Jungle Wolf (1986)

Jungle Wolf (1986)- * * *

Directed by: Charlie Ordonez

Starring: Ron Marchini, Tony Carreon, Romy Diaz, Joonee Gamboa, Dax Nicolas, Michael Bristow, and Laura Abeyta,

“I’m your travel agent” - Steve Parrish

In the Central American nation of San Sebastian, a group of violent rebels kidnap the American Ambassador, Ambassador Porter Worthington (Carreon). (You know he’s American because his name is Porter Worthington, so don’t think he was played by a non-American actor). The leader of the group is Hernandez (Diaz), who sports some intimidating facial hair and has unpredictable taste in hats. He wants the release of the prisoner Isidro Zapien (Gamboa) and will use entire armies of armed men to achieve his goal. Naturally, the one man who can rescue the Ambassador and save the country is Vietnam vet Steve Parrish (Marchini). He teams up with the beautiful Maria (Abeyta) and heads off into the jungle to fight the baddies. But he’s haunted by the ghosts of his past, especially as they relate to Forgotten Warrior (1986). Will he succeed?

Confusingly, Jungle Wolf uses a lot of recycled footage from the aforementioned Forgotten Warrior, but both movies were released the same year, 1986. Seeing as how Ron has the same yellow shirt in both movies, it’s safe to assume they were shot simultaneously, or at least very close together. This seems to be the beginning of his Steve Parrish character, who he played in at least four of his films. His son Zak (Nicholas) makes a brief appearance here, but the plot of Jungle Wolf II (AKA Return Fire, 1988) fleshes out the relationship a bit more. But technical details aside, Jungle Wolf takes the standard El Presidente/Jungle Slog so common in the 80’s, and gives it the old Marchini magic. The movie is almost plotless and could be described as incoherent. But it’s incoherent in a great way. As there seems to be no word to convey this idea, we’ll pioneer a new one, grincoherent.

We’re not sure if the grincoherence is helped or hurt by Marchini’s unnecessary and deadpan narration, the character of Agent Connover (Vance) who looks exactly like Rick Moranis, and of course the constant machine gun shooting. The highlight of the movie is the fist-pumping song “Back In Action” by Michael Bristow (a frequent Marchini collaborator who has worked with him in various guises both in front of and behind the camera). It sounds like a cross between Europe and the Scorpions, which is funny because as far as we know Bristow is American and the song was recorded in California. But that doesn’t stop Bristow from singing with a Klaus Meine-like accent. You gotta love it. When the song plays while Marchini changes into his all-black outfit (complete with horizontal pant-leg zippers) and gears up with guns and knives, you’ll be in action movie heaven. Thankfully it happens twice in the movie.

Why the movie is set in Central America but was shot in the Philippines remains unknown, and sadly this particular Marchini outing was not released in America. Fans in the Netherlands got to enjoy it, and it wasn’t until the advent of the internet that others could complete their Marchini collections. It was also the only Romarc movie not to be released here in the U.S. (that’s Marchini’s company, the word being a contraction of his first and last names). Lovers of low-budget and/or obscure action from the 80’s, and of course Mr. Marchini, will likely get a charge out of Jungle Wolf. For casual viewers, it may be better to start elsewhere. 

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, Cool Target! 


The Big Heat (1988)

The Big Heat (1988)- * * * 1\2

Directed by: Yeung-Wah Kam, Johnnie To, and Tsui Hark

Starring: Waise Lee, Philip Kwok, Matthew Wong, King Wah Lo, and Tsui-Han Mak

Hong Kong cop Wai-Pong “John” Wong (Lee) has been having nightmares about his right hand. He’s worried it will cramp up and be of no use should he get into a firefight and he won’t be able to protect his partners Kam (Kwok), Clumsy Lun (Wong), or Malaysian cop working with them, Ong (Lo). Not to mention his wife Maggie (Mak), who he’s been having troubles with lately. But Wong is going to have to put his psychological/physical issues on hold, because Hong Kong is about to be turned upside down by drug-dealing, blackmailing, ruthless gangsters that kill witnesses at the drop of a hat and want to do as much illegal activity as possible before 1997 (when HK becomes independent of British rule). This sets the stage for one of the most blood-drenched battles Hong Kong has ever seen. The heat isn’t just big...it’s HUGE!

It’s pretty easy math to do: Stylish police drama + Hong Kong + The 80’s + GORE scenes = complete and total winner! We believe this movie’s under-the-radar status, coupled with its being credited to not less than THREE directors, one of which is Johnnie To, another being an uncredited Tsui Hark, plus its groundbreaking uses of extreme violence, puts The Big Heat firmly in the category of cult movie. Which is saying a lot because that’s one of the most misused terms out there today. Most movies deemed “cult” are not. We’re pretty sure The Big Heat is. The title is not to be confused with the also-excellent (but couldn’t be more different) film noir from 1953. Quick sidebar: if you look closely in one of the scenes, you can see a poster for Young Warriors (1983) in the background.

The Big Heat delivers all the bone-crunching violence you could ever possibly want, and we applaud them for going so far over the top. But the real truth is that this would be a good, solid, interesting movie even without the excessive blood and mayhem. It’s stylishly and energetically directed, and would easily hold the viewers’ interest sans all the brutality on show. So you can imagine the thrill-ride this movie is WITH all the violence. All the fights and stunts are spectacularly well-staged, and the viewer is never less than totally entertained. Plus there’s plenty of slow-motion dramatics so popular at the time to increase the operatic feel of it all.

If The Big Heat was an 80’s boombox, it would have all the levels cranked to the top. We give this movie a very strong recommendation so make sure you see it!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out a write-up from out buddy, A Hero Never Dies!