Death Flash (1986)

Death Flash (1986)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Tony Zarindast

Starring: A.J. Nay, Cherry Williams, Kimberly Evans, Doreen Alderman, and Tony Zarindast

****1200th Review!!****

Johnny Duncan (Nay) is a classic COTE (Cop On The Edge) who goes OVER the edge when he finds out his wife Fiona (Alderman) is having an affair. Duncan is out of control, and he ends up behind bars. He ends up cleverly breaking out of prison when he finds out his sister Annie (Evans) and her friend Julie (Williams) are being kept under the iron fist of a wealthy drug lord. Duncan then proceeds to launch a one-man war against all the baddies involved in order to save his loved ones. Anyone opposed to this sort of action say Nay!

Death Flash (AKA Solitary) is a ton of enjoyable fun from start to finish. You just have to love movies like this – they really are true gems. Director/Co-Writer Tony Zarindast predated his Hardcase and Fist (1989) with this treasure, although this one doesn’t feature Beano. Well, I guess you can’t have it all. Zarindast even has a small role as the Machine Gun Joe character, Mr. Russo. One of the most pleasurable aspects of Death Flash is just how 80’s it is. This movie is 1986 through and through, and no 80’s fan can afford to miss it. 

Our new hero is one Arthur Jeremy Nay, but we call him A.J. He did a lot of work in stunts and appeared in small roles in some action movies, but here he really comes out to shine. While there are a lot of crazy stunts towards the end, we do see him display his abilities as a master of trickery when he dons a foolproof disguise to infiltrate the baddies. We won’t give it away, but remember Fred from the Dunkin Donuts commercials (“Time to make the donuts!”)? He would dress up as various things in order to get his precious donuts, including a woman. Fred had a large mustache, but he just covered it up with his finger when he went undercover as the opposite sex. Let’s just say A.J. Nay does that, but in reverse.

He also will engage in barfights with tough guys in order to defend the honor of his wife’s singing voice. Her band sings a catchy tune called “Secrecy” (performed by Cheryl Jewel), but some rowdy bar patrons don’t approve. They then feel the wrath of Nay.

The music overall is yet more classic 80’s, and mostly performed by a man known, mysteriously, only as Mrozinski. The soundtrack should be released on CD and/or vinyl, and this movie should be released on Blu-Ray stat. It could be packaged with Hardcase and Fist and put out under the banner of “The Tony Zarindast Collection”. Here’s hoping (against hope) that that happens soon.

All the classic clich├ęs that we know, love, and can’t live without are here, including the aforementioned barfight, a truly excellent WYC (White Yelling Chief) in Captain Stanhope (de Soto), lots of punch-ups, blow-ups, shootings, and motorbike-to-helicopter chases, among others. There’s a terrific shootout in a bar with some pinball machines, most places characters go (including strip clubs) have stand-up arcade machines such as Centipede and Pac-Man, the cocaine is plentiful, the hair is big, and the women’s clothes are asymmetrical. Duncan even has a Black partner in Dawson (Lewis) – because the 80’s-ness wouldn’t be complete without a reference to Crockett & Tubbs.

For the atmosphere alone, Death Flash is worth seeing. It’s a pleasant surprise from a time when energetic and enterprising filmmakers could make action movies on a rock-bottom budget and come out with a winner. Comparisons to Samurai Cop (1991) and Miami Connection (1987) wouldn’t be unwarranted. It’s just that they’ve gotten more attention of late. Now that Death Flash is on Amazon Prime (as of this writing), hopefully that will change.

Thank goodness for A.J. Nay, thank goodness for Tony Zarindast, and most of all thank goodness for the 80’s. It was the best decade ever and Death Flash is proof. The whole thing might not be polished to the degree some people might like, but, much more importantly, it’s just FUN. We guarantee you will be entertained by Death Flash, and that’s more than a lot of movies with many more resources can claim. We really recommend it.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


No Tomorrow (1999)

No Tomorrow (1999)- *1\2

Directed by: Master P

Starring: Gary Daniels, Jeff Fahey, Gary Busey, Jodi Bianca Wise, Pam Grier, Clifton Powell, Frank Zagarino,  Master P, with Jerry Vale and C-Murder

"Ya Gonna Wind Up Daaaiiiid"- C-Murder 

Jason (Daniels) is a likable (of course) London transplant trying to make ends meet in L.A. as he chases the American Dream. Jason is a card-carrying member of his local video store and loves nothing more than to play Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park pinball at his local dive bar. His gregarious co-worker Davis (Fahey) charms him into getting involved with crime boss Noah (Busey), but Jason really doesn’t want to be a criminal. However, Noah takes a shine to Jason. It turns out that fellow criminal Maker (P) is after Noah, as is an FBI Agent named Diane (Grier). In the midst of all this chaos, Jason and Lara (Wise) forge a relationship. Will the hapless Jason walk away with his life, or for him will there be…NO TOMORROW?

As one of the final films produced by PM, No Tomorrow signaled the death knell for one of our favorite companies. The title proved to be more apt than perhaps even they realized.

If there was ever any last-ditch attempt to save the company from impending doom, handing the directorial reins over to Master P for this movie would seem to indicate that their hearts just weren’t in it anymore. You’d think a DTV outing with all these classic B-movie stars couldn’t lose, but it’s just another case of Lone Tiger Effect. The fact that footage was recycled from Narrow Margin (1990) and Air America (1990) just reinforces the “Now it’s 1999 and DTV is in the doldrums” vibe. 

Yet, because it’s still PM after all, the stuntwork, action, gunfights, pyro, and blow-ups are still excellent. The technicians behind making all this amazing stuff happen should be applauded for making it all look great on-screen. The problem is that the movie around it is a dud. It’s completely uneven; one minute Master P has some sort of combination flamethrower/missile launcher and is barbecuing everything in sight, then there are some extended dialogue scenes, then we’re in Master P’s recording studio watching Silkk Tha Shocker AND C-Murder lay down some tracks (all while wearing No Limit clothing, of course), then Pam Grier sits in an FBI control room for a while, and then we get some recycled footage, etc., etc. There no continuity, structure, or pacing, never mind a Tomorrow. 

We’re of two minds about Gary Daniels’s role in all this. On the one hand, yes, of course we want to see him do Martial Arts, which is missing from this performance. It’s hard to not see that as a missed opportunity. On the other hand, we kind of liked that he was cast against type as a humble pencil-pusher. In other casting observations, we liked Fahey’s freewheeling, smarmy performance – he probably figured he didn’t have a lot to lose here, so he hammed it up. It was pretty Charlie Sheen-esque.

Things perked up whenever Gary Busey was on screen. As usual, he brought a lot of crazy life to the scenes he was in. He even makes it a point to say that Maker produces, and we quote, “jungle music”. Fan favorite Frank Zagarino has a glorified cameo (Jerry Vale of all people has an actual cameo), and Master (thespian) P gives a mumbling, inarticulate performance, but in all fairness he did have to talk around his gold grill. It probably gave him problems, but is this guy supposed to be the hero of the movie? It’s impossible to tell. Needless to say, there’s a crazy twist at the end that turns all the nonsense we’ve heretofore seen on its head, as if that was necessary.

Yes, it’s all very junky and a fairly ignominious end to the once-fine PM organization. Even Hot Boyz (2000) is better than this. Sadly, even the classic exploding helicopter had to come from the aforementioned Narrow Margin footage. Jeff Fahey and Gary Daniels should’ve been cops who team up to bust some heads. It could have been like the classic years of PM and really cool. Instead, they came up with this muddled jumble of Homie Movie/drama/thriller/DTV actioner and it doesn’t really work.

Despite the presences of some of our favorite names, and the backing of a great company, No Tomorrow is a disappointment.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty