Las Vegas Warrior (2002)

Las Vegas Warrior (2002)- *

Directed by: Natasha Baron

Starring: Suk Woo Nam, Laurie Hanley, Jason Simpson, Nic Amoroso, and Earl Wadden

Suk (Suk Woo Nam as himself?) was not named after this movie. Rather, he is the best fighter on the underground Punchfighting scene in “Vegas”. Whenever the corrupt bosses who run the fights need a win, they call in Suk. A reporter for a TV station named SVS (are we sure it’s not the CBC?) named Chase Somete – and because the audio quality of this movie is so bad, it sounds like everyone is calling her Jason X – brings along her cameraman, the lovable Andre (Simpson) and the prissy and annoying soundman Jimmy Olsen (presumably no relation to the Daily Planet reporter) (Wadden), and off the three of them go to initiate their investigative reportage about Suk. However, the three get more than they bargained for as they go deeper and deeper into the shady world of Punchfighting. With the help of a local fish salesman named Gill (get it?) (Amoroso), will Chase and her compadres get to the truth about Suk and the Las Vegas underground fight scene?

Las Vegas Warrior is a dreary outing that has about as much fun and excitement as an overcast Canadian winter. Just because a movie has the words “Las” and/or “Vegas” in the title, it does not necessarily mean said movie was shot there. It could be Canadian, for instance. To be fair, this also goes by the name Fightclub Warrior, although that title has its own problems. But why not call it “New Brunswick Warrior” or something like that and stay true to your Canadian roots?

Anyway, this movie makes the similarly-themed The Circuit (2002) look like a masterpiece. In addition to the aforementioned poor sound quality, we also have equally dingy, video camera-esque picture quality. The whole thing is extremely low-rent and the rock-bottom budget is evident in every scene. Not that the latter is in itself a bad thing, but director Baron seemingly didn’t know how to use what she had to her advantage.

For example, most of the characters (except for the jovial Andre) are whiny. This includes our heroes Chase and Suk. For no reason whatsoever, there are these two-second flashes in between some random scenes. Maybe they thought they would liven things up or make it seem hip and cool. Irritating the already-tired eyes of the viewers is not cool, people. These unnecessary flashes were also used in The Circuit. Coincidence? Well, probably. But it’s not a good sign of confidence in the strength of your movie.

Plotwise, there’s no big, final villain. No one to build up to. No Matthias Hues, Ralf Moeller, or Wolf Larson for Suk to fight. Just…nobody. The soundtrack to all this is almost as whiny as the characters themselves. Early 2000’s-style crud-rock by bands called Dog Eat Dogma, Universal Freak, and Les Respectables pollute our ears the entire time. To be fair yet again, the other music on the soundtrack is credited to a Ferocious LeFonque. This may be a character on RuPaul’s Drag Race, but we’re too busy watching Las Vegas Warrior to know for sure.

Another problem is that this movie needed a name. ANY name. In our review for Expert Weapon, we lamented the dearth of Joe Estevez in that film. If we may quote ourselves, “When your movie NEEDS MORE JOE ESTEVEZ, you have a problem.” To update that for today’s proceedings, we would say forget more Joe Estevez, when your movie needs any Joe Estevez, you’ve got a problem. Hell, get any Estevez. Get Phil Estevez. Get anybody! Just…help!

In the end, the low budget of Las Vegas Warrior could have been transcended with a better script, more exciting and diverse fight scenes, and less amateurish technical qualities. Unfortunately, none of that happens, and the result is flat and dull.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 


Dragon Hunt (1990)

Dragon Hunt (1990)- * * *

Directed by: Charlie Wiener

Starring: Martin McNamara, Michael McNamara, and B.Bob

Seemingly continuing on right after the end of Twin Dragon Encounter (1986), Dragon Hunt sees the malevolent Jake (B. Bob) and his merry band of thugs, The People’s Private Army (perhaps an oxymoron there?) pursuing their obsession with The Twin Dragons (Michael “Mic” McNamara and Martin McNamara). Angered at the twins’ forcing him to now have a metal hand, Jake is more off the deep end than ever before. He recruits mercenaries and soldiers of fortune from far and wide and offers them 200,000 Canadian dollars if they can kill the twins. This Game becomes Most Dangerous when the twins are indeed kidnapped and caged, but then set free in the wilderness so they can be hunted by everyone from ninjas to overalls-wearing good-ole-boys. Of course, using their awesome Martial Arts and survival skills, the twins proceed to turn the tables on their pursuers and the hunters become the DRAGON HUNT-ed, eh?

The Macs are back! Finally! The McNamaras upped their game for this sequel to the jewel that is Twin Dragon Encounter. The cast is bigger (and “better trained” according to Jake), more diverse, and with bigger action setpieces such as machine-gun shootouts, blow-ups and even an attempted helicopter explosion. Consistent with this expansion, the movie is also even more disjointed and insane than its predecessor, with nutty narration by B. Bob as Jake, including much singing. He does a rousing rendition of “The Teddy Bears Picnic” that really adds a lot to the soundtrack. 

Speaking of the soundtrack, what would a sequel to Twin Dragon Encounter be without more catchy, rockin’ tunes by Billy Butt? Not only does he contribute a title song (with lyrics that reference happenings in the plot; we love when movies have those) but two new songs, “Survivor” and “Makes a Man Cry”. The song “Faces” from the first movie returns, but we think it’s an all-new re-recording.

The whole thing is wonderfully silly and you can’t help but enjoy it. It even gets AIP-esque at times, and while the movie was released in 1990, it has a copyright date of 1989 and surely has the ’89 spirit we’re constantly talking about. They really did a lot with their low budget and we respect that. The first credit we see after the last scene is, and we quote, “This Film Was In No Way Assisted by Telefilm Canada Or the Ontario Film Development Corporation”. So not only did they assert their true independence with the making of this movie, they went out of their way to give the finger to the powers that be! You don’t see that anymore, and it should be applauded and treasured.

However, the downside to that is that this is the lesser-seen of the two classic McNamara movies. It got no U.S. distribution on VHS because Vidmark passed. We’re really not sure why, seeing as they saw fit to release the first one, but maybe this was just too out there for them. Or maybe new management or something stupid like that. But it did come out on Cineplex Odeon Video in Canada, and a few French and German territories, but that’s about it (except for rare television screenings, but we’re talking about physical releases).

In many ways an improvement upon its predecessor, at the very least it’s just as good and worth seeing. 

Reasonable people may differ on which is the better McMovie, but one thing is certain: all the charm remains intact in this sequel, and it’s best to just see them both.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty