Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sweet movie intros

Opening credits
Opening sequences
Whatever you'd like to call them

I saw this topic on the message boards over at popsyndicate
I thought I would show my thoughts here and ask if anyone has any they would like to share here as well!

I love these three intros - two from films from last year, one from a film from 1974

The first is 2009's Watchmen
sorry, I cannot embed this one

Then 2009's Zombieland

Then Enzo Castellari's 1974 film Street Law

see a trend?

DEATH WISH: A Retrospective

A.K.A. Falling In and Out of Love With A Vigilante

It's possible there may be some mild spoilers in this entry, although I will keep them as mild as possible!

As many of you know, I am super inexperienced in genre film watching to this day. While my appetite for trashy cinema may be high, my naivety may outshine it still. Death Wish is one genre staple I was minutely familiar with. Granted, I was a child most likely when I saw it, and it was probably on some local channel on a Saturday night (fuck, those were the days), but there were still parts of the film that brought back memories of sitting cross legged in front of the old wood paneled Zenith.

This week I sat down with all five (yes, all five) Death Wish films. I realized a few things while watching them. Most notably:

1) Charles Bronson likes ice cream.

and 2) I definitely had not seen any Death Wishes after the first.

So for the unknowing, uninitiated , or even uncaring, here's my general thoughts on this classic pentalogy for better or worse. I'll probably have the most to say about the first film as it is certainly the most artistic of the bunch and probably warrants the most actual discussion as opposed to giggling over giant guns and bullet holes.

Death Wish (1974) was filmed/released at a time when crime in American cities was on an obvious rise and American citizens were beginning to possibly feel the way that the main character Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) actually acts out.  The Bronson/Michael Winner flick was one of several the two worked on together, including the first three Death Wishes.

This film is an interesting look into a liberal man becoming increasingly frustrated with crime affecting him, and increasingly comfortable with solving these crime issues himself. At the time of its release, many critics said the film was exploitative and even dangerous in its message... and certainly the fact that it was a box office hit could have been looked at as a potential problem.

I did though feel like Paul Kersey's transformation in the film was handled rather well. He carries a sock with rolls of quarters in it, feeling exhilarated when he finally protects himself one night with it. When he first shoots a man, it is grisly and uncomfortable. The man writhes on the ground in tremendous pain and Paul runs away scared shitless... all the way home where he vomits at the thought of what he has done. I thought the jump after this into his more comfortably killing criminals was a bit abrupt, but not exactly exploitative, at least not by today's standards. I could see 36 years ago (holy shit) this being more pronounced however.

I've written in the past about this very subject with my review of Enzo Castellari's Street Law. Street Law was definitely at least inspired by Death Wish, and I feel the same here. It is a film meant to entertain, but treading on the ground of reality in a fictional work when dealing with such an incendiary topic can send a dangerous message to viewers. At times Death Wish also glamorizes the vigilante, maybe most at the end as Bronson points his finger gun at some thugs with a big shit eating grin on his face. And as I said in my review of Street Law, seeing this film nearly 40 years removed from the "current," it is easy to separate the message from the entertainment. But taking the time period in context, perhaps it certainly was exploitative.

The author of the novel that this film was based on, Brian Garfield, apparently hated the film adaptation, and too felt it was overly exploitative. So much so, in fact, that he wrote a sequel novel Death Sentence to show the dark side of vigilantism that he feels like the film missed from his first novel.

Garfield has said
The novel, which I wrote years ago as a sort of penance for the movie version of "Death Wish", attempts to demonstrate in dramatic form that vigilantism is not a solution -- it's a problem, and tends to destroy those who attempt it.
Anyway, back to the goods. Bronson was definitely solid here. He's not the greatest actor, often pretty stiff and stone faced, but he commands the screen when he's there. Something about his cool demeanor and look is magnetic no matter what the skill is, which is probably part of his long term success. The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema bring up this point about Charles Bronson quite often, and it's very true.

Although in a breaking of his character, I did get a good chuckle at how happy Bronson looked in his apartment while swinging his new quarter-loaded sock around over his head. He was like a little kid.

The supporting characters were all solid for the most part. You get a nasty little appearance by Jeff Goldbloom with a now probably legendary line "Goddamn rich cunts! I kill rich cunts!" Detective Frank (Vincent Gardenia) was a cool character as well, and I really liked his runny nose cold being one of his character traits. It gave him more... um... character? The city of New York in 1970s cinema (this has been said thousands of times) also is a character of its own.

Artistically speaking, this film is far and away my favorite of the bunch. If there is going to be one Death Wish you see, this is quite possible that one... although part 3 may give it a run for its money. Death Wish is definitely thought (and discussion) provoking despite losing that focus somewhat by the end.

Death Wish II (1982) at the same time felt like a rehash of the first story as well as a great example of the contrast between 70s and 80s action cinema. It fittingly takes place in Los Angeles despite my wishes that it would follow the end of the first film and take place in Chicago. This film is the Motley Crue to the first film's maybe Black Sabbath - same family but the former with big hair and makeup.

The main difference plotwise between the two films is the establishment of a particular group of criminals that Kersey is after. I felt the examination of Kersey's experimentation with vigilantism to feel satisfied in the first film was far more believable and interesting than remembering the faces of certain assailants and tracking each of them down. The first film thus leaves you more with the feeling and impact of his decisions and the second with essentially just a collection of vigilante vignettes. Gone completely is the indication that his behaviors are affecting him in any way besides simply accomplishing the task at hand. His actions now seem like those of an addict as supposed to someone who is frustrated. He hides it from everyone, even going so far as renting a seedy hotel room to stage from.

Other notable differences:

  • Herbie Hancock's classy jazz-infused soundtrack in part I vs. Jimmy Page's tacky pre-80s rock soundtrack in part II.
  • More reliance on shocking scenes for impact including loads of gunfire and an extended rape scene.
  • Nasty Jeff Goldbloom is replaced by a corny Lawrence Fishburn. In fact, all the villains in the film are far less realistic and almost characatures of criminals; many felt very over the top.
  • Death Wish II was released by Cannon Films as opposed to Paramount's handling of the first - this alone can explain a lot to those who know a little about Cannon's typical releases 
While the film had a different story, so much of it just felt like the exploitative elements pulled from the first film, polished 80s style, and output to a more standard action film. Bronson's portrayal of Kersey is essentially the same in his down moments except we get to see some really awkward love scenes which really should have been avoided at this point in his career. Vincent Gardenia reprises his role as Frank Ochoa, but unfortunately he still has a cold. I'm not sure why that rubbed me the wrong way, but it was a cool little touch for me in the first film and then just felt unoriginal by the second. Yeah, I get it... he's snotty. Blergh

This film was a complete departure from the ideas set in motion from most of the first film. Standing alone, perhaps I would have liked this film more. It was not terrible, it's nastier and more mean-spirited than the first and certainly more exploitative I would say, but not all that compelling for me either. It's definitely in the middle of the Death Wish road for me.

Death Wish III (1985) takes the excess of Death Wish II, cuts away the worthless fat, blows coke up its ass with a bendy straw, and sends it along its way. I can't really say that in all confidence because we do get more painful Bronson lovemaking, but at least this chick finds the better end of a carsplosion, so we'll let it slide. Sorry for the spoiler there!

By the time III rolls around, we've completely forgotten who exactly Paul Kersey really is. His wife and daughter are dead, and he seems to be just a wanderer at this point. A wanderer with a fetish for guns and a supplier who pulls no punches. He gets a letter from an old military friend in NY describing the decline of his neighborhood and asking for help, and Paul makes the trip.

Oddly, I don't even remember him mentioning that he is an architect, but he did tell someone he was a freelance writer or something, so that's strange.

Death Wish III, another Cannon film, is completely over the top and felt almost a parody of the vigilante genre. Vigilantisploitation? This film has made a complete 180 from where the series started, and thus has a cult following as well... but for obviously different reasons. You're not gonna find a sick Paul here wondering if what he is doing is right. You're gonna find a couple senior citizens (Bronson included as he was 64 or so when he made this film) using machine guns and yes, rocket launchers to dispose of some of the tackiest villains yet. The main baddie Fraker (Gavan O'Herlihy) is the worst yet. He even has this ridiculous reverse mohawk that really only makes him look like a banding man with a failure combover.

And the guy in the gang that you recognize from other shit? We've come from Goldbloom in I, down to Fishburn in II, and tumbled way down the celebrity totem pole here with a nasty Alex Winter a.k.a. Bill S. Preston Esq., although to be fair he would not actually be Bill until a few years later.

Again the villains are comical and one dimensional instead of anything approaching scary. Bronson is really hamming it up as well in his own stoic kind of way. Gone even is the element of suspense of Kersey avoiding the cops, because they essentially recruit him this time.

The body count in Death Wish III is far and away beyond that of the first and even second film, and this is where we are introduced to possibly the gun best associated with the Paul Kersey character, the .475 Wildey Magnum, an absurd hand cannon only topped in the film perhaps by the .30 cal WWII era machine guns, but  really only by the goddamn rocket launcher.

For anyone interested, here is the promotional video for the pistols, riding on the success of the film itself.

Shit, there was even a Commodore 64 video game made of this movie!

As I was watching this, I thought it would be fantastic fodder for an appearance in the Simpsons. And funny enough, I realized soon after that Death Wish had been joked about in a slightly different way. A trailer for Death Wish 9 was shown, a decrepit Bronson lying in a hospital bed saying "I wish I was dead."

Not too far off!

Seek Death Wish 3 out for a shitty flick that is good for all the wrong reasons. It might be my favorite over part I, but I guess it would depend on the mood. The only question raised here is "Is this gun porn or not?"


I'm going to cram Death Wish IV (1987) and Death Wish V (1994) here together because honestly, they are definitely the two worst films of the bunch and I don't feel like writing much more!

Death Wish IV has Kersey infiltrating 2 rival organizations that supply 90% of the drugs to Los Angeles. Yes, we're back in Los Angeles. By the time you've gotten to this film, you can really see how standard they have become. Yes, Kersey is still a vigilante, but the cops are almost a non-factor here. There is a twist in the film wish was good I suppose, but still by the end this film still felt a bit flat. A 66-year old Bronson just didn't have the same oomph he did way back when.

We do get more rocket launcher love and a silly shootout in a roller rink which brought back some fond memories of my awkward years at good ol' Skate Haven, but it was honestly too little, too late. Micheal Winner had moved onto the greener pastures of whatever-the-fuck-he-was-doing and in came J. Lee Thompson of Cape Fear and The Guns of Navarone fame, but his attempt at a more serious story once again just fell short. It's too bad because Bronson and Thompson made some apparently solid films earlier in the 80s with 10 to Midnight and The Evil that Men Do. I've not seen either one, but I have heard good things about both.

Part IV loses the magic of III and never gains the introspection and interest of part I, and gets stuck somewhere in between.

Part V was really more of the same. Bronson had wanted to wrap up the series after IV, but I guess was swayed back by a heft paycheck or something. A 70-something action star, however, is quite silly though, and he honestly seemed tired. The poor guy looked like he even had trouble lifting his pistol at times, and the stunt doubles were aplenty.

This film had the most fleshed out villains, which was good and bad depending on your perspective. Having unnamed bad guys certainly had its place in the previous films, but at the same time, the lead villain here Tommy O'Shea (Michael Parks - kind of a real actor version of Rowdy Roddy Piper) was believable and really an asshole.

There was a couple cool action sequences, and I felt that overall this film was better made than the previous couple. But despite this fact, the film probably felt more like a standard action film than any other. I'm not sure if I disliked this or part IV more, but it was pretty boring overall, not really bringing anything new or overly-titillating to the table outside of perhaps a remote controlled soccer ball.

I discussed the different feel between part I and part II/1970s action and 1980s action, and this film falls into the same pattern as it felt definitely more like a 90s action film - more character interaction mixed with the action, indoor shooting action which for some reason seems like a 1990s thing more than anything to me for whatever reason, etc. I realize this is probably obvious seeing as they were actually made in these respective decades... but watching them all back-to-back in rapid fire fashion as I did really lets me notice the changes in style from decade to decade... an interesting transition.

Just as the film was ending and my finger is hovering over the stop button so I can just end it once and for all, Bronson walks off into the factory fog, silhouetted in a bright door, and says "Hey Lieutenant, if you need any help, give me a call." At this point I come full circle. This may seem highly odd after what I have just said about Death Wish V, but this line and scene kinda made me a little sad and I immediately missed Paul Kersey, and really Charles Bronson himself. This film was Charles Bronson's final theatrical appearance before his decline in health starting in 1998 to his battle with Alzheimer's to his ultimate death in 2003 from pneumonia. I'm certainly no expert on his films, but I've grown to be quite the fan regardless. This scene for me just went beyond the movie itself.

So there you have it. Death Wish is a series with ups and downs and ups and downs and maybe a little wrinkly of up by the time it ended, but it's an interesting look at the evolution of a series as well as action films throughout three decades. I enjoyed my time revisiting Death Wish as well as experiencing the others for the first time. While I probably would not care to see 4, 5, and possibly 2 again, these are still genre staples that should probably be seen by cult fans at least once!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I die a little on the inside...

...when someone tells me a movie with this poster... not very good.

Sad day.

Sorry, Summertime Killer

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This would make a cool t-shirt

80s style computer graphics from a police station scene in Lady Terminator

Friday, March 26, 2010


Original Title: Pembalasan ratu pantai selatan
Year: 1988
Director: H. Tjut Djalil
Writer: Karr Kruinowz
Genre: Action

Synopsis: The spirit of an ancient evil queen posesses the body of a young anthropological student, who then goes on a murderous rampage.

When I started watching Lady Terminator, I was concerned that I somehow had obtained the wrong movie. I had heard that it was a ripoff of James Cameron's The Terminator, but what I was watching was set hundreds of years in the past. There was some sort of sorceress that fucks dudes to death and a hero that pulls a DEADLY EEL OF DOOM out of her vag and turns it into wiggly little knife as she curses his family upon escaping.

WTF, right? (And what a douchebag that guy looks like) While this honestly did not feel out of place for an Indonesian horror film, it just was not what I expected. And herein lies my biggest gripe with the film. I suppose I have been spoiled by other Indonesian films from this era that forwent much of the plot and character development for the sake of cramming as much shit blowing up as possible, but this film took quite awhile to get going for me.

Not that it was bad, really... it was fine, especially when this little 80s hottie comes on the scene digging around the South Sea Queen history because she's an "anthropologist" or something. Barbara Anne Constable is not all that great as Tania Wilson, athro-extraordinaire. And I am guessing Djalil realized this as well because 2 minutes after her intro, she's in a bikini smuggling diamonds, out at sea to find the Queen or something.

OK, OK, let's get on with it. There's no real reason given here why Tania is looking for this information, or how the Queen will have her revenge, or

Finally our 80s lady is tied up getting an eel of her own when she finds the Sea Queen's lair under the water or something, and we really get the ball rolling. When Constable is topless and/or mowing down losers with an M16, she's much more entertaining. She comes plodding out of the surf, sexing up two guys to death, then goes on a sour-pussed rampage looking for the historical douchebag's ancestor.

You're not gonna forget Lady Terminator's hilarious looking scowl anytime soon.

Or I guess the vaginal eel either.

Now that the background for this unstoppable monster has been set as well as it can be, the Terminator scenes start pouring in. For the last 2/3 of the film, we get the Indo-action staples with loads of bystanders mowed down, car chases in beat up sedans that scream crash me the moment they appear on screen, squibs exploding by the bucketload. Sure most scenes at this point are essentially stolen straight from Terminator, but they are a lot of fun and over the top, so it still works. There's the rampage in the police station. There's the nightclub shootout (although this time it is very neon and roller-rink hilarious). There's a shopping mall. There's even a car driving into the front of a building, although we unfortunately do not get our Lady Terminator saying "I'll be back."

There's even the eyeball scene, although this time she just appears to be washing off a gooey ping pong ball... and her face hardly even had a mark on it!

There's a cast of side characters that really only run away from/stand up to the Terminator. The ancestor of the douchebag is a bag of sawdust at best, and her savior is equally bad. They have a painfully awkward lovemaking scene where she opens up to him (LITERALLY HAHAHA) and he to her. Of course his wife was killed and blah blah blah. Although they are obviously supposed to be the Kyle and Sarah of this story, you really at this point could care less. Where's the fuckin explosions, man??

Oh yeah, they're back on the tarmac with fakeKyle's redneck buddies Snake and um... Tub? We're introduced to this dynamic duo in a flashback where fakeKyle met his now dead wife and Snake and Tub kick some guys' asses who are harrassing her. Oh, they are fucking terrible but oh so satisfying.

Snake has a mullet that would make Billy Ray Cyrus jealous and an awesome short-cut jean jacket to round off his traditional Canadian tuxedo. Tub?, while lacking the glorious mullet, makes up for it with a gut that surely came from too many Milwaukee's Best binges, some nice curls slicked back on the side, a lovely pedophile stache, and a stonewashed Canadian tuxedo that puts Snake's to shame.

Having these two buddies in there next to the cardboard cutout fakeKyle is a godsend of epic proportions. They have next to a zero role, but just look so ridiculous and have rocket launchers and tanks at their disposal that you can't help but be overjoyed at their brief appearance.

I mean, seriously folks. The only things missing here are boobs and perhaps a grenade launcher.

The film ends up being an interesting combination of a strange Indonesian folklore style tale mixed with the science fiction based Terminator story. She isn't a robot, but rather a possessed demon-type thing. I thought it was a cool twist on the story. Imagine if we had some flying demon heads like you'd see in Queen of Black Magic or something like that. That might be too much terrific for one 80 minute film to contain.

Actually, the Queen of the South Sea, or Nyai Roro Kidul, is a real and popular Indonesian folklore goddess. I'm not sure she had the sex aspect to her story, but she apparently could shapeshift and could make vicious waves in the Indian Ocean. A painting of Nyai Roro Kidul that Lady Terminator draws energy from before banging another poor uzi-toting hotel security guard in the film seems to be a common representation of the goddess.

There's a lot of detail left out as to why Lady Terminator does the sex death thing, or what even happens to the poor bastards she kills this way as blood comes spraying up from their crotch as she is riding them. I did think one chubby guy she kills looked like he was taking a facial in a porn. Awesomely awkward. He really did not want that blood in his mouth and eye!

For some reason I don't feel like my discussing the film here does it justice. I've focused a lot on some downfalls of the overall film, but believe me when I say that it is still very enjoyable. Despite throwing more story and exposition in there than many Indonesian genre films from this same time, it still manages to have the over the top action and be full of trashy fun.

Mondo Macabre has a great dvd of this film out there with special features and a nice restoration.

I'd certainly recommend Lady Terminator to any cult cinema fan.

Score: 7.75 / 10

Thursday, March 25, 2010


This past Saturday afternoon before going into work on the recommendation of Sir Large William of The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema, I threw together a cool little double feature of two films I had never seen despite being somewhat familiar with similar films. The second, and one I will review next, is an Indonesian ripoff called Lady Terminator.

The first film I watched...

Original Title: Double Impact
Year: 1991
Director: Sheldon Lettich
Writer: Sheldon Lettich, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes
Genre: Action

Jean Claude Van Damme plays a dual role as Alex and Chad, twins separated at the death of their parents. Chad is raised by a family retainer in Paris, Alex becomes a petty crook in Hong Kong. Seeing a picture of Alex, Chad rejoins him and convinces him that his rival in Hong Kong is also the man who killed their parents. Alex is suspicious of Chad, especially when it comes to his girlfriend.

By the time the 90s rolled around, I went to high school, got a car, etc. and became too cool for awhile for action flicks and the like. It's a shame I was such a fickle young lad, as I missed out on some decent movies that were still coming out then. It wasn't probably until I went and saw Escape From L.A. at the theater in college that I started to sway back to my old standbys, but even then I was getting more into arthouse cinema and stuff like that because I had never been exposed to really much of anything outside standard multiplex and video store fare in my small hometown.

So my Jean-Claude experience essentially stopped with the 80s. Praise the lord for the internets and my resurgent interest in all things genre! Will suggested I check this one out, and I'm glad I did.

Finally I get to see JCVD's every wish come true (almost) as he stars not once, but twice in one movie! Only a man as sure as himself as the Damme could team up himself with and kick his own ass!

If only he had banged himself, the dream would be as near reality as possible I think.

What, too obvious?

Welcome to the motherfuckin Jean-Claude show, bitches!

Van Damme plays douchebag Chad and asshole Alex. Chad and Alex are the twin sons separated at birth as their parents, who have played an integral role in the construction of the tunnel connecting China and Hong Kong. Their parents are murdered in a plot to gain exclusive control of the revenue from the tunnel, but a nanny rescues Alex and a bodyguard Frank (Geoffrey Lewis) rescues Chad before they are shot as well.

I love how the Van Damme's accent is explained in a sense in this film. The babies have British parents, but obviously they aren't going to be teaching these kids anything anytime soon except how to feed worms. the nanny rescues Alex, she drops him on the doorstep of a French mission/orphanage where we assume he is then raised. GENIUS!

And Frank takes Chad with him... and RAISES HIM IN PARIS!

OF COURSE! Hey, most of the time with these films, and with Arnie's films as well, you'll just get a dude named John Jackson with an obviously non-American accent and never acknowledge it at all. So I am thankful this little bit is in here, whether or not it is kind of a sly joke.

So now that the accent shit is out of the way, we can get down to brass tacks. Or maybe it's brass buttons...

Van Damme doesn't dance in this movie, unfortunately, but he does wear some hideous clothing including some near Daisy Duke length khaki shorts and a tan shirt with fucking pleated shoulders. Attention is drawn to this fashion travesty by the fact that he is on the deck of a moving ship and the wind is lifting said pleats, putting them on display in all their glory. I can only assume that he had trouble standing with all the added drag. At least put that shit on the back so he stays aerodynamic when he is kicking ass, you know?

Van Damme seemed to have a lot of fun in these dual roles, and honestly didn't do a terrible job. I mean, he was never going to win any awards for his performances here, but I enjoyed the differences he brought out between the two brothers. Chad is a bit of a ladies man, and dresses very preppy (late 1980s style). They have a sense of humor about his clothing, as several characters make comments about the way he is dressed. Chad revels in his martial arts abilities and seems confident enough to wear leg warmers and spandex because he's gonna get ass regardless. I only wish they had him stay kind of cocky this way throughout the film. At times later on, he seems goofy, clumsy, nerdy, but I suppose the purpose here was to show the pampered Chad feeling very out of his element.

Alex was a street tough criminal from the streets of Hong Kong. Here Van Damme chewed on a cigar constantly and loved to wear black. The best part of this character I thought were the action sequences he was involved in. Anyone familiar at all with JCVD knows quite well that he takes any and all chances to show how high he can kick, how low he can split, and how sweaty he can get his abs. But the Alex character had to  be essentially untrained in martial arts. He prefers a pistol to a kick, and when it does come down to hand-to-hand, it was cool to see Van Damme just have to do it dirty street brawl style.

The way the two of them are handled together and still kept separate was done decently. They did have to rely on some special effects in editing a couple times that look quite dated now, but having the characters wear different hairstyles helped to tell them apart most of the time... Alex with his greased back look and Chad with his gelled curls. They could have both characters on screen by showing the back of the other at the time or even have one in shadow in the background... little tricks used many times in films where one actor would play two roles.

Thank god they never did the mirror trick where neither character could cross the center of the frame!

Geoffrey Lewis was solid, but I didn't feel he was all that different from what I have seen him in in the past. Which isn't a bad thing... just an observation really. The man has been in tons of stuff that I know I have seen and cannot think of any of it off hand. He was in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot which I really need to sit down and watch one of these days.

As for Alex's lady friend Danielle (Alonna Shaw).... well, let's just say at least she shows her tits. Granted they are fake as hell and displayed mostly in a highly tacky sex scene with JCVD (colored lights, ridiculous positions, and all), but who am I to complain about a lovely lady showing the goods? She's not very good in her role, but what can you do?

Usually it's Van Damme showing his goods, so I'll say good on her!

The villains are not super, but there are a couple interesting henchmen of note. First there is this one mullet looking loser that wears spurs and kicks like a motherfucker. I've never seen that shit before, but it was pretty sweet. He could totally slice a dude up with his feet before the poor bastard knew what hit him. There was a cool little fight scene with him and JCVD that was well lit and a bit stylish that ends in a satisfying way if you find spur man's dumbass look at all annoying like I did. He has no speaking role, so I can really only comment on the man's moves and shitty attire.

Then there is Kara.

Ahhh Kara

Kara is one of those chicks you just can't tell if you find hot or not.

I mean she's built. Really built.

Kinda hot, right?


Or does she kinda look like a dude?

Or is that why she is hot?

I'm so confused.

Cory Everson's her name, and pumping motherfuckin iron is her game. A former Ms. Olympia, she's nota great actress, but I thought the character was an interesting addition given the usual role that women usually seem to have in Asian locales in film (prostitute, stripper, hysterical bystander). She is one tough chick, wears leather constantly, and will stab you in the face. She's obviously here for her look and to show off those cut legs as she takes a life.

She's like Cynthia Rothrock hot.

And you gotta love a Bolo Yeung appearance. This crazy big, crazy tittied, crazy looking dude popped up in a couple Van Damme flicks and hardly says anything. I don't think he said anything at all here actually. I'm kinda shocked actually to find out that he was over 50 years old when he made this film!

The story in Double Impact for me honestly felt a little forced. I'm almost certain I have said this about other films I have reviewed here, but what this felt like was more a vehicle for double the Van Damme silliness and sweatiness, and Bolo showing off his giant moobs. It is void of twists or really any advanced storytelling... it's simply a revenge plot. The twist I suppose is that the people seeking revenge are twins. The way it is handled, though, doesn't seem to give Alex and Chad enough motive to track down these high-up criminals. Yes, their parents were killed, but the two of them did not know their parents at all. They are just now going on an old bald dude telling them they need to come get the shit that belongs to them.

There's not much style in Lettich's presentation of the story as well. All is pretty straight forward, as many action films are particularly from this era. Outside of a few cool camera angles, a decent foot chase that goes across the decks of docked boats, and little things like this, there's nothing really all that special about any of it. We are taken from point A to point B on a pretty straight path.

And the humor injected here would get tired pretty quickly. I laughed more at Van Damme impressing ladies in the gym at the beginning than I did at him slipping and falling on bird shit in an abandoned hotel.

But to all this I say... whatever!

If Van Damme would just high kick a barrel out of the sky, I'd leave a happy customer

Awww, thanks buddy!

Solid film... especially for JCVD fans. I'd certainly recommend it (more than users in IMDb, that's for sure)

Score: 6.75 / 10

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Original Title: American Hunter
Year: 1988
Director: Arizal
Writer: Deddy Armand
Genre: Action

Synopsis: Agent Jake Carver dives head first into a back and forth struggle with a terrorist group over the possession of an important piece of microfilm that could bring about the fall of Wall Street and perhaps the Western World.

Lethal Hunter, or American Hunter, or whatever the fuck it is called, is a film that dreams are made of. Yes, you heard (read) me correctly. _______ Hunter is a film where cinematic wishes actually come true!

What follows is my actual conversation with myself while watching this amazing film.
(Paraphrased of course)

"God these guys are talking a lot. Thirty seconds really does seem too long here. I wish a fat dude in a Jeep would drive through the window."


"You know, they are hitting a lot of cool action movie staples here, but I do wish I could see some white guy kung fu in a cardboard dungeon."


"LOL, nice one movie gods. Can you keep it up? Like... I wish there was a painfully awkward shower scene with lovers who don't take off their clothes!"


"Man I can't take it!

Helicopter chase?"





Stone washed Canadian tuxedo??? (aaaalmost)"


"OK, OK...
What about THIS?

I wish for an Asian kung fu master...

...with a Ricky Skaggs hairdo and stache circa 1985...

...fighting an old white dude in jogging pants...


...over a pond with cement mushrooms like Super Mario Bros. platforms!"


Goddamn, Lethal Hunter!

You win!

Arizal brings the pain here with this flick. If you think I've spoiled it at all with all these photos, you may be right in a sense. But believe me- this film really can't be spoiled. It is not about the plot. The synopsis I wrote above covers the film for the most part. What we get here, and I say this a lot about the films I cover it seems, is a fantastic collection of ridonkulous action sequences and some hilarious shit all adding up to a story that could be told in five minutes otherwise.

Chris Mitchum stars here looking as suave and badass as a man in stonewash and wide lapels can and doing his best Joel Higgins from Silver Spoons impersonation. Edward Stratton III with deadly feet! Mitchum is as stiff as a board, of course, but I think his look and this acting add to the entertaining effect of the character. This guy Jake Carver is a lover and a fighter, a kung-fu master out not for personal interests but rather to promote good! I love his approach to the multitude of situations he finds himself in as they all seem emotionless and just cut-and-paste.

Sure, it may be due to a lack of talent, but in this sort of film, it just fits... it works.

We aren't here for a compelling dramatic performance. We're here to see Jake Carver do backflips and punch the slobber out of Peter O'Brian's stupid face!

Yes, Mr. Rambu himself makes an appearance here, but beware O'Brian fans. He's only here as a snaky little character role... a guy named fucking HOPE SELECK! What the fuck? Hope Seleck gets what he certainly has coming to him in very satisfying fashion. Quick and dirty, and you will smile if you have a heart.

The two baddies in the film, Adam (Bill "Super Foot' Wallace) and Frank Gordon (Mike Abbott) are hysterical in their own rights as well.

Bill Wallace looks like he's be your uncle Frank, but kicks like a motherfucker and sweats like two of them. It was hard to get a read exactly on his martial arts skills as his go-to move is a high kick to the mouth. Repeatedly. He loves that shit! And Adam also loves animals apparently. They do not get into the reasons why at all, but Adam is seen a few times caressing exotic animals. His only interests in the film seem to constantly kidnap one chick, find that goddamn microfilm, and petting his monkey.

Sorry, it's not as exciting as that sounds........pervert.

Wallace gives a sweaty, nutty performance... just going batshit crazy at times at the drop of a hat. I can't say it's a great performance per say, but it is certainly entertaining.

Mike Abbott on the other hand.... well, I'd say he is equally entertaining in his own way to the Super Foot, but for much different reasons. This guy is best at being a fuzzy ape in a fucking speedo. You will love his mustache and mullet. You'll adore his awkward poolside make out session. You'll wish you were him when he talks half-naked on a cordless phone as if it were a walkie talkie!

There's so much awesome happening here in this pic, I don't know what to do.

On an aside, I think it's hysterical how guys in these Indoaction flicks have such "dude next door drinking Miller and grilling some dogs" names. Yes, Jake Carver is a bit of an action flick name. But how dangerous does an insane villain named 'Adam' sound? Frank Gordon? Even in the classic (in certain circles indeed) The Stabilizer... our hero is named Peter Goldson! Thank baby Jesus we get a Greg Rainmaker there to even things out a bit!

And to totally contradict myself, let me remind me that Rambu plays Hope Seleck here.

Yeah, I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about apparently.

You're in for a treat when you can track down an Arizal film. I've seen all I can find, and this is one I have watched more than once. The stories are brutally simple, but we can see that screenwriter Deddy Armand and Arizal love to just chain these scant tales together with as many stunts, explosions, gunshots, fights, vehicle chases, rapes, etc. as possible. It's the kind of film you can put on and enjoy while only paying half attention, but the more you watch, the more you are gonna just find your blurry, VHS-ripped cinematic wishes coming true.

Highly recommended for the right audience; one that loves some mindless action.

Score: 8 / 10

Saturday, March 20, 2010

JCVD Mashup

So last night I treated myself to a little Jean Claude Van Damme double feature. Two films I haven't seen in many years, but that I have seen multiple times each:

Bloodsport and Kickboxer!

I may have some spoilers in here just as a warning

My family didn't get cable until I was in the 8th grade (1989 or so), and my parents were holdouts on getting a VCR even. I can attribute this lack of initiative for my current lack of genre film experience. I grew up watching Kung Fu Theatre on a local public low bandwidth channel... and when we finally got cable (with Cinemax AND Showtime!), my genre experience moved largely to Emmanuelle type movies on Friday nights.

Hey, I was 13, what do you expect?

Anyway, these two films were ripe for the picking of the movie channels in the late 80s/early 90s. I was talking with Mattsuzaka from Chuck Norris Ate My Baby about the fact that Bloodsport was (and still is) shown on cable tons more than Kickboxer. While I am pretty certain I never rented them, I do know I have seen them so it must have been on cable back in the day.

But what was most interesting was how much the two films had blended together in my head. And it was mostly elements of Kickboxer leaking into my memory of Bloodsport, particularly the scenes where JCVD is kicking hanging pots full or water, and the friend being paralyzed (I thought he died actually!) as the driving force of the final showdown.

After watching the two again, I think my opinions of them changed as well. For whatever reason, I remember liking Bloodsport better, but I definitely think now that I enjoyed Kickboxer more. I like the outdoor, old school style training sequence. Also, while there is more actual fighting in Bloodsport, much of is it presented as musical montage... huge disappointment there. But the final fight in Kickboxer is worth the price of admission.

Well, that and JCVD drunk dancing in a local bar.


So check out both these movies for

  • Jean Claude's nipple warming, pleated khakis
  • Men's faces spinning into the camera with blood flying from the mouth
  • Forrest Whitaker looking like a nerd and a half (Bloodsport)
  • Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds (also Bloodsport)
  • Sweat stains galore (JCVD does one spin kick and his denim shirt is instantly drenched)
  • JCVD splits and training to achieve the split
  • Cool late 80s style martial arts flicks.
  • Feathered hair and lip gloss... on JCVD (Bloodsport again!)

Good times

Cunt Smasher

I swear I watch this video at least once a week

I think he would have made a good villain on Fist of the North Star

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mithun Chakraborty recommendations

Before I move on to a more assorted selection of films to write about, I wanted to five one last recomendation list for more Mithun Chakraborty films. These are definitely more in line with B-movie camp than anything else.

Disco Dancer
Unlike Gunda, this movie seems to take itself seriously... which is awesome in its own right. Disco dancing galore with Bollywood style fight scenes thrown in for added spice.

Wanted: Dead or Alive
It's a Curry Western so that was enough for me from the get go.

This one I haven't actually seen, but there's at least one grenade launcher and some ninjas. So it's not going to leave my radar until I tackle it!