No Escape, No Return (1993)

No Escape, No Return (1993)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Charles T. Kanganis

Starring: Maxwell Caulfield, Dustin Nguyen, Denise Loveday, Joey Travolta, Real Andrews, Pamela Dixon, Robert Miano, John Saxon, and Michael Nouri

Police officers William Sloan (Caulfield), Tommy Cuff (Nguyen), and Ali Weston (Loveday) are more than just your average cops. They grew up together, trained together, and graduated the academy together, all at the top of their class, with their own individual specialties. They have a strong bond, and that bond will be tested to the limits when a corrupt DEA agent, Dante (Nouri) tries to set them on a path to their ultimate ruin. When another official, Mitchell (Saxon) comes in to investigate, he realizes something fishy is going on. Dante, against the warnings of their Captain, Stark (Travolta), made them a special team to investigate drug runners, setting them up for a fall. While each member of the team has their own personal demons to confront, will they be able to outsmart and out-shoot the bureaucratic forces lined up against them? Much like a busy day at the Stop & Shop bottle return room, will it be NO ESCAPE NO RETURN?

PM’s batting average remains high with this very enjoyable and entertaining outing. It’s gems like this that made going to the video store fun - trying new titles, never knowing what to expect, and sometimes finding a winner. Items like No Escape No Return kept the odds in your favor.  We appreciate that. NENR (don’t kids tease each other by saying “neener neener neener”?) was essentially the culmination of writer/director Charles Kanganis’s time at PM. It does appear to be the end of his education and evolution there, as he seems to put all he’s learned onto the screen, with winning results. Coming hot on the heels of his Traci Lords diptych, A Time To Die (1991) and Intent to Kill (1992), here Kanganis goes full-throated action and makes no apologies for it. There’s a ton of action, the stuntwork is top-notch, the movie is shot and directed well so you can see all of what’s going on, there are shootings, high-quality blow-ups, and beat-ups constantly, and two of our favorite settings for action are, of course, here: the disco and the bar. The disco scene features some very cool slo-mo and the bar, of course, is the place for the time-honored barfight (which, in classic form, is instigated by some racial slurs that you would never hear today in our stranglingly PC world).

 As if all that wasn’t enough, we have a stellar cast of familiar faces to keep the whole ship buoyant. Dustin Nguyen’s “back’s against the wall” once again, as it was in 21 Jump Street, and it’s hard to find a cooler moment in our recent memory than him, dressed in a black leather jacket, with fingerless gloves, and shades, holding double handguns and he takes down the bad guys. Fan favorite John Saxon resembles Rudy Giuliani, Joey Travolta resembles...I mean, does his part (mainly delivering exposition) quite well, and Michael Nouri looks like he’s gotten a haircut. Even mainstays Robert Miano and Real Andrews get in on the fun. And we’ve gained a new respect for Maxwell Caulfield. Far from being just a cross between Jeff Fahey and C. Thomas Howell, his performance is also cool and great.

For PM fans, this movie will certainly put you in mind of Maximum Force (1992) - but NENR has a unique character all its own. Maybe that’s because Kanganis places emphasis on character development - there’s more of it in the first five minutes of this movie than a lot of other action movies combined. So you always care about these people and what happens to them. If that wasn’t the case, all the car-flipping-over-in-the-middle-of-the-street-and-blowing-up stunts wouldn’t mean a thing. So, we applaud all involved with No Escape No Return (not to be confused with No Retreat, No Surrender) - it delivers the goods.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett 


Indio 2 (1991)

Indio 2 (1991)- * * *

Directed by: Antonio Margheriti

Starring: "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler, Tetchie Agbayani, Dirk Galuba, Frank Cuervo, and Charles Napier

Marvelous Marvin Hagler is back in this sequel that should answer all your questions from the first Indio. This time around, an evil corporation (of course) wants to build a road through the rainforest. Seems logical enough, but it turns out they would be destroying the indigenous land of the Indios. So the head Indio in charge, Ugadi (Cuervo) does the only logical thing you can do in that situation: he turns to Marvelous Marvin Hagler for help. Sorry, Sgt. Iron. Iron leads the local tribes on a massive revolt (hence the subtitle) against the evil mercenary baddies put in charge of building the road. But it all comes to a head when IMC President (that’s all he’s credited as) (Napier) shows up, and then Sgt. Iron goes mano-a-mano with head builder/baddie Vincent Van Eyck (Galuba). Will the revolt be successful, or just plain revolting?

Just the fact that there’s an Indio TWO is a testament to the grandness of the video store era. Shelves needed filling, and customers were hungry for product, so, why not? Especially when master director Antonio Margheriti is at the helm once again. The guy knows action, that’s for sure. The movie is very well-shot, and the professional look adds a lot. At first, it may seem like slow going - and at 104 minutes, that is a more than reasonable thing to think - but Indio 2 is like a river in the rural jungles where it was shot. At first it may seem leisurely and rambling, but at some point it becomes rapids and then a waterfall - that really is what happens here. The final third of Indio 2 is simply great. It just takes a little time to get there.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler (he legally changed his name to Marvelous Marvin Hagler, much like how Mr. T’s legal name is Mr. T - and for those who don’t know, T’s middle name is legally a period) certainly gives Louis Gossett Jr. a run for his money. Why didn’t they play brothers in a movie? When he speaks to members of the local Indio population, he calls them “man”. Of course, he faces off against an evil German. Halfway through the movie, we’re told he’s supposed to be South African, but his accent is pure baddie. It’s a baddie accent, more than anything. A badcent? His sidekick is a beardo who strongly resembles Mick Fleetwood. So that is scary. We were on Charles Napier watch, and he doesn’t show up until 71 minutes in. That’s a long time. And his screentime is almost Center of the Web-style quick - it’s a glorified cameo.

Napier basically plays the role Brian Dennehy did in the first Indio, but gets much less time in the sun. Besides that, you can tell Margheriti and the gang didn’t want to do a complete retread of the first Indio. The surprising fate of that movie’s hero, Daniel Morell, would certainly indicate that. Under-the-radar action movie regular Tetchie Agbayani also returns from the first movie, which was nice to see, and added some continuity. Of course, there are the time honored beat-ups, blow-ups, exploding huts a-plenty, and even a rare form of exploding helicopter - not only is it a double ex-heli, but both are on land and not in the sky at the time. You never see that. George H.W. Bush’s photo is on the wall, and in another scene, there’s a picture of Stallone next to a picture of Jesus. That pretty much sums up the spirit of Indio 2 in a nutshell.

Indio 2 is a movie that gets better as it goes along. It all ends with a killer climax, and, despite some slower moments early on, it’s quite good overall and very worth seeing.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, Explosive Action!