3/31/2014

Edge Of Honor (1991)

Edge Of Honor (1991)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Michael Spence

Starring: Corey Feldman, Meredith Salenger, Christoper Neame, and Don Swayze











A group of teenaged Boy Scouts exploring the Washington State wilderness come upon an abandoned shack. The boys, led by Butler (Feldman) discover some heavy-duty weaponry in the shack, namely rocket launchers and bazookas stolen from the U.S. government. Now that the scouts know about the weapons, they come under attack by a team of gun totin’ rednecks led by the emotionless Ritchie (Swayze). But as the movie itself notes at one point, the boys are the small fish, the rednecks are the middle fish, and the big fish is the Shakespeare-quoting Blade (Neame). Now surrounded by baddies on all sides, the scouts end up teaming up with a local girl who shares their cause, Alex (Salenger), and they all use whatever booby trap-making knowledge they have to outwit and defend themselves against the onslaught of people that want their heads. Will they get their merit badge in REVENGE? Find out today!

When most people think of Corey Feldman, they don’t often think of Edge of Honor. They probably just assume that he’s off somewhere, doing a Michael Jackson-like dance. That’s a shame and an oversight, because this movie is among his best work. Viewers that get a chance to see Edge of Honor will likely be pleasantly surprised at how engaging and watchable the movie is. We’re not really sure why someone would be surprised, except for the fact that video stores were filled with wilderness slogs at the time like Endangered (1994), and patrons had no reason to believe, at first, that this was any different. But it has a lot of fun, interesting touches that make it worthwhile. And the glasses-wearing Corey gets to do his best Jack Nicholson/Christian Slater/William Devane-like drawl. So you can’t say he does the same thing in every movie. He wouldn’t be this good again until A Dangerous Place (1995).


That’s not to say all wilderness movies are slogs, there are definite winners such as this one and Hunter’s Blood (1986), and though Edge of Honor seems to be leaning towards the younger end of the R-rated demographic, its well-written, serious-intentioned, and competently-directed overall feel isn’t insulting to audiences of any age. Bringing Don Swayze on board as the amoral backwoods murderer is always a good move, and this movie is among Don’s best that we’ve seen, up there with Driving Force (1989), where he plays a similar character. Heck, he plays this character most of the time. It must be something in the bone structure of his face that make casting directors angling for a countrified killer to go, “Oh, get Don Swayze!”


Besides Corey and Don, who are the faces we’re most familiar with, the rest of the cast is very good as well, and we were also familiar with Christopher Neame from his appearances as similar baddies to this one in Diplomatic Immunity (1991) and Irresistible Force (1993) - as well as appearances in Street Knight (1993) and Hellbound (1994). So he pops up more than we realized. But all told, Edge of Honor is like a DTV counterpart to Red Dawn (1984) - and a pleasant romp in the woods at that. The Academy VHS is worth picking up if you can find it.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, Cool Target!


3/27/2014

Tiger Joe (1982)

Tiger Joe (1982)- * * *

Directed by: Antonio Margheriti

Starring: David Warbeck, Luciano Pigozzi, Annie Belle, and Rade Abadeza









“Tiger” Joe (Warbeck) is a pilot in Southeast Asia. He’s a devil-may-care daredevil (who’s also a handsome devil with a devilish smile). At the small airport he works out of, Midnight (King) and Lenny (Pigozzi) are his co-workers and friends. Whether because of personal convictions or because of money, Joe uses his plane to deliver weapons to rebels fighting an oppressive regime in Cambodia. When he’s shot down in the jungle and his enemies capture him, it seems Tiger Joe has gone on his last flight. But he teams up with a “ferocious female freedom fighter” (to quote the title of an unrelated movie) named Kia (Belle) and her native companion named Datu (Abadeza). The three of them face many trials, tribulations and travails in the jungle as they fight the baddies and try to find freedom. Meanwhile, Joe’s buddies Lenny and Midnight engage on a trek of their own to try and find the missing Tiger Joe. Will they find him? Will Tiger Joe make it out of his cage? Find out today!

Here we have a jungle actioner with all the typical trappings such as multiple shots of waterfalls, machine guns mowing down Asian baddies with those conical hats, and maybe an exploding hut or two. But because it was directed by Antonio Margheriti, it has a certain touch that saves it from being bland. In addition, there’s some funny dialogue, such as the very first exchange of the movie when the advice is shouted, “You need to eat more carrots!” There’s even some classic political incorrectness of the day, such as how the Black Guy is named “Midnight” and other racial references in that vein. There’s also plenty of funny NON-dialogue, such as the noises the baddies make when they get shot: their flailing “AAaaahhhh!” will put a smile on your face, even after the 1000th time. Really, it will - it gets funnier every time you hear it.


The solid Italian B-movie cast of King, Pigozzi, Belle and Warbeck help things out. Warbeck especially puts in a witty and charming performance. While shirtless for 90 percent of the movie, you root for him anyway.  Plus he looks like a young Jack Nicholson. Warbeck should have had much more mainstream American success than he did. But Italian exploitation fans will always love him and that’s all that matters. On the negative side of Tiger Joe, there’s no one big villain to fight against and that’s always a problem. Who is good and who is bad isn’t always made clear. It’s a bit on the long side as well for such a threadbare plot - it should have been 5 to 10 minutes shorter. And since this movie was made hot on the heels of Margheriti’s The Last Hunter (1980) - which is a superior movie (check out the DVD from Dark Sky) - try not to compare the two too harshly. Margheriti was seriously blowing up the jungle at this time, besides Tiger Joe and The Last Hunter, he also did Tornado (1983) and Codename: Wildgeese (1984), among others in this timeframe. God bless Margheriti. He’s a great man.

On the technical side, the VHS was released by the great Lightning label back in the 80’s. This release is relatively easy to find today. The DVD, released as part of the Mercs box set, is in Widescreen, or something like Widescreen, so it’s probably preferable to see it that way. Thankfully, there are no technical glitches on this part of the Mercs set.  Whichever way you see it, despite its flaws, don’t be afraid to say hello to Tiger Joe.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


3/26/2014

Geteven (1993)

Geteven (1993)- * * *1\2

AKA: Road To Revenge



Directed by: John De Hart and James Paradise

Starring: John De Hart, Wings Hauser, Pamela Jean Bryant, and William Smith

AKA: Road To Revenge



“Do the Shimmy Slide.” – John De Hart







Guh? Buh? Wuh? It’s hard to put into actual words the magic and majesty of “Geteven”. Interestingly,  it’s all one word, in quotes. We would be left speechless, but we’re here to provide a review, so we will, to the best of our ability. Movies like this are rare gems, diamonds in the rough of life that defy reviews. But we’ll give it the old college try. “Geteven” has that silly, wacky, absurd, amateurish feel where nothing is coherent. And thank goodness for that! It’s all too rare, especially in today’s world of boring, polished product. Movies like “Geteven” are why nostalgia for the video store era is at an all-time high. It produced moments in time like this that will never be duplicated or equaled.

Of course, the enjoyment is all because of one man, the great John De Hart. Out of seemingly nowhere, he wrote, directed in starred in this movie, a great showcase for his talents. If “Geteven” or, as it’s also known, Road To Revenge, is to be believed, not only can he do all those things, but he is also a master joke teller, reciter of Shakespeare, and, in the showstopper of the film, a singer and dancer. He also spends plenty of screen time making sweet, sweet love to Pamela Bryant, who presumably was on board with this and knew what she was getting into. Is there anything he can’t do?

De Hart is like a more stiff and wooden Chris Mitchum. That’s a compliment. The facial expressions he makes while singing his signature tune, “The Shimmy Slide”, are priceless, and look like he’s forced to Shimmy Slide at gunpoint by assailants that have kidnapped his family and forced him to perform for their own amusement. He doesn’t really project when he speaks, but he sure does when he sings. The icing on the cake is his awesome wardrobe, with a new, stunning shirt in every scene. The guy is so cool, he even gets married in early-90’s casualwear.


While “Geteven” could be reasonably compared to Miami Connection (1987), Deadly Prey (1987), Samurai Cop (1989), Warrior of Justice (1995), and Night of the Kickfighters (1988), in truth, it’s very much like the productions of early PM. The presences of Wings Hauser and William Smith would reinforce this. As would the fact that De Hart dons a black tanktop as his “Revenge Outfit”, just like Lawrence Hilton Jacobs did before him. Even though the production is wonderfully, unashamedly threadbare, Wings seems to give his all, and Smith does what Smith does. In the movie, things just randomly happen, with weird cuts and no explanations. And there’s line dancing. It all just adds to the fun.


Featuring yet another De Hart musical composition, “I’ll Be With You”, “Geteven” is just more proof that the video store era produced inimitable works of bizarre creative art that should be treasured because they won’t ever be repeated. Like a shooting star that blazes across the sky briefly but beautifully, the works of Matt Hannon, Jay Roberts Jr., Andy Bauman and, of course, John De Hart, should be admired, as we are lucky to get a chance to see them.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty



3/24/2014

Warriors (1994)

Warriors (1994)- *

Directed by: Shimon Dotan

Starring: Michael Pare, Wendii Fulford, and Gary Busey












Frank Vail (Busey) is the head of a team of government assassins. Apparently these guys are crazy, but they’re also effective, so they’re kept in a loony bin/barracks. When Vail escapes the compound, and takes a prostitute (Fulford) along for his joyride, a man equal to his skill in killing power is sent to stop him: Colin Neal (Pare, looking a lot like Matthew Broderick here). So now it’s a man-against-man chase to see if Neal can take down Vail. Will he do it...and will anyone care?

Warriors is not a good movie. Nu-Image strikes out again with this overlong, uninteresting, unengaging turkey. It’s Busey and Pare at their worst - it truly is “stupid” vs. “wooden” in this audience-testing, unnecessary production.

We’re trying to find worthwhile things about this movie, and it is technically well-done, and there’s some interesting cinematography. But that’s it. It has no energy and it’s not paced and plotted like an action movie. It’s unbelievably talky and slow - it’s hard to imagine a SLOWER pace - and it’s droll, dull, and insults the patience and intelligence of the audience. What’s really annoying about Warriors is how it tries in vain to be “different” for different’s sake. For example, during many of the too-short “action” scenes, there’s no music behind them, and maybe the camera is doing something self-consciously wacky. Sure, these things might be different, but there’s a REASON no one has done them before. Because they don’t work. Why did they not think of this? Answer: because they were trying to be clever. That’s a big mistake when making a movie. Don’t try to be clever. Try to be good.

Sure, there may be some blow-ups and shooting, but that doesn’t an action movie make, and director Dotan, who also directed Diamond Dogs, continues his tradition of mediocrity. But he got better, because Diamond Dogs doesn’t outright suck, like Warriors. Plus, weren’t they aware of The Warriors (1979)? They really couldn’t come up with another title? This movie besmirches the Baseball Furies and all they stand for.

 
The whole concept makes no sense: if these guys are insane, the army would never employ them to do serious jobs. For the concept of “mano-a-mano” fighting, check out The Final Sanction. It’s a similar idea, but done in a much more entertaining manner. And probably on a much lower budget as well. Warriors is just overly serious and bleak. It’s hard to imagine the filmmakers writing this and assuming the audience would really care. And when the pace is just like a lazy old river that kind of just rambles along with a total lack of verve or edge of any kind, you just can’t help but check out.

While stuck in the thick of this movie, you think it will never end. Eventually it does, and you just feel cheated. It’s a Nu-Image movie called “Warriors” with Gary Busey and Michael Pare. Naturally, fans will think this is an action movie. But we were cruelly tricked. This is deception; false advertising even. We can’t forgive that. It’s like director Dotan had never seen or heard of an action movie before, but was told to make one. He didn’t have a grasp at all on how to make an effective action movie, or movie of any kind, really. He probably figured his director of photography would carry him through. But you can’t slap a new coat of paint on a rotting house that’s about to collapse into a pile of dust.


Finally, we’d just like to say that Warriors fits into the “Pushing Tin” theory of box/poster art. This theory (that we invented) states that any movie art that features gigantic faces of either the two leads (or in some cases, a massive face of just the main star) means the movie will not be very good. Because the level of creativity on display is inherent in the artwork. If the best anyone can do is one or two massive faces, that’s a really bad sign. So red flag number one were the two box-filling mugs of Pare and Busey.

Warriors is a must to avoid.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

3/20/2014

Kill The Ninja (1984)

Kill The Ninja (1984)- * *

Directed by: Woo-sang Park

Starring: Bobby Kim










The plot and execution of Kill the Ninja - despite the promising title - is pretty standard chop-socky stuff. It’s about a group of three buddies, Pong Macao, Sutaro and King Kim, the latter two being Japanese and Korean illegal immigrants, living in Hong Kong. They manage to get a hold of a golden Buddha statute with two million dollars in it. Henceforward they have to face both internal strife as well as  threats from outside their circle of friendship. Much punching and kicking ensue. It’s surprising that this was directed by Woo-sang Park, the man behind the all-time classic Miami Connection (1987), as well as L.A. Streetfighters (1985), because this outing doesn’t have the sense of style, wackiness and fun his later projects had. But I guess you have to start somewhere.

Kill the Ninja is, if nothing else, a testament to the power of the Ninja Boom of the 80’s. Video stores were so hungry for ninja-based product, you could release a movie called Kill the Ninja - which has absolutely no ninjas in it - and no one complains. As previously stated, it’s a Hong Kong beat-em-up, with no connection whatsoever to Japanese ninjas. Such was the heat of the Ninja Boom movement. It may not have any ninjas (maybe they were speaking metaphorically, where the “ninja” represents the darkness in men’s hearts...hey, we’re not beyond an absurd reach here), but it does have men fighting in leisure suits, and the time-honored disco scene and sax on the soundtrack. Plus it has one of the best “jumping” scenes we’ve seen to date. And we’ve seen a lot of jumping over the years. You’ll know what we’re talking about if you ever see it.


Truly the main reason to see or own this VHS is because it was part of the “Sybil Danning’s Adventure Video” series released by USA video. It’s just so gloriously 80’s and something that could never occur today. Sybil Danning does a little intro and outro before and after the movie. And the fact that she’s presenting a Ninja Boom movie just makes it 80’s on top of 80’s. Who could do such a thing today? And on what format? DVD? Seems unlikely. If only Danning was introducing something a bit better, not to mention easier to see (the movie is exceedingly dark in many places, a pitfall we see all too often).

So to recap, the best parts of the tape are the Sybil Danning bits, as this is before the career of Woo-sang Park really took off. The whole package somewhat works as a curio from our favorite decade, but the movie overall is lackluster and we wouldn’t tell you to go out of your way to find it based solely on its own merits. But 80’s fans may want to pick this up if they can find it cheap.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

3/18/2014

The Killing Man (1994)

The Killing Man (1994)- * *

Directed by: David Mitchell

Starring: Jeff Wincott, Terri Hawkes, and Michael Ironside








Harlin Garrett (Wincott) has been coasting on his enviable name for too long. Formerly a hit man, a mysterious man named Green (Ironside) kidnaps him and forces him to do assassination jobs for his organization. While unsure of his future, he obeys Green until a romance develops with one of his potential targets, Dr. Ann Kendall (Hawkes). When a conspiracy involving the U.S. government starts to spiral out of control, Garrett must hold on to what he knows and survive the onslaught. Can he do it?

While we’re not entirely sure what a “killing man” is exactly (is it anything like a Japanese Karate Man?) - what we do know is that this movie is certainly below the talents of the normally-capable Jeff Wincott. Of course, low budgets never bothered us, but the rock-bottom financial situation is painfully evident here. The budget must have been so low, they couldn’t afford backgrounds. BACKGROUNDS! Many scenes take place with a totally black backdrop. Either this is the weirdest episode of The Charlie Rose show yet filmed, or Wincott and the gang are floating in some sort of existential nowhere-land. Even when scenes take place in an actual room, there is no set design whatsoever. Is this a kind of avant-garde theatre production that no one ever goes to see? Regardless, the dark, dingy, bleak, depressing, Canadian vibe permeates the movie. It would all be tolerable if there were many competently-shot action scenes to mitigate the grime. Unfortunately, this does not happen either.

A handful of dumb, stupidly-filmed beat-em-ups, again, below Wincott’s standards, don’t help matters. But we do get more than one scene of him walking in slow motion. And his hair, sunglasses and jacket combo make him look oddly like Andrew Dice Clay. You feel that at any moment he’s going to break into a rousing rendition of “hickory dickory dock...” Aggravatingly, the movie as a whole does not play to Wincott’s strengths, like Mission of Justice (1993) did, for example. He’s an able and powerful Martial Artist, with a big likable streak. NONE of those attributes are effectively communicated in The Killing Man. Yes, there is an amateurish alleyway fight, and some type of romance, but the movie’s limitations prevent it from really taking flight.

But one thing we did learn is that if you ever send someone a severed head in the mail, make sure you use styrofoam packing peanuts. You wouldn’t want it to get damaged in transit and look bad. Also it made us re-discover the fact that standing on the edge of a building roof is so ‘90s. It seems like every star, from Richard Gere to John Travolta to Jeff Wincott took the elevator all the way up there and stood up and looked out into the distance. For extra dramatic effect, you could also extend your arms in a Jesus-like pose. Just ask Mr. Jones (1993), Michael (1996), or Phenomenon (1996). If you have any other examples, feel free to leave a comment.

One thing we as audiences should demand is that our movies have actual backgrounds. Is this too much to ask? Lighting issues be damned, we want to see where you are. Of course, The Killing Man has nil production values, but director Mitchell should really know better. We’ve seen a surprising amount of his work: Thunderground (1989), Mask of Death (1996), Last to Surrender (1999) and UKM (2006) - but we have yet to see him do anything exceptional or noteworthy.

Featuring the typically-90’s rock song “Drying Well” by Gangland, don’t be fooled by the cool box art. This particular Killing Man needs more testosterone.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up by our buddy, DTVC!

3/17/2014

Contract Killer (1998)

Contract Killer (1998)- * * *

Directed by: Wei Tung

Starring: Jet Li, Eric Tsang, Simon Yam, Keiji Sato and Gigi Leung



 "An Army of one...for hire."






A down-on-his-luck and financially strapped ex-soldier named Fu (Li) is reluctantly is drawn into becoming a hitman after moving from the country to try and make it in the big city of Hong Kong. Before a mega-rich Japanese businessman is mercilessly assassinated, he smartly planned ahead and offered a hundred million dollars to whoever captures his killer. A whole panoply of money-grabbers come out of the woodwork to try and claim the loot by catching the wily killer, including the murdered tycoon’s son Eiji (Sato). While Fu and a charismatic underworld type named Norman (at least in the U.S. version his name is Norman) (Tsang) are trying to work their way through the precarious situation they find themselves in, with the help of Kiki (Leung), a cop named Chan (Yam) is trying to prevent any more bloodshed. Who will find - or become - the “King of the Killers”? Find out today...

We’ve always been big Jet Li fans, and Contract Killer is a solid showcase for his talents. It was fun watching him go from a thrifty ragamuffin to a dapper killer, but while still continuing to be a good guy at heart, of course. He even helps a group of children win stuffed animals at a carnival, including one lucky kid who gets a Big Bird and a Cookie Monster. Pretty sweet. Much of the transformation of Fu’s character was done using a classic shopping montage, which we always love to see.


Director Wei Tung, who is primarily known for being an actor and stuntman, turns in a well-shot, professional-looking product, and the U.S. DVD is in widescreen, which reinforces that. Unfortunately, it’s English-dubbed only, with no option for the original spoken language. Another frustrating thing about the DVD presentation is that a lot of annoying rap music is shoehorned in all over the place. In many scenes, funky-fresh beats just randomly start playing, and of course it’s all over the opening and closing credits. The lyrics even appear if you turn on the closed-captioning. Here’s a prime example, and we quote: “contract killer, yo.” Our question is: WHY? Is there someone out there who would enjoy the movie exactly as it is, but the fact that there isn’t rap on the soundtrack every two minutes cause him to lose faith and interest in the film? Would that really be a dealbreaker for someone?


Of course, the main reason to watch Contract Killer is for the Martial Arts fights, and there are some absolute killers on display. It really is a pleasure to watch Jet Li work his magic. We definitely felt these high-quality and extremely well-executed fights should have lasted longer, and there should have been more of them. But what we do get is top-notch stuff. Not to belabor the point, but watching these beautifully choreographed battles with some piped-in hip-hop is like spray painting over fine art. But honestly it’s not really reason enough to avoid seeing this movie, especially considering it’s available dirt cheap and is widely accessible.

While not without its flaws, Contract Killer boasts some impressive fights, and is one of the last pager-era Martial Arts extravaganzas.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

3/14/2014

Kill Zone (1993)

Kill Zone (1993)- *1\2

Directed by: Cirio H. Santiago

Starring: David Carradine












In the thick of the Vietnam war, Col. Horace Wiggins (Carradine) is bent on the total annihilation of the enemy. He gets into disagreements with other military personnel about how to proceed executing the war. Wiggins is a hard man to deal with. When Wiggins disagrees with the soldiers on the ground, he goes into the firefight himself. Not only are there conflicts between the good guys and the enemy, but also the military brass and the soldiers. With all this conflict going on, will anyone ever escape the KILL ZONE?

Another day, another exploding hut. Amazingly, this is yet another jungle slog that brings nothing new to the table. It all feels very familiar, because the footage we’re watching actually IS familiar, as it’s edited from other Cirio jungle classics. Actually it’s a bit unfair to say there’s nothing new. The name “Horace Wiggins” is pretty awesome. And Carradine brings a new level of incomprehensibility to the role because he says most of his lines while trying to keep a cigar in his mouth. It’s hilarious to watch him try to multi-task like that. Despite his inspired name, his unintelligible mush-mouthiness detracts from what could have been a razor-sharp performance.

We kid the Carradine-ster, but this movie would be unthinkable without him. Take him out of the equation, and you would have, as I believe the saying goes, “bupkus”. He actually really comes alive towards the climax of the movie. He sports a (not the most flattering) tanktop, dons a doo-rag with a skull and crossbones on it (because now he means business, you see) and starts growling like an animal. It’s this type of energy that should have been going on the whole time in this movie. It seems they saved it all for the very end. Shame, really, as that would have lifted this particular guard-tower-fall/hut/jungle movie above the rest.


But the Corman/Cirio jungle slogs are the blandest. The best ones are the Italian ones. Yes, we’ve seen so many of them, we can actually define the subtle shades of the multifaceted jungle slog movie. It’s like a fine wine or cheese. The Corman/Cirio outings are all consistent but mediocre. The Italian ones are more vibrant and have more ideas. The problem here is, as an audience, you don’t CARE like you should. There’s absolute zero on the character development front. If we maybe knew who these people were or there was an iota of backstory, we might care, but no. Apparently that crucial element that would turn the tide in their favor was too much to ask from these filmmakers.

If you want a nice sense of  "jungle slog deja vu", check out Kill Zone (not to be confused with Kill Zone (2005) or the other Killzone (1985).

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a review by our buddy, DTVC!

3/12/2014

Kill Zone (2005)

Kill Zone (2005)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Wilson Yip

Starring: Donnie Yen, Jacky Wu, and Sammo Hung













Wong Po (Hung) is a big man, both literally and figuratively. He’s possibly the most ruthless and evil crime lord in Hong Kong, and he has a vast network of contacts, so he’s always been able to evade the law. But Chung (Yam) is a cop who is close to retirement, and as his final wish as a member of the police force, he wants to bring down Wong Po. So he assembles a team of top-notch cops to do the job. However, they step over the line just a tad, which sets in motion a deadly and irreversible series of events. Who will enter the Kill Zone?

Out of the THREE movies called Kill Zone now on this site (the others being the David Carradine and Fritz Matthews vehicles), this one is truly the best. Wilson Yip’s Kill Zone is shot beautifully, has style to spare, and features some exhilarating fight sequences. But the icing on the cake is that the movie easily could have worked without the fight scenes. It completely could have worked on its own as a straight drama. That really is the acid test for action movies: will they work as dramas in their own right? In this case, the answer is yes, and more movies should do this. In other words, the filmmakers made a good movie, then made the fight scenes. The result is fast-paced entertainment you can’t resist.


Plus Donnie Yen is cooler than cool. We’re huge fans, and his fight scenes with Sammo Hung and Jacky Wu are astounding. Yen worked as fight choreographer, and he outdid himself, with fights with “the old guy” and “the young guy”, with himself caught in the middle. We’re also big Sammo fans, and this is a great role for him. It would have been seemingly easy to forget about him or laugh him off at this point in his career, but it was a stroke of genius to make him the tough, brutal, older gangster. Like a Chinese version of Clint Eastwood, Sammo seems to get better and tougher with age.

Kill Zone is always interesting and always keeps your attention. It’s filled with rewindable moments, which are the sign of something special. Dragon Dynasty DVD’s are symbols of quality, and this one looks great and is packed with extras. Definitely check out Kill Zone, it’s a solid winner.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

3/10/2014

Kill Crazy (1990)

Kill Crazy (1990)- * * *

Directed by: David Heavener

Starring: David Heavener, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Rachelle Carson, Steve DeVorkin, Robert Hegyes, Danielle Brisebois, and Bruce Glover





“I wish I had a nickel for every time someone called me crazy. I’d be rich crazy.”- Alexander Grady Puckett







Alexander Grady Puckett (Heavener), Rubin (LHJ), Malox (DeVorkin), and Harry (Hegyes) are Vietnam vets from the local VA hospital, who are taken into the wilderness for a retreat. While there, an evil white supremacist, Mallerd (Glover) begins hunting them for sport. While in the midst of fighting for their lives as inadvertent pawns in this game of survival, Puckett gets separated from the group and runs into two women out camping. Rachel (Carson) and Libby (Brisebois) get to know him while he suffers from some kind of amnesia resulting from a fall. Thanks largely to Puckett’s skills as a smooth serenader, Rachel falls for him, and now he really has something to fight for. So, recalling his old ‘Nam training, and loading up with weaponry, Puckett goes after the baddies with a vengeance. But can he come back from the edge after going...KILL CRAZY?

We’ve seen so many Heavener movies at this point, we feel like we know him. We’ve always been champions of his work, and as writer/director/musician/star, he shows he’s more talented than a lot of his action brethren. Kill Crazy, thankfully, rewards us for the vigil we’re always holding for Heavener. It’s got a good pace, plenty of worthwhile moments, and is enjoyable entertainment tailor-made for the video store patrons of the day. For a low-budget actioner, it’s hard to ask for much more.

When the movie started we thought it was going to be a “Paintball Gone Wrong” (PGW), which we always look for, and the film as a whole does bear some similarities to the classic Master Blaster (1987), but then it becomes another Most Dangerous Game knockoff. But Heavener was able to tie in Vietnam vets into that scenario, which is at least somewhat original. While it’s no Deadly Prey (1987), there’s plenty of pleasure to be had in watching Heavener take his revenge(ner). Plus his song, “Soldier On the Run”, prefigured his later tune, “Outlaw On the Run”. We can’t possibly accuse him of being out of ideas, as he generated more ideas than the normal B-movie star - you just have to know his style. Speaking of style, as stated earlier, his name in the movie is Alexander Grady Puckett. Evidently that’s such a great name, he wears a shirt that says the word “Puckett” in big letters across the chest. It even has some pins attached, but we couldn’t read what they say.

In true 80’s tradition (yes, we know the movie was released in ‘90 - things don’t change that fast), there is the classic “comic relief fat guy”, this time named Malox. Fan favorite LHJ is also here, but his star would shine brighter in his PM outings. Other standbys dutifully included here are the scenes of torture, and Heavener getting needlessly shirtless. The funny moments, whether intentional or not, help keep Kill Crazy afloat, and, in actuality, make this one of the best Heavener movies we’ve seen to date.

Released by the great VHS label Media, Kill Crazy is an experience we very much enjoyed.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Here's a silly clip from the movie: 

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3/07/2014

Trained To Kill (1989)

Trained To Kill (1989)- * * *

Directed by: H. Kaye Dyal

Starring: Frank Zagarino, Chuck Connors, Ron O'Neal, Harold Diamond, Lisa Aliff, Marshall Teague, Glen Eaton, Arlene Golonka, Henry Silva, and Robert Z'Dar











Ed Cooper (Connors) is a former Vietnam vet who had a son many years ago with a Cambodian woman. Now, Sam (Eaton) has come home to the Cooper family in Los Angeles. He’s welcomed to the U.S.A. by the Coopers’ biological son Matt (Zagarino), family friend Cotton (O’Neal) and Matt’s girlfriend Jessie (Aliff of Damned River fame). However, spoiling all this newfound family bliss is a gang of baddies, the head of which is the slick Ace Duran (Silva). Dispatching his best heavies, Felix (Teague), Loc Syn (Diamond), and Majyk (Z’Dar) to the Cooper household after breaking out of prison, they aim to get revenge on Ed for putting them behind bars. They were running heroin back from Vietnam, and Cooper simply reported them. After attacking Ed and Martha (Golonka) Cooper, Sam, Matt, Cotton and Jessie decide to forgo the police and get revenge themselves. Will they do it?

Mindless, nonsensical and brain-numbing, Trained To Kill gives new meaning to the word “stupid” - and we mean that in a good way! Fan favorite and personal hero Chuck Connors is back once again with his Brooklyn Dodgers jacket, and thankfully this is Frank Zags’ least annoying major role that we’ve seen to date. There’s a triumphant training sequence, Eaton puts in a lot of much-needed energy, and it features Robert Z’Dar with a flamethrower. His name in the movie, Majyk (pronounced as “Magic”) isn’t the most intimidating name for a bad guy, however. There’s the prerequisite torture, and Harold Diamond is a top-notch meathead.


The fact that the movie starts in Cambodia with some guy with the most obvious piece of cotton glued to his chin as some sort of facial hair, then moves to the U.S. with Chuck Connors as a guy who takes in foster children and decorates his home solely with travel posters should give you a hint of the ridiculous nature of this movie. Ron O’Neal gets into a swordfight, there’s at least one exploding helicopter, and Frank Zagarino sets a new standard in ripped shirt technology by the end of the film. This is a movie that, by all rights, SHOULD have been simply shelf-filler, but, by its sheer silliness, rises above its station to become an entertaining movie.

Released on VHS by Malofilm, a company we’re not familiar with, on EP mode, the quality is not the best. But if you ever see Trained To Kill anywhere, pick it up. For the star-power alone, it’s worth having.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, Fist Of B-List!

3/05/2014

Hired To Kill (1990)

Hired To Kill (1990)- * * *

Directed by: Nico Mastorakis

Starring: Brian Thompson, Oliver Reed, Jose Ferrer, and George Kennedy






 Big thanks to frequent reader Venom for giving us a copy!




No one can say Frank Ryan (Thompson) isn’t awesome. As a badass mercenary, he plays by his own rules. But when Thomas (Kennedy) approaches the hulking brute with a new assignment, at first he’s wary. He must travel to the small country of Cypra and rescue a political prisoner named Rallis (Ferrer). But in order to do this, he must pretend to be a gay fashion designer and have a retinue of seven fashion models. Did you think there would be another way to get that job done? This initially chaps Ryan’s hide, as he’s an ultra-macho warrior who “doesn’t like working with women”. But these aren’t ordinary women, they’re all specially trained in the fighting arts. The only real obstacle standing in their way is the president of Cypra, one Michael Bartos (Reed) and his goons. Will Ryan and his lethal ladies be able to extract the prisoner and complete their mission? Find out today…

It was nice to see fan-favorite Brian Thompson as the main hero for once. He usually plays the baddie, and he deserves a starring role like this. He gets a great intro to his character, doing something to a ringing phone that we’ve all fantasized about doing at one time or another. But that’s about it for character development for Frank Ryan, all we need to know is that he’s a grizzled, tanktop-wearing, musclebound belligerent jackass/hero. But how could Thompson be a villain this time around, when the great Oliver Reed fills the role with aplomb? Sure, Reed’s absurd, bushy mustache makes him look like a cross between David Crosby and a walrus, but it’s all part of the fun. Hired to Kill isn’t that dissimilar from another “Oliver Reed hitting the skids” movie, Rage to Kill (1988). Maybe he demanded only to be in “…to Kill” movies to cap off his career.


Jose Ferrer doesn’t do that much, and George Kennedy wears some cool glasses. You’ve got to hand it to director Mastorakis. He can usually corral together a bunch of B-stars like this and create a product perfect for the VHS market of the day. Kennedy also worked with Mastorakis on Nightmare at Noon (1988), as you may remember. Essentially, Hired to Kill is a non-South America-set El Presidente movie, and of course Ryan has to assemble a team, and naturally there’s a training sequence. But those time-honored classic items are filled with babes. The scenario is reminiscent of Hell Squad (1986), but just call it the “Fem-spendables”.


So while there are plenty of talky bits in the middle, it all comes to a nice, Red Scorpion (1988)-like climax (Thompson even resembles Dolph at times), and there is some classic un-PC dialogue. Plus he sits down while shirtlessly shooting a machine gun and wearing sunglasses. Usually it’s some maniac standing and screaming while doing that. Thompson adds some casual cool to his murderous rage.

Featuring the song “Do It For the Money” by Thomas Marolda, which is very similar to Deion Sanders’ “Must Be the Money” of a few years later (could it be that “Neon Deion” is a fan of this movie?) Hired to Kill does get a little dull at times, but the stars, especially Thompson, and the eye candy, keep it afloat.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out write-ups from our buddies, The Video Vacuum and Ninja Dixon!

3/03/2014

The Boss (1973)

The Boss (1973)- * * *

Directed by: Fernando Di Leo

Starring: Henry Silva, Claudio Nicastro, Pier Capponi, Antonia Santilli, Gianni Garko, and Richard Conte











Set in Palermo, Sicily, Il Boss is the third of Fernando Di Leo’s trilogy (known as the “Milieu Trilogy”) which includes Milano Calibro 9 and The Italian Connection. Here, Henry Silva plays Lanzetta, a cold blooded and, some might say, expressionless hit man working for mob boss D’Aniello (Nicastro). Lanzetta manages a “wipeout” of an entire mafia family...except one, a guy named Cocchi (Capponi). Cocchi is bewildered and wants revenge. Hence, they kidnap D’Aniello’s daughter Rina (Santilli). Police Commissario Torri (Garko) is trying to get to the bottom of things but he just may have his own agenda - and yet another mob boss, Don Corrasco (Conte) seems to be running things, but is he? As all these various characters intertwine, what will become of them, and how will Lanzetta navigate these confusing and treacherous waters? Find out today!

Il Boss is another winner from the amazingly talented Fernando Di Leo. Not wanting to ever repeat himself, this part of his trilogy is actually very different from the others. Not just that, it’s very different from just about any Mafia movie out there. Because not only does it have the classic high-quality Di Leo shooting and editing, but it is also extremely well-written (if perhaps a tad over-written at times). It tackles social issues such as corruption, as well as another Di Leo trademark, the youth culture of the day. Starting with another absolutely killer opening sequence, you are immediately sucked into this world and it’s very effective.


Henry Silva (or, more accurately, Lanzetta) isn’t your average hitman. Usually they use pistols with silencers so no one knows they were there. Lanzetta clearly doesn’t care, as he uses a grenade launcher! Silva with a grenade launcher should be enough to recommend this movie right there. But while the violence intermixes with the serious-minded issues at work, we felt the movie was most effective during the scenes of mob violence set to Bacalov’s amazing score. Bacalov’s score absolutely rules here. He’s a musical genius that’s made a career out of excellent scores, but he outdoes himself this time. Taking his cues from the Italian prog movement that was huge at the time, Bacalov knocks this score out of the park. It gives you that intense feeling that the movie is working on all cylinders.

Di Leo’s movies are so impactful because of a combination of technical mastery, music choices and social and psychological insights. This manifests itself especially interestingly in Il Boss with Santilli’s Rina character. So Di Leo’s movies have withstood the test of time far better than a lot of his contemporaries. That being said, this movie is kind of talky at times and is arguably the weakest of the trilogy, but it’s still a good movie that’s well worth seeing.

Plus you have to see the Raro DVD. I (Brett) originally saw this movie on the VHS release by 3 Star Home Video. The Raro DVD not only is widescreen with subtitles, I believe it’s significantly longer, at 112 minutes. The 3 Star tape obviously does not compare. There was another VHS release back in the day (also under the name Wipeout) but I’m not sure of the label. But it’s a moot point, as this DVD is the clear choice for collectors and viewers.

Il Boss is the Mafia movie done right, and it should be seen.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty