10/24/2015

The Triangle (2001)


The Triangle (2001)- * *

Directed by: Lewis Teague

Starring: Luke Perry, Dan Cortese, Olivia D'Abo, Polly Shannon, David Hewlett, and Dorian Harewood








When a guy named Stu (Perry) invites his buddies Tommy (Cortese) and Gus (Hewlett) - as well as his girlfriend Julia (Shannon) - to the Caribbean island of St. Sebastian, he figures it will be fun, sun, and smooth sailing on the high seas. Unfortunately, Stu is strapped for cash, so he can only afford to charter a rusty old tub of a vessel, run by Captain Morgan (Harewood) (groan). Fortunately, a local lady named Charlie (D’Abo) who works as a “First Mate for Hire” is also there to keep things in line. The only problem: sensitive soul that he is, Dan Cortese - er, I mean TOMMY - is having persistent visions and nightmares of a boat-related trauma in the past. There’s also some voodoo. Compounding all the supernatural evil is the fact that our shipmates are all in the general vicinity of a Bermuda-based triangle of some sort. Who will escape the trials and tribulations of THE TRIANGLE?

Evidently fearing that MTV Sports was stifling his creativity, here, finally, national treasure Dan Cortese boldly steps out in a movie bearing his name. He’s top-billed with Luke Perry, their two names and faces acting as the proverbial siren song, drawing video store patrons toward the DVD. Much like the Bermuda Triangle itself, once you’re caught in the spell of these two magical Himbos, you can never escape. Director Lewis Teague knows a thing or two about casting - he was the man who cast Jay Leno as an action star in Collision Course (1989). We all remember how Leno shot first and asked questions later, especially as it related to brutally slaughtering Randall “Tex” Cobb’s character. So now the casting acumen of Teague shines once more by shrewdly marshaling the services of one Daniel Cortese when he had so many, many other people he could have chosen. Apparently Eric Nies wasn’t available.


Despite looking like he’s not quite comprehending what’s going on around him, Cortese here is portraying a lawyer. Like any good attorney, his powers of observation, deduction, and logic come to a head when, after our heroes are plainly neck-deep in supernatural goings-on, he astutely offers, “This place is whacked!”. Thank you, Mr. Cortese. Thank you for that. But, in his defense, he does bend metal piping with courage and conviction, and he also has special Cortese-powers of precognition or something. Cortese’s presence can’t help but remind us all of Short Fuse (1986) and its star, Art Garfunkel.



Sharing the screen with Cortese is Luke Perry, who apparently was supposed to go psycho Shining-style, but it happened at the drop of a hat and wasn’t set up very well (maybe he was in a rush to get back to West Beverly to attempt to complete his fourteenth year as a high school Junior). The presences of D’Abo and Shannon were welcome, but the whole outing becomes dull and routine and they can’t save it. Hewlett is the token “wacky friend”, though he does take what may be the first-ever selfie in cinematic history. Pros: the movie is well-lit and you can actually see what’s going on. Cons: Marlin-fishing stock footage, green-screen “explosions” and CGI weather. WEATHER! That may be the lowest low since Driven’s CGI quarters.

Finally, there’s a poster in the background of one scene that appears to be advertising for a rapper named President George Bush. Now that’s a rap name. Also there’s an evil voodoo spirit that we can only guess is named “Bockadoo”. At least that’s what it sounds like. Now you can see what we’re up against here. Rather than getting released to theaters, to DVD, to VHS (they were still doing that in 2001, right?), or to HBO or other services, The Triangle was released direct-to-TBS SuperStation. Even the awesome powers of Luke Perry and Dan Cortese can’t rescue the shipwreck that is The Triangle. It should be easy to avoid this slow-moving vessel.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 

10/11/2015

The Bad Pack (1997)

The Bad Pack (1997)- *1\2

Directed by: Brent Huff

Starring: Robert Davi, Ralf Moeller, Jeep Swenson, Brent Huff, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Roddy Piper, Larry B. Scott, Shawn Huff, Marshall R. Teague, and Vernon G. Wells










In the dusty border town of Los Robles, Texas, an evil white supremacist group led by Lamont Sperry (Teague) and his loyal henchman Sven (Ole-Thorsen) set up shop. I guess if you hate Mexican people, you go to the source, right? Well, two brothers decide the only way the destitute community can rid themselves of the baddies is by checking the ads in the back of Soldier of Fortune magazine, and hiring some mercenaries to kill them all. They take a train to L.A. and meet with a man named Biker (Wells), but he refuses their offer. Eventually they find the right man for the job: a one-man fighting force named McQue (Davi). What follows is classic “Assembling a Team” as McQue goes and finds people with special, individualized skills for the mission: Dash Simms (Piper) is the driver, Remi Sykes (Shawn Huff) is the sniper assassin, Kurt (Moeller) is the muscle, etc. This newly-christened (but never actually said out loud) BAD PACK is promised millions of dollars from the cache of the evildoers if they succeed...but will they?

The Bad Pack is a disappointment. With a galaxy of B-Movie stars on display and Brent Huff both in front of and behind the camera, you’d think it would be a no-brainer to make an awesome action classic. Not so much. But they did get the ‘no brain’ part right, as the movie is very, very dumb. It’s filled with stultifyingly stupid dialogue that drags down the whole project. Also, it needed more action. Saving all the action for the big climax is a no-no. Seeing as this is a supposed action movie, you should really have action DURING the movie. Doesn’t Brent Huff, of all people, know that?

There’s something sanitized about it - what little action scenes exist throughout the movie are quick and bloodless, and there’s minimal bad language and no nudity. It’s almost an action movie for the whole family. While it was great to see fan favorite Robert Davi in a lead role like this - especially when he’s foiling robbers at a diner with his canefighting skills or popping extended, unnecessary wheelies on his bright green motorbike, we wish the movie overall was of a better caliber and better suited to his skills. And because the whole outing is pure 90’s (of the pay-channel and back-shelf-of -the-video-store variety), there are not one but two scenes of Punchfighting: one with Battle Creek Brawl’s mega-meathead Jeep Swenson (R.I.P.) and Ralf Moeller, and another with Brent Huff and some other guy. Presumably these were the scenes meant to tide us over until the finale.


Marshall Teague, as the main baddie, looks a lot like George Lucas in this movie. And that’s in the scenes when he doesn’t look like Kenny Rogers. This really brought to the silver screen what George Lucas is probably like in real life. Yet another character we didn’t mention thus far, Jeremy Britt (Scott) plays a Black nerd (Blerd?) whose only function in The Bad Pack is that he owns a laptop. He claims to be the guy who “gets them the information”, as if the other members of the team don’t have access to the internet. But it was the golden age of Urkel, so, that decision makes sense.

But that leads us to two terms we coined - first is the Lone Tiger effect, when you think a movie is going to be good because of a stellar cast, but instead it’s a mess because there are TOO many characters and no one gets enough time in the sun. That’s The Bad Pack. Also it’s a Lacktion movie: a supposed action outing that lacks action. That’s The Bad Pack as well. Add to that some annoying characters and some light bathroom humor, and our good will is falling precipitously. And it’s all such a waste. The potential is CLEARLY there for a better movie, but it falls flat. Roddy Piper as a DRIVER who only marginally participates in the (of course) final warehouse fight? Are you kidding me? But on the bright side, Ralf Moeller stole his scenes and is quite good in it, as is Shawn Huff (that would be Mrs. Brent Huff).

Sadly, audiences who watch The Bad Pack are Huffing the fumes of the glory of the past work of the participants.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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

10/04/2015

W Is War (1983)

W Is War (1983)- * * 

Directed by: Willie Milan

Starring: Anthony Alonzo, Paul Vance, Joonee Gamboa, Den Motero, and Anna Marie Gutierrez









A frightening new gang is running wild on the streets of Manila and terrorizing the citizens. They are all bald and wear bizarre leather costumes. Imagine a cross between Buddhist monks and Zipperface-style leather freaks, and you’re just about there. A good cop named W2 (Alonzo) gets into a scuffle with the gang and...wait. The guy’s name is W2. W2. There’s also a guy in the movie named R2. In real life he’s played by Bing Davao, so we don’t know which is cooler. So the good guys are like tax forms meet Star Wars. When W2 shoots the evil gang leader’s brother, said leader, Nosfero (Montero) wants him dead, and that seriously puts a crimp in W2’s new marriage with W2’s Wife (Gutierrez) (her name in the movie is credited solely as “W2’s Wife” - but then again, if you were W2’s wife, isn’t that all you’d want to be known as?). After Maj. Medina (Gamboa) takes away W2’s badge and gun, he goes on a solo mission to stop Nosfero and the evil gang, which he discovers is a cult. When he finds out they kidnapped a bunch of schoolchildren, and are about to enter into a million-dollar opium-smuggling deal, he really snaps into action. Find out just how he does it as W2...IS WAR.

God bless the Philippines. They provided us with so much cinematic entertainment in the 70’s and 80’s, and this is one of their more off-kilter entries. It’s a bit like Cobra Thunderbolt (1984) (which is Thai, but who’s counting?) meets Search for Vengeance (1984). Much like how the centerpiece of Cobra Thunderbolt was our beloved Lt. Molly and her shooting a machine gun at the baddies while riding a jetpack, here the main focus is clearly the gang/cult and their wonderful attire. It’s like a Mad Max situation, but the movie gives no indication it takes place in the future. Is the Philippine economy really doing that bad? It can’t be, because their film industry seemed to be doing gangbusters then...but that didn’t stop Nosfero and the gang from being the “biggest pot producer in Asia” to graduating to lucrative opium deals. They sure got a ton of extras to be in the gang, and we can see the lure. Not the drugs -- the outfits, of course.



It’s even explained that people follow Nosfero because he has strong powers of hypnotism. And all this time we thought it was his fashion-forward sideways ponytail. Also, the higher-ups in the organization get cool single-name appellations like Pendragon and Voltar. In order to beat them, W2 slaps some metal siding on his car - and himself, becoming, quite literally, a knight in shining armor - and rolls into battle. The final 30 minutes or so of the movie is one extended battle sequence/climax. It goes from a strange curio with wacky dubbing and odd people in the first half to an out-and-out exploding hutter, with blow-ups, guard tower falls, and the works in the latter half. It all has a funky, 70’s-style score from Ernani Cuenco, and director Milan is handy with wide-angle lens effects. He also directed the hard-to-find and awesomely-named Ultimax Force (1987).

Released on the great Paragon label during the VHS era, it has also, interestingly enough, received a DVD release on the Telavista label. Both U.S. formats used the original title, simply “W”, not to be confused with the Twiggy movie of the same name. You could walk into a video store in the mid-80’s and find two movies called W, one on Paragon and the other on Lightning. It truly was an amazing time. We were really spoiled back then. But much like W2, W continues to survive.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty