Fist Fighter (1989)-* * *
Directed by: Frank Zuniga
Starring: Jorge Rivero, Edward Albert, Billy Graham, and Matthias Hues
"There can be only one winner."
C.J. Thunderbird (Rivero) is a drifter who closely resembles disgraced Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. He's going south of the border because he received a telegram informing him that his friend died at the hands of a mysterious fistfighter named Rhino Rhinehart (Hues). Along the way, he wrist-wrassles a few meatheads and gets in a few barfights. He makes it to Bolivia and enters the underground fighting world, with the aim of defeating Rhino. He befriends a gregarious promoter named Punchy (Albert). The fights are controlled by corrupt gangster Vance (Mike Connors), who is in bed with the local authorities, so he has Thunderbird sent to prison.
While there, there is yet more underground fighting, this time in a cage. Enter: The Beast, a hairy, Robin Williams-like creature that murdalizes everyone in the ring. The evil warden Moreno (Simon Andreu) promises Thunderbird his freedom if he defeats The Beast. Will Thunderbird prevail? Will he get his one shot at Rhino? What will happen to Punchy? How much fist-fighting can one human stand? Find out tonight!
Thunderbird has a cute dog, played by "Kelly". He steals the movie. He out-acts everyone and could easily be the new Benji. You really care about his plight. The other characters all have great/silly names: C.J. Thunderbird, Rhino Rinehart, The Beast, and "Harry Lang Moses" AKA, of course, PUNCHY.
During the prerequisite training sequence, instead of a Rocky-like pounding, inspirational rock tune, it is Punchy talking a mile a minute to C.J.
C.J. is never seen without his stonewashed jeans, even in the ring. Did we mention he is a dead ringer for John Kerry? If you've ever wanted to see the windsurfer-in-chief punch and fight his way to freedom, this is the movie for you.
The addition of the character of The Beast is welcome because it is so crazy. It is never explained if he is some kind of genetic mutation or just an angry, hairy dude. It is reminiscent of the exploitation gem La Bestia In Calore AKA S.S. Hell Camp (1977).
Fan Favorite Matthias Hues puts in an accent-drenched performance as Rhino. He is always welcome and has a charming presence, even as a bad guy. He lets his fists do the talking and wears some oversized suits. We all love Hues.
Despite a slumping, sagging middle section, Fist Fighter is a worthy addition to the bare-knuckle, underground meathead genre.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett
Midnight Ride (1990)-*1\2
Directed by: Bob Bralver
Starring: Michael Dudikoff, Mark Hamill, Savina Gersak, and Robert Mitchum
In this nonsensical tripe, Lawson Markman (The Dudester) plays a cop (and that's ALL we know about him) who splits from his wife Laura (Gersak). She picks up hitchhiker Justin McKay (Hamill) who turns out to be a raving, annoying psychopath. McKay forces her to drive to the town of Hendersonville so he can meet up with his "only friend" Dr. Hardy (Unfortunately, Robert Mitchum). In what is basically a road movie, Lawson is chasing after Justin and Laura for most of the running time.
Nothing is ever established so you don't know who these characters are, and thus there is no suspense. The movie has a weird off-kilter feel and seems like it was filmed in another country but apparently it wasn't. It also feels ten years older then it is. The happy-go-lucky jazz music during the chase scenes is inappropriate. It is overlong, and rife with so many absurd plot holes, it is not possible to list them all here.
Hamill plays a very similar role to the one he played in the TV movie The City (1977), a leering lunatic who bugs out his eyes and cackles incessantly. He wears a gray-striped jacket that makes him look like a ten year old, and takes Polaroid pictures of everything. If he was trying to forget Star Wars (1977), this is not the best way to do so. Hamill spits outs craziness like "When Dr. Hardy fixes your brain, you can marry me!"
Dudikoff doesn't do any of his trademark martial arts. The movie desperately needed his patented karate chops. His cool hair is still present and accounted for however. The movie focuses way too much on Hamill and not enough on Dudikoff. Of course their final fight is in a steam factory, and Hamill has one last silly weapon up his sleeve: a random ATV. Doesn't every hospital basement have one?
The Videohound book lists Mitchum's appearance as a cameo. In the same way that retired people get jobs because they are too freakin' bored around the house, Mitchum's decision to appear in Midnight Ride seems based on that same thought process.
It's no surprise Cannon Films ceased to exist a few years later. The glory days were over.
Actually irritating to watch, please don't take this "Midnight Ride" tonight.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty
Street Warrior (2008)-* *1\2
Directed by: David Jackson
Starring: Max Martini, Nick Chinlund, Max Perlich, and Valerie Cruz
Jack Campbell (Martini) is a soldier who gets a dishonorable discharge for beating up his commanding officer. He goes back to his old stomping grounds and finds out his brother has been severely beaten by a steroid-enhanced punchfighter named Isaiah. So he infiltrates the underground fighting circuit called "The Gauntlet" in order to get answers. So after meeting a bunch of crazy characters, the evil fight promoter Pope (Chinlund) kidnaps Jack's brother's pregnant wife so Jack will keep fighting in the tournaments. Does this plot seem familiar?
The meatheads that Jack must fight include: Jersey Devil, Farm Boy, Zeke, Isaiah, and the Nazi Baldus, who, when he wins a fight does the Nazi salute AND the goose-step. The fights in the film are haphazardly edited with a bunch of quick cutting.
Chinlund as Pope looks like a cross between Barry Williams, Ray Liotta, David Hasselhoff and Ryan Seacrest. He puts in an over the top performance, screaming all his lines, including the oft-repeated "LET'S SEE... SOME BLOOD!" Max Martini mumbles all his lines and the DVD has no closed-captioning to help you out. In the obligatory bar fight scene, he beats someone up with an 8-ball from a pool table and proclaims "8 ball in the corner pocket". Another understandable line: "I'm okay with trouble".
It seems Street Warrior was made in the wrong decade. It should have been made in the late 80's/early 90's when direct-to-video punchfighting movies were king. It's good that this one comes so late in the game, but it is unclear whether we are to take it seriously or not. One minute it is serious, and the next, there are some ridiculous moments, characters and one-liners. In old-school punchfighters, you can actually see the punching. Here, there is incomprehensible, ADD-addled editing which hinders the final product.
Street Warrior is an enjoyable-enough latter-day punchfighter, but, but despite its many flaws, we are happy that they are still cranking out movies of this subgenre. We should be grateful.
Comeuppance review by: Ty and Brett
Red Scorpion 2 (1994)-* * *
Directed by: Michael Kennedy
Starring: Matt McColm, Michael Ironside, Jennifer Rubin, Paul Ben-Victor, Réal Andrews, George Touliatos, and John Savage
From the mind of the notorious Jack Abramoff comes...
To stop the evil neo-Nazi Andrew Kendrick (Savage) from taking over the world with the stolen artifact the "Spear Of Destiny", Col. West (Ironside) and Sam Guinness (Rubin) assemble a ragtag team to infiltrate their compound. The leader, a "roguish superagent", is Ben Affleck dead-ringer Nick Stone (McColm). Other team members include:
1. Good ol' boy Billy Ryan (Michael Covert), the sharpshooter,
2. The token computer nerd Vince D'Angelo (Ben-Victor), the irritating "George Costanza" of the group,
3. Token Asian Joe Nakamura,
4. And token black man Winston "Mad Dog" Powell (Andrews). If this were the show "Criminal Minds", he would be the Shemar Moore character. He gets to call the evil skinheads "eggs with legs" and screams loudly every time he fires a machine gun.
They are all under the command of Gregori (Touliatos). They don't need to be, but the movie needed a connection, no matter how tenuous, to the first film. Gregori claims to have trained Nikolai, as played by Dolph Lundgren. Dolph is not in this film. So now they are all in the "Red Scorpion Brigade" and have small scorpion tattoos on their arms. It all Matt McColminates with some shooting and explosions (which they should have just done from minute 1 of the movie, but then there would be no movie).
Will this team be able to work together and infiltrate and dismantle Kendrick's nefarious operation? Could Matt McColm look any MORE like Ben Affleck? Will it be "Armageddon" all over again for our heroes? And what is "Kendrick's Roulette" exactly? Find out today!
Silly fun that is brain-numbingly dumb, Red Scorpion 2 has quite possibly every cliche in action movie history. Stone is going on "one last mission", he jumps from an explosion in slow motion, the unnecessary training sequences (which primarily consist of the team endlessly rock climbing), the old abandoned warehouses, the old, dying master and much much more.
John Savage as Kendrick makes a great bad guy. When he first sees the "Spear Of Destiny" he keeps saying "Ohhhhh" over and over again. He's such an evil Nazi, he has a glove drawer. He has a command center with film of Hitler running on a continuous loop. He also has some great underlings. Mr. Benjamin's only talent is counting in an extremely ominous and strained tone. Hans (of course that's his name), is a weird cross between Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer as Frasier and David Hyde Pierce as Niles. If you've ever wanted to see a cast member of "Frasier" execute a spin kick, this is the movie for you.
By contrast, McColm as the appropriately-named Stone is about as animated and lively as petrified wood. His "martial arts" consists of clumsily slapping his opponents. Michael Ironside looks really bored and unchallenged by his pat role.
It is insulting to the audience. When we see bad guys getting away, someone says "they're getting away!" When an oil drum with the gigantic letters "GAS" rolls toward our heroes, one of them yells "it's gas!" This can also be seen in Street Fighter (1994) E. Honda says that line and Matt McColm performs a "1000 hand slap" just like Honda and both movies came out the same year. Coincidence? I think not.
Despite the fact that the movie is silly, dumb and cliche-ridden, we loved how funny Red Scorpion 2 is and we had a lot of fun watching it.
Discover the "Spear Of Destiny" tonight with this classic!
Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett
Project: Shadowchaser (1992)-* * *
Directed by: John Eyres
Starring: Martin Kove, Frank Zagarino, Meg Foster and Joss Ackland
When Romulus the android (Zagarino) comes to life after a lot of clacking on computers, he and his henchmen decide to take an entire hospital hostage. Naturally, the President's daughter (Foster) is in the hospital. Apparently this is happening because the evil Kinderman, head of ATR (Advanced Technical Research) and the maker of Romulus, wants the President to step aside so he can create a new world order. Obviously the only solution to this problem is to defrost Martin Kove and send him in to save the day. In the future, jail is being frozen in ice. Henceforth it's "Die Hard in a hospital" as Kove uses his skills as a football player and "redneck killer" to take down the baddies.
Zagarino is meant to look like Dolph Lundgren as Drago (see the hair) and his robotic acting suits him perfectly. Speaking of funny hair, Kove, when he is defrosted, has a silly mountain man beard that doesn't match his hair. So, to put an end to Romulus, Kove heads up "Operation Bird-Dog", the most intimidating operation name ever. They needlessly give each other "handles" so, of course, the cries are "Fox to Chicken Hawk, Fox to Chicken Hawk". Couldn't they have thought of something else? What's the audience supposed to think?
The debatably miscast Foster as the President's daughter portrays the character that is always whining and asking a lot of annoying questions. It's not her fault, we love Meg Foster. But in these types of movies, someone has to bear that load.
Romulus has some funny henchmen. One is a fat guy name Zanuchi. Another one resembles Dale "Apollo" Cook.
Joss Ackland tries to rise above the material as Kinderman. He has a great voice for what he was trying to do. When he is communicating with Romulus, he mentions that "Desilva" (the Martin Kove character) is "insignificant". Apparently, Kinderman programmed Romulus with a Pee-Wee's Playhouse-style "secret word" in his brain, because he reacts with a crazy robot noise and strange neck movement. This idea is never paid off. Apparently Romulus is one insecure 'bot.
"Project Shadowchaser" is a low-budget mish-mash of The Terminator (1984), Die Hard (1988), Star Wars (1977) and Hard Boiled (1992). It ends with a classic freeze-frame of Kove pouring beer on his own head and yelling "Touchdown!" Classic.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett
Slaughter Day (1973)- * *
AKA: Situation and Deadline
Directed by: Peter Patzak
Starring: Rita Tushingham, Gordon Mitchell and Michael Hausserman
Set in Germany, Slaughter Day tells the tale of Michael (Hausserman), a mysterious man with an elaborate plan for a big bank heist. He's pretty handy with radios, so he assembles his ragtag team of accomplices by placing little communication devices in packs of cigarettes, car radios and other places so his team never sees his face. While he is meticulously planning his "perfect crime", he finds the time to fall in love with Rita (Tushingham) and they spend plenty of time at his isolated cabin in the woods. Unbeknownst to Rita, Michael is planning on finally meeting up with his fellow baddies at the cabin. So she and her group of friends show up there for some fun, and unpleasantness ensues.
Hausserman resembles 70's/80's porn legend John Holmes and it seems a bit on the odd side that he would have this whole big romance with doe-eyed, pixyish Tushingham, who seems confused most of the time. She tells him "Too bad you always think of money when you talk of love", tying together one of the many romance sequences.
As for the other characters, it seems Michael's sole criteria for putting together his team is that they have funny facial hair. Veteran of this type of film Gordon Mitchell almost steals the show as one of the thieves. He has a great face and the film could have used more of him. He easily could have played the Michael character.
I would be remiss if I were to leave out one of Rita's friends she takes to the cabin: an obese man obsessed with fishing. ALL of his lines in the film mention how bad he wants to go fishing. Why is she friends with him? He would be much more at home as the token fat guy in an 80's sex romp.
There are some interesting locations, but the color on the U.S. VHS tape is drab and flat, doing a disservice to the cinematography. The silly dubbing and slow pace of the film also don't do it any favors, but that's a two-sided coin, as the 70's European flair is one of the better aspects of Slaughter Day.
Not a very uplifting experience, Slaughter Day might be of interest to heist-film fans (are there any?) who have seen every other heist film ever made. Or possibly fans of Rita Tushingham. Otherwise, I wouldn't put it at the top of your list of things to see.
Comeuppance review by: Brett
Best Revenge (1982)-* *
Directed by: John Trent
Starring: John Heard, Levon Helm, John Rhys-Davies and Stephen McHattie
Charlie Granger (Heard) is a good-natured pot dealer who wants do nothing more than play his harmonica, play some b-ball with his buddy Brett Monroe (McHattie of One Man Out fame) and wear his cool Indiana Jones-style hat. When evil gangster Leo Ellis (Moses Znaimer) forces Charlie to go to Spain and Morocco to take part in a 4 million dollar drug deal, Charlie has no choice but to reluctantly accept the danger. Charlie teams up with Bo (Helm) and attempts to get the stash back to the U.S. Will he succeed?
John Heard puts in his usual solid performance. McHattie as the mustachioed photographer friend of Charlie's is totally different from his role in One Man Out. In Best Revenge, he looks less like Peter Weller than he does in 'Out.
One of the better aspects of 'Revenge is its attention to detail. It shows what a huge ordeal it would be to get drugs from overseas into the U.S. Normally those people aren't the good guys, but Heard is likable. Additionally, there is some noteworthy location shooting and the cinematography shows the Morocco and Spain exteriors in a picturesque manner.
The music is by Keith Emerson and in true 80s fashion, it has its own title song, sung by Amanda Hayley.
One of the main problems of 'Revenge is its title. It is not "Revenge-y" enough. There is actually very little revenge being taken. It sets the viewer up for something that doesn't come. Simply a different title would have solved this problem.
Fans of John Heard will appreciate Best Revenge. Maybe the reason why this movie is so under the radar is that fact that it is decent but not entirely satisfying.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett & Ty
Cold Justice (1989)-*1\2
Directed by: Terry Green
Starring: Roger Daltrey, Ron Dean, and Dennis Waterman
"Betrayal has its price."
On the crime-ridden streets of Chicago, a mysterious man with a secret named Father Jim (Waterman) strolls into town and tries to make a difference. The only people he meets are worthless layabouts, drunks, and ex-boxer Keith Gibson (Daltrey). Gibson is down on his luck and is trying to get back into the fight game. The local drunks grow to love Father Jim because he drinks just like them. Jim runs afoul of some gangsters and the story comes to a tragic end.
You may have noticed the above plot description is kind of boring to read. Try watching it for a punishing hour and forty-five minutes! Cold Justice is a cliche-ridden slog of the lowest order. There is NO action. Yes, there is some punching by Who-man Roger Daltrey, but so what? It's at the end, and what person in their right mind would wait over 90 minutes to see some beyond-mild boxing action?
Nothing happens in Cold Justice. It goes around in circles so many times the viewer could become dizzy. Not to mention annoyed.
In this plodding exercise, Justice is a dish that ISN'T best served Cold.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty
* * *1\2
Directed by: Björn Carlström and Daniel Hübenbecher
Starring: Tim Earle, Gunnar Ernblad and Bengt Fridh
We loved Wardogs! Its unabashed celebration of over the top violence really earns the viewers' admiration.
Charles Stewart (Earle) is a Vietnam vet who wants answers about his brother Rick's death. He teams up with Dean Daniels (Ernblad), a reporter interested in missing Vietnam soldiers. It turns out the evil Spacek (Fridh) started a training camp in South Africa to pump out SuperSoldiers. These brainwashed, emotionless, unstoppable killing machines are now on the loose, brutalizing anything in their path. Will Charles' wife and son be next?
Wardogs is an extremely enjoyable Swedish production that seems to go out of its way to seem "American". It has some funny dubbing and the characters have "American"-type names. There are constant references to Coca-Cola, Corn Flakes, Marlboro cigarettes and the then-current L.A. Olympics. Rick even resembles Barry Williams of The Brady Bunch fame. However, simply from the imaginative and commendable cinematography, we can tell this is a European production, among other clues. It also makes the absolute best of its low budget in ingenious ways.
Our hero in Wardogs isn't a musclebound meathead with a lot of slick dialogue. He is a tubby everyman that the audience can relate to. He's not a superman - and since the audience truly fears the utter ruthlessness of the Wardogs, for every kill and victory of our hero, the audience says "Yeah!" This makes Wardogs a great popcorn/beer movie, if not for the whole family, for a group of bloodthirsty film fans.
On that point, Wardogs seems like an action movie made by horror film fans. In fact, the last 15 minutes abandons action entirely and goes all-out horror. It totally works!
A minor masterpiece of blood and violence, Wardogs is an underrated gem worth seeking out.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty
The Devastator (1985)-* * *
AKA: The Destroyers
Directed by: Cirio H. Santiago
Starring: Rick Hill, Katt Shea, Crofton Hardesterm and Jack S. Daniels
One of the best things about The Devastator is that it is no-nonsense, no-frills action fun that packs a good punch at 79 minutes.
Deacon "Deke" Porter (Hill) is a Vietnam Vet, who heads into the sleepy little town of King's Ransom, California. He's there to investigate the death of his 'Nam buddy Marcus Dearing. Unfortunately, the town is run by a coterie of redneck pot growers, the ringleader being the nefarious John Carey (Hardesterm). They even have Sheriff Clay Marsh (Kaz Garas) in their pocket. They don't cotton to outsiders, so when Deke comes sniffing around their turf, a war ensues. Luckily, Deke has an ace in the hole: his old army buddies Spence (the electronics expert) and Ox (The goofy, loud punchfighter) (Daniels) to help him out.
Who will be victorious? The smarmy bastard John Carey or will the mighty hero Ox reign supreme?
Hill as Deke is bit bland to be an action hero and he has an unflattering overbite. This doesn't stop him from being a slickster with the ladies and wearing his Member's Only jacket while sitting on a chair backwards so he can "rap" with people. Thankfully Jack S. Daniels (great name) is an American treasure to be discovered again and again! We need more men like him in the movies and in real life.
While most films of this era were concentrating on evil cocaine-related baddies, The Devastator goes the opposite direction and shows evil pot growers. John Carey is a hilarious name for the main villain. When they say his name in the film, you think of the failed presidential candidate windsurfing, and throwing HIS Vietnam medals over a fence. Where are the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth when you need them?
Directed by prolific fan-favorite Cirio (we are on a first name basis), this bears a similarity to the classic Final Mission (1984), it even has the same gratuitous fan-favorite death, decapitation. One of the strongest aspects of the movie is that it has a double-revenge plot. Deke has to get revenge for his fallen buddy and for himself.
In the U.S., The Devastator was released on VHS in one of those great MGM\UA big boxes. You gotta love 'em. If you don't like VHS big boxes, you are a traitor to our great country.
Ox it up tonight with this classic!
Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett
Directed by: Eddie Romero
Starring: Sam Jones, Timothy Hughes, Ken Metcalfe, Jaime Fabregas and Vic Diaz
Johnny Quinn (Jones) is a guy with a cool bomber jacket who is in North Thailand to get some answers. People think he killed his former partner, Tom Irving (Metcalfe). He is innocent, and meanwhile the evil Alex Korda (Hughes), a businessman intent on making big profits off the sale of narcotics, wants Quinn out of the way. After a location change to Manila, the authorities and Korda's men are after him. So Quinn teams up with Tom's daughter and the token wacky computer nerd named Wizard (Fabregas) to save the day. Apparently all the valuable information is on a tiny "laserdisc" which looks like a little cymbal. Will Quinn and his 2-person team prevail?
Honestly, Whiteforce is pretty standard fare. Sam Jones has been in better movies, such as Maximum Force (1992). His unshaven charm provides help to this ailing actioner. He keeps weapons in the heel of his boot and would sooner shoot someone than give up his classic jacket.
The idea of "corporate narcotics" is interesting, but it's all kind of muddled with things like the "International Security Alliance" and "Ambrack International". The viewer's interest begins to wane, and a bunch of shooting doesn't really help that much. Neither does the goofy music.
Unfortunately, Whiteforce resembles Down Twisted (1987). The team up of Jones and the girl in a foreign land, on the run, has a similar ambiance.
Vic Diaz turns up as one of the baddies, and "Indiana" Sam Jones is invented because of the popularity of that Spielberg classic. It even mentions it on the back of the VHS box. Speaking of which, you don't have to look too closely to see Sam Jones' head pasted on someone else's body. This happened to Jones again with Driving Force (1989). It's pretty funny that companies like his head, but not his body. Hopefully that didn't give him a complex of some sort.
In all, Whiteforce is paint-by-numbers and somewhat tedious going, buoyed to a certain extent by the lovable Jones.
Comeuppance review by: Brett & Ty
To Protect and Serve (1992)-***
Directed by: Eric Weston
Starring: C. Thomas Howell, Joe Cortese, and Zoe Trilling
Howell plays Detective Philip Egan, a loose-cannon Detroit Cop On The Edge. He witnesses his fellow police officers beating up an unarmed suspect. They "read him his rights" while they beat him to death. Also these corrupt cops take kickbacks and paybacks. Egan tries to quietly sign up with "the rat squad", AKA Internal Affairs, so he can get justice for the slain man but without his vicious cop buddies knowing. Also there is a serial killer on the loose picking off police officers. AND he is teamed with a new female partner, McCallister, who he doesn't get along with. It looks like Egan has a lot on his plate.
The cops have some funny "street" dialogue such as "you're coming up short, homie" and "hang around, ese" Like "Law and Order" this was ripped from the headlines of the time. In this case, the contemporary story of the Rodney King assault. Thankfully, "To Protect and Serve" is gritty and that serves the film well.
C. Thomas Howell puts in a tough performance and you care about his character and you want him to succeed. He's a man with a conscience that has nightmares about the beating. He also wears a sweet brown jacket and cool baseball cap throughout the movie. His chief at the precinct tells him "you're a loose cannon, Egan! You're not RoboCop! I'm tired of cleaning up your messes!" Classic stuff. For more prime Howell, check out The Sweeper (1996).
Sure, To Protect and Serve has some cliches, but it's the ones you want. It's a cop drama that delivers the paint by numbers action, such as the cops yelling at each other and pulling each other's shirts, but with a C. Thomas Howell twist. If you come across this tape, pick it up if you like Howell or cop dramas.
Comeuppance review by: Ty and Brett
Gold Strike (1978)-* *
AKA: Silver Bears
Directed by: Ivan Passer
Starring: Michael Caine, Cybill Shepard, Tommy Smothers, and Jay Leno
Starting with five men wearing silly panchos, then taking them off and getting completely naked and getting in a hot tub and discussing the upcoming heist they want to pull off and then jaggedly cutting to the superimposed title "Gold Strike", which looks like it was typed on an old-school Apple IIgs, you can't help but groan.
Set in Switzerland, Michael Caine plays Doc Fletcher, the mastermind of the Swiss bank heist. Similar to The Bank Job (2008), they are next to a pizza place instead of a chicken shack where they plan the heist. Caine is assigned a partner to oversee the "job", the irritating, high-pitched, show-stealing-from-Conan Jay Leno, named Albert Fiore. He has big curly hair, a big straw hat and glasses. All he does is complain and ask questions. Caine yells all his lines. Before On Deadly Ground (1994), this was a career low for Caine and a career high for Jay Leno.
Fletcher falls in love with Debbie (Shepherd) and Tommy Smothers shows up at some point. This is all mediocre, standard fare with no surprises.
The "Gold Strike" VHS tape, put out on the "Dominican Releasing" label, has many problems. The G of Gold looks like a C, but the movie is not called "Cold Strike". On the back of the box, it reads "If you're looking for entertaining advice on the world market, you'll love every minute of Gold Strike!"
Is that true? Only you can be the judge.
Comeuppance review by: Ty and Brett
Delta Force Commando II: Priority Red One (1990)-* * *
Directed by: Pierluigi Ciriaci (AKA: Frank Valenti)
Starring: Richard Hatch, Van Johnson, and Fred Williamson
You gotta love those Italian cash-ins. Just look at the title. They just took "Delta Force" and "Commando" and put them together, whether they belong that way or not. Then they added the nonsensical subtitle "Priority Red One". Usually a "One" doesn't come AFTER a "II". This, right there in the title, should give you a really clear idea what the rest of the movie is like.
In this confusing jumble, sometimes we are in a military base where "American" people walk around a lot. Their footsteps are louder than their voices. Apparently there are terrorists on the loose and only Samuel Back (Williamson) and General McCailland (Johnson) can stop them. They also believe a mole is in their base and they have to find him. Meanwhile, Brett Haskell (Richard Hatch, not the naked guy from "Survivor" who went to jail for tax evasion), the head of Delta Force, whatever that is, teams up with a mysterious woman (Giannina Facio) to fight the terrorists...or something like that.
"DFCII: PRO" is actually kind of a fun film to watch, even though it is riddled with flaws and is too long, because it is so weird and off-kilter. In between stock footage of airplanes, and the elderly Van Johnson in a fighter jet, we get an overdubbed Fred Williamson talking about some sort of "poop sheet" and characters looking into the camera at every turn. Because this is an Italian production, the action scenes are sometimes actually gore scenes and there is some English-as-a-second-language dialogue such as: "Sometimes nothing makes sense anymore" and "Sgt. Coleman spilled the beans before he bit the dust". Also they are working on the top-secret "Operation Leonard" -- quite possibly one of the worst operation names...maybe ever. But it's funny.
A highlight for Van Johnson is during one of his look-in-the-camera moments. He screams at us: "I LEARNED ABOUT IT ON THE FLIGHT!!!!" and he seems like a disgruntled grandpa.
Fan-favorite Fred "The Hammer" Williamson looks bored and this is a total paycheck for the great dude. It is great to see him, but his voice is weird, and this is not prime Fred. Speaking of odd overdubbing, the character of Coleman speaks in halting, herky-jerky fashion and sounds a lot like William Shatner. Did we mention Hatch goes fishing with a crossbow? It's all pretty nuts...
Put this movie on your "poop sheet" tonight!
Comeuppance review by: Brett and Ty
A Taste Of Hell (1973)-*1\2
Directed by: Basil Bradbury and Neil Yarema
Starring: William Smith, John Garwood and Vic Diaz
A Taste of Hell is a very slow, boring, and dull turkey of a film. An on-screen title tells us we are in "Phillipines 1942" (otherwise we wouldn't know, except for the fact that Vic Diaz is the main baddie and he has been in every Filipino movie ever made). John Garwood plays Lt. Barry Mann, a horribly disfigured freak who goes around chopping up Japanese soldiers and lives in a cave. He wears a large straw hat and shambles around pathetically. When a young boy, Pedro, befriends him and lets him share his cave, this must spur him on in some way and he goes after Major Kuramoto (Diaz), the evil Japanese...Major.
Meanwhile, non-disfigured hero Jack Lowell (Smith) tries to save his former girlfriend, Maria, from the evil Japanese, who have imprisoned all the women they could find. Kuramoto put Maria in a tiger cage because he has special designs on her. Will Maria be saved? Will Lowell go behind enemy lines and save the day? Who is that freakish dude with the machete? Will you die of utter boredom? Who can tell?
I have made this movie sound much, much better than it is. It is a total slog, it commits the biggest sin of moviemaking: it is boring. Filmmakers have so many tools at their disposal to make sure their movie is NOT boring, there is truly no excuse. Sadly, "A Taste of Hell" is a jumble of nonsensical mush. In a bad way. There is too much unfocused talking and love-bits, not enough action or Major Kuramoto, the things that would have saved it. It is unclear who the characters are or what they want. Quickly, the audience does not care either.
Additionally, it is insulting to the audience, because the last 5-7 minutes of the film has the action and violence you have been craving. You CANNOT make the audience wade through 80 minutes of NOTHING and then expect them to be happy with a few bullet hits and a guy falling out of a guard tower. That's a big no-no. There is a fan-favorite death, a decapitation, which is welcome, but it's too little too late.
Interestingly, this was released by Harry Novak's Boxoffice International Pictures. This sort of war-based tripe was different for Harry, who normally traffics in Sexploitation. For more on Harry, please visit somethingweird.com.
While, in its (admittedly tired) mixture of war and some light horror elements, it is somewhat surprising it got a PG rating, you have to remember, some amazing things were rated PG back in the day. Just look at Blood and Lace (1971).
It all ends with the onscreen title "...and Satan smiled". It is as confusing as all that came before it. It really could have used that type of insanity earlier on. Sometimes confusing can be good - the obvious example is Night of the Kickfighters - but here it's not. Avoid A Taste of Hell.
Comeuppance review by: Brett
Little Ninjas (1990)-* *
AKA: 3 Little Ninjas and the Lost Treasure
Directed By: Emmett Alston
Starring: Douglas Ivan, Steven Nelson, Jonathan Anzaldo, Alan Godshaw, Robert Hunt, and Takeshi Garcia
Predating the "Let's make ninjas palatable for kids and the masses" craze of the 1990's with such popular titles as: 3 Ninjas (1992), Surf Ninjas (1993), 3 Ninjas Kick Back (1994), 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up (1995), the Gary Daniels/Robert Z'Dar outing Pocket Ninjas (1997), and the Hulkster vehicle 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998) -- check out the original title -- "Little Ninjas" is silly fun for the whole family.
Our journey begins at Rotunga Island, where Stevie Campbell and his mom and his two friends Jon and Alan are riding on a water buffalo heading for the Temple of Penchat. On the way, they say "We're going to the temple of Penchat. Yaaaayyy!!!" and "This cart is rad!", presumably referring to the water buffalo. Stevie, Jon and Alan are about ten years old and when they get to Penchat, they see a bunch of guys stickfighting and they exclaim "They are doing martial arts!"
All is not well, however. The evil Sarak, who looks like a genie with a mustache and open shirt, wants a treasure map that is located in the town of Penchat. The kids stumble upon the map and have a badly-choreographed fight with Sarak and they throw eggs at him. After Sarak exclaims "No one escapes the wrath of Sarak", the kids escape back to Los Angeles. Sarak follows them. The kids go to "Camp Karate", a summer training camp. Sarak follows them there and a crazy conflict ensues.
Sarak has three henchmen, who are all dum-dums. One is named Zonk. Sarak calls him a "faithful elephant". He also calls Americans "foreign dogs".
A very weird moment occurs when Ken, a creepy Sensei, says "the boys are changing. I'm going to check on them". Chris Hansen will be coming to meet him soon.
The movie in a nutshell is 90 minutes of badguys yelling "Raaaaah!" and the kids running away and yelling "Aaaaaaaaah". Add to that some Benny Hill-style chases and absurd "BOING!" sound effects, and there you have it. The kids are non-actors and probably had a fun time making the film. Naturally, it ends on a funny freeze frame.
For childish fun that's off the beaten track, check out Little Ninjas.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett
Street Asylum (1990)-* *1\2
Directed by: Gregory Dark
Starring: Wings Hauser, G. Gordon Liddy, Sy Richardson, Brion James and Alex Cord
"This Cop Isn't Losing His Mind...It's Being Taken From Him!"
The always cool Wings Hauser portrays Detective Arliss Ryder, a cop on the beat working the seedier side of Hollywood. With crime rampant in the streets, Ryder is tapped by Captain Bill Quinton (Cord) to be a part of a new task force called Strike S.Q.U.A.D. (Scum Quelling Urban Assault Division). Every cop in the SQUAD has a secret microchip in their spine that makes them more aggressive. This causes conflict between Ryder and his wife. Arliss is teamed with the maniacal Joker (Richardson) and his non-stop cackling and downright insanity cause tension between them.
Ryder wants to find the man who shot him and the conspiracy goes all the way to the top. How does it connect to the mayoral candidate Jim Miller (Liddy) and how does Reverend Mony (James) fit into all this?
One of the flaws of the movie is that it needed more Liddy. There is a severe lack of the infamous jailbird and Watergate lawbreaker. He is entertaining as Miller in his first feature film. It is such bizarre casting, we wanted to see more of G. Sy Richardson almost steals the show as Joker. Wings is more of the straight man to these shenanigans. However Wings' character arc is more interesting.
Interestingly, Street Asylum bears a resemblance to Repo Men (2010). Hauser and Richardson parallel Jude Law and Forest Whitaker in that film. Both take place in a futuristic city where technology is implanted in the body. Coincidence? We think not.
Street Asylum shares the aspects of other Gregory Dark work, in the fact that it is grimy and bleak. Let's not forget Dark's recent triumph, the Kane vehicle See No Evil (2006).
To learn about Wings Hauser and his long career, please visit our friend The Direct To Video Connoisseur for an informative and entertaining time!
Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett
Army Of One (1993)-* * *
AKA: Joshua Tree
Directed by: Vic Armstrong
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, George Segal, Kristian Alfonso, and Ken Foree
Dolph plays Wellman Santee, a trucker involved in a shootout with his partner Eddie (Foree). Santee is framed when a cop dies and Santee goes to jail. He escapes and goes on the run with a woman named Rita. Meanwhile, Lt. Severance (Segal) is on the case, trying to track them down. Who is double-crossing who? Will Santee be able to clear his name?
Dolph puts in his usual likable performance. A movie highlight is when Dolph takes on the gang of Jimmy Shoeshine (Michael Paul Chan). It is an extended shoot-out sequence and is very well-shot and John Woo-esque. The scene even includes the slow-motion violence of Woo. It goes on for a long time, showing that this is what the audience has been waiting for, and it delivers well.
George Segal has a bushy mustache and straw hat and is evil. Army of One is pretty much standard fare in terms of the plot, and does go on a bit long at almost two full hours, but Dolph fans will still enjoy seeing their hero on screen.
Comeuppance review by: Ty
American Kickboxer 2 (1993)-* * *
Directed by: Jenö Hodi
Starring: Dale "Apollo" Cook, Kathy Shower and Evan Lurie
When Lillian's (Shower) 6-year old daughter Susie is kidnapped in broad daylight by a guy in a helicopter who looks like Jesse Ventura, she calls the only people on the planet who can help: Mike Clark (Cook), a hot-headed, unlikable L.A. cop and David (Lurie), a kickfighting instructor with an eye for the ladies.
Henceforth, it's "Meatheads Unite!" as Clark and David turn the city upside down looking for Susie. Will they survive the underground punchfighting matches they have to fight in, the many baddies that come after them, and who are the mysterious men "Mr. Po" and "Sam Driftie"? and most importantly will they get along long enough to complete the mission? There is also a loose subplot about who is the father of Susie. What is this? Maury?
"AK2" is not related to AK1 in any way. It is much, much sillier. Despite their unexplained bodyguards, Lillian and her new husband Howard (David Graf) don't notice a helicopter landing in their backyard until it is too late. Maybe they were both distracted by Howard's stylish shorts.
All the men in AK2 look completely ridiculous. Even the butler has a funny ponytail. Take our main heroes for example. When we are first introduced to Clark, he is wearing a pink shirt and tight stonewashed jeans even as he chases a random homie. 90% of the movie Clark is wearing a blue tanktop and ill-fitting blue sweatpants.
Despite one character enthusiastically claiming "he has great hair!" David's long mane is hilarious and he wears pants with a very high belt. He is shirtless so much, even Clark angrily remarks: "Put your shirt back on, pretty boy!" (Also as part of their rivalry, Clark insults David by saying "You have been drinking too much carrot juice!")
The opening credits misspell "Apollo" as "Appollo" - you don't often see a misspelling in movie credits. Because of his acting ability, meatheadyness, and the fact that he is always chewing on a tooth pick, Cook is downright incoherent. On the Vidmark VHS box it lists him as "five-time world champion" but doesn't say for what. The side of the box lists the genre of this movie as "Action Kickboxing".
Cook and Lurie's constant fighting is downright brain-numbing. In one sequence they are searching for a guy with a shark tattoo wearing a vest and no shirt. Of course they are.
More movie highlights include: A woman answering the phone at a bookstore by saying: "Bookstore?", when nudity appears on screen, a screeching, wailing saxophone is heard, A guy bringing a bottle of cockroaches to a big brawl just to make a baddie look down, and the best warehouse guard ever.
It ends with a freeze frame and the catchy tune "Fight For Power".
For an incredibly goofy, silly, unintentionally zany good time, don't miss American Kickboxer 2!
Comeuppance Review by Ty & Brett
Fantasy Mission Force (1982)-* * *
AKA: Mini Special Force and Shadowman 2
Directed by: Yen-ping Chu
Starring: Jackie Chan and Brigitte Lin
Possibly the most insane Jackie Chan vehicle, "Fantasy Mission Force" begins with a bearded General with a monocle deciding who is going to be part of a commando group. He shows the people in the room a slide show of James Bond, a man resembling Snake Plissken and Sylvester Stallone as Rocky. After stating that "James Bond is not available, he's in a different country", and "Rocky is not part of a military operation!", he is cut off in mid-sentence by the title, credits and song. It then goes to a bar where people are singing and dancing.
Are you confused? That's okay, it's all part of the nonsensical fun.
Next we have Jackie Chan (in this outing as "Jacky") fighting a sumo wrestler. He did fifteen years in jail "for gambling". It then cuts to a Monty Python-style parade of Chinese Scottish people in kilts and playing bagpipes. The "Fantasy Mission Force" consists of a few people walking around outside. They then find a haunted house with a floating head. Then there are "yellow-hooded Nazis".
This movie is a jumble of crazy ideas, sped-up martial arts, bad dubbing (Jackie Chan sounds like a girl) and jagged editing. It's rare that you see a movie where absolutely nothing makes any sense whatsoever. There are some fight scenes at the end that are somewhat "normal" but "Fantasy Mission Force" is one silly, zany scene after another. If that sounds like your cup of tea, see it if you get the chance!
Comeuppance review by: Ty and Brett
Undefeatable (1993)-* * *
Directed by: Godfrey Ho
Starring: Cynthia Rothrock and John Miller
Paul, AKA "Stingray" is an abusive husband who also fights in "Death Matches". His wife Anna (he calls her "Hannah" a few times), leaves him and he goes insane. Any woman who wears a flower print dress and has black hair becomes one of his victims. He tortures and kills them, and their boyfriends.
Meanwhile, Kristi Jones (Rothrock) is part of the gang the Red Dragons. She gets paid to fight other gangs. When Paul kills Kristi's sister, Kristi gets mad and is out for revenge.
If you know anything about the great Godfrey Ho, you know this is completely insane. Perhaps not as much as, say, Clash of the Ninjas (1986), but hilariously deranged in its own right.
The character of Paul makes a ridiculous baddie. He closely resembles Joey Buttafuoco, and he saves people's eyeballs in his fish tank. He tortures people and kickboxes at the same time. He screams "I will find you!" and spray paints his hair red to look more devilish. He yells fan favorite yell, "Nooooooo!!!!"
The other villains are incredibly funny. One looks like Eddie Murphy, "Bear" dresses in a football outfit and does somersaults. When Bear (not the same Bear from Maximum Force (1992)) loses his match with Kristi, his girlfriend sighs, "Oh, Bear!"
The last line of the movie is as nonsensical and hilarious as the rest of it. We won't give it away, but suffice it to say, enrollment in college is involved.
Undefeatable is silly fun at its finest. Godfrey Ho can shoot action as well as concoct an absurd storyline. It is filled with so many funny lines, we can't list them all here. This film can be enjoyed by anyone, and if you already like Rothrock it only sweetens the deal.
Comeuppance review by: Ty and Brett