5/27/2010

Legacy of Rage (1986)


Legacy of Rage (1986)-* * *

Directed by: Ronny Yu

Starring: Brandon Lee and Bolo Yeung











Legacy of Rage is an entertaining and interesting hybrid action/drama/prison movie and a personal favorite genre, revenge movie.

Brandon Lee plays Brandon Ma, a mild-mannered (that is, unless you push him too far) waiter with a loving and devoted girlfriend, May (Regina Kent). When Brandon's "friend" Michael, who is a gangster rising in the ranks, frames Brandon for manslaughter and sends him to jail for eight years, he thinks he can get in good with May (by attempting to rape her while she's pregnant, a great plan). In an intriguing plot development, while Brandon is in jail, May forges a relationship with an older gentleman who just wants "a companion" and offers to take her to Brazil.

Meanwhile, Brandon is rotting away, seething, in prison. He develops a friendship with an arms dealer named Hoi (Hoi Mang), nicknamed "Four Eyes" in the joint because he wears glasses. Even after Brandon gets out of a hard stretch in prison, Michael still makes Brandon's life a living hell.

Finally, enough is enough, and after a whole movie of a nice guy being stepped on over and over again, Brandon reconnects with Hoi and his huge stash of weaponry, and they go together on a violence-packed, kick-ass revenge mission against Michael's gang. Will Brandon get justice? Will he reunite with May? Will he be able to have a relationship with his estranged son?

Interestingly, the movie, at least in the English-speaking world, is called LEGACY of rage, obviously trying to link Brandon with his legendary father Bruce, as if that was really needed. Maybe it was just a marketing thing. But there IS plenty of rage! "Legacy of Rage" definitely delivers the goods. It has a good story, is well-filmed, has great action, brutal violence, a satisfying ending, and is all handled well, with energy, style and flair by director Ronny Yu.



According to author Thomas Weisser from his great book Asian Cult Cinema (Boulevard, 1997): "This is the only made-in-Hong Kong movie with Brandon Lee. Reportedly, Brandon was reluctant to make HK movies because he was afraid of critical comparison between himself and his superhero father Bruce Lee" (pg.117). I would just add that I'm glad he did, especially in the great year for action movies, 1986. The timing couldn't have been better. I wish he did more Hong Kong action movies.

I love movies where the good guy is really good (he even helps a little girl in need after her mommy gets on a bus without her!), the bad guys are really bad, and the good guy doesn't want to fight, but he has to because he's taken too much crap for too long. This D&B (not "Dave and Busters", Dickson Poon's -- no smirking -- Hong Kong production company) falls into that esteemed category!



Fan-favorite Bolo Yeung appears very briefly (one short scene) in the beginning of the film as a gangster looking for protection money from the restaurant where Brandon works. It was nice to see him, and if I have one complaint about the movie, it's that it could have used more Bolo.

But on the whole, I would heartily recommend Legacy of Rage.

Comeuppance review by: Brett

Body Rock (1984)


Body Rock (1984)-* * *1\2

 Directed by: Marcelo Epstein

Starring: Lorenzo Lamas, Cameron Dye, Ray Sharkey, Grace Zabriskie and the NYC Breakers, etc.













In the fine tradition of early hip hop culture movies such as Rappin' (1985), Breakin' (1984), Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984), Beat Street (1984), Wild Style (1983), and Style Wars (1984), (not to mention super-80's-NYC films like Mixed Blood (1984), Alphabet City (1984) and even Gloria (1980)), although definitely more akin to the first four films mentioned above, Body Rock is a more-than-worthy companion to those more well-known films.

Loaded with awesomely amazing 80's New York style and energy, Body Rock is completely winning fun.

Chilly D (Lamas) is a kid (?) from the New York City streets who doesn't have a lot of money, but he has a big dream: to make it big with his crew of dancers and rappers, the Body Rock Crew. Through some streetwise tenacity, as well as a lucky break or two, Chilly achieves his dream: but at what cost? He stops "keeping it real" and starts spending all his time with these uptown snobs, forgetting his downtown roots. He even moves out of his old neighborhood and into a ritzy loft with his new, snobby lady...causing a rift between him and his true love, Darlene, not to mention alienating the entirety of his once-beloved Body Rock Crew. Will Chilly lose his soul and become a sellout? Or will he reconnect with his roots, and pop-and-lock his way into glory?

EVERYTHING about Body Rock is so incredibly great:

THE MUSIC is infectious, toe-tappin' fun (assuming you don't jump out of your seat and start breakin' right there on the floor), which actually, maybe because there wasn't a whole lot of available rap music at the time, encompasses a wide variety of genres: rap, dance, new wave and even powerpop are represented (Baxter Robertson's should-have-been-an-MTV-hit "Vanishing Point" and Dwight Twilley's - yes, Dwight Twilley! - "Why You Wanna Break My Heart").

THE FASHIONS: Where to begin? The whole movie is a whirlwind of half-shirts, zippers, vests with writing on them, multi-colored socks and Converse sneakers, leather, suspenders, headbands, bandannas, and on and on. The eye is truly dazzled by the clothes alone. Other highlights include Chilly's leather trenchcoat, symbolizing his new hoity-toityness, but still has "CHILLY" graffiti'd on the back, and Darlene's outfits, which either have letters or numbers stenciled on them. Not to mention the bouncer at the club, "Big Daddy", a man so obese, all the rules of the club are printed on the front of this shirt. I barely even scratched the surface. You have to see this for yourself!


THE DANCING is nonstop: the film, while not a musical, is structured similarly - every 10 minutes or so there is a song and a dance sequence. No one is really here for the plot or the acting, so these are the best parts of the movie. This was director Marcelo Epstein's only feature film, as he is primarily known as a music video director, and here it shows very well. Body Rock is almost like a feature-length video, and I mean that in the best possible sense. A MAJOR highlight of the film is the show-stopping "skeleton dance" which is truly awesome. It might be the first case in movie history of "day-glo-slo-mo".



Also the huge boombox set of the final "rapstravaganza" where Chilly has to prove himself is very impressive as well. The little boy, "Magik" gets off some great moves and is very charming, especially when he's teaching Chilly how to dance, including the fan-favorite "sit-down dance". Also, the dancer in Chilly's crew that looks like "Reno 911"'s Thomas Lennon gives it all he's got and proves you can be a middle-aged white guy with a wife, kids and a mustache and still lay down some funky moves.
In addition to the actors, some real-life breakers, such as the NYC Breakers are shown doin' their thing.

NYC LOCATIONS: Keepin' it street, there are a lot of great NYC locations, captured beautifully in all their 80's glory for the world to see. From Brooklyn, to Times Square (where Once Upon a Time in the West and Romancing the Stone are playing at a movie theatre, I think where the Virgin Megastore later was, but I could be wrong), to Washington Square Park, and, poignantly, the World Trade Center Towers, and many other places in between, this lends a lot of interesting authenticity to the proceedings and delights the eye along with everything else about Body Rock.



From the opening of the film, when the Body Rock Crew are dancing their way across the street, to the spray painting of the subway cars, to the dance sequences, to the training sequences, to Chilly's "downfall" where he becomes a pot-smoking lowlife, to the final "Rapstravaganza", you MUST see Body Rock. It's layer upon layer upon layer of impenetrable 80's awesomeness. Especially if you are an 80's freak like me, you will have a lot to feast on with the great and underrated Body Rock.
Don't just watch it tonight -- LIVE it tonight!

Comeuppance review by: Brett

Ninja Enforcer (1973)

Ninja Enforcer (1973)-* * *

AKA: (believed to be) Angry Dragon

Directed By: Sum Cheung














In this ill-synced, "chop-socky" outing, which is NOT a ninja movie (see below), A dandy fop who just happens to be great at Kung-Fu, is traveling the countryside in the Hong Kong of old. He has to negotiate a treacherous landscape filled with tricksters and tough guys, and fight a lot of battles in hand-to-hand martial arts combat, in order to be reunited with his lost love, and also, if there's still time, to rescue the queen. In order to do this, he teams up with a ragtag bunch of orphans. Also there is something about a rivalry with the Mongols, but that's not entirely clear.

Ninja Enforcer is an above average 70's punch-and-kick film. The fight sequences are well-choreographed and satisfying on a technical level. You can tell they are the real deal. A major plus of the HK films of the time was the authenticity of the fighting. It wasn't done in close-up with a million cuts. There was real technique and you could see many moves per shot.

Another positive for this film is the upbeat nature of most of it, and the "trickery" scenes keep the viewers' interest. For example, in the beginning, in order to establish our hero is a good guy, we see two male highway bandits who plan to steal his suitcase. One of the men dresses up like a woman, and the other man pretends to rape him, presumably in order to get our hero to stop and pay attention! Surely there are other ways to do this...!?!?

Also, a man pretends to be blind in order to steal another man's chicken (the film portrays the poverty of the time well), and in another scene, a secret note, written on a tiny piece of white paper, is hidden in a bowl of rice for someone else to find! I'm sure there's no risk of that plan failing...

And what is the secret of the "fresh, juicy and delicious melons...the best in town!" ? Well let's just say that the "Slap Chop" was invented hundreds of years before Vince Offer claims to have!

There are bald guys with funny outfits and facial hair, a standout eating scene, more-than-competent martial arts, a love story, and plenty of "tricks"...however, even with all that, the movie does get a bit dull at times, and the dubbing, well, you know the story.

Martial arts fans will probably enjoy this. Others who haven't developed a taste for it, like the "sweet, delicious melons", just might be missing out.


THE CONFUSING TALE OF "NINJA ENFORCER"

Just what the heck is this movie? Well, finding out the truth was tough in this case. From what I've been able to gather, "Ninja Enforcer" is a title totally fabricated by the label that released it on VHS in the U.S., New Pacific Pictures. While there is one Japanese character in the film, that does not a ninja movie make, and the re-titling was obviously done to cash in on the then-current "Ninja Boom" of the 1980's (see above).

New Pacific Pictures took a film released in 1973 by Hong Kong production company Goldig Films (one of the many HK producers competing with giants like Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest) -- you can find more info on Goldig elsewhere on the internet, including a filmography, on hkmdb.com -- and, figuring all Asian countries were basically the same, magically transformed it into, you guessed it, a NINJA MOVIE! Isn't that easy?

Not only did New Pacific come up with a random Ninja title, they also came up with its own unrelated-to-the-movie box art, and, topping themselves, a list of phony credits! Among other fakery, the box claims that the movie "Ninja Enforcer" was "written by Ken Ming, produced by Tung Chu, and directed by Lee Su". To the best of my knowledge, these are not real people. Or at least they were not connected to "Ninja Enforcer" in any way. If I am incorrect about this, or any of the above information, please write in to set me straight. Additionally, the copyright on the box is 1989, obviously when the tape came out, NOT the film.

I believe the true English-language title for this film is "Angry Dragon", but NOT the same Angry Dragon released in the U.S. on the "Old Skool Killaz" label. I'm referring to the British DVD release of "Angry Dragon". And, while the true director of this film IS Sum Cheung, NOT Lee Su), the IMDB shows the "Old Skool Killaz" box art, which is incorrect, as representative for the correct film. Confusing, eh?

To add confusion on top of confusion, "THE Ninja Enforcer" is an alternate title for the Leo Fong vehicle Ninja Assassins.

I have tried to untangle this mystery as best I can, and eliminate as much confusion as I can. Did it work?

Comeuppance review by: Brett

5/25/2010

Ninja Assassins (1978)


Ninja Assassins (1978)-* * *

AKA: Enforcer from Death Row, The Ninja Enforcer, and Ninja Nightmare

Directed By: Marshall M. Borden and Efren C. Piñon

Starring: Leo Fong and Cameron Mitchell










Supremely silly in every conceivable way, Ninja Assassins is a lot of fun.

Much like the similar Clash Of The Ninjas, this also starts with a multi-racial boardroom filled with non-actors. In this case, the organization is called the "World Organization Of Peace". The letters WOP are featured prominently. Apparently, an evil-doer named "Nomad" is threatening the WOP-pers and there is only one man that can stop him: Of course, it's LEO FONG! (who did you expect?)



The only problem is, he is on death row and going to be executed. It is good that the "CYANIDE" and "ACID" are so clearly and cartoonishly labeled. Not to be confused with the "DANGER ACID" seen later in the movie. As Fong sits in some sort of gas\electric chair hybrid (The gas comes out of the chair) and the seatbelts are holding him in, we discover the execution was all a ruse, so he can shed his former identity and join WOP undercover in Manila.



Throughout the movie, there is a lot of torture with rats and snakes and you cheer when Leo unleashes his patented Fong-Fu on the baddies.



Everything here is great: the non-acting by the broken-English-only cast, the mustaches, the amazing 70s fashions, and the funky theme song that invokes both "Shaft" and "Poppa was a Rollin' Stone".

Further highlights in a movie of highlights include: A ninja poppin' a wheelie on a motorbike, a ninja throwing shurikens in slow-motion, the "Final Field Fight" which is awkward and laughable but yet contains eyeball-stealing brutality, the overall presence of Leo Fong which is just plain Fong-tastic and an unnecessary, but wicked boat explosion.

Contrary to what some people believe, the great Cameron Mitchell IS in the movie, but just in the last three minutes. Also this movie was issued under a myriad of titles. The most popular is "Enforcer from Death Row" on the Lightning label. This movie is not to be confused with Ninja Enforcer (1973).



Fan Favorite Fong fights furiously with his Fong-Fu in this fun, fantastic feature film that features a final field fight!



Comeupppance Review by: Ty & Brett

L.A. Streetfighters (1985)


L.A. Streetfighters (1985)-* * *

AKA: Los Angeles Streetfighter, Ninja Turf

Directed By: Richard Park

Starring: Phillip Rhee and James Lew





"Forced to become deadly warriors...Just to survive"






L.A. Streetfighters is a ridiculous piece of hokum that any fan of video-store action should be familiar with.

The plot, such as it is, involves two 30-year-old high school students named Young and Tony. They get mixed up with gangs who only fight with sticks and the mob. Tony is trying to live a decent life and go to random toga parties, but is pulled into the criminal underworld.



Tony and Young fight a gang named "The Spikes". They consist of 4 drunken frat guys. The leader has a blond bowl haircut and is wearing a half-shirt. The Spikes have their own chant: "Spike Them...Kill. Spike Them...Kill." This gang is no laughing matter. Also there is a Latino gang that chants "Chino Chino Chino". One day Tony, who only wears a gray sweater with his favorite shape, triangles, goes into a liquor store. Not only does he see a random gang playing a wooden flute, Tony pays for his $3.00 beer with a hundred dollar bill.

Let's not forget the mob is after Tony and Young and they hire their best hitman the so-called "Kruger from New York." Not to be confused with the Kroog-Warrior of Dangerously Close fame.

Technical Info: The movie has horrendous dubbing and words like "security" sound "scaredy" The dialogue that is being dubbed is highly hilarious and features such lines as: "You Stupid.", "Listen Chinos!", "Fat Chink equals Big Chump". (Remember we didn't write that!) and "See you later, Good friend."




In the final battle, pitchforks as well as sticks are used. So not only is this a "stick-fighting" flick, we stumbled upon a new genre entirely: "Fork-fighting".

The fight choreography is okay, but lacks fluidity. The highlight is when Young chops off a man's arm with a stick. In the end, the main reason to watch L.A. Streetfighters is the sheer silliness of it all.

Note: L.A. Streetfighters was re-titled "Ninja Turf" to coincide with the 80's ninja boom. There are no ninjas in the movie. For more on "Ninja Boom" movies please see the reviews for Ninja Enforcer and Ninja Assassins.


Protect your "turf" tonight with this classic! See also Miami Connection (1987).


Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett

5/24/2010

Damage (2009)



Damage (2009)-* * *

Directed By: Jeff King

Starring: Steve Austin and Walton Goggins








"Pain has a new name."




Not to be confused with the Jeremy Irons movie of the same name, this "Damage" is full of hard-hitting fights. (It would be cool to see Irons in a punchfighting movie though. A man can dream...)

John Brickner (Austin) was in jail for manslaughter for 5 years and has now just been paroled and looking for work. He finds it by becoming a bouncer for a dive bar. Reno (Goggins) is a hustler who watches Brickner and invites him to fight in a underground tournament. At first Brickner says no way, but a phone call from the victim's wife asking for $250,000, forces him to fight.



Can he fight his way to the top?

Steve Austin does a pretty decent job as Brickner. You care about his character...but this is a punch-fighting flick and we don't want to see maudlin acting. The movie forgets what it is.

One of the plot points is that Brickner has 13-inch fists. (Remember John Matuszak's 55-inch chest from One Man Force?) When Brickner punches once, it breaks an opponent's ribcage. The most exciting moments are the fight sequences...

...and they deliver in spades. They are brutal and bloody. I'm happy they are still making movies like this.

Damage is cool fight flick worth renting!




PUNCHFIGHTING FOREVER!




Comeuppance Review by: Ty

5/21/2010

Death Drug (1978)


Death Drug (1978)-* * *

Directed By: Oscar Williams

Starring: Phillip Michael Thomas














Haphazard, half-assed and wholly hilarious, Death Drug is a classic for the ages. After witnessing this barely-feature-length PSA, you’ll never touch “wack” (the name of the evil drug in the movie) again!

Jesse (Thomas) is a good-natured L.A. plumber with big dreams of making it in the music industry. One day he is at home with his wife and he gets a letter informing him he was accepted to a prestigious musical conservatory (he must have sent them a copy of his composition “Just the Way I Planned It”). Coincidentally, he also gets a letter saying a record label wants to sign him. Obviously, Jesse is ecstatic, so he does what any sane, rational person would do at the time: he takes his wife out to a club to see The Gap Band (and then, unexplained, he plays a few songs with the band).

While there, Jesse decides to take a bathroom break from four songs worth (The Gap Band is great, but this does pose some pacing issues for the movie) of gettin’ down with his bad self. After washing up, Jesse runs into an insidious, but very slick drug dealer. His rhyming salesmanship convinces Jesse to try the latest craze of the drug world, “wack”. Not wanting to be a “jive turkey”, Jesse gives it a shot. Later in the film, we see that the drug dealer plays tennis and keeps his “wack” in a secret compartment in his tennis racket.


Pretty much instantly, Jesse is seeing snakes instead of plumbing pipes, little alligators instead of hairbrushes, rats in the oranges at the grocery store, and screaming at everyone, claiming they are against him. It even costs him his hard-fought record deal, and thus, his millions of dollars.

After his epic grocery-store freakout (definitely a movie highlight), Jesse meets an untimely demise. But his wife was pregnant, and five years after Jesse’s death, His wife and Jesse Jr. visit his grave. Jesse Jr. looks across the street and sees his dad’s drug dealer, still wheeling and dealing, while his daddy is six feet under. Will this travesty of justice cause Jesse Jr. to take up a life of wack-taking, or will he eventually walk the straight and narrow?


Death Drug is simply a hodgepodge of out-of-place scenes, plot inaccuracies, inconsistencies, holes, and even film stocks. That’s why it’s so awesome! I think the filmmakers must have been taking some “wack” in the editing room because patchwork quilts have more uniformity than Death Drug.


Even with Philip Michael Thomas’s seemingly-improvised intro and outro to the movie, and stopping the proceedings midway through for the ENTIRE music video of “Just the Way I Planned It”, which is hysterical in its own right, what with its lasers and superimposing PMT’s head on a pregnant woman’s stomach and all (although it is puzzling whether the song is by PMT, as it appears on his album “Living the Book of My Life”, or is it by Jesse from the movie, as we are led to believe? The VHS box art touts that it includes the video for the song…it doesn’t say that it’s in the MIDDLE of the movie, or who it’s supposed to be by).


In the movie, this video is preceded by two things: One, a newscast proclaiming “Local Man Makes Record.” (When talking about the local man, in the box next to the newscaster, they use a freeze frame from later in the movie. How did they get that?) Surely this is an uncommon newsbreak in Los Angeles. Secondly, it is stated that Jesse’s record company is trying an all new, revolutionary idea called “music clips”. Seeing as most of Death Drug preceded MTV, this is was pretty ahead of its time.

The last quarter of the movie is a shot of a TV showing a very weird newscast. The anchorman looks like Don Cornelius and he is standing in front of a curtain. He interviews some white woman we haven’t seen before, she talks about how Jesse made many albums and won a couple Grammys. As we saw earlier in the movie, Jesse never had a chance to make his first album, because he was fired for taking too much “wack” and he thought the Gap Band was making weird faces at him.

Honestly, we can spend a lot of time talking about the padding and plotholes, but that is missing the point. Death Drug is a funny and one of a kind experience that everyone should see.

Don’t get high on “wack” but do watch this movie tonight!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett

5/18/2010

Shaker Run (1985)


Shaker Run (1985)-* * *

Directed By: Bruce Morrison

Starring: Cliff Robertson, Leif Garrett, Lisa Harrow and Shane Briant













Seemingly the only reason for the movie Shaker Run to exist, is to prove now, beyond any doubt, the old adage: "real men wear pink."

Judd Pierson (Robertson) is a down-on-his-luck stunt driver for the "Helldrivers Auto Circus". He's getting older, and he can't quite jump that long row of cars like he used to. The audiences are dwindling but luckily Pierson has a young and enthusiastic sidekick named Casey (Garrett). Being a passenger in speeding cars makes Casey ill, which really complicates the events about to transpire...

When scientist Dr. Christine Rubin (Harrow) approaches them to take "the box" (which is a lethal virus) from one side of New Zealand to the other, The Helldriver boys reluctantly accept. The only problem is, an endless supply of Australian baddies are hot on their trail and constantly trying to kill them. The leader of the cabal of goons is Paul Thoreau (Briant of Moving Targets fame) who is in a helicopter for most of the movie.

Can the Helldrivers and Dr. Rubin get "the box" to its destination before it is snatched away by Thoreau?



Shaker Run is an undiscovered gem of a road movie. There are some impressive car chases and stunts. Just imagine a cross between Vanishing Point (1971), Smokey & The Bandit (1977), and The Andromeda Strain (1971). While the title: "Shaker Run" might not be fully explained, I suppose "Vanishing Smokey Strain" doesn't have a good ring to it. Or maybe it does. Robertson portrays the grizzled old driver who's "The Best" with aplomb. He also has cool hat. It is not quite 10 gallon, more like 3-4 gallons. But it suits him perfectly.

Another good thing about 'Run is was made before political correctness and the "Budweiser" logo appears on cars and a simple chase that lasts for most of the movie is all you needed to get by.

One of the highlights is when our heroes are trapped on a boat. If you ever wanted to see Leif Garrett bash through a wall, here is your chance. Lastly, in a show of consideration, one of the credits at the end of the movie asks that you "please drive home safely."

"Run" to go see Shaker Run tonight!




Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett

5/15/2010

Death Ring (1992)


Death Ring (1992)-* * *

Directed By: R.J. Kizer

Starring: Mike Norris, Chad McQueen,  Isabel Glasser, Billy Drago, and Don Swayze














From the director of Hell Comes To Frogtown (1988) comes Death Ring, a movie that, despite the impressive B-movie cast, could have used the talents of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

In this complete and total knockoff of The Most Dangerous Game (1932), Mike Norris portrays local lunkhead Matt Collins, an ex-Special Forces soldier who can’t find his place in the world. So he spends his time competing in events such as “The Survival Of The Fittest” competition.

In this unexplainably televised event, which is a cross between rock-climbing and Army basic training, bored (really bored) evil rich dude Danton Vachs (great name) (Drago) (another great name) sees Collins and kidnaps him, as well as his girlfriend Lauren (Glasser),  who were trying to spend a lovely day at the batting cages. Luckily, “Skylord” Harris (McQueen) witnesses the whole thing before being knocked unconscious by Vachs’ goons. Did we mention his name was SKYLORD HARRIS? Because his name is Skylord Harris.

Skylord is now on the case trying to track down his best friend Matt. Little does Skylord know, they have been spirited away to a creepy island and Collins is forced to play “The Most Dangerous Game” with a multi-racial group of hunters: a Mexican, an American Indian, an Asian, and an Italian. They all go about hunting Collins in their own ethnic-stereotyped ways. When Collins dispatches a man named Mr. Chin, in a flash of brilliance, he posthumously re-dubs him “Mr. Dead”.

Vachs has a control panel set-up so he can communicate with his minions while they hunt Collins. (Also so Collins can spit snappy one-liners to Vachs while deep in the woods.) Vachs' minions also drink snake blood and the titular “Death Ring” is a real piece of jewelry worn by Vachs.

Exactly one hour into the film, we finally get our first “Swayze Sighting”. Don plays John Blackwell, a leftover from Vachs’ previous hunting party. He and Collins team up to get revenge. After searching one tattoo parlor named “Tattoo”, Skylord sees the design of two overlapping triangles (like they are fast-forwarding their wrists) he remembers at the time of the kidnapping.



We won’t give away the ending, but let’s just say it involves a “fan favorite death” and heads are gonna roll!

Basically playing the same role as he did in execrably fun Money To Burn (1996) with fellow castmate Don Swayze, we can only surmise that McQueen himself is a man dead-set against sleeves of any kind. Including his car, which is a jeep. Doors are too close to sleeves for this guy! It is “death before sleeves!” as Skylord sleevelessly saves the day in his rockin’ helicopter.

This “New generation of action stars” (as the box only lists their last names, as if that would fool potential renters) is really close to “Lone Tiger” syndrome: where a movie that is chock full of B-movie favorites does not guarantee a good movie. That being said, “Death Ring” is basic stupid action fun.

It predates the very similar but more popular Surviving The Game (1994) by two years. Death Ring was first!

The end credits admonish you to not just “read the novel”, but in what has to be a movie first, to “eat the popcorn”. If anyone out there has read the official Death Ring novel or eaten the official Death Ring popcorn, please write in today.


Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Clash Of The Ninjas (1986)


Clash Of The Ninjas (1986)-* * * *

Directed By: Godfrey Ho

Starring: Paulo Tocha, Eddie Chan, and Bernie Junker






Less a movie, and more the demented hallucination of a kung fu movie fan who watched an all-night marathon of martial arts films while on LSD, and then asked to vomit up his insane ramblings on to celluloid, “Clash of the Ninjas” is one of the pre-eminent cult Chinese action movies out there. It puts other sought-after, supposedly similar titles like Karate Cop (1991) to shame.

The plot (????) concerns a white guy with a beard who looks like Tom Green who is actually a secret ninja. His name is Mr. Roy, and he is the head of an underground organ-stealing ring, and presides over a boardroom of baddies who take his orders. He speaks into an “intercom” which is really just a portable cassette recorder. By day, he wears a suit. By night, a black ninja outfit emblazoned with his “secret” corporate logo, three diamonds. It bears a very strong resemblance to the Mitsubishi logo. This may be some thinly veiled criticism of Mitsubishi, and corporate life in general, as this is clearly a message movie.

There are on-site surgeries, where eyeballs are taken out of skulls and put into jars and other organs are harvested. “Clash of the Ninjas” was clearly ahead of its time in this regard, as it was many years ahead of such movies as The Harvest (1992) and Repo Men (2010).

After many years of success with this venture, the “human guinea pigs have started rioting!” and there is a slave revolt of sorts. While the organization is still reeling from this setback, the authorities send in Tony, a dude whose dirt ‘stache and mullet are as wicked awesome as his fighting skills.

He teams up with the token black character to bring down Mr. Roy’s organization. We know Tony is good at what he does because when two thugs who look like the late Heath Ledger and Ed O’Neill take on the salt-and-pepper team, they are quickly dispatched. But it’s also personal for Tony, as Mr. Roy, being the total bastard that he is, killed his beloved mentor, as we learn in a flashback. So now it’s Tony Vs. Mr. Roy in a no-holds-barred (some holds that you’ve never even considered are not barred) fight to the finish – and what a finish!

Where to start with how awesome this one is, especially the last 20 minutes? First off, there is the dialogue, which really is just a loud mishmash of nonsensical phrases. Aside from the aforementioned criticism of the human guinea pigs, other standouts include: “I like to wrestle through my days!” and, extolling the virtues of his TV, another character jovially yells: “two channels, watch it a lot!!!!” and those are only a few examples. If we had the time and the space, if we transcribed all the dialogue from this movie, you would laugh your ass off.

Also, on top of some great 80’s touches, like scenes of aerobics and racquetball, and a surprising amount of blood and gore, this exercise in pure cinema silliness includes a disappearing ninja with “pew pew” laser noises, unscary white guys in black hoods, car chases, wacky fight scenes, funny outfits, hilarious sound effects, dubbing and music, a gun that turns into smoke, a ninja whose head spins 360 degrees, and a bravura effect where a ninja’s sais shoot flame. I won’t give away the ending but I’ll just say this…WATCH THE ENDING!


Clash of the Ninjas should be much more well-known. It probably got lost in the shuffle during the 80’s ninja boom. There were so many movies with the word “ninja” in the title on video store shelves of the time, this diamond stayed in the rough, except among a select few in the know. For pure action entertainment, I don’t believe it’s possible to do better than Clash of the Ninjas.
Don’t wait until tonight, watch it right now!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

One Man Out (1989)


One Man Out (1989)-*1\2

AKA: Erik

Directed By: Michael Kennedy

Starring: Stephen McHattie



“If you’re not on his side….CHANGE SIDES.”





One Man Out is a run-of-the-mill straight to video actioner with no surprises.

Erik (McHattie) is working for the government of a small South American country, the movie never says which one. The government is paying this gringo to shoot the rebels. When he develops a relationship with a reporter, and the government wants him to dispose of the friendly local printer, Erik refuses and gets in a whole heap of trouble.

To add insult to injury, a guy who looks like a cross between Ed Begley Jr. and Drew Carey has involved him in a deadly drug deal that goes all the way to the top of the corrupt regime. Can Erik get out of this jam alive? Also what is the significance of the painted handprints? You may or may not want to find out.

Some of Erik’s favorite activities include taking an “edge of your seat bath” which seems to entail lying on your back in the bathtub with your eyes bugged out and sitting up abruptly. It is an “X-treme” way to get clean. Practically a subplot, Erik lies on his back a lot in the movie. He stares at the ceiling for hours at a time.

One of the advantages of living in a third-world hellhole is displayed when Erik tells some 6 year old kid to “get me a beer.” When Erik is preparing to go one of his shooting missions (which there should have been more of in the film), he makes sure to put on football quality eyeblack under his eyes. Never mind he is the only white man in the entire country with bright blond spiky hair (on the box cover it is jet black for some reason). No one will ever see him coming.

It is so hot in this country that pants are a major hindrance. There are many male pantsless characters throughout the film. Speaking of torture, we think the filmmakers were trying to make a serious statement about the use of torture around the world. There is even an onscreen message at the beginning of the film talking about it. Firstly, in the movie all the baddies do is dunk people in a tub which people pay for at any carnival. It looks like they are bobbing for apples. Secondly, anyone watching this boring tripe isn’t interested in hearing about human rights abuses. They want to drink a couple brewskies and hang with their buds.

Stephen McHattie really, really, really looks like Peter Weller. Thank goodness for McHattie, if Peter Weller is busy, McHattie is there to pick up the slack. That being said, McHattie does put in a serious performance, which is the only highlight in this dud. The director, Michael Kennedy also helmed The Heist (aka: “Hostile Force”) with Andrew McCarthy.

One Man Out (which is not about baseball) brings nothing new to the table. It doesn’t offer anything different for the action movie viewer.

Opt “Out” of this classic tonight!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett

Island Warriors (1981)


Island Warriors (1981)-* *

AKA: Warrior Women, The Country Of Beauties

Directed By: Chun Ouyang

Starring: Don Wong













Island Warriors, is a weird movie, but sadly but not enough to sustain interest throughout the entirety of its running time.

On the downside, it is basically, at its core, one of those generically “chop-socky” films with loud, ear-piercing dubbing, degrading film stock, and blaring, repetitive music. If this was the original Chinese release, it might be a different experience.

On the upside, it has some unique touches. For examples, read on.

As you might imagine, the action takes place on an island. It is a magical land populated only by women. They pass the time doing musical numbers, gymnastics, and a human jump rope. (Which is two people swinging a person around while another person jumps over them.) All the women live inside, you guessed it, a giant female statue, that shoots cannons out of its eyes.



The balance of life is disrupted when three pirates arrive on the island. After the initial shock, it is determined by the queen that they should wear chastity belts. When one of the pirates removes his, he is castrated and becomes a flaming gay stereotype. After some more hilarity, the men realize that male babies are cast into the ocean and when they see a baby boy in a bucket, they rescue it and that brings them into conflict with the “island warriors”.

The movie is surreal at times, as evidenced by how the island uses “pull-string” technology, where everything they want they get by pulling strings and there are some crazy, off-the-wall special effects and lights at the climax of the film.

Interestingly, the box art for the “Best Film and Video Co.” VHS (the version reviewed here) features a generic photo of two men locked in kung-fu combat (See picture on the top of the page.) This has nothing to do with the film at hand and must have been taken by the company that released it. This is especially odd because the idea about an island of women has good potential for cool artwork. They do wear some great outfits in the film.

Die-hard martial arts fans might want to check it out, but for others, it might be a bit too ridiculous, as the so-called “comic relief” gets grating at times.

Don’t be afraid to get stranded on this “Island” tonight!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett

Conflict Of Interest (1993)


Conflict Of Interest (1993)-* * *
 
Directed By: Gary Davis

Starring: Christopher McDonald, Alyssa Milano, and Judd Nelson






“Fast Cars, Hot Women, Cold Cash. You want it, he's got it. But you may have to pay with your life…”





Conflict of Interest is an overlooked and somewhat underappreciated part of the post-80’s Judd Nelson catalogue. If you’ve seen every so-called “Brat Pack” movie ever made and are still hungry for more, this should fit the bill. Although while in 'Conflict, Nelson is definitely a brat, by this point in history the “pack” had dissipated.

Christopher McDonald is great as Mickey Flannery, a Cop On The Edge (or COTE) who gets suspended from the force for shooting his wife’s murderer in an act of revenge. While the audience is applauding his actions, the LAPD doesn’t share his zeal, and he becomes a longshoreman who gets wise to an illegal car-smuggling ring. When he’s not out on the docks, Mickey spends his time drinking and communicating with truckers and nerds with his unnecessarily elaborate ham radio setup.



After this period of exile, it looks like everything is coming up roses for Mickey. He gets his old job back, he shares a house with his girlfriend who cares about him, and his son Jason returns after seven years living with his grandparents. But the arrival of Jason, rather than being a joyous family reunion, opens up a maelstrom of pain and problems for all concerned, especially Mickey.

Jason is not the cute little kid Mickey remembers from when he last saw him. It turns out he is a motorcycle-riding, leather jacket-wearing badass with a monstrous mullet of epic proportions. His mullet represents the hurt, resentment and abandonment issues he feels towards his father. But Jason’s not all bad, and secretly wants to be a good son. And Flannery sees his return as a great opportunity to be a family again.

But Gideon (Nelson) enters the picture and, being the diabolical antagonist that he is, exploits these family weaknesses to the utmost, for his own evil ends. You see, Gideon is the local criminal who has his hands in every illegal activity in town, and he covers it all up in his role as owner of the, and I quote , "deffest metal club in town", called The Wreck. Motorcycles hang from the ceiling. No wonder this place is so popular. Plus you know he’s evil because he wears guy-liner, a lot of jewelry, has crazy sideburns and wears frilly pirate shirts that are so gay-looking, it makes “The Puffy Shirt” of Seinfeld fame seem positively tame by comparison. He’s meant to be the decadent-dilettante-disturbingly intelligent-bad dude we all fear in our nightmares.

Noting Jason’s interest in sound engineering (a trait that must be in the DNA, remember dad’s ham radios), Gideon offers Jason a job running sound at The Wreck, a job Jason enthusiastically accepts. While Jason, blissfully ignorant, is crankin’ the tunes by D.I. and Gary Numan, (“Metal Club” presumably referring to the fact that people wear outrageous metallic clothing), girls around town start being found dead. Flannery is assigned to the case and soon realizes Gideon is just using Jason as a patsy. After several tense confrontations, it seems Gideon and Mickey are in a good-and-evil battle for Jason’s soul.

Gideon continually mocks Flannery‘s parenting abilities and insinuates he is the better father figure for Jason.

This enrages Mickey, now literally fighting for his son’s love. Flannery wants to go all out, but remembers where that has gotten him in the past. So he is fighting his inner demons as well. But in the course of his investigations, he discovers a shocking conspiracy that goes all the way to the top. (Where else did you think it would go?)

As usual, there is an angry black Captain (AKA a BYC or Black Yelling Chief) who yells at Flannery and demands Mickey to give him his badge and gun.

Alyssa Milano makes a very welcome appearance as Eve, an associate of Gideon’s that soon becomes Jason’s love interest.

One of the aspects of “Interest” is the use of crazy slang. Jason insults his rivals by calling them “Barneys" and when he is really mad calling them a “supper buddy”(? ) and Jason spouts haiku whenever the mood strikes him. One of the strangest and funniest uses of slang is when Gideon’s goon named “Thrasher” insults Flannery by calling him “Jerk Beef” (???) This insult is clearly the catalyst in Mickey’s quest for justice.

'Conflict has everything you want in a movie: Crazy slang, explosions, and Judd Nelson.
There’s no “Conflict” in taking an “Interest” in this tonight!



Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett

Moving Targets (1986)


Moving Targets (1986)-* *

AKA: Run Chrissie Run!

Directed by: Chris Langman

Starring: Michael Aitkens, Carmen Duncan, and Shane Briant











An Irish assassin named Riley (Aitkens) shows up at an upscale house in Sydney, Australia where a woman he knows from his past, named Chrissie, lives with her daughter, Eve. He is wise to the fact that she has a large sum of money which was stolen from a bank in West Germany seventeen years earlier. She refuses to give him any of the money, and ignores his offer to protect her from some baddies which are coming to get the money.

After the appearance of Riley in her life, she withdraws the money from the bank, buys her friend’s car, buys a shotgun, saws it off, grabs her daughter and goes on the run, with Riley in hot pursuit. But now some new antagonists enter the scene. They are after Riley. So the mother-and-daughter team must now evade not only Riley, but the guys that are after him. I guess it sounds pretty complex, but it’s not really.

One of the more interesting scenes in the movie is one the first appearances of the character “Toe”. He is a member of a gang of leather-jacket wearing, beer-swilling, chicken-eating punks. When Chrissie and Eve are driving down a long stretch of highway, the hoodlums throw their chicken bones at them and a confrontation ensues. It is almost “Mad Max”-esque. In fact, Toe is one the stand-outs of the film and brought some much needed energy and interest. He wears a full-body necklace as part of his sleepwear.

Another highlight is when Chrissie drives through a supermarket during a chase. The fact that Chrissie said she was “brainwashed by 60s radicals” adds another layer of intrigue. When a local boy drives in front of Eve on his motorbike, pops a wheelie, and falls off, so begins their romantic subplot.

Moving Targets is essentially a road movie and one of its major attributes is that it is well-shot and shows the beauty of Australia very well. On the downside, it is slow at times. The real crime here is that this would be a great undiscovered gem, if it was just shorter, peppier, and snappier. The appearance of Toe alone can’t help the movie’s snail pace. On a positive note, it does end on a freeze-frame and that is always welcome.

“Shut your Gob” and consider watching this today.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett

Ring Of Steel (1994)


Ring Of Steel (1994)-* * *

Directed By: David Frost 

Starring: Joe Don Baker, Carol Alt, Darlene Vogel, Henry Brown, and Robert Chapin



"Death Has Just Become A Spectator Sport."








Allez: Ring Of Steel is classier-than-average direct to video fare. Just imagine the structure of a classic punchfighting movie (see: pretty much everything we’ve written) but instead of punchfighting, it is sword-fighting. Well, to be perfectly accurate, it's more like “fence-fighting”.

Alex Freyer (Chapin) is on top of the world: He’s a champion fencer on his way to Olympic gold, and he keeps his many fencing trophies right on his coffee table in the living room. He just met his new girlfriend at a fencing tourney, and his mullet is lookin’ awesome in the cool breeze. His dreams are shattered when his bouton breaks and his riposte goes horribly, horribly wrong, and he accidentally stabs his opponent in the eye, killing him.

Alex is depressed and contemplates throwing out his fencing outfit for good. One day Alex is walking down a dark alley at night (bad idea) and is about to be mugged by some local street toughs. For some reason, Joe Don Baker shows up in his limo and announces “I’ve been following you.” Why Joe Don didn’t show up at Alex’s house is unknown. He invites Freyer and his girlfriend Elena (Vogel) to his underground fence-fighting club. Like Alex’s mullet, it is a business in the front and an illegal fence-fighting party in the back.


In true Lone Tiger (1999) tradition, the big boss man says the hero is “The Best” and then proceeds to groom him to be "The Best”. Isn’t he already "The Best"? After Alex does a few exhibition matches, Elena balks and doesn’t want him to fight anymore. Naturally the bad guys kidnap her and force Alex to participate in an arbitrary number of matches before they release her.

Can he thrust and parry his way to freedom?

The main fencing baddie is a meathead who wears a “shirtless shirt” and who has wide array of not “Cosby Sweaters” but “Cosby Vests”. Baker plays “The Man In Black”. That’s his name in the movie. Baker is a kinder, gentler sort of baddie and black is quite slimming. His bodyguard looks like a cross between Allen Kalter and Robert Loggia and he makes funny faces.


Other notable characters include an overweight LARP’er who dreams of being a barbarian (imagine a live-action version of “Comic Book Guy” from The Simpsons). He stumbles into the wrong salle, and he unfortunately gets slain in real life. Alex makes a friend in the theatrical fencer Brian (Jim Pirri). When Shirtless Shirt kills him, Alex grieves the only way he can: fencing practice.

In all comes to a head when cops get wise to the “Ring Of Steel”. The final confrontation is basically in the same steam factory from Cobra (1986).

This is Chapin’s first role and he is more a fencer than an actor. When his character is not pretending to be a pirate, he is doing fan favorite yell “Noooooooo!”

Shout “En Garde” while you are watching this movie tonight!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Total Exposure (1991)


Total Exposure (1991) -* *

Directed By: John Quinn

Starring: Michael Nouri, Season Hubley, and Jeff Conaway








Andi (Hubley) is a fashion photographer who comes home from a photo shoot in Mexico and the following things happen:

1.She finds a stash of cocaine in her camera case
2. She dumps perfectly good cocaine down the drain
3. She has a fight with Kathy, one of the models
4. Kathy gets shot and killed by a mysterious assailant
5. Andi is blamed for the murder
6. She teams up with private detective\ex-cop Dave Murphy (Nouri) to find out the truth behind who framed her and to clear her good name.

Meanwhile, D.A. Peter Keynes (Conaway) is embroiled in a blackmail scheme. He is an anti-porn crusader who is cheating on his wife and guess who is takin’ the pix?

Total Exposure is one of those “Skinemax” Sizzlers, but it has few names in the cast. (The director John Quinn made his career working in this type of material, most notably “Sex Court: The Movie”). Take Jeff Conaway, who had a great year in 1991 with this, and A Time To Die. His role as Keynes presages Elliot Spitzer in his usage of high-class prostitutes and spent the same amount of money: $100,000.

Some other characters of note include Mr. Brown, a fat “Italian” guy, who is head of the modeling agency. He is shirtless most of the time and lives up to every stereotype imaginable.

There is sleazy photographer Arthur who “looks like Liberace” as said by Murphy. There is also a ponytailed baddie chasing Andi around with a gun. Last but not least, Murphy himself, who demonstrates he is the modern-day Fonzie when he and his ex-partner are standing by the candy machine at the police station. Noticing his ex-partner wants a “nutty bar”, he hits the machine and all the candy falls out.

Murphy gets wise to what is going on when he discovers that the dead model kept a diary. It is written in cryptic symbols that resemble hieroglyphics. Why an empty-headed model would take the time, energy and effort to do that is never fully explained. Luckily, Murphy has a friend who knows about astrology and she helps him crack the code.

'Exposure is unnecessarily convoluted and slow-moving. Nouri and Hubley don’t belong in a film just designed for titillation. They can do better. The word “Skinemax” shouldn’t be taken as derogatory, we all love them, but we are just used to seeing one or both of the Tweed sisters . Incidentally, the title is a complete lie as there is no Total Exposure by the models.

Don’t “expose” yourself to this dud tonight.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett

Down Twisted (1987)


Down Twisted (1987)-*1\2

AKA: Treasure of San Lucas

Directed By: Albert Pyun 

Starring: Carey Lowell, Charles Rocket and Courtney Cox








“The deal is going down…but it is going DOWN TWISTED!”

Perhaps this quote from the movie will help to explain the confusing title. From the title onwards, things get more and more muddled.

The plot involves Maxine, a waitress with big dreams (Lowell of Dangerously Close fame) who inadvertently gets mixed up with a gang of smugglers who are trying to get their hands on a stolen artifact called “The Crucible Of San Lucas”.

They almost get it in the beginning of the movie, but are double-crossed by an associate of Michelle, Maxine’s roommate. The baddies believe Maxine has a key to a locker which contains the artifact. She’s drugged and kidnapped and placed on a boat to San Lucas with a guy named Reno Mars (Rocket). During a scuffle they fall in the ocean and escape their captors.



Now they must dodge the baddies, the military group in red berets that run the island, and other pitfalls. Plus Maxine has a job interview to get to and she has no passport to get home. Who is double-crossing who? The allegiances are constantly changing.

'Twisted tries to be peppy but it is actually sluggish. The banter between Maxine and Reno isn’t that funny and the main problem is the over-reliance on cutesy humor. For example, during Carnival, Maxine dresses up as a chicken and Reno dresses up as a woman. The intention here was probably to drum up some “laffs” but sadly none are forthcoming.

The main bad guy is named Deltoid…..yes, Deltoid. All characters say the name with a straight face. Unfortunately, the rest of his gang (featuring Thom Matthews also of Dangerously Close fame) are not named after muscles in the human body. This could’ve been a pre-Reservoir Dogs (1992) situation: Instead of Mr. Blonde, Mr. Pink, or Mr. Orange, there could have been Mr. Deltoid, Mr. Hamstring, and Mr. Tricep. Sadly, this was a missed opportunity, one of many, with 'Twisted.

Hawaiian Albert Pyun has a long and varied career which such gems as Cyborg (1989), The Charles Sheen vehicle Postmortem (1998) , The horrible Crazy Six (1997), Urban Menace (1999) and The Wrecking Crew (2000) with Snoop D-O-double-G and the punchfighter Bloodmatch (1991) and Seagal slow walk showcase Ticker (2001) among many, many others.

Get “Down” with your bad self and don't watch this classic tonight!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett

5/14/2010

Dangerously Close (1986)


Dangerously Close (1986)-* *

Directed By: Albert Pyun

Starring: Carey Lowell, John Stockwell, J. Eddie Peck, Thom Matthews, Madison Mason and Branford Bancroft







Donny Lennox (Peck) is a kid who is so poor, he can’t afford a new fishbowl for his fish which is too big for the current bowl. Luckily, his journalism abilities have given him a chance to go to the upscale high school for rich kids called “Vista Verde” in the magnet program. He is on the school newspaper.

You know Vista Verde is a spoiled school for the upper class because they have a salad bowl in the cafeteria where kids can just help themselves to servings of tomatoes and other leafy greens. 

Donny is friends with Krooger Raines (Bancroft, of Damned River and A Time To Die fame), a crude dude with an attitude. He has a mohawk haircut and a Knight Rider-type car. His license plate says “Beast” and everyone in town knows him as the “Kroog-Warrior”. He listens to punk and ska music and he has a brash personality.



The only problem is that there is a group of teenagers at Vista Verde known as the Sentinels. They go around hazing and terrorizing their enemies and sometimes they end up dead. Krooger defies them and they get into a punch-up in the cafeteria, and in the scuffle they knock over the precious salad bowl. Then they try to lynch Krooger, but he just might be too wily for them.

The leader of the Sentinels is McDevitt (Stockwell of Born To Ride fame). As the Sentinels ramp up their criminal activities, one of the followers, Brian (Matthews) feels it is going too far, so he ends up on the hit-list. McDevitt is abusive to his girlfriend Julie (Lowell) so she teams up with Donny to get to the truth. As it turns out, The Sentinels have a hideout with a command center with lasers, monitors and VCRs and they tape all their dastardly deeds. Whose side is hardened ‘Nam vet Principal Corrigan (Mason) really on?

In the tradition of 80s high school movies such as: Pump Up The Volume (1990), The New Kids (1985), Class Of 1984 (1982), and most notably Heathers (1989), 'Close is a lackluster mélange of all the above. If you put the aforementioned movies in a blender and dump the results in a sewer, the end result might resemble Dangerously Close. Even Lowell’s out-of-the-pool introduction is an echo of Fast Times As Ridgemont High (1982). This movie was ahead of its time in three ways: The banter of the rich, spoiled high schoolers in the L.A. presages  "The Hills" (yuck and ugh) and the fact that the Sentinels filmed their pranks predates Youtube. Thirdly, the 45-year-old “high schoolers” predates Beverly Hills 90210.

One of the odd touches in the film is a road sign that states: “Vista Verde 3km” What is this? Europe?

Despite the fact that it comes to an anti-climactic conclusion, one of the bright spots is the killer 80’s soundtrack which is proudly announced on the VHS box in type bigger than the actor’s names. We know if we saw that this movie contained the hit song “Addicted To Love” by Robert Palmer we would be renting it immediately.



Get “Dangerously Close” to renting this classic tonight!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Damned River (1989)


Damned River (1989)-* *

Directed By: Michael Schroeder

Starring: Steven Shellen, Branford Bancroft, Louis Van Niekirk,  Lisa Aliff, and John Terlesky





“Ain’t no way of winnin’ when you’re playin’ with the devil’s odds.”








A bunch of stupid, unlikable party dudes go to the Zambizi River in Africa for no reason. If they wanted to “par-tee down” there are a lot of better places to do so.

Their tour guide down the Damned River is Ray (Shellen), a Treat Williams doppelganger who is running away from his past by living and toting tourists around on his raft. His accent comes and goes, as he is southern in every other scene in the movie.

This particular group of tourists includes a poetry-spouting nerd and a hippie who ends every sentence with the word “man” in true Tommy Chong style. The most unlikable character of all (and that’s saying something) is  Jerry (Bancroft), a big fat party animal who isn’t fat and who whines about the lack of MTV in rural Africa. Jerry also demands his “Chow-ski” when he is hungry (because he is “fat”) and the audience is rooting for his demise from the get-go.

Normally these characters would be seen in a 80’s romp. Think Up The Creek (1984) meets Deliverance (1972). “Damned River” is in the tradition of other survival-river movies such as the aforementioned Deliverance, Rituals (1977), Hunter's Blood (1986), The River Wild (1994), and Survival Quest (1989). Damned River is the bottom of the barrel of this bunch. If you have seen every other river flick, and are hankering for more river madness, check this out, otherwise, steer clear.

Ray tangles with a great white hunter type named Von Hoenigen (Van Niekirk) and it ends with fan favorite death, decapitation. It livens up the proceedings. Also on hand is Mavuso, a kindly local. Ray gets crazier and crazier as the movie progresses, eventually reaching Dagget-from-Twice Under-like proportions. Shellen overacts in much the same vein.

Bradford Bancroft is actually effective as the annoying Jerry because he achieved his aim of getting the audience to hate him. Bancroft can also be seen in A Time To Die (1991) and Dangerously Close (1986).

The movie is very dumb as it is but it pretentiously tries to not be, “casually” throwing in high-minded references to such authors as Zola and Byron. Sadly, this wasn’t enough to set it apart from the pack.

(Don't) watch this “Damned” classic tonight!




Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett

Lone Tiger (1999)

Lone Tiger (1999)- * * 

AKA: Tiger Mask

Directed By: Warren A. Stevens

Starring: Bruce Locke, Richard Lynch, Matthias Hues, Timothy Bottoms, Stoney Jackson, and Robert Z’Dar






Lone Tiger  is proof that having a great B-Movie cast filled to the brim with fan favorites doesn’t mean the movie is going to be any good.

Bruce Locke stars as Kurenai , a Japanese Karate man who moves to America and lives in an abandoned warehouse with some runaways. His goal is to defeat the American fighter “Dark Tiger” (Hues) because he thinks he killed his father many years ago. But Kurenai has a “Tiger” mask of his own that he wears when he fights.

Lynch plays Bruce Rossner, an unscrupulous fight promoter who hires Jane (Barbara Niven) to act interested in Kurenai, but really wants dirt on his background. She finds Kurenai and gets Rossner’s right-hand man King (Z’dar) to train him to be a killer in the ring, but it goes against his moral code of honor. However if he doesn’t fight, the runaways that he cares for will go into foster care. The underground matches run by Rossner are in an underground pool with no water. Rossner primarily bets with Marcus (Bottoms) on the outcomes of the matches. It is not punch-fighting, it’s pool-fighting.




Twice Rossner forces Kurenai to kill his opponent and he refuses. Unfortunately, the hobo he’s fighting dies accidentally and Kurenai begins to sour on the whole enterprise.

It all comes a head at Rossner’s birthday party and the truth is finally revealed.

Stoney Jackson is constantly commanding one of the runaways to “Get me my money!” Jackson looks like Dave Chappelle as Rick James and gets the most cringe-worthy line in a while: he exits the bathroom in one the first scenes of the movie and proudly and un-ironically announces “I love to pee!”. The viewer will then realize this will be a tough sit.

This movie is overlong at a punishing 105 minutes.


Matthias Hues is seen next as the wrestler “Dark Tiger” doing his thing in the ring. What seems to be going on is some sort of “Punch-Wrestling”. Hues looks like Fabio more than ever here. However, Hues brings considerable and much-needed charm to the proceedings.

Robert Z’Dar’s presence is always welcome and he does what he can in the role as Coach King. There is a training sequence where King inexplicably just drags Kurenai on his dirt bike. In most states this is a crime. There’s also some other slapstick which feels forced and Kurenai trains while wearing the tiger mask. Apparently it's not for the crowds, it's for his own personal use. From a filmmaking standpoint, the mask is useful because it could be any number of fighters or stunt men at any time. Or better fighters for that matter.




When’s Rossner’s moll Jane states “We are having fried chicken for lunch.” King angrily yells at Kurenai: “GO TO LUNCH!” This is the most inappropriately shouted line since Glenn Ford bellowed “I LIKE FLOWERS!” in Raw Nerve (1991)

Timothy Bottoms joins his Total Force (1997) castmates Lynch and Z’Dar as Marcus, manager of the wrestler “Mr. Mexico” and “Dark Tiger”. Bottoms seems glum and would probably rather be making a something better, like the Total Force sequel “Absolute Force” which also stars the director of Lone Tiger himself, Warren A. Stevens.

Super fan favorite Richard Lynch is enjoyable as Rossner, but far from his glory days as Rostov in the classic Chuck Norris fight-fest Invasion U.S.A. (1985) He always makes a good baddie. Rossner prays to a strange altar so that his men will win his fighting matches.

Sad to say, the fight sequences and choreography are laughably inept and totally inane. They are slow, stagey and lifeless. They seem to be in slow motion, but aren’t. It’s all very ham-fisted. Just look at the scene with the bum and his whip for the worst example. The biggest injustice is that this is just another waste of Hues’ fighting abilities. Ugh. Speaking of ugh, King appears to have been eating a least one jelly donut when he gets kicked in the face at the climax.



Bruce Locke’s broken English and clumsy martial arts moves are another detriment to a production whose crud already runneth over.

Leave this one a "lone" and avoid this one tonight!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett

Final Impact (1992)


Final Impact (1992)-* * *

Directed By: Joseph Merhi & Stephen Smoke

Starring: Lorenzo Lamas, Kathleen Kinmont, Mimi Lesseos, Michael Worth, and Gary Daniels










In the late 80’s and early 90’s, video store shelves were clogged with Punchfighting, shootfighting, kickfighting, legfighting, armfighting, and ???-fighting movies. These macho meathead fests featured oiled-up men in singlets mindlessly pounding each other. We don’t mean to “bash” these flicks, but the fact is they came in the wake of successes like Bloodsport (1988) and Kickboxer (1989). I proudly own most of them. Despite their knockoff status, they are clearly trying and mostly succeeding in pure entertainment value. Also most of the fighters in the movies are skilled martial artists and it is a pleasure to watch them fight.

Sure, everyone knows the big names in the beat-em ups such as Van Damme and Seagal. But without the direct-to-video B market for these films we wouldn’t have a new class of action star. Where would we be without William Zabka, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Jeff Speakman, Matthias Hues, and Gary Daniels? The answer: NOWHERE!

This time around, Lamas plays jaded, tequila-swilling ex-fighter Nick Taylor who now promotes underground kick-fighting matches. When young Turk Danny Davis (Worth) a fresh-faced rookie fighter comes into Taylor’s world, Taylor sees his potential as a top-kicker and trains him to be the best and be a kick-fighting champion in Las Vegas. But first he has to defeat the spoiled Johnny Cage-like Hollywood fighter Jake.




On his way up to the top he has to fight a young Gary Daniels. Nick has continuous flashbacks to his defeat in the ring years ago at the hands of the dastardly Jake. Now he and Danny have to get even. Also there is the prerequisite street fight in a place called the “Neon Graveyard”.

One of the funniest parts of the movie is during one of Nick’s flashbacks. In the grand tradition of Ian Borger and fan-favorite Ron Marchini, Lamas bellows in slow mention “Nooooooooooo!!!” But Worth as Danny Davis gets the best line of the movie when in an argument with Nick he retorts: “If I’m so predictable, how come I’m the light-heavyweight champ of Ohio?!” Nick feels the burn of this nonsensical zinger.

If there was no Lamas, There would be no movie. But the real star of the show are Lorenzo’s outfits: He wears a leather vest with no shirt for most of the movie, and it’s about 40 minutes in until we see our first shirt.

Make an “Impact”ful statement by buying this classic tonight!



Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett