9/03/2015

Flight To Danger (1995)

Flight To Danger (1995)- *1\2

Directed by: Gina Jourard and Sara Matthews

Starring: Gina Jourard, Sara Matthews, Rod Kei, and Robn Meeks








Marcy and Dylan (co-directors/co-writers/co-producers/co-stars Matthews and Jourard, respectively) are members of an all-female Martial Arts class. The Sensei is a man named Robn (Robn Meeks) - yes, ROBN. The guy is so awesome, he doesn’t need to use the letter I. He just lets his ponytail do the talking. The girls even volunteer their time at the local women’s shelter, where they combat issues such as “detached depression”. Maybe it’s their good-heartedness, but they win a competition to go to a fighting tournament  in Paris. (Because the movie is so low-budget, we never actually see Paris, but they do talk about their experiences there, including how Marcy met Bill “Superfoot” Wallace). Then some gangsters want the time-honored disc (or is it a box? or maybe a box with a disc in it? Not really sure). So the gals snap into action and fight the gangsters and baddies that have been harassing them, and all of the 3rd Street Promenade. Why did they ever go on a FLIGHT TO DANGER in the first place?

Well, if you’ve read our reviews for the other Vista Street Entertainment movies included on the “Women Who Kick Butt” DVD collection, you’ll know what to expect here - shot on a camcorder, zero budget, amateurish, even childish. But this one has funny dubbing and editing tricks, so it may have a technical edge on its lowly brethren. Said editing is by one Jay Woelfel, the guy who directed one of the worst movies we’ve ever seen, Iron Thunder (1998), by the by. Flight To Danger is better than that turkey, so let’s keep things in perspective here.  That being said, we demand a list of video stores in the 90’s that a. carried this movie, b. had customers who rented it, and c. anybody who truly liked it and didn’t notice that it looks like a middle-school video production project. We just want to get an idea of the scope of this movie’s reach. Or any other VSE titles for that matter. They’re not included in many reference sources and appeared to slide under the radar, yet they must have been in some mom-and-pop video shops. But where...and...WHO?

Because it was directed by not just one woman but TWO women, there is a classic “trying on different outfits” montage, a dance party in an art gallery (evidently the XX/O Gallery in L.A.), and the ultimate Lothario for the Ladies is present, a man named Michael Jacques. When he’s not smothering you with his luscious locks (his hair is legitimately more lustrous and better taken-care of than many of the women in Mr. Robn’s class), he is wooing you with the gentle tones of his acoustic guitar. While naked, of course. Don’t want to forget that. (“Just a guitar and a smile”, he sickeningly states). Also a woman who was getting down and/or funky at the art gallery dance party is a dead ringer for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Just one more note about the man with no “I’s” (heh heh), Mr. Robn. He answers the phone, “Dojo?” - no specific name given. This reminds us of noted dud Deadly Reckoning (1998), where an employee of a bookstore answers the phone “Bookstore?” - do no establishments in L.A. have actual names? Robn also had a bit part in American Ninja 3 (1989) as “Black Ninja Fighter”. So he’s had a nice life. Also an actor named Rod Kei plays a baddie named Flavio. Of course he does. Mr. Kei had previously appeared in Ring of Fire (1991) and Full Impact (1993), so he actually had a decent action pedigree before downgrading to this. A guy in the movie named Greg looks like Matthias Hues, but, upon closer inspection, is not Matthias Hues.

While the movie was released in 1995, during one scene was pass a movie marquee (which we usually take note of) and it’s playing this lineup: Born Yesterday, The Adventures of Huck Finn, and the immortal classic Cop and a Half (all 1993). It’s also playing Unforgiven (1992), but that was such a hit it was still in theaters. Near the theater is a restaurant named Tacos Tacos Cafe. Can you think of a better way to spend a nice afternoon in 1993 than watching Cop and a Half and then going to the Tacos Tacos Cafe? Because I sure can’t.

Flight To Danger ends with a freeze frame, so that gains it extra points in our book, but we wish there was a lot more professionalism here. Sometimes reaching out to the far corners of the action movie world pays off, and sometimes there are frustrating disappointments. Sadly, this was the latter for us. Sometimes the camcorder should stay in the case.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, The Video Vacuum! 

8/31/2015

Rescue Force (1990)

Rescue Force (1990)- * * *

Directed by: Charles Nizet

Starring: Bo Gritz, Keiri Smith, Cynthia Thompson, and Richard Harrison










It’s “no budget, no logic, no coherence, no problem” as the wild and wacky antics of Rescue Force unfold before your disbelieving eyes.  Sometimes movies come along that seem like they’re from an alternate universe. Or if you found an alien that had never seen a movie before, handed them a camera and instructed them to create a film. Well, we don’t know what state of reality director Charles Nizet comes from, but it seems he’s not in touch with the way actual humans actually talk, behave, or exist. God bless him for that. Sadly Nizet passed away in 2003, but not before leaving behind a clutch of demented classics, such as The Ravager (1970), the movie that Image Entertainment refused to release on their label, so Something Weird put out as a DVD-R. Rescue Force is Nizet’s last directorial work, a fitting epitaph to a one-of-a-kind career.

Real American Hero Bo Gritz (not to be confused with Bo Hopkins or Fritz Matthews) is Lt. Col. Steel, a man in charge of coordinating a rescue operation to save the American ambassador to Israel and his daughter who have been kidnapped by Palestinian Islamic extremist terrorists and held captive in a cave in Syria. The more things change...Gritz, er, I mean STEEL doesn’t like this so he gets his best agents on it, a middle-aged Frenchman named Striker and some babes named Kiki (Smith) and Angel (Thompson). When people aren’t talking on the phone or into walkie-talkies (always covering their mouths so dialogue can be looped in later), people are getting shot and blown up in the desert. Eventually Richard Harrison (credited solely as “Chief CIA Agent”) shows up to participate in the chaos.

Rescue Force is filled with low-budget wonderment: It’s shot on ancient film stock that makes it look like it was shot in 1977 and not 1989, there are abrupt cuts, jerky zoom-ins, and characters stand stock-still while waiting for the camera to roll so they can speak their lines. And there are some immortal line-readings here, maybe some of the best ever. It sounds like a bunch of foreigners reading English phonetically for the first time in their lives. Thankfully, it’s all part of the bewildering fun. The production design features various guns affixed to the wall in a random fashion. Easy access, presumably.

As if all this wasn’t nutty enough, Law & Order-style subtitles appear letting us know the time and location of where we are, as if that mattered one whit. Adding insult to injury, all this information is on the screen in a split second, not enough time to read the actual information! Are we supposed to be taking all this in subliminally? But from what we were able to glimpse, here are our four favorites: “Terrorist and son”, “Terrorists Yacht”, “Paris terrorists hide-out” and “Kiki and Angel’s favorite restaurant”. Good to know. Speaking of Kiki and Angel, some of the girls-with-guns scenes in the desert were reminiscent of Hell Squad (1986), but by comparison, Hell Squad is the height of professionalism.

Yes, there is a lot of silly shooting and blow-ups, the bombs are mainly dirt rising to the sky, and you could accuse it all of being amateurish, but most of the end credits consist of the weaponry used and where it came from. It has to be the longest credit roll for guns and ammo of all time. How else will our heroes fight terrorists who are alternately blonde women or John Oates lookalikes? But Bo Gritz did his own flying. So there’s that. During the scene where Gritz explains - in meticulous detail - the rescue mission, it’s one long shot of his gut and his hands as he presides over a scale model that looks like a less-interesting copy of board game Fireball Island. You can’t do anything remotely like this today. That’s why gems like this should be treasured. We’re not likely to see their kind ever again.

Released on VHS label Rae Don, Rescue Force only barely fits the definition of what a movie is, and makes no freaking sense whatsoever, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 

Also check out a write-up from our buddies, Bleeding Skull!