Coldfire (1990)

(1990)- * * *

Directed by: Wings Hauser

Starring: Wings Hauser, Asher Brauner, Michael Easton, Kamar De Los Reyes, Albert Cutt, and Addison Randall 

A new drug has hit the streets of L.A. It's called Coldfire and it looks like a bit of blue Powerade in a little vial. In order to stop the spreading scourge of Coldfire, two young police officers, fresh from their latest assignment of posing as high school students to root out Coldfire users, throw themselves into the newest and hottest drug war. Jake (Easton) and Nicky (de los Reyes) are the new generation of cops, and they're energetic, young, and hungry to make a difference. 

They end up clashing with old-school cops like Milton Lars (Wings) and the hotheaded Dix (Brauner). However, the old school and the new school eventually have to learn to work together to fight Coldfire dealers Mr. Sheldon (Randall) and Groska (Cutt), an evil Russian who wants to use Coldfire to do nothing less than take over America. To quote the tagline on the box for the film, "New Cops, A New Drug, and A New Way to Die." Will we all become hopelessly addicted to COLDFIRE? Find out below...

Coldfire is the directorial debut of Wings Hauser, although he also directed Living to Die the same year, followed by The Art of Dying (1991). Keeping in mind that Coldfire - the drug - is "a new way to die", Wings seemed to be very attracted to projects that involved the words "Die" or "Dying", but only for about a year or so from 1990-91. Anyway, despite the fact that this was made by PM, it's not really an action film per se, although it has a couple of moments. It's a police drama, but with some comedic elements thrown in for good measure.

The Jake and Nicky plotline uses 21 Jump Street as, well, a jumping-off point. The tension between the young generation and the new generation of police officers provides a lot of the drama in the squad room. The young-old divide between the idealistic cops and the older ones like Lars is the background for the fight against Coldfire. Both Easton and de los Reyes put in really good performances, which is fortunate as they pretty much carry the film. 

Despite the box art, Wings is not one of the main characters, which makes sense as he was probably busy directing. Although his role isn't very big here, this is Asher Brauner at his best. He should have been in the film longer, as his performance here reminded us why we like Asher so much.

PM really let Wings loose this time out, generously granting him the ability to make this 100-minute long extravaganza. While Coldfire loses focus at times, clearly Wings learned his lesson as far as pacing goes, as The Art of Dying is certainly a bit snappier. 

However, there are plenty of characters on display to fill the time, so it's kind of a double-edged sword. Robert Viharo as Getz plays one of the best WYC's we've seen in some time, and Nancy Locke is a lot of fun as Dr. Tate. Darcy DeMoss makes the most of her role as Maria, Nicky's girlfriend. Cult film fans will know her from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), among other notable movies (including the aforementioned Living to Die), but we here at Comeuppance have to point out that she was in Stickfighter (1994). Any Stickfighter connections will always be pointed out by us if they're discovered. 

However, as he usually does, the great Addison Randall steals the show as the effeminate baddie Mr. Sheldon. He does this high-pitched voice and a mincing affect which is extremely amusing. It also shows Randall's range, as it could not be more different from his turn as the evil racist in Deadly Breed (1989). It shows he has talent and range. He was almost unrecognizable here, although, to be fair, it would be hard to recognize almost anyone who gets tied to a fence while shirtless with a green garden hose. 

While many scenes go on too long and spin their wheels a bit, it's hard to complain when there are scenes of characters playing the arcade games Xenophobe and Rolling Thunder at a bowling alley. I'd love to believe that Wings chose the game Xenophobe on purpose as a sly and subtle reference to the fact that evil Russians are behind the Coldfire drug, but it was probably just there in the bowling alley that day.

Featuring a quality song - and used quite effectively in the film - "Walk On (Little Boy Lost)" by Lorraine Devon, Coldfire is a film that fans of PM and/or Wings Hauser will enjoy. Despite its length, other people may enjoy it too, just as long as you don't go in expecting a slam-bang shoot-em-up or beat-em-up. Keep in mind when you go into it that it's a video-store cop drama from 1990 with a long-ish running time for the material, and there's plenty to like about Coldfire.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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


Futurekick (1991)


(1991)- * *

Directed by: Damien Klaus

Starring: Don "The Dragon" Wilson, Meg Foster, Chris Penn, Eb Lottimer, Al Ruscio, Linda Dona, and Jeff Pomerantz

A lot is going on in New Los Angeles in 2025. These things called Cyberons were invented, for one thing. They're androids with both human and robot characteristics. For whatever reason, the companies that created them sought out to destroy them all, but there's one left, a kickboxing Cyberon named Walker (Don). Because it's the future, you see, VR is huge so a VR developer named Howard (Pomerantz) leaves his home on the moon to travel to earth to sell his wares. While there, he runs afoul of a baddie named Hynes (Lottimer). Apparently Hynes works for a place that sells black market organs. He has a special tool that plucks the organs out of living victims. Hynes then answers to his boss Kraner (Ruscio).

After not hearing from her husband for a while, Howard's wife Nancy (Foster) follows him to earth. She consults with a tarot card reader named Tye (Dona), but after witnessing Hynes doing his evil business, she is forced to go on the run. She then teams up with Walker, as they are the two most harassed people in New Los Angeles. Also Hynes is looking for "the disc". Then Walker has a Final Factory Fight with Bang (Penn).

Oh, and the latest, hottest game in New L.A. is something called Laserblade, the rules of which are so unclear and incomprehensible (remember those words) that it seems like it was developed by Mitchell and Webb after they finished with Numberwang. Of course, the loser of Laserblade dies horribly from some sort of flash of light. Does any of what you just read have any kind of flow, continuity or coherence? Does it just seem like a bunch of random ingredients thrown together? Apparently the filmmakers didn't notice or care, but that's FUTURE KICK for ya!

For a film with so many elements, there's a lot missing from Future Kick. Namely, relatable, sympathetic, or interesting characters or situations the audience can care about. There's no human element. It's just a jumble. In many cases, movies with a tangled web of ideas without a lot of coherence can be a lot of fun and enjoyable to watch. But there's something almost depressing about Future Kick. Maybe it's the lack of lighting or the fact that most scenes look like they were shot in studio-created alleyways. 

We realize they did that to cover up for the lack of budget, but the problem with that is that it's a dead giveaway for a...lack of budget. As viewers, we don't care about what the budget is. Just give us something we can sink our teeth into. But the whole dark alleyway thing becomes bleak very quickly and it all feels quite dingy. 

We realize this was Corman's version of Blade Runner (1982) crossed with The Terminator (1984). But really it's the same old formula he used for Dragon Fire (1993), Bloodfist 2050 (2005) and others. Just throw in some "futuristic" sets (just turn off the lights in any room in your house and it's about as futuristic as Future Kick), then garnish with a few strippers and there you have it.

Fan favorite Don "The Dragon" Wilson is perfectly cast as a robot, however. It gives his - as we call them - 'wonderfully wooden' line readings a reason to exist. While we were more than happy to see a kickboxing fight between The Dragon and Chris Penn, it really came out of nowhere. Forget character development, there's no fight development! But where else will you see a fight like that? Only in Future Kick, we suppose.

For the Laserblade matches - which are sort of like mental arm wrestling matches where the loser is killed by a deadly camera flash - the audience is clutching some futuristic form of cash and is yelling. It's not exactly Punchfighting, but it's close. Sort of. Laserblade would be a cool name for a movie in its own right, but apparently it was decided the idea wasn't strong enough to support a full movie on its own. We won't tell David Cronenberg that it's Scanners (1981) meets the arm wrestling scene from The Fly (1986).

Future Kick was the one and only directorial or writing credit for a mysterious man named Damian Klaus. If that is his real name. Clearly he felt he said everything he needed to say and that he completed his mission as a filmmaker. I know I would if I had created Laserblade. 

But it must be said that one of the reasons that Future Kick feels like it's missing something is the fact that the running time is just over 69 minutes before the end credits. Maybe the secret keys that tie everything together are on the cutting room floor. But why would that be? Maybe one day there will be a "Director's Cut" of Future Kick that restores everything. Except our sanity and the minutes back into our lives.

But, as it stands, the 69-minute running time is one of the best things about Future Kick. There's nothing for viewers to latch on to, but you don't have to suffer very long. Future Kick remains one of the lesser Don The Dragon movies.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty