7/25/2014

Blind Rage (1978)

Blind Rage (1978)- * *1\2

Directed by: Efren C. Pinon

Starring: Leo Fong, Leila Hermosa, Charlie Davao, Fred Williamson and Golay as Chan










In the wake of the Vietnam war, the United States plans to send millions of dollars in aid to Southeast Asia, in order to prevent a feared "domino effect" of instability in the region. For some reason, the U.S. government didn't foresee that a criminal mastermind named Johnny Duran (Davao) has hired a woman named Sally (Hermosa) to corral a group of blind men to stage a robbery on the bank where the money is being held. BLIND MEN ROBBING A BANK. That's pretty much it. That is, until Jesse Crowder (Williamson) shows up to get to the bottom of the heist and get justice. Will the blind indeed lead the blind...to a multi-million dollar payoff? Find out today...?

The original Blind Fury (1989), Blind Rage is the original vision impairment-based action movie. While we absolutely fell in love with the concept of the film: namely, a group of multi-racial blindies getting together for a bank heist, a couple of things weigh down the movie as a whole. The main detriment is the slow pace. There are long, extensively detailed scenes of "robbery practice" where Sally teaches the blind boys of Alabama how to properly execute the heist. The other thing is a mixed blessing. It's the inclusion of Fred Williamson. His appearance towards the end of the film rescues the movie from the doldrums, but the problem is, Fred should have been involved the whole time. Let's not forget this is from the same director as Ninja Assassins (1978), the movie where Cameron Mitchell didn't appear until the third act. Maybe that's director Pinon's idea of playing his last ace.


There are plenty of things to admire about Blind Rage, however. The 70's style we all know and love is in evidence, best exemplified by the massive cars that are roughly the size of aircraft carriers. The funk on the soundtrack and the rotary phones reinforce the vibe as well, not to mention the loudly patterned shirts and wood-paneled rec rooms. Speaking of the soundtrack, there's this one annoying high-pitched note that appears at least twice in the movie, and it's so ear-shatteringly irritating, and is held for such an interminably long time, we actually had to hit mute. Hopfully that wasn't Pinon's idea of suspense music. But that one note (not to be confused with the movie's idea) is washed away by the funk, as well as the presences of Fong and Williamson.

Fong plays a guy blinded during a fight with the triads, and Fred is just cool (he even exits a car in an extremely cool manner), but the rest of the acting is hilariously stilted and packed with funny pauses. That alone makes Blind Rage worth seeing, despite its flaws. And let's not forget the immortal credit "Golay as Chan". Yes, there is a man (?) out there simply named Golay. He's obviously the Cher or Madonna of the Philippines. And he played Chan. So now you know. Golay, we hardly knew ye.

Featuring a song we think is called "The System" by Helen Gamboa (Manila's answer to Shirley Bassey?), Blind Rage does have some dull moments and is flawed, but the overall concept and some of the sillier moments make for relatively painless viewing.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 


7/23/2014

Trackdown (1976)

Trackdown (1976)- * * *

Directed by: Richard T. Heffron

Starring: James Mitchum, Karen Lamm, Erik Estrada, Anne Archer, Vince Cannon, and Cathy Lee Crosby











Jim Calhoun (Mitchum) is a Montana cattle rancher who doesn't take any guff. When his sister Betsy (Lamm) decides to follow in the footsteps of so many that came before her and moves to L.A. seeking fame and fortune, tragedy befalls her. The wide-eyed and innocent Betsy falls afoul of an evil gang and is forced into prostitution. A guy named Chucho (Estrada) falls for Betsy, and while initially associated with the gang, severs ties when Betsy goes missing. Soon Jim Calhoun is in the big city, a big, burly fish out of water, also searching for his beloved sister. Joining the search party is social worker Lynn (Crosby). But super-evil baddie Johnny Dee (Cannon) is going to make life especially hard for the well-meaning trio, who, despite all their social differences, have banded together to save Betsy from a life of squalor. Will Calhoun and his friends succeed in their TRACKDOWN?

Trackdown is a quality example of the "disgruntled man searching for his wife/sister/daughter" movie exemplified by the likes of Hardcore (1979), Broken Angel (1988), and, most recently, Taken (2008). While there are other examples, Trackdown predates the aforementioned three titles, and, as you might expect, is dripping with 70's style. Thank goodness for movies like Trackdown, which show L.A. back in the day in all its gritty glory. While the surface is loaded with rotary phones, wide ties, and bellbottoms, the underlying message seems to be that the city is filled with harsh realities and uncaring people, and scavengers will take advantage of you if you don't have a support system of people who care.


One of those people happens to be Erik Estrada. His youthful energy pours through in this early role, and he has some stylish shirts and a killer van to boot. He even takes Betsy to a very interesting dance club with a live band at one point. Director Heffron was going for realism for the most part, which pays off today in the sense of it being a fascinating time capsule. But the true rewards of this realistic approach is that there is no treacly sentimentalism or preachy messages, just Jim Mitchum with a shotgun dispensing Montana justice. Now that's a trackdown we can get behind.

It's hard to pick a favorite Mitchum: Jim, Chris or Robert. Each time we think we have a fave, along comes a Code Name: Zebra (1987) or a mega-winner like the awesome Final Score (1986). But for the purposes of today's review, Jim is in the driver's seat, and we couldn't be happier. Jim Calhoun brings a dose of reality to those L.A. airheads, in the form of some good beat-em-ups and an extremely well-directed action setpiece in an elevator shaft. While Cathy Lee Crosby and Anne Archer provide nice cast additions, Mitchum makes you root for Calhoun. Featuring the end credits song "Runaway Girl" by none other than Kenny Rogers, we feel Trackdown is worth tracking down.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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