Fast Money (1996)


Fast Money (1996)- * * *

Directed by: Alex Wright

Starring: Matt Mccoy, Yancy Butler, George 'Buck Flower', Al Lewis, Trevor Goddard, Jacob Witkin, and Andy Romano 

Francesca Marsh (Butler) is a streetwise and tough professional car thief. On one particular job, she ends up in possession of a briefcase with $2.7 million dollars in mafia money, along with some counterfeit printing plates. Around this time, she meets a nerdy and straitlaced newspaper reporter named Jack Martin (McCoy). While, personality-wise, they're the original odd couple, their fates become intertwined and they go on the run together.

Of course, the main baddie, Sir Stewart (Witkin) is not happy that the briefcase is missing, so he instructs one of his thugs, Regy (Goddard) to team up with the corrupt Lt. Diego (Ashton) to track down Marsh and Martin. They're yet another original odd couple. As Marsh and Martin race to the Mexico border to safety - so they hope - Diego and Regy are hot on their trail. With police, FBI, and the mob gunning for our unlikely heroes, will they get away with some FAST MONEY?

We know what you're thinking and no, Fast Money is not the story of Ray Combs and Family Feud. Rather, it is one of those "only in the 90's" video-store gems that made going to the video store (or if you had pay-cable, perusing that) such a fun thing to do.

There are some interesting things about Fast Money. One is that it is co-produced by Don Edmonds, of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (1975), Terror on Tour (1980), and Bare Knuckles (1977) fame, along with Stu Segall, whose Hollywood career is fascinating, having directed Drive-In Massacre (1976), a lot of hardcore adult fare such as Insatiable (1980), then being the executive producer of the Fred Dryer TV show Hunter. So while the exploitation pedigree behind Fast Money is certainly assured, it's not at all sleazy and is perfect for the action audiences of the 90's, as well as today.

Certainly one reason for that is that it seems like the PM stunt crew must have worked on this movie. The car chases, shootouts, and blow-ups are very much in the PM mold. Of course, there are car flips galore, which were the PM specialty. If you like that PM style of action (and who doesn't?), Fast Money is well worth tracking down, because it's like a lost cousin of a PM movie that wasn't, technically, produced by PM.

We also like how the writers of the film switched up the stereotypical roles. Normally, the man is the tough, hard-shootin' hero, and the woman is the mousy reporter. Here, the roles are reversed, and we get Yancy Butler shooting two pistols at the baddies and Matt McCoy as the meek sidekick. So the movie gets points for that, and it was fun to watch their relationship develop over the course of the film.

But, as usual, it's the character actors that steal the show, and once again the underrated Andy Romano, as McCoy's boss in the film, makes his role seem natural and effortless. Fan Favorite Trevor Goddard, who was like his era's Vinnie Jones, comes off as an angry and unhinged Colin Farrell. If they ever remade Fast Money, Farrell should definitely do this role. Oddly, during the final chase and shoot-em-up scenes, Goddard starts to look more and more like an angry and unhinged Morrissey. Possible tagline for a Morrissey action movie: "He may want to save the animals, but he's gunning for you."

In any case, Fast Money is an entertaining road movie and it's rarely boring. It includes some silly humor and it's an easy watch. There are a couple of incidences of where too long a stretch of time elapses between action scenes, but what action you do get is top-notch stuff. It's that great, 90's-style go-for-broke action that we all love and are addicted to.

Featuring cameos by George "Buck" Flower and "Grandpa" Al Lewis, Fast Money is like the DTV version of Fair Game (1995). Despite some minor flaws (don't we all have minor flaws?) Fast Money is well worth seeking out.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


The Instructor (1981)


The Instructor
(1981)- * *1\2

Directed by: Don Bendell

Starring: Bob Chaney, Don Bendell, Bob Saal, Lynday Scharnott

A man known only as "The Instructor" (Chaney) is, naturally, a Karate instructor in Akron, Ohio. He and his buddy Thumper Rhodes (Bendell) love going on long jogs together, and beating up punks in the local trainyard with garbage can lids. When the town ne'er-do-well Bud Hart (Saal) takes an extreme dislike to Mr. Instructor and Thumper, many Martial Arts battles ensue with his gang of goons, both in an out of the ring. This especially escalates when some of Hart's guys attack Dee (Scharnott), a disciple at the Karate school. Meanwhile, there's a pudgy, bearded white guy named Mr. Fender who is dressed in a ninja outfit and fancies stalking around the neighborhood. What the HECK is going on here? We may never know...

As if the above confusion wasn't enough, throughout most of your viewing of The Instructor, you may continually ask yourself "What IS this?" - and the answer appears to be that it's a local low-budget labor of love. If you enjoy such regional and/or no budget and/or nutso offerings such as The Skid Kid (1991), Furious (1984), Kindergarten "Ninja" (1994), Iron Thunder (1988), or Twin Dragon Encounter (1986), you may get something out of The Instructor.

Either it was Bob Chaney's dream to become an Instructor, or it was The Instructor's dream to become a moviemaker, but we're not sure which. Thumper a.) looks like Frank Zappa, and b.) is named Thumper. Fight scenes break out and have a funky soundtrack behind them, making this whole odd outing seem more 70's than 80's. The sound quality seems to be from the 1920's. If not earlier. Everything is muffled, dull, and almost unhearable, which is a shame because Mr. Fender the wacky ninja gets an internal monologue. We don't hear the thoughts of anyone else, but we're blessed to hear his inner mental workings. Well, if you can hear them, that is.

Naturally, the fighters are all on the older side, so you get some classic Middle Aged Punks. The end section features an extended car chase. You can tell they were trying. While the movie has pronounced pacing, plotting, acting, editing, and sound issues, that's not really the point. They got off their butts and actually made a movie, which should inspire a positive "anyone can do it" feeling. The fact that it was released on VHS by Vestron only serves to reinforce that, especially with its very cool box art. The fact that it's not especially indicative of the movie itself is also beside the point.

If you enjoy handmade, homemade filmmaking, especially along the more "WTF" end of things, why NOT check out The Instructor?

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty