Directed by: Bill Cummings
Starring: Leon, Demene Hall, Nathaniel DeVeaux, and Gina Lim
Eddie Johnson (Leon) is a Seattle Cop On The Edge and motorcycle enthusiast. Due to his rogue ways, he’s busted from detective back down to beat cop. While out on routine patrols with his partner Midge (Hall), they slowly start to unravel a criminal conspiracy involving local street preacher Ezekiel (DeVeaux), and his assistant, former prostitute Mai Lei (Lim). After getting romantically involved with Mai Lei, Eddie is told to turn in his badge and gun. Now he’s going rogue after the mysterious villains in a black van. Will he be able to unravel all the goings-on?
Well, finally Leon gets to step out of the shadows and into a starring role. “Leon who?”, you may ask, but it’s just Leon. No one seems to question his lack of last name. Like Madonna or Cher, Leon can step proudly into the pantheon of one-named stars. His co-star Demene Hall tried to give him a run for his money, appearing in the opening credits as simply “Demene”, but perhaps she found it too “Demene-ing” and appears in the end credits with her full name. Mysterious naming issues aside, Bad Attitude, unfortunately, is an unpolished, stilted, cliche-ridden production. All that would be fine, but this movie has a D.O.A., or “Dearth Of Action”. There’s almost no action in the entire movie. What a waste! Really, what a waste. It should have been Leon on his Harley shooting bad guys left and right. Sadly, the movie is a bunch of unmemorable setups to action that never arrives. A true wasted opportunity.
We appreciate that this was trying to be a more serious-minded movie with a largely Black cast, seemingly on purpose attempting to separate itself from the average “homie movie”, or even 70’s-style Blaxploitation movie. We can almost see director Bill Cummings saying “why can’t this be just a movie, without any racial tags?” But this was to be Cummings’ only directorial effort to date. But Bad Attitude, in the final analysis, lacks drive - it’s slow paced, and has pacing problems on top of that. There’s no title song (although there is a song by Steel Pulse during the end credits), and Leon doesn’t even do any Leon-Fu on the bad guys.
DeVeaux does a decent job as the snappily-dressed Reverend, and Gina Lim, in also her only movie role to date, plays the token hot chick well (but if truth be told she is a bit mannish, especially her voice). Plus, you can tell Leon’s level of attitude (“bad” or otherwise) by his hair part. At first, he has a pretty extreme, conservative part, but as he goes further into rogue territory, the part changes and eventually disappears altogether. An alternate title for this movie could be “Rogue Hair Part”. Also, on T-shirt alert, characters wear shirts for the bands Blood Feast, Negative FX and the Butthole Surfers. It doesn’t mean much, just an observation.
In the end, Bad Attitude is a misuse of Leon and seems to be hampered by its low budget. Wags might suggest the movie would be better off if they took the word “Attitude” out of the title, but we’d just file this one under “wasted opportunity”.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty
Directed by: Doo-Yong Lee
Starring: Sam Jones, Linda Blair, Bill Erwin, Phillip Rhee, Jun Chong, Gustav Vintas, Rebecca Ferratti, and Mako
Sam Kettle (Jones) is tired of being an L.A. cop on the edge, so he and his wife Sara (Blair) decide to move to Colorado. But before he can escape, he’s called back in for “one last mission”. It seems a criminal mastermind named Kendrick (Vintas of Zero Tolerance, 1994 fame), who is an “Ex-C.I.A. turned psychotic”, and his apprentice, Amy (Ferratti), have kidnapped elderly biochemist Dr. Terence London (Erwin), and a six-year-old girl as well. Seeing as Kendrick was responsible for the death of Kettle’s old partner, now he wants to settle the score. Coming along for the ride is Jun Kim (Chong), uncle of the kidnapped girl, and Bernard (Phillip Rhee), owner of a Kendo studio. But to achieve their goal won’t be easy, as they have to face off against not just regular ninjas, but ninjas with axes (or, “Ninjaxes”). Will the trio be able to fight to the finish? And what does a stuffed Heathcliff doll have to do with all this?
From the opening credit informing us that this is an “Action Brother Production, Inc.”, you know you are in for something good. Silent Assassins is a fast-paced and entertaining romp with some familiar faces, and the movie is easy to enjoy. Sam Jones is the ultimate 80’s coolguy, with his sunglasses, jeep, bomber jacket, spiky brushcut hairdo and unshaven face. He’s truly as cool as the metal his last name in the movie is obviously made of. In the big-budget remake they’ll surely get Bruce Willis to replace him. But Mako is onboard as well. We love seeing him, but he’s still unintelligible. Yet another fan favorite, Phillip Rhee rounds out the cast of heroes and right there you know you have something worth seeing. Unfortunately, Linda Blair plays a cliched “wife” role and doesn’t live up to the image on the box cover. That could have added a new dimension to this movie, but sadly it wasn’t to be.
But that’s one of the few negatives here - there’s plenty of high-kicking action, not to mention the damage incurred by the Ninjaxes, which include dismemberments and fan-favorite death, decapitation. There’s even a possible exploding helicopter for fans of that, as well. Bill Erwin, who fans of Seinfeld may remember as the old guy with the large record collection that Kramer and Newman try to resell, shows us all that if you want to blow up a computer, just turn the keyboard over so the keys are facing down. The kidnapped senior citizen plotline is very reminiscent of the previous year’s Survival Game (1987), where the older man in question was played by Seymour Cassel. Kidnapping the elderly to find out their secrets must have been a popular idea in ‘87-88.
Silent Assassins delivers the Golden-Age-of-the-video-store-style action goods and achieves a lot of entertainment for its modest budget. We liked it.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty