The Silent Force (2001)

The Silent Force (2001)-

Directed by: David May

Starring: Loren Avedon, Karen Kim, George Cheung, and Matthias Hues

Frank Stevens (Avedon) is a U.S. Federal Agent who commands a special ops team known as “The Silent Force”. They’ve come across their toughest assignment yet when they face off against some evil Asian mobsters headed by Pao (Chung). After the Pao gang kills off a bunch of Silent Force members, Stevens gets mad and goes after them, and all-out war ensues. Also Stevens tries to save the widow of one of his former buddies, Natalie Woo (Karen Kim). Will the Silent Force be SILENT...aaah, We just can’t come up with a silly pun this time. This movie is just too stupid. It’s not worth it...

Unfortunately, The Silent Force is pretty darn bad. It gives us no pleasure to deliver a negative review, but this movie, sadly, has very little going for it. It’s very poorly and uncreatively written, the editing is abrupt and choppy, it was the late 90’s/early 2000’s, so many scenes are underlit and hard to see, there’s plenty of student-film-style ADR work, and the whole thing is not well-structured and seems very amateurish, not in a good way. Of course, there’s a lot of terrible acting, but that never bothered us too much in these low budget productions. But you add it all together...and meant to HOLD it all together is Avedon, a man who is not likable and seems to be striving against all available evidence to try very hard to be cool, and this is a surefire recipe for unmitigated disaster. The whole thing has a junky feel and it simply doesn’t work.

Thankfully, this is the only known credit for “writer”/ “director” David May. Perhaps he saw this botched movie as nothing more than a stumble along the road of his life, and decided to get into another line of work. Good for him. Back in the golden era of the video store, this turkey would have been known as shelf-filler. But by its release date of 2001 (it looks like it was shot a few years earlier) those shelves where disappearing fast, and cheapo DVDs were ending up at gas stations, thus giving The Silent Force the ignominious distinction of being gas-station filler. And it’s not even useful for your life, like, say, gasoline, antifreeze, or those little tree car air fresheners.

It does have some classic cliches: the BYC (Black Yelling Chief), some very dumb one-liners, and the prerequisite torture (though in this case it’s pointless torture that goes on way too long - like everything else in the movie, they screwed it up and there’s no sense of  pacing). And not only is Avedon trying really hard to be cool, he looks like any number of different people, depending on the scene he’s in. In various scenes he resembles:

    - Tom Cruise
    - Gabriel Byrne
    - Eric Roberts
    - Griffin Dunne
    - Jeff Speakman
    - Kyle MacLachlan.

Just an observation. Avedon needs screen presence that doesn’t recall any other famous faces. In one of his more Tom Cruise-esque scenes, a song plays on the soundtrack that is a blatant knockoff of “Danger Zone”, presumably to drive the point home. He really wants you to think of him as 1986-era Mapother. In some scenes it sounds like Avedon is reading his dialogue off paper in a studio somewhere else. Elsewhere, he seems to be taking this regrettable outing way TOO seriously. There’s no balance with this guy. 

A glimmer of hope arrives (way too late) when, towards the end of the movie, Matthias Hues shows up. He begins beating up Avedon and our attention perked up, as we thought it might have a saving grace. We weren’t expecting a No Retreat, No Surrender 2 (1987) situation, but their fight was too short and extremely disappointing. It all leads to those same familiar questions: Who watched/enjoyed this? Did the filmmakers think this was good, or did they know it sucks?

As we all know, by 2001 the golden age of DTV was over, and if you needed any more proof of that fact, here it is. The Silent Force is an insultingly dumb slog to sit through, so make sure you avoid it.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Sword Of Honor (1996)

Sword Of Honor (1996)- * * *

Directed by: Robert Tiffe

Starring: Steven Vincent Leigh, Jeff Pruitt, and Sophia Crawford

Cops/buddies Johnny (Leigh) and Alan (Pruitt) are Martial Arts experts who teach children their craft at a dojo run by Alan and his sister Vicky (Crawford) when they’re not out chasing the baddies. Alan decides to concentrate on the dojo full time and thus has “one day left until retirement”. The last assignment involves the most sinister Sotheby’s auction ever - a badass sword, known, naturally, as the “Sword of Honor” because of its long history of slicing people to bits. When baddies - mainly mobsters - make an attempt to gain control of the mystical sword, bad things start to happen. Alan and Vicky now must team up to get revenge, fight the evildoers, and, if there’s time, fall in love. Who will make the final chop? Find out today!

We really like Steven Vincent Leigh. He’s an underrated talent, and Sword of Honor is a good vehicle for him. We’ve seen most of his cinematic output, and he’s a quality Martial Artist with a nice personality and good screen presence. He’s perfect for these PM outings (such as Deadly Bet, also with director Tiffe), and teaming him up with Sophia Crawford was a great idea. Crawford is mainly known for her Hong Kong movies and stunt work, and her background pays off here. It would be convenient for fans like us if she did more Western action movies that are more easily accessible, but such is life. Crawford is like a cross between two Comeuppance fan favorites, Cynthia Rothrock and Gary Daniels (perhaps only in the accent and Martial Arts ability but you get the idea). Nevertheless, the pairing of the two makes the movie worthwhile.

It’s classic 90’s video-store action all the way with plenty of stunts and fights every few minutes, as it should be. Some of the pretexts for fight scenes are hilariously dumb - at a gym, a meathead asks Johnny if he’s done using a particular piece of equipment. Johnny tells him he has some more reps to go. This enrages the meathead and a knock-down, drag-out fight ensues. Elsewhere, two of our favorite items are combined: the disco nightclub scene and punchfighting. One minute, revelers are tearin’ it up on the dancefloor, the next minute, that same dancefloor becomes a punchfighting arena and those very same dancers are now yelling angrily and cheering like a true punchfighting audience. How quickly their mood changes. Talk about your one-stop shopping.

The aggressor in the nightclub punch-up is a grade-A meathead, and we did seem to notice that there are a lot of weird-looking people in this movie. It has the normal PM professional look to it, but the incidental characters, such as mobsters, bartenders, patrons, and other background artists are just strange to behold. And the weird hair quotient is pretty far up the chart too, as you might expect. The main baddie could have been a bit more menacing, he seemed a lot like Mandy Patinkin. Patinkin has never really appeared in any movies of this kind, he’s a bit too classy. And some scenes suffer from being underlit, which is a malady that would really plague DTV productions in the coming years after this.  And the actual sword disappears for long stretches and you kind of forget about it. Those are really the worst things you can say about Sword of Honor (unless you’re going to beat it up for its cliches, which we won’t). It’s really a good time had by all.

Sword of Honor is enjoyable 90’s video-store action featuring likable leads and plenty of fighting. PM rarely disappoints, and, despite a few minor flaws, this can surely count as yet another feather in their cap.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, The Unknown Movies!