as kick and punch someone to the ground. The choreography in this was pretty average though so none of the fights are that great, but the gun violence is decent. He doesn't even spout one cool line in the film which was a huge disappointment. He takes Piersall under his wing, much like Seagal's Casey Ryback takes young Bobby Zachs under his wing, as the wise-cracking black sidekick - though Piersall is far less annoying than Zachs, thankfully. The mercenaries are all generic, right down to the 'hot but deadly' token woman.

Depth Charge 03

Eric Roberts is of course why we are here and he acquits himself, in military speak, with an honourable discharge. He tries to make the best of what he has but he's obviously pretty bored with it. I also can't recall him leaving the bridge at any one point. They must have gotten in him to do his scenes in one day and paid him with cash. "Bada-bing bada-boom, I'm done." I don't blame him for going through the motions on this one. After all, he filmed this the same year as the SyFy channel film Cyclops. Poor guy. He gets to try a little 'acting' as the producers keep ramming home the fact that he's part delusional due to his pain medication, but otherwise he's just threatening his mercenaries and making small talk over the CB with Doc; that at least is funny, as Doc starts and ends every conversation with "Get off my sub!"

One thing irked me though. In Under Siege, Seagal is just the ships cook who happens to have formerly been a SEAL. In Depth Charge, JDoc Ellers is the ships doctor... who is given the launch codes to the sub missiles! That shit just doesn't happen. And just how were they transmitting live video feeds when submerged a hundred feet under water? No, no no no no...

Depth Charge 04

The scenes outside of the sub with the President and his men are pretty poor. The script really is lifeless in these scenes, you can almost read word for word what they are going to say before they say it. "He was a loose cannon", et al. In bad action this can usually be funny but again, the laziness of this whole production made the scenes simply a recourse for getting from point A to point B. President asks "What's the situation?" and one of his dozen or so men and women say "Sir, he's demanding a billion dollars or he'll launch a nuclear missile at Washington."  In one close zoom to the President's gloomy face I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the inevitable "God have mercy on us all." Unfortunately it didn't happen, or else I would have cheered.

I guess the overwhelming response I have to this movie is "Well.. I guess it could have been worse." And it definitely could have been. For a made-for-TV action thriller, it's not bad for 80 minutes. It's just not that good either. If it's on TV or a dollar pickup, and you simply have to see another Die Hard clone, it will do the job. But it's no Deadly Outbreak.

Depth Charge 05

The Video:

The R4 DVD put out by RHI and Paramount sports a nice 16:9 transfer and strong stereo soundtrack. Runtime a lean 80 minutes.

Sourced From:

Ex-rental DVD for a buck.


More Screens:

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Depth Charge 10

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Deadly Outbreak aka Deadly Takeover (1995)

Deadly outbreak poster


The fear is spreading.

Movie Review:

Not sure how we've gotten this far without a Jeff Speakman review on the blog. This one I learned about thanks to one of our readers Venom, who many moons ago suggested to me some of the best Nu Image titles to check out. Amongst the dozen or so titles was Deadly Outbreak. It's a tough one to find on DVD too, and I'm not even sure that it got a US or UK release. You can get VHS in those territories, but the disc I'm reviewing is the uncut Dutch release.

Deadly Outbreak 01

"Your party stinks. There's not enough ice cream and way too many clowns."

Jeff Speakman is Sgt. Dutton Hatfield, a special services agent tasked with escorting a group of scientists to a chemical plant in Israel. Unbeknownst to him and everyone else, the plane carrying the scientists was hijacked by Colonel Baron (Ron Silver, Timecop) and his team of mercenaries, who killed the original occupants and assumed their places. In Israel, Hatfield takes this team of "scientists" to the plant for their tour of the operations.

That's when Colonel Baron and his men unleash automatic weapon fury on the guards and take over the building, their ultimate goal being to steal a prototype chemical weapon from the head scientist, Dr. Allie Levin (Rochelle Swanson), and hold the world to random. Hatfield eludes capture and tries to restore order in what could have easily been called Die Hard in a Chemical Factory. Along the way he recruits the only other good guy survivor, one of the plant workers Ira, and the good Doctor herself.

Deadly Outbreak 02

Oh man, was this ever sweet! This has gone straight to the top of my favourite Nu Image films list, and up there with the best Die Hard rip-offs as well. I'm talking Under Siege and Sudden Death quality here. The action rollercoaster rarely ever stopped, and when it did it only stopped for Speakman to catch his breath before taking out more bad guys with a combination of automatic weapons, his fists and his feet. Speakman was the definition of cool. He muttered one liners to himself throughout the movie when toppling bad guys, but none better than when he blasts a guy in the crotch with a SHOTGUN and says "guess you forgot to wear your bullet proof cup." Fantastic!

This was cookie cutter stuff but it was done supremely well; at least when using the B-cinema scales. Ron Silver was totally awesome as the bad guy, and was downplayed and placid just like he is in Timecop with Van Damme. He has a very threatening persona and plays the Hans Gruber role perfectly. He has his henchmen to assist who are all straight out of the school of cliched hired goons. You got the guy with the long curly hair and uzi, the guy with the perm mullet and knives, the guy that gets too freaky with the token female and therefore is prone to a quick death by our hero. All we needed was Professor Toru Tanaka to turn up. In his place we do get a tall black man who enters a room with a machine guy and says "Take a seat!" before blowing everybody away. That was pretty cool.

Deadly Outbreak 03

The violence was pretty high in this. The opening takeover scene on the plane was just vicious and cold with one of the grunts shooting half a dozen passengers, completely unaware of his presence, in the back of the heads with a silencer. It was a little TOO much really, and I thought we were going to get a dark film. The film is big and loud like any good Die Hard clone. I suppose this was just the equivalent of the Die Hard "I suppose you're just going to have to kill me" brains splattered on the window scene - the standout vicious moment that you remember. Speakman cuts an unconscious man's achilles tendon and quips "if he wants to catch us, he'll have to crawl after us." Yikes!

As well as the gun fights we get quite a few examples of Speakman's martial arts prowess. So many guys get kicked off three story railings or flights of steps and fall in slow motion that I started to lose count. The scene in the bathroom shows Speakman can slap-fu as good as if not better than Seagal himself! There's also a sweet helicopter versus bus chase to look forward to, a huge car chase through the underground factory that sees hundreds of barrels get their comeuppance, Speakman makes out with the good Doctor, and just to round out the staples, he has to disarm a bomb by cutting the red wire! I'm not shitting you!

Deadly Outbreak 04

I can't say I can think of many other action films that take place in Israel. Not that you'd really be able to tell in Deadly Outbreak as the vast majority of the film takes place indoors, and the outdoors segments are just non-descript airports or highways. It's not like there were snipers on the Wailing Wall or anything. About the extent of it is a few accents and the military are wearing Israeli uniforms.

According to IMDB, this film was edited into Steven Seagal's Ticker. Now I've not seen Ticker yet so I'm not sure what parts Albert Pyun lifted for his movie, but that movie get's generally panned so he must not have picked the good parts. I find that hard to believe as there's very little here to dislike. Perhaps he only used a few minutes of soldiers running around and then built a crapcake on top of it? One day I'll find out when I sit down and watch it.

This is a great time. If you like Die Hard on a Boat/in a Car/on a train/in the Ocean/on the Moon kind of movies then you will dig this. It's actually quite similar to Michael Dudikoff's Strategic Command though this is far, far better. It's fast, it's violent, it has great bad guys, witty one liners and a great action star with Jeff Speakman and a cold hearted baddy with Ron Silver. I'm not really surprised that the action in this was so good as it was directed by long time stunt co-ordinatior Rick Avery, and lists Nu Image boss Avi Lerner as the executive producer. Definitely worth your time.

Deadly Outbreak 05

The Video:

Solid full screen video that doesn't look cropped from widescreen. I will mention that this edition is supposedly UNCUT when compared to a German edition. I'm not sure how it compares to any US or UK VHS. Runtime approx. 90 minutes.

Sourced From:

A seller on eBay for about 15 Euro + shipping. It's not an easy one to find! You might want to just get the VHS if that's easier.


More Screens:

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Deadly Outbreak 09

Deadly Outbreak 10

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Deadly Prey (1987)

Deadly prey poster


In Vietnam he was the best... HE STILL IS!

100th Review!

"We don't play games here. When we train, it's for real."

Deadly prey icon

Well it took longer than I had initially hoped but we arrive here at last. Whilst the blog post count is a little higher thanks to a few special posts, this review marks the 100th macho example of action fantastic we've explored since starting this blog in May of 2010, beginning with Peter Weller's underrated Shakedown. What better movie to celebrate this milestone than the absolutely spectacular Deadly Prey? I can't think of any movie more fitting. The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed the blog has received a minor facelift to celebrate the milestone. Also I rarely shamelessly plug my stuff, but do check out my VHS collectables Tumblr photo blog if you haven't already.

Deadly Prey 01

It's pretty hard to add to this awesome movie more than what the DTV Connoisseur or Comeuppance Reviews have. This is solid gold bad-action entertainment, and it's criminal that there hasn't been a DVD release for it yet. When you think of all the sub-par action movies that have received DVD treatment but solid gold such as Deadly Prey remains only available on decades old VHS tapes and the thriving bootleg DVD scene... well, it's just sad.

Basically you are getting a cheap version of Hard Target and Surviving the Game (though both of those movies were made later). A team of mercenaries have stepped up their training under the leadership of Col. John Hogan (David Campbell) to now include hunting man for sport. While putting the bins out in his fashionable denim shorts and sloppy joe ensemble, Mike Danton (Ted Prior) gets hauled off the street by some guys in a van and knocked out. When he comes to he is quickly forced to run as the prey in a deadly game of hunt to kill, with the team of aforementioned mercenaries chasing him down. However what they don't realise is that Danton was originally trained by the Colonel! The hunted has become the hunter, and all that!

Deadly Prey 02

"Danton? Man I haven't seen you since the time you took the bullet trying to save my life."

There is just so much to love in the movie. The hilarious denim shorts (and nothing else) outfit of Ted Prior. The bad, bad acting from everyone involved (especially Danton's girlfriend; her scene dictating a number plate to her father, Cameron Mitchell, is hysterical). The over-the-top yet badly performed violence, complete with stock footage explosions. The outfit that the one female member of the mercenaries wears. The glorious power rock guitar solos and electric drums that play throughout. Ted's mullet. Ted's one liners ("Don't kill me I just joined today!", "BAD TIMING.") The fact that the film features somebody called Colonel Hogan! It's pure gold from start to finish. Hell this is better than gold, this is platinum. This is depleted uranium sold on the black market to smugglers wearing fur coats on their own personal yachts. It's that good.

Danton spends the majority of the movie setting Rambo style traps for his pursuers or punching their equally mulleted arses to the ground. They are all great traps as well, such as jumping out of a lake and pulling the bad guy in with him, or jumping out of concealed leaves and stabbing him in the stomach. The kills are the funniest things I've ever seen. Somehow Danton manages to skewer a guy through the chest with a twig he found on the ground. That's not really that surprising once you've seen Ted's muscles. People make Chuck Norris jokes about how his beard conceals another fist. Really they should joke about Ted Prior's mullet having bigger muscles than on his arms. I also love the fact that after being in the jungle for not even one night Danton resorts to catching and eating rats. Brilliant.

Deadly Prey 03

"How does a man go from being the highest decorated officer in the armed forces, to becoming some GOD DAMNED BLOOD SUCKING MERCENARY?!"

When the sides have turned and his girlfriend is taken hostage, Danton goes 'one man force' on the military base and blows up helicopters with missile launchers, and runs from tanks in his stone washed jeans shorts. But none of this compares to the montage scene of preparing to launch his final assault; Danton packs his bag with enough sticks of bright red dynamite to light the whole place up for days.

David Campbell is great as Colonel Hogan. He's sidelined for most of the film but after all the mercenaries have been dispatched by Danton, we finally get the one on one that we've been hoping for. Hogan and Danton's pow-wow at the half way point ("Join me, damnit!") features some beautiful dialogue as well. Cameron Mitchel doesn't have much to do in the film but when he does show up he's brilliant, shooting some guy point blank in the face! William Zipp turns up as a mercenary who used to be buddies with Danton back during the war and eventually switches sides, joining Danton in taking out the military camp.

Now the whole movie is fantastic but if I had to pick one scene from a movie to watch on repeat for the rest of my life, it would be the death of Hogan's right hand man Lt. Thornton (Fritz Matthews). SPOILER. After executing Danton's girlfriend at point blank, Danton enraged with fury and holding a machete takes a run at Thornton - who fires four direct shots at Danton and misses - and cuts off his freaking arm. Thornton looks at the stump for what seems like eternity and then finally screams, before - wait for it - Danton beats Thornton to death with the wet end. This is the highlight of cinema. Forget your Rosebud's - this is why we make movies, right here.

Deadly Prey 04

Deadly Prey 05

Deadly Prey 06

Deadly Prey 07

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Deadly Prey 09

"Take off your shirt before I cut you out from under it!"

Since the age of the Internet, Deadly Prey has become notorious for being a brilliant slice of bad action cinema. In fact it is so notorious you may be put off by it without seeing it. Needless to say however, this is absolutely, positively mandatory viewing for all readers of this blog, and for all fans of bad action. Five stars, two thumbs up, however you want to rate Deadly Prey is up to you - just make it happen. I could watch this film on repeat and never get bored with it. I'm living in hope that Deadly Prey receives a legitimate DVD release in the near future - after all, the David and Ted Prior horror film Sledgehammer recently got released. Maybe if everybody sent an email to Intervision we could get this ball rolling.

Thanks to everybody who reads my blog, likes the Facebook and Twitter pages, and most importantly comments on my reviews. Here's to another 100!

The Video:

Same as all other AIP films released on VHS; soft, under-saturated picture and dubious audio. Runtime approx. 90 minutes.

Sourced From:

Haven't found the VHS itself so I had to do with a bootleg on DVDR like most people. Hopefully someday soon it will get a proper DVD release.


Montage of the best scenes (significant spoilers):

More Screens:

Deadly Prey 10

Deadly Prey 11

Deadly Prey 12

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Deadly Prey 15