White Phantom (1987)

White Phantom (1987)-* *1\2

Directed by: Dusty Nelson

Starring: Jay Roberts Jr. and Bo Svenson

When a bunch of ninjas in camouflage steal a box of weapons-grade plutonium, capable of a 5 megaton blast, from a truck driven by a slob eating a sloppy burger, the evil Sakura family goes from asking protection money from bookstores and nightclubs to the big leagues of international crime. Colonel Slater (Svenson) is on the case, chasing the nefarious family all over what we think is Japan (?) - and is using dancer Mei Lin as the undercover operative trying to get all the secrets she can from head of the family Hanzo (Jimmy Lee). Things get shaken up big time when a mysterious American stranger enters the picture...

Willi (Roberts Jr.) is an awesome dude with an attitude. He's the ultimate 80's coolguy, an unshaven cross between Keanu Reeves, Don Johnson and Bruce Willis. He even has a harmonica that he carries with him at all times. Talk about "The Return of Bruno"! He's charming, but kind of a jerk. He wears a Yankees baseball cap and a Sergio Leone-style duster coat. When he's not fighting Hanzo's stable of goons, he wants nothing more than to do some radically tubular slam dunks on the b-ball court and go to the local brothel. Is he just an American party animal? Or is there something more going on? He falls in love with Mei, which complicates matters between her, Hanzo and Slater. What is the secret of the mysterious Jay Roberts Jr.? Find out tonight!

Hanzo's goons are constantly playing rock paper scissors. One has a James Dean shirt, one resembles Oates, of Hall & Oates fame, and of course there is "Ears", a guy with not only a Hawaiian shirt, but also matching Hawaiian shorts who always has a Walkman on him. Hanzo has an interesting relationship with his controlling father, who we never actually see. He is the "White Phantom" equivalent of "Wilson" from "Home Improvement".

Willi (where's the final "e"?) even gets to say a great zinger to Hanzo when he shouts "Your triumph is your funeral, ninja!" And you thought English was his first language, unlike the rest of the cast (except Svenson).

As Mei Lin is a professional dancer, there are plenty of 80's dance sequences in the film. In fact, they pretty much replace action sequences until the climax, when the ninja action reaches its full capacity. In fact, "White Phantom" was released right smack dab in the middle of the famed 1980's Ninja Boom, where VHS boxes with the word "NINJA" emblazoned on them filled those beautiful video store shelves. Maybe they were trying for some kind of twist in the formula by including Roberts Jr. and not using the word "Ninja" in the title.

Go back to a time when the bad guys wear black and the good guys wear white in this (proudly stated on the box) 1987 release on Vidmark. Is Jay Roberts Jr. "The New American Hero"? Only you can be the judge.

Jay Roberts Jr. was clearly a national treasure and he, like so many others, should have gone on to be more well known. Find the Phantom tonight!

Comeuppance review by: Brett and Ty

Provoked (1989)

Provoked (1989)-* * 1\2

Directed By: Rick Pamplin

Starring: McKeiver Jones III, Cindy Maranne, J. Buzz Von Ornsteiner, Harold Wayne Jones, Ona Zee and Joe Sprosty

Have you ever been walking down the street, minding your own business, when an interracial gang pulls up in a car and asks you to join them? Well that's exactly what happens to Randy (Von Ornsteiner) when a vicious group of thugs comprised of Loverboy (whose shirt is perpetually open revealing his beer gut, and happily smiling, proclaims, "I was charged with rape!"), his mother Big Momma (whose character predates Big Momma's House (2000) by eleven years and predates Big Momma's House 2 by a whopping seventeen years - and is one of the best characters in Provoked), Slick, the token Asian, and Mad Dog, a white guy who wears a Members Only jacket and headband, and inexplicably carries a Tommy-Gun). They recruit Randy (now dubbed "Nick The Knife") to steal some money from the payroll office of the Sun Meadow Wines Building.

The heist goes awry when after shouting "gimme money!" repeatedly yields no results, they take four hostages. One of which looks like Estelle Getty and makes ear-piercing but funny noises. Unfortunately for them, the husband of a woman named Casey Kennedy (Maranne) is inside. She had plans to go on her honeymoon (Don't be alarmed when you see her showing off her new house on a homemade video, no one taped over this movie), but her newlywed husband Michael (Bob Fall) is inside.

Captain Rader (Jones III) is called in to handle the situation. Casey believes the police are moving too slow but Rader is having his own squabbles with Mayor Bender (Nick Roberts). Will Casey take the law into her own hands and save her husband or will McKeiver Jones III stand in her way as the gang is getting angrier and angrier?

First a note about the name McKeiver Jones III. It is AWESOME. His first name is MCKEIVER. His last name is JONES. He is not the first, or the second. There have been at least three people in history named McKeiver Jones. Hopefully he had a son and his name is McKeiver Jones IV. His legacy should live on. In all seriousness, he is like a cross between Robert Townsend and Carl Weathers.

One of the flaws of the movie is that MJ-III should have done more. He doesn't show up until 29 minutes in. Yes, we had a McKeiver Watch. He just stands around and barks into a megaphone. It would've been nice to see him participate in some action scenes.

Most of the movie takes place in an unfurnished room in an office. The keyboard music score sounds like a drunk four-year old picking keys at random. However, it did have a good message about cutting through all the bureaucratic red tape and just killing the baddies yourself. Predating 15 Minutes (2001) by twelve years, Provoked tries to make a comment about the media and crime. Most humorously when reporter Carla McKenzie (Porn star Zee) insensitively asks Casey in an on-camera interview "When do you think they will kill your husband?".

The tagline on the front of the VHS box is: "When Enough IS Enough." It is puzzling why the word "IS" is concentrated on so much. On the back of the box, it claims that the action scenes invoke Sam Peckinpah. Having choppy slow-mo in every action scene is not the same thing as his classic works.

On the bright side, the character of Machine-Gun Joe (Sprosty) livens things up in the latter part of the film. But even he should have done more.

Supposedly shot in eight days for $130,000 and released on Rae Don Home Video, We think it is time to get your McKeiver Jones III on.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Angel Of Fury (1991)

Angel Of Fury (1991)-* * *1\2

Directed by: Ackyl Anwari

Starring: Cynthia Rothrock, Peter O'Brian, and Tanaka

In this highly entertaining and fast-paced Rothrock outing, Cynthia plays Nancy Bolan, the head of security at HTI. She is a courier and must deliver a top-secret computer. To cover her tracks, there are also two decoy computers. All three are in silver suitcases. While in Indonesia, Nancy develops a relationship with a little girl named Sarah and her mother.

There is only one problem: BOLT (O'Brian), "The terrorist who strikes like lightning" also wants the computer. He is a ruthless and evil man with a lot of goons. 80 minutes of fight scenes ensue.

Bolt closely resembles Sly Stallone and there are even references to two Stallone movies: In one scene Nancy calls him "Rambo" and in another scene he is inexplicably arm-wrestling another goon a la Over The Top (1987). Exactly why Bolt is supposed to be like Stallone and he is most evil baddie on the planet is not known. Bolt is also a master of disguise as will be revealed in a laugh-out-loud moment. Bolt employs a henchman named "Ty" and he looks like an Indonesian Mr. T., Complete with gold-chainses and mohawk. Both this man and Peter O'Brian can be seen in the excellent The Stabilizer (1986). Maybe they are buddies.

"Angel Of Fury" is filled to the brim with action. Rothrock has some wicked and fun martial arts moves and there are a lot of high-kicking, high-jumping feats. Rothrock is utilized well and gets to showcase her skills in many different ways. The whole movie is Rothrock fighting in different settings. One in particular that stands out is in a mall and it brings to mind the scene in Jackie Chan's Police Story (1985).

A movie highlight is when Nancy takes Sarah to an amusement park. After Sarah proclaims her love for "Mickey Mouse", she then proceeds to kick a guy in an oversized rat costume in the butt repeatedly. With all that kicking, she might be able to become the next Rothrock. Too bad for the ratman.

Funny, silly dialogue, Rothrock at her best, tons of action, and a little girl kicking a ratman in the butt...what more could you want?

Released on the Imperial label on VHS, Angel Of Fury is a definite winner!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Street Fighter (1994)

Street Fighter (1994)-* *1\2

Directed by: Steven E. de Souza

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Raul Julia, Ming-Na, Damian Chapa, and Kylie Minogue

We all love the Super Nintendo classic game "Street Fighter", but what was so annoying about it was that you had to press buttons and be interactive. And it didn't have Van Damme. Now you can sit back and relax and let the storyline take over!

The plot involves General M. Bison (Julia) who wants to take over the world using genetic supersoldiers such as his guinea pig Carlos Blanka, but stopping him in his quest for world domination is Colonel William F. Guile (Van Damme) and his team of "Street Fighters" which include all the classic characters you know and love from the game, such as Ken, Ryu, E. Honda, Balrog, Cammy and Chun Li. Some of the evil characters are Zangief, Sagat, Vega and Dee Jay. They obviously took some liberties with the good and bad characters from the game. Naturally, Dhalsim is a scientist (with no stretching power).

The 90's gave us some classic video game movies besides this one, such as Super Mario Bros.(1993), Mortal Kombat (1995), and Double Dragon (1994). What a golden time for unabashed cash-ins.

When Van Damme isn't wearing his blue beret, we see that his hair is red. Not only is this the only movie to date where he is a ginger, As we all remember, Guile in the game is blond. A Van Damme highlight is when he says "Bison...how many children are you going to orphan...I'm coming to get ya Bison!" and then flexes his muscles in strange meathead fashion.

Raul Julia as Bison once again proves the old adage "Never have a last movie". See Raw Nerve (1991) for more information on this. After a speech about "stoicism" he then proceeds to chew the scenery to pieces. But what would you do in his situation? You have to feel somewhat bad for Julia, but he seems to be making the best of the situation before his tragic death. There is a point in the movie where we see an artists' rendering of Bison as a sad clown. Huh???!!?? Bison's suit has rocket boots and a CPR function. In other words it inflates in and out very funnily. His big line in the movie is "GAAAAAMMMMEEE OVVVEERRRR!!!!" You gotta love it...I think.

Street Fighter is tailor-made for dum-dums. Everything is spelled out for you. When gas floods Bison's HQ, Honda proclaims "It's gas!!!" When Chun Li jumps out of a window, Honda yells out "She's gone!!!!" Either Honda is a big moron, or he thinks the audience is.

The budget must not have allowed for Dhalsim stretching, ha-do-kens and sonic booms. All the characters at least attempt to say their catch phrases. However, one of the most disappointing things about the movie is that E. Honda failed to do his classic move, the "thousand-hand slap". Why even make a Street Fighter movie if that's not in it?

The movie almost justifies its existence when at the end, all the heroes jump up in the air and shout "Yeah!" and there is a freeze-frame. Then the title comes up (sans the subtitle "The Ultimate Battle", inexplicably seen during the opening titles). This is a great fan-favorite technique.

After Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter is the second best video game movie of the 90's!

Comeuppance review by Ty and Brett

Falling Fire (1997)

Falling Fire (1997)-*
AKA: The Cusp

Directed By: Daniel D'Or

Starring: Michael Paré and Heidi von Palleske

Unfortunately, Falling Fire is one of the biggest duds we've seen in a long time.

This 1998 Roger Corman New Horizons release is an unfocused, boring mish-mash. It is clearly a cash-in on the then-current rash of sci-fi hits such as Armageddon (1998), Deep Impact (1998), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), Starship Troopers (1997) Virtuosity (1995), Event Horizon (1997), Deep Rising (1998) and it even manages to rip-off the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). It is especially similar to the more well-known Supernova (2000-filmed in 1998).

Set in space, the plot seems to be some twaddle about a ragtag team of explorers supposedly trying to stop a huge meteor from hitting earth. Meanwhile Captain Daryl Boden (Paré) is having family troubles back at home. His wife (Von Palleske) even gets into some hot water herself when she gets shot in the foot by the main baddie. Will they save earth from impending destruction? Will Paré emote more than Jeff Fahey or a piece of wood? (Don't) find out tonight!

Also trying to horn in on the "V.R. craze" of the mid-1990s, any episode of the kids TV show V.R. Troopers (1994-1996) is better than this dreck. The most positive aspects of the movie that we can name are the special effects which were probably decent for the budget and year it was made. Sadly though, the finished product is tedious with characters talking about scientific gobbledygook instead of making sense or even having action scenes.

We believe we have come up with a reason why 'Fire is so disjointed and nonsensical and thus not engaging to the viewer: It seems the movie was longer at one point and was haphazardly edited down to a manageable length. The Canadian version under the odd title "The Cusp" has scenes not in the American release.

We all love Paré and even he is slumming this time around. It seems he is sleepwalking and this is not his best moment. He brings no energy, but that is quite apropos as the whole production has no life. Paré was just along for the slow space ride. We also suspect that the American title was changed to Falling Fire to cash-in on Paré's most well-known work Streets Of Fire (1984).

Apparently the chemistry of Paré and Heidi von Palleske was so great after their double whammy of Strip Search (1997) and 2013: The Deadly Wake (1997) it was decided that they should appear again together in this flick. They should have quit while they were ahead.

This has a direct-to-cable feel and is an example of a movie that has a short running time but feels much longer. The effects make the asteroid in question look like a gigantic piece of burnt toast and it occurred to us that the entire movie is like one big piece of burnt toast.

Douse out this "Fire" tonight!

Comeuppance review by Brett and Ty


Razor Sharpe (1998)

Razor Sharpe (1998)-* *

Directed by: Troy Nikolo Ashford

Starring: Troy Nikolo Ashford

"His Vengeance Is Cutting Edge." -Troy Nikolo Ashford

"Our destiny is not by chance...it's by choice" - Troy "Nicolo" Ashford

"I made my choice..." The saga begins... - Troy N. Ashford

"The most riveting independent action film of the year!"
- Karen Hyatt, Midtown Projection

Razor Sharpe is a shot-on-video vanity project for one Troy Nikolo Ashford. For some of his many credits in the movie (writer, stunts, producer, director, etc., his middle name is spelled "Nicolo" with a C, other times it is "Nikolo" with a K).

It is extremely admirable that TNA (Troy Nikolo Ashford, not the wrestling organization) was able to film this and get it out there. Sure, it's mainly a non-professional production, but somehow he actually got it out there and in to stores. That is very commendable.

TNA plays Justin Sharpe, an action movie star who is kicked off the set of his latest project when he catches an arrow shot from a bow and arrow. His agent calls him "leper boy" and only his "comical roommate" can console him with his comedic stylings. Rik Cooper, his egotistical co-star, doesn't appreciate this very much. 

Then, Sharpe accepts a job on another set where he is tricked into committing a real-life crime. Somehow he doesn't catch on while a shooting is taking place. Then, Sharpe's girlfriend is kidnapped by thugs and Sharpe is now on the run trying to save her. Add to that two cops following the situation, one of whom looks EXACTLY like embattled golfer Tiger Woods. Will Sharpe cut a swath through all the baddies in Georgia? Find out tonight!

Of course, Ashford casts himself as a movie star, and has at least one unnecessary training sequence (it's before any conflict occurs in the movie, so he's not training FOR anything). He meditates with a bottle of Coca-Cola and takes his shirt off often.

During the credits sequence there is a "Razor Sharpe" song. It could have been better. Also, the guns don't really shoot and the actors' outfits change mid-scene, but on the bright side, there are some decent stunts, and the "comical roommate" should be the next Mike Epps and gets off a few good zingers.

Everyone involved seemed to be trying their best, and we truly wish effort alone was worth more in this world, because it is obvious a lot of good effort went into Razor Sharpe. But there are a lot of choices for action out there, and it seems hard to believe someone would choose Razor Sharpe over something else. Like, say, Night of the Kickfighters (1988).

We say congratulations to Mr. Ashford and his worthy effort, but the lack of professionalism and shot-on-video quality is amateurish. Too bad this is his only credit, as he may have improved given some time and experience.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

TECHNICAL NOTES: The copyright at the end of the film is 1998, but sources say it was released in 2001. Also, the running time is 98 minutes.


American Shaolin: King of the Kickboxers II (1991)

American Shaolin: King of the Kickboxers II (1991)-* * *
AKA: Karate Tiger 5

Directed By: Lucas Lowe

Starring: Reese Madigan, Trent Bushey, and Daniel Dae Kim

You better watch out for Trevor Gottitall (Bushey). Just by his name you can tell he is an evil, arrogant jerk with a ponytail. He is a kickboxer whose finishing move in the ring is to pull down his opponent's pants. Really. Fighting in a match with Trevor in front of an enthusiastic audience, young, idealistic fighter Drew Carson (Madigan) loses to Trevor's underhanded tactics and is humiliated when he falls prey to his infamous coup de grace. After consulting with his elderly master, the All-American Drew goes all the way to the original Shaolin Temple in China to become a monk. While there, the monks teach him, and he teaches the monks, and his fellow disciples a thing or two as well. After an unspecified length of time at the temple, Drew emerges to take on Trevor Gottitall in a rematch.

American Shaolin: King of the Kickboxers II, despite being one of the longest titles of its many titles, doesn't feel like a long movie while you are watching it. It is quite entertaining and enjoyable.

Madigan is perfectly cast as Drew. He starts out as a "typical" American with his omnipresent backwards baseball cap, yellow walkman and sports jerseys. Through his disciplined training, he learns humility and grace. But not before teaching his fellow students how to dance and sing American rock and roll. A highlight of the film is an impromptu music video where Drew leads his fellow monk hopefuls in a rousing rendition of "Summertime blues". While they are cavorting around using sticks as guitars and microphones, Drew changes the lyrics to "Ain't no cure for the Shaolin Temple Blues". If you don't wince in embarrassment, it is charming. Later, at another dance sequence, the one and only song is "Summertime Blues". It must have been the only song the production could afford.

Also Drew teaches his Chinese friends about the ancient art of Playboy magazine and pranks. This Martial Arts film almost becomes an 80's romp when they try to pull a prank on the head monk. The film is mainly a long training sequence, and the title would seem to indicate that this film is a reference to "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin". The culture shock is a major element. He must overcome some prejudice as a Chinese monk says about Drew, "this Monk smells". Apparently anyone can just show up at the Shaolin Temple, provided they sit outside on a tree stump for a day or so.

Interestingly, this film bears no relation to King of the Kickboxers (1990), starring Billy Blanks. Speaking of things bearing no relation, the box art for the Academy VHS release is somewhat misleading. It makes it seem like a dark, disturbing and angry punchfighter. The truth is that it is fairly light-hearted and there are many life lessons in the film.

"AS:KOTKII" is an above-average film of this kind. The actors seem to care about the proceedings and the audience gets sucked into the plot, despite some cliched touches here and there.

Your collection hasn't "Gottitall" unless this is in it!

Comeuppance review by: Brett and Ty

Riddled with Bullets (1998)

Riddled with Bullets (1998)-*

Directed by: Ron Ford

Starring: Wesley Deitrick and Roxanne Coyne

Okay, the thing about "Riddled with Bullets" is that it is trying. And that's respectable. We really wanted to like it, and we gave it the benefit of every possible doubt, but sadly, the unvarnished truth is that "Riddled" is a piece of shot-on-video crud with very little redeeming value.

The action starts abruptly and without warning as a British guy named Morris goes around L.A. assembling a rag-tag team of ex-cons to pull off a heist for a wheelchair-bound millionaire named Cayman Lockyear, who resembles CNN's Wolf Blitzer. For a much better example of this type of plot setup, please see Maximum Force (1992).

*NOTE: The audio is so poorly recorded, it simultaneously buzzes AND much of the dialogue is unhearable. All names, or anything else we "heard" is...well...we did our best.

The cast of ex-cons is quite a motley one. The main character is one Nick Thorson, a divorced, suicidal alcoholic who looks like Jeff Fahey, has an estranged son, and looks spiffy in a bomber jacket. Next is an assassin in a suit who looks like Dick Butkus named Lenny Gorman. The third is an incredibly obnoxious serial killer named Eel Baker. Fourth (and first of three fat guys) is the fat guy who knows karate, named Vinmont. He is the strong, silent type whose idol is clearly Sammo Hung. Fifth is an overweight, homosexual mad bomber with bizarre, fake-looking facial hair named Donald Martin who screams all his lines. The rumor that he had surgery to look like a cross between Bruce Vilanch and Captain Lou Albano (as Mario)seems to be unfounded. His cartoonish red dynamite is very real however. The token woman is named Cynda, who seems to be a prostitute who kills her johns with a sharpened hairbrush. The seventh and final member is the third fat guy, Billy Heard, a mechanic who is to be the getaway driver. The unofficial group member is a young boy with special needs who Eel insensitively calls "The Retard".

Directed by Morris and Lockyear, all these personalities hole up in an abandoned warehouse (of course), and are told their mission: if they steal an important computer chip from his rival Winston Forsythe and his company Del Toro industries (Lockyear impresses upon them the importance of "shareware"), they will each get a million dollars. But will all these crazy characters survive the run-up to the heist all living in the warehouse? Will they get the computer chip? Or is there a more sinister motive at work somewhere within their ranks?

Oh, Quentin Tarantino, what hath you wrought? Director Ron Ford seems to be going for a Reservoir Dogs (1992) type of thing here, and an attempt seems to have been made at a "neo-noir" vibe, but somehow it all doesn't seem to work. Technical problems like the loud, buzzing and muffled sound, boom mike shadows, harsh, unpleasant and fuzzy video quality and other amateurish, no-budget pitfalls aside, it's good that at least Ford got this movie out there. I congratulate him and his cast and crew for their effort, and that's pretty much the only place "Riddled with Bullets" gets an A. Unfortunately, effort alone doesn't make a good movie.

Speaking of Tarantino, in "Riddled" there are some stupid and unnecessary pop-culture references to things like Martha Stewart and Timothy McVeigh. Rather than try for something original, it seems like the makers of "Riddled" thought a worthy piece of entertainment consists of a bunch of unlikable non-actors screaming obscenities at each other for 80 minutes. That's "Riddled" in a nutshell. Just imagine the most bizarre episode of MTV's "The Real World" you've ever seen. Whether it is BETTER than an episode of "The Real World" is open to debate. On the bright side, in other movies there would have been ONE token fat guy. Proudly and boldly smashing the fat ceiling, in "Riddled" there are THREE. Your move, Tarantino. Also, fan favorite yell, "Nooooooo" is bellowed. And the character names are creative.

As much as we wanted to like "Riddled with Bullets", we should warn you that this video will hurt, then remove, your brain cells.

Comeuppance review by: Brett and Ty

TECHNICAL NOTE: While the tape, and other sources claim the running time is 88 minutes, it is in fact 80 minutes in length.

Firehawk (1993)

Firehawk (1993)-* *1\2

Directed By: Cirio H. Santiago

Starring: Martin Kove, Matt Salinger, and Terrence "TC" Carson

In the vein of other Cirio H. Santiago movies such as Final Mission (1984) and Eye Of The Eagle 3 (1989), here we have another Vietnam escapade in the jungle.

Martin Kove of Shootfighter (1992) fame stars as Stewart, a rescue 'copter pilot with an attitude who chomps down on his cigar. He may have a rough n' tumble demeanor but he seems to know the score. His crew is comprised of Tex (Salinger), who loves nothing more than to shoot VC with his machine gun. At odds with him is the moral medic Davis (Carson). Li is a former VC working with them. There's also Hobbs and Bates. Another member of the team, Jimmy, who closely resembles comedian Nick Dipaolo, is injured. While he is recuperating at the army hospital, he gets closer and closer to the truth about "Firehawk".

When their Heli is grounded in the middle of the jungle, The team must overcome their internal squabbling whilst fighting the enemy. Is there a traitor in their midst? And what is the secret of the term "Firehawk"?

Kove gets to do his best Hannibal impression while he leads his own "A-Team". This includes "helicopter flying faces". Just imagine "guitar face" but with a Heli instead. The poor audio mixed with the constant helicopter sounds, mixed with constant shooting, mixed with the fact that Kove always has a cigar in his mouth, means much of his dialogue is unintelligible. One disappointing aspect of the movie is that Kove's name isn't "Firehawk".

During one of their many gun battles, purple smoke starts billowing from the ground and someone says "it is a purple smoke trap!" Later, Carson gets to bellow fan favorite yell: "Nooooo!"

This 'Nam shoot-em-up reminds the viewer of classic NES shooters such as "Operation Wolf" and "Cabal".

Firehawk is a decent addition to the 'Nam movie boom of the late eighties and early nineties. It has more character development than most of its ilk. Yes, an endless amount of baddies get shot but an attempt is made at intelligence and plot twists.

Find out the secret of "Firehawk" tonight!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett & Ty


Circle of Pain (2010)

Circle of Pain (2010)-* * *

Directed by: Daniel Zirilli

Starring: Kimbo Slice, Tony Schiena, Dean Cain, Bai Ling, Heath Herring, and Frank Mir

Dalton Hunt (Schiena of the awful The Number One Girl fame) retires from the Revolution Fight Club (RFC) after a sparring match gone wrong put his friend Wyatt (Cain) in a wheelchair for life. Five years after this tragic event, he is forced to fight for the RFC to fulfill his contract, which requires "one last fight". His opponent just happens to be the scary, mohawked badass Colin "The Brick" Wahle (Herring). Dalton must train harder than ever before or his family will be put out on the street by RFC boss Victoria (Ling).

Did you expect something BESIDES a beat-em-up fight fest starring a cast of mainly meatheads? In these movies, either someone is being beat up, or doing the beating. There are many slow-motion fight scenes so the experience is extra-meatheady. The film is a 90-minute training sequence. It is also a 90-minute advertisement for TapOut enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kimbo Slice, despite his top billing and prominent appearance on the box art, has merely a cameo. He gets beaten up by the main star, as per usual in his punchfighting movie cameos (i.e., Locked Down (2010), etc.)

"The Brick" speaks in short soundbites only. For example "This fight is already over", and before he kicks Frank Mir (in another cameo) in the face in a random parking lot brawl, states "It's kickoff time".

The movie is enjoyable because it delivers what you want. There is a great punch to one of the baddies. Beware the trailer, as it gives away all the cool parts. If you are looking for a decent straight-to-video beat-em-up, and don't mind the crass commercialism, watch Circle of Pain today.

Comeuppance review by: Ty

Night of the Kickfighters (1988)

Night of the Kickfighters (1988)-* * * *

Directed By: Buddy Reyes

Starring: Andy Bauman, Carel Struycken, Michelangelo Kowalski, and Adam West

"They've got their own way of taking out terrorists. Hit them hard. Hit them fast. Hit them after dark!"

Ladies and Gentlemen, we've discovered a new classic for the ages. Reaching new, heretofore-unthinkable heights of pure, unadulterated silliness, Night of the Kickfighters is a must-see!

Andy Bauman, in his only role to date (disregard the outright lies on the box art, claiming he is in the fake movies "Ninja 2", "Ninja 3" and "Night Kill", also Bauman's face is put on some other meathead's body, for reasons unknown) portrays Bret Crady, a bargain-basement James Bond who spends most of his time doing Tai-Chi in his underwear on a bearskin rug.

The "action" starts in "Musquat, Oman" and then quickly moves to "Scottsdale, Arizona". Note the quotes, as seen in the film. Are they not really there? In "Scottsdale", in a big office tower, which is in no way a miniature, businessman, entrepreneur and laser fanatic Carl McMann (West) is showing off his awesome new laser, called the HC 2000, not to be confused with TC 2000 (1993), to some investors. This laser, which the plot revolves around, makes the classic laser noise "pew pew". See: Neon City (1991). This laser is the best invention ever invented and it can make rocks and toy tanks disappear, but has no effect on Adam West. Naturally, bad guys the world over want this "secret weapon", so they kidnap McCann's daughter, claiming "your daughter will be dust". Naturally, McCann turns to Bret Crady to rectify the situation.

Crady assembles a team with their own special skills. Clea is good with computers, Sock is the black guy, Bomber (Kowalski) is the "heavy metal" inventor dude with long hair and cool hat, Aldo is a magician and speaks with a theatrical baritone not unlike Sideshow Mel from The Simpsons, and an Asian man who is a law enforcement officer of some kind. No criminal syndicate could withstand this amazing team. Not even if they have overgrown bald man Ponti (Struycken).

Will Andy and his team use his Bauman-Fu to save the world?

Night of the Kickfighters (even the title makes no sense, why one night? What Kickfighters? Another tagline claims "Kickfighting like you've never seen it before!" Why do they think I've seen it before? What Kickfighting? WHAT'S GOING ON??!!??!), is like the movie equivalent of a clumsily fumbled football. It is chock full of stilted non-acting and non-action. Bauman makes Ron Marchini look like Sir John Gielgud. Imagine Marchini's immortal "Can I help you guys?" line from Karate Cop (1991), but that flat, unaffected delivery is EVERY LINE. Most of the cast just looks utterly confused. And who can blame them, with all the crazy voices and ADR, silly miniatures, stock footage, plot insanity, stock PICTURES, jagged editing, etc., etc. To say this film is nonsensical is an injustice to the word.

Adam West, head of "McMann enterprises", puts in a strange performance. We suspect he was paid by the word, as in some scenes he just stands there limply. Any scene where he is on the phone is clearly not him talking.

The scene at the "Fantasy Club" is so dumb, we're, well...dumbstruck. 75% of the movie takes place in an underground parking garage. Someone turns on a hose and in the next cut they are neck-deep in water. One of the many guards engages in combat with an inflatable dinosaur. Out of all the things special-ops soldiers can bring to a mission, clearly this is the handiest. 

Characters come back after they are supposedly dead, and characters are still talking on the phone after they both have hung up. Laser effects need to be seen to be believed. Bauman trains by lying on a bed of nails and has people smash cinderblocks on his chest. Bauman's use of nunchuks recalls Clash of the Ninjas (1986). We could go on and on and on, but you need to see this yourself. Trust us, we've barely scratched the surface. We've given away nothing.

Ending on a weirdly and inappropriately sad note, Night of the Kickfighters piles total insanity on top of total incompetence, for a cocktail of sheer amazement. The four stars are for the unabashed entertainment value, and isn't that what movies are all about? BUY IT TODAY! You won't be disappointed.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett & Ty

Hostage (1987)

Hostage (1987)-* *1\2

AKA: Colt: Flight 802

Directed By: Hanro Möhr

Starring: Wings Hauser, Karen Black, and Kevin McCarthy

Starting with some AM soft rock, we see a family from New York that has moved somewhere near Nairobi, Africa. Col. Shaw (McCarthy) is an important politician who brought his daughter Nicole and grandson Tommy there.

Meanwhile, actress Laura Lawrence (Black) and her agent are in the same part of Africa. When Tommy experiences some sort of kidney failure, he and a bunch of other characters such as a nun and a bickering old couple board a plane headed back to the U.S.

Unfortunately, the plane is hijacked by the Holy Freedom Party Of Allah, a terrorist group. They land the plane and hold everyone hostage until they get their money and safe release of their leader Zabruto from prison.

But there is one thing this terrorist scum didn't count on: Major Striker (Hauser). This guy is as crazy as the terrorists and his name is as awesome as his black beret. It looks like it's "Vietnam all over again" as the specially trained Striker and his team of real American grunts do whatever it takes to get Tommy and Nicole back and the rest of the passengers to safety.

Before you can quote the ten-year-old Tommy and ask in a high-pitched child's voice, "Where's Striker?", Striker unleashes his fury which includes: climbing a wall for at least 25 minutes, hang-gliding under a helicopter, and being a pioneer in the newly developed fighting art "Grapefruit Weaponry" (you have to see it to believe it).

As for the terrorists, they say the name "Zabruto" a minimum of eleven times. One baddie resembles Tonny Tulleners of Scorpion (1986) fame, which is ironic because Tonny also stopped terrorists on a plane. Hostage is more relevant today than ever. It has middle eastern terrorists hijacking a plane, a character named "Hussein" and Col. Shaw even says the line: "Unfortunately, you can't deny an A-rab a seat on a plane." Because this is now so Un-P.C., it makes for great viewing that shall never be repeated, but sadly may be preventing a much-needed DVD release.

There is an airplane theme throughout the film. The casting of Karen Black recalls Airport 1975 (1974), Her character Laura Lawrence's sister died in a plane crash, and one of Striker's associates is continually throwing paper airplanes.

Hostage is an interesting, albeit silly flick, and the presence of Wings Hauser as Striker livens up any scene he's in. Give Striker a sequel!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty & Brett


The Heist (1999)

The Heist (1999) -* * *

AKA: Shot Down

Directed by: Kurt Voss

Starring Ice-T, Luke Perry,  Richmond Arquette, Robert Wisdom and David Faustino

Not to be confused with The Heist (1997), nor should it be confused with Armored (2009), of which this is a precursor by ten years, THIS "The Heist" is a decent urban shoot-em-up starring an over-the-top Ice-T as "C-Note".

C-Note, Slim (Wisdom) and Trent hijack an armored car and murder the guards. They hide out in an abandoned warehouse but then Jack (Perry) and his brother Moe (Arquette) stumble upon them and try to take the money while trying not to get killed by C-Note. There are plenty of double and triple crosses, some of which involve white boyz trying to be more "street", one of which is played by David Faustino. During the final, prerequisite gun battle, C-Note shouts "Die, white boy, die!" Thanks to Ice-T's inimitable delivery, that is laugh-out-loud funny.

Luke Perry has a beard and attempts to act "tough", with middling results. Before holding up the armored car, C-Note once again gets a great line when he utters "This is our personal ATM. Let's make a withdrawal". Clearly C-Note missed his calling as a banker/financial guru.

All in all, The Heist is an adequate, workmanlike action flick with no surprises.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty

The Heist (1997)

The Heist (1997)- *

AKA: Hostile Force

Directed by: Michael Kennedy

Starring: Andrew McCarthy, Cynthia Geary, and Wolf Larson

 "Some things don't go exactly as planned."

In this obviously-Canadian so-called "thriller", which should have maintained its cooler original title, "Hostile Force", Lucy (Geary) is an ex-cop (after being involved in a shoot-out) now working as a 911 operator. Mike (McCarthy) believes there is money in a safe at Lucy's place of employment. Mike and some other toughs in animal masks try to intimidate the workers and find the money. Will they succeed?

After a decent shoot-out opening, the movie begins to lag. Unfortunately, this lag take up the rest of the running time. That's quite an 85-minute lag. McCarthy can't save the movie, no matter how hard he tries.

Lucy's co-workers are very annoying and trite. One looks like Banya from "Seinfeld" and is ten times more irritating. The boss minces around and does his best Paul Lynde impression. Everyone except Mike and Lucy are meant to be comic relief. Sadly, the "humor" falls flat on its face and neither the movie, nor the audience, can recover.

Imagine a poorly-constructed, cheap version of Phoenix (1998).

Avoid The Heist (1997) if you ever stumble across it.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty

Night of the Warrior (1991)

Night of the Warrior (1991)-* *1\2

Directed By: Rafal Zielinski

Starring: Lorenzo Lamas, Ken Foree, James Lew, Anthony Geary, Kathleen Kinmont

Miles Keane (Lamas) is a motorcycle-riding smart-ass bad-ass who is an amateur photographer. He owns a club with his mother. He has to pay back a loan to gangster Lynch (Geary). In order to pay back the loan, rather than use money, he is forced to fight in, of course, underground punchfighting tournaments. After years of scrapping, Miles walks away from Lynch. For the next 45 minutes, he takes pictures of bums, falls in love with waitress Katherine (his real-life wife Kinmont, of Final Impact fame), She cannot fail to fall in love with him, after he says the immortal line: "Keep the change, it's been real." Miles then tends to his kabuki strippers in his club. When Lynch beats up Miles' mom and kidnaps Katherine, Miles is forced to fight one last time. Will Miles be able to defeat Lynch and go back to a life of photographing bums and ride off into the sunset on his Harley with Katherine?

Possibly a first in punchfighting movie history, in Night of the Warrior, men "mud-fight", and bite each other like animals. When this isn't delighting the eye of the viewer, there are Body Rock-like dance sequences. Of course, there is a training sequence featuring Lamas alone meditating with candles.

About Miles' fascination with bum photography, he claims in all earnestness, "I want to be inside them". Note he didn't say "their heads". There is an opera-singing bum meant to be comic relief, especially when he lets loose an operatic "Ahhhhhhhhhhh!" If this silly subplot interests you, might we suggest Bums?

On the subject of comic relief, there is Coco the chef, Katherine's uncle. He has a silly long mustache and he burns all the food. On the subject of photography, Lynch has his own headshot, which he gives to Mom to give to Miles to say Katherine has been kidnapped. Isn't that weird?

Surprisingly, there is a sufficient lack of action here. There are really only two action scenes. Many of which feature Lamas karate-chopping people in the neck. As in Ring of Steel and Cobra, the climax occurs in a "steam factory". Apparently it's a great place to settle your disputes.

If you appreciate the other films in Lamas' oeuvre, you will get a kick out of Night of the Warrior!

Comeuppance review by Ty and Brett

Busted Up (1986)

Busted Up (1986)-* * *

AKA: American Boxer

Directed By: Conrad E. Palmisano
Starring: Paul Coufos, Stan Shaw, Gord Judges and Irene Cara

Supposedly based on a true story, Busted Up is the story of one Earl Bird (Coufos), a man who is having relationship troubles with girlfriend Simone (Cara) and is trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter Sara after being released from prison. But most importantly, he is one of the legendary "Round Ring Boxers", dudes who bare-knuckle box in their spare time.

Bird is a local legend and gets a lot of respect in the community, partially thanks to his friend and trainer Angie (Shaw). When Irving Drayton, the local gangster, wants to take over the neighborhood, including the beloved training facility "The Foundation", Bird and Angie say no way. So Irving and Bird make a bet: Bird goes into the round ring with a man of Drayton's choosing and if Bird wins, he can keep The Foundation. But if Drayton wins, It becomes property of the local toughs.

So after looking through every tough guy, brawler, boxer, wrestler, shootfighter, and belligerent jerk in town, they finally find Tenera (Gord Judges), a hulking brute with a secret tie to Bird. Also Bird promises Simone and Sara that this will be his "last fight ever". Will Bird spread his wings and punch his way to glory, or will Tenera crush his dreams?

Long before Fight Club (1999), this has to be one of the earliest punchfighting movies, setting the stage for the thousands to come in the 1990's. Paul Coufos looks like a cross between Chris Noth and Ken Wahl of Omega Syndrome (1987) fame. Irene Cara gets to show off her singing skills.

Drayton's underlings are not intimidating. They are mostly fat guys, but the best one is "Captain Hook", a very silly brute of a man who fights with a hook. There are a lot of non-actors in the film, the worst of all being the child actor playing Sara. I know she is just a kid, but if you are acting opposite legend Paul Coufos, you've got to step up your game. Sometimes the editing and filming got a bit sloppy and unprofessional.

On the bright side, there is a lot of 80's sax music to smooth it all together. Plus Coufos bellows fan favorite yell "Noooooo!"

Is Thunderground an unofficial sequel? Coufos plays another character named Bird. If anyone knows the answer, write in today.

If you want a pioneering punchfighter starring a bunch of dummies pounding on each other, watch Busted Up today!

Comeuppance Review by Ty & Brett


Fair Game (1988)

Fair Game (1988)- * *

AKA: Mamba

Directed by: Mario Orfini

Starring: Gregg Henry, Trudie Styler and Bill Moseley

"When Play Time Turns To Prey Time."

Gene Campbell (Henry) buys a deadly black mamba snake and traps his former wife Eva (Styler) in her apartment with the snake. He sits outside in his car, monitoring both the snake and Eva on a computer tracking device. Will Eva escape?

Man, this is one weird movie. The plot, the camera angles (including, you guessed it, "snake vision"), lighting and the strange dialogue all add up to one off-kilter experience. Speaking of dialogue, Henry is great in his role as the deranged electronics whiz who, feeling jilted by his former wife, decides shooting and stabbing her are so old-fashioned and having her get bitten by a poisonous snake is the wave of the future. He gets to say totally natural lines that people say to each other every day, such as: "You're so weak. So sweet, shy and impressionable. It was me, wasn't it? I suffocated you with my strength. Took you over, I corrupted you with my money and my power. You had to ditch me to defend the delicate little flower of your weakness. You can't imagine how much I despise you - I despise weaklings" ...and it goes on from there. The best part is, Henry pulls it off! He is such a great actor, you totally believe him as the nutjob who hates weakness. Did I mention he hates weakness?

Of course, this begs the question, why did he hook up with quirky, artsy-type (She wears two different color socks) Eva in the first place? She must make a lot of money making play-doh sculptures of octopi to afford her gigantic, vast, windowless apartment. In fact, rather than just chop the snake's head off with a knife, she actually jogs laps around the place "to confuse it". She doesn't wear pants throughout most of the movie, even when putting on all her clothes to protect herself against the snake, the pants don't last very long. She also must talk to herself for about 90 percent of the running time. You'll wonder why Sting wanted to marry her.

It is established that Eva is an animal lover, so maybe it was out of pure diabolical evil that Gene wanted to use that against her and kill her with a snake. There is an animal theme throughout the movie, from Eva's shirt with a fish on it, to their names (Eva = Eve, i.e., Adam and Eve and the snake, and Gene = the genetic map of life), and her sculptures.

Also, music legend Giorgio Moroder not only did the music, but also co-produced the film. Clearly the man knows what to invest his money in.

When it came out on VHS in the U.S. on Vidmark, it was labeled as an "erotic thriller". Unless you have a snake fetish, this is a miscategorization. There are only three characters in the entire film, and one, Bill Moseley's character, only in the beginning as the snake salesman. Technically, there is also an uncredited actor as a delivery boy, but this primarily two-person (in two separate places, mostly) film almost could have been a play. Hey Broadway: "Fair Game": the musical? Eh? Eh?

Bizarrely directed by Mario Orfini, Fair Game is an oddity.

Comeuppance review by: Brett

The Last Fight (1983)

The Last Fight (1983)-* * *

Directed by: Fred Williamson

Starring: Fred Williamson, Ruben Blades, Willie Colon, Joe Spinell, Darlanne Fluegel, Sal Carollo Tony Sirico, and Don King

The Last Fight is an interesting and worthwhile boxing/gangster film written and directed by, and starring, fan-favorite Fred Williamson.

Andy "Kid Clave" Perez (Blades) is a good-natured boxer and singer, but unfortunately also a "bad gambler" that owes gangster Joaquin Vargas (Colon) a lot of money. Vargas offers a "deal" to take fifty percent of Andy's action in the fight game. Sadly, this affects Andy's beloved elderly manager, Papa (Carollo). When some of Vargas' overzealous goons start interfering with people in Andy's inner circle (trying to carefully sidestep spoilers here), Fred Williamson steps in, reprising his role (from 1976's Death Journey and No Way Back as Jesse Crowder, A private detective and ex-cop. Will Crowder get answers? Will Kid Clave get his title shot? Or will outside circumstances prevent him from achieving his dream?

One of the interesting things about  The Last Fight are the appearances by real people. While a fictional film and not a documentary, it features real-life boxers Jose "Chegui" Torres and Salvador Sanchez, and boxing people Bert Sugarman and Don Dunphy, not to mention...wait for it...DON KING! AS HIMSELF! ACTING! INVOLVED IN THE PLOT! IT'S CRAZY, MAN! Actually, it's not that crazy, but it's certainly not boring to watch. Real-life musical collaborators Blades and Colon are also front and center as the troubled boxer/singer and the hirsute gangster (when he wears sunglasses, you really cannot see his face), respectively. Also speaking of real-life aspects, the NYC locations, especially the Times Square of the early eighties provide some good grit that enliven the proceedings.

Besides Williamson, another one of my favorite actors is on hand, for one scene: the great Joe Spinell plays the gangster Colon answers to. The role isn't too dissimilar from the one he plays in that other boxing movie, Rocky (1976).

As far as criticisms go, I would have liked to have seen more Spinell, but maybe that's just me. Also there is a certain lack of originality, but that's okay because who really cares about that anyway? There are some stodgy acting moments, which is more than forgivable because not only is that common and par for the course with low budget/independent films, but a lot of people involved are non-actors. But there is also some bad "boxing-acting". By that I mean some pretty silly feigned punches and dodges. Weirdly, in the end credits, Darlanne Fluegel is simply "Darlanne". I don't know if whoever typed the credits was afraid of spelling her last name wrong, or trying to launch her like "Madonna" or "Cher", but her last name is missing.

Williamson steals the show as Crowder, giving himself pretty much all the best lines in the movie. It is always a joy to watch him. I wish I was as cool as Fred Williamson.

I would describe The Last Fight  as a curio that fans of boxing/boxing films should definitely see, and if you are an 80's/Fred Williamson/Joe Spinell/drive-in-style film fan such as myself, you should definitely check out The Last Fight, released on VHS in the U.S. by Thorn-EMI.

Comeuppance review by: Brett


Genuine Risk (1990)

Genuine Risk (1990)-* * *

Directed by: Kurt Voss

Starring: Peter Berg, Terence Stamp, Michelle Johnson, and Sid Haig

"Three lives. Three lovers. Three liars...GENUINE RISK...there's nothing genuine about it."

Genuine Risk is what you might call a "neo-noir" film, predating Hard Eight (1996), among other examples, and quite similar to most of the output of director John Dahl. His The Last Seduction (1994) also features Peter Berg. Perhaps Dahl saw Genuine Risk and recognized Berg as a new noir figure, the 90's answer to Dan Duryea? We may never know.

Berg puts in an engaging performance as Henry, a good-looking but down-on-his-luck dude who is addicted to betting on horse races and lives in a squalid apartment above a seedy L.A. bar. His buddy Jack (M.K. Harris) is a psychopathic gangster who works for Paul Hellwart (Stamp), the biggest, baddest, most intimidating crime lord in town. Needing money, Henry reluctantly agrees to work with Jack and become an employee of Hellwart. Next thing you know, Henry is mixed up with The Girl (Johnson), Hellwart's girlfriend. Uh Oh.

As stated earlier, Berg is quite good in this film. He is likable amid his difficult circumstances. He doesn't want to be a bad guy. He provides a good audience-identification character, as he's sort of roped in bit by bit into a life of crime. Not to take anything away from him, but I noted that Christian Slater also could have played the part of Henry. That would have been interesting. Terence Stamp is scary as Hellwart (great name), and there is an intriguing point about his character, that he was a pop star in the 60's in England under the name Paul Blaze, that might have been developed a bit more. Also one gets the feeling that Stamp wasn't firing on all cylinders, but that's okay, as it fits the moody style of the film. Sid Haig makes a welcome appearance as one of Hellwart's men.

Besides the Paul Blaze thing (The film was produced by Miles Copeland and the IRS record label, maybe they demanded a musical subplot?), there are some other half-baked ideas in "Genuine Risk". For example, the entire character of "The Girl". Even her lack of a name connotes zero character development. She doesn't say that much or do that much, and her "personality" is nil. it seems hard to believe Berg would fall in LOVE with her. Sure, she's hot but she's basically a human prop. And a rich, powerful crime boss like Hellwart could get any woman he wants, why he would unleash hell over "The Girl" seems a waste.

But ultimately, these are minor quibbles, as Genuine Risk (the title has at least two meanings, you have to watch the film to see what they are) is well worth watching. The lighting and cinematography, as well as the music, capture that noir feeling well, and there are some good performances and ideas. Genuine Risk is an underrated gem.

Comeuppance review by: Brett

Street People (1976)

Street People (1976)-* *1\2

AKA: Gli Esecutori, The Executioner, The Executors, The Man From the Organization, The Sicilian Cross

Directed by: Maurizio Lucidi and Guglielmo Garroni

Starring: Roger Moore and Stacy Keach

When a cross from a Sicilian church is shipped into San Francisco with a million dollars worth of heroin hidden inside, mafia don Salvatore Francesco dispatches his nephew Ulysses (Moore) to find the three thugs responsible. Ulysses then teams up with his race-car driving buddy Charlie (Keach). Charlie checks out all the seedy haunts and dives of San Francisco while Ulysses goes to Sicily for answers. When back together in SF, all hell breaks loose, as a series of double crosses and emotional flashbacks reveal the horrible truth.

Maybe it's the presence of its two major stars, but this mafia yarn is pretty restrained. It's not nearly as sleazy/violent as it could have been or should have been. It seems that in the wake of The French Connection (1971) and The Godfather (1972), among others, all the many writers and directors involved in this project (one of which was Ernest Tidyman of Shaft (1971) and French Connection fame) tried to mash it all up and hoped Roger Moore would be the glue that held it all together. Sadly, that plan was as half-baked as the movie itself.

Not to say that Street People is all that bad. There are some funny stereotypes, an enjoyable 70's atmosphere, nice San Francisco locations, Roger Moore is charming as the half British, half Sicilian cousin, and Stacy Keach looks like he's having fun. Keach gets off some great dialogue, not the least of which is: "I'm gonna spread the word that you're a turkey deluxe!"

Keach pretty much steals the show, with his relaxed, fun-loving performance. The highlight of the movie, the "car test-drive" scene, succeeds mainly because of him. There's an impressive car chase towards the end, and some slow-motion emotional flashbacks with Bacalov's score at the climax of the film, and presumably the director(s) were, at the last minute, aiming for a Sergio Leone-like experience. It would have been better if it was all more cohesive.

Released by American International Pictures (the original AIP) in the U.S., and released on video here on Vestron, Street People may be worth seeing for the chemistry of Moore and Keach, or for people that have seen a lot of 70's drive-in mafia flicks and want to see something else, but for casual viewers, it does leave something to be desired.

Comeuppance review by: Brett


Driven (2001)

Driven (2001)-*1\2

Directed By: Renny Harlin

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Til Schweiger, Kip Pardue, Estella Warren, Gina Gershon, and Robert Sean Leonard

"The street track is very dangerous!"

In the dangerous world of drag racing, Jimmy Bly (Pardue) is an up and coming drag racer. He is always battling fellow racer Beau Brandenburg (Schweiger) to be number one. When Bly falls into a slump, Carl Henry (Reynolds) hires old salt Joe "The Hummer" Tanto (Stallone) to mentor him. There is a lame romantic subplot involving Sophia Simone (Warren) and it causes more animosity with Beau and Bly.

While this is not a straight to video release, it sure looks like one. For example when Tanto is racing, he runs over CGI quarters that look awful and it is hilarious. The racing sequences leave a lot to be desired and apes Days Of Thunder (1990). There is pervasive product placement throughout the movie. It is basically a 2-hour commercial for Nextel and Target.com among many others.

There are numerous dialogue scenes between Tanto and Beau which are nigh-unintelligible because Sly slurs his speech and Til has a heavy German accent.

This nonsense was written by Stallone (including all the funny names) and a lot of plot items make no sense or are not fully thought through.

I guess Carl has a past with Joe Tanto and he forces him to mentor Bly with the line: "We go back, you and me. We go way back. You owe me Joe.". We never know the past between them. There is the prerequisite scene where Bly gets in over his head and Tanto yells: "You don't know who you are anymore!"

The most annoying thing about the movie is that it is geared towards the ADD\ADHD generation. Every scene has lame rock music from the 3-CD collection "The Edge" (not sold in stores!)

"Driven"? more like Drivel!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty