Raiders Of The Magic Ivory (1988)

Raiders Of The Magic Ivory  (1988)- * * *
AKA: Predators of the Magic Stone

Directed by: Tonino Ricci

Starring: James Mitchum, Christopher Ahrens, and Clarissa Mendez

Captain Rogers (Mitchum) - whose nickname is “Sugar” (we know; very manly) was a commander in Vietnam and is now a mercenary. Together with his buddy Mark (Ahrens), the two men accept a job from an “elderly Chinese gentleman” named Lee Chang. Chang instructs the two men to go deep into hostile jungle territory to retrieve a magical tablet. Chang says if he doesn’t have the tablet at the time of his death, his family will be cursed for a thousand years. He offers the two men a substantial amount of money and off they go. While slogging it out in the jungle, the pair encounter black magic rituals and end up saving Mei Lai (Mendez) from being sacrificed. After some more trials and tribulations where they end up mowing down baddies with their machine guns, they end up learning the truth about the mysterious tablet...but is it too late?

Raiders of the Magic Ivory (or Predators of the Magic Stone, in case anyone gets confused by its alternate title) shows that Jim Mitchum can enter the pantheon of actors who openly don’t care while on screen. Some others being David Carradine, and the father of them all, Burt Reynolds. Here Mitchum has an overgrown and possibly asymmetrical mustache that makes him look like a sillier Stacy Keach. But obviously the title is meant to recall a certain Harrison Ford adventure movie...but here there is very little raiding going on here, their predominant means of doing their job seems to be shooting their machine guns. But perhaps “Shooters of the Magic Ivory” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

We love Mitchum, Code Name: Zebra and Hollywood Cop are classics. But he’s no Indiana Jones. He’s more of a “fat guy in a Hawaiian shirt”. Or possibly “mustachioed guy in a kimono”. And we mean that in the most appreciative way possible. His monosyllabic line readings, about 75% of which consist of the line “Let’s get outta here” are so droll they become funny very quickly. The doltish dialogue is definitely a movie highlight. It’s so amazingly dumb you just have to appreciate it.

When our heroes aren’t paddlin’ down a river or fighting black magic monks, their fighting style seems to be modeled on the children’s game “Tag”. Meaning, Sugar or Mark will try and punch or shoot a baddie, and if they miss, it’s like “ha ha, you missed me, now I go after you”. If they hit, it’s like “Tag - you’re it”. You kind of have to see this to know what we’re talking about. But needless to say, it’s very childish.

Raiders of the Magic Ivory might not be the best action movie ever made, but director Tonino Ricci imbues it with that classic Italian style we all know and love. Plus Jim Mitchum is a force to be reckoned with. So despite what you may have heard, we believe this is actually worth watching.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Out For A Kill (2003)

Out For A Kill (2003)- * *1\2

Directed by: Michael Oblowitz

Starring: Steven Seagal

A bunch of Chinese gangsters are using their international network to smuggle drugs. Their evil operations infringe upon the happy-go-lucky life of Yale professor Robert Burns (Seagal) and all hell breaks loose. On an innocent fact-finding mission, Burns discovers that they are using ancient artifacts to conceal their drugs. After some fights and shootouts, Burns realizes he must track down all those responsible for ruining his life. Unleashing the awesome power within all Yale professors, he beats up, maims and kills across several continents, using their arm tattoos as clues as to where to go next. Will anyone survive when professor Robert Burns goes OUT FOR A KILL?

Latter-day Seagal meets Nu-Image. We could just stop there, because you probably know what to expect (assuming you don’t already feel like you’ve seen the movie), but we’ll continue. At the beginning of the movie, the first scene in fact, a bunch of unsmiling guys in suits walk in slow motion into a Bulgarian strip club. Guess what happens next? You can no doubt guess, but what if we told you it involved REPEATED FOOTAGE? Then we go to Paris where a bunch of gangsters are sitting around a table. On the screen we get a bunch of fun facts about their personal lives and hobbies. We don’t know why. All we can assume is that this is the “Anti-Seagal Club” because all they do is complain about him. It seems to be the basis of their organization. We can reasonably assume there’s a crudely painted sign on the door that says “no girls allowed”.

Finally we move to beautiful New Haven, Connecticut (not really, it’s probably a blue screen or possibly a green screen. What an insult to our fair city). We are, as an audience, finally ready to meet professor Robert Burns. He’s receiving an award because he’s such a talented and great man. Those stodgy Yalies probably thought they were giving the award to the national poet of Scotland Robert Burns (1759-1796). The similarities between him and Seagal are uncanny. Nevertheless, he then dons his leather jacket and becomes “Indiana Seagal”, bearing no resemblances to any other badass archaeology professors.

The rest of the movie is your typical Seagallian morass of unintentionally funny ADR work, unintentionally funny Martial Arts fights and unintentionally funny green screen shots. There are even some Sniper-style “bullet time” shots. Add to that some silly quick cuts and zooms, and there you have it. Besides the references to Yale and 18th century lyric poets, the highbrow literary references continue when Seagal goes to (what no doubt must be one of his favorite haunts) the “Cafe Sartre”. Trust us, you’ll be feeling the “Nausea” if you watch this movie.

But really, there are enough funny and/or silly moments in this movie to make it rise above the level of other Seagal “Kill” movies such as Driven To Kill or Kill Switch. Speaking of the title, it’s just an unashamed mash-up of two of Seagal’s “classic” titles, Out For Justice (1991) and Hard to Kill (1990). Except “Out For A Kill” makes no sense. But it does sound like Seagal, in a domestic situation, calls to his wife in another room in their suburban house as he’s walking out the door, “Honey, I’m going out for a kill, be back in twenty minutes...” Sadly this scene didn’t happen in this movie. How disappointing.

In all, Out For A Kill has enough decent moments (be they unintentional or not) to keep this latter-day Seagal outing’s head above water. Barely. However, there are certainly worse Seagal movies out there (*cough*KillSwitch*cough*).

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

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