Last Witness (1988)

Last Witness (1988)-* *

Directed by: E. Bruce Weiss

Starring: Jeff Henderson, Vicki Long, Jeanne Finnerty, Mike Shuster, and Basia Lubicz

Henry Thurman (Henderson) has escaped from some sort of institution - either a mental hospital or a jail. He strangled a guard to death and is now on the lam. He steals a car with two women from a local rock band already in it - Bonnie (Finnerty) and Jane (Long). This liaison doesn’t last long and soon he’s taken in by a kindly man, Carl (Shuster). His wife Sara (Lubicz) doesn’t approve, because she’s seen on the news about the manhunt, but Carl convinces her to stow away the sullen weirdo. Thurman claims he’s just a victim of the government somehow, but that could be just his paranoia and supposed schizophrenia talking. It all comes to a head in the woods as a savage mercenary is out for Thurman’s blood. Will he get it?

Talk about your rarities. This basically-unknown film came out on the ultra-obscure Boomerang label in the U.S. The man responsible for this rare film is one E. Bruce Weiss, who directed, edited and shot the film. It’s not a bad effort, especially as it’s filled with many non-actors and was shot on a rock-bottom budget. But the movie’s pace is beyond leisurely - it’s downright SLOW. Nothing much happens and Thurman is not likable. Sure, Carl’s a heck of a dancer, but it’s not enough to save the glacial pace.

Luckily, the film is 83 minutes, not 100 as is stated on the box. It’s still overlong, however. But then again, the unknown mercenary is put front and center in the artwork along with the tagline “Everyone he meets becomes a target. Everybody”, leading you to believe this is more action oriented. Also the plot description on the back says it is fast-moving, so there are many lies.

You’d have to be a pretty hard-core VHS collector to have this one, or just stumble across it, as we did. Completists may want to seek it out for it’s oddness and rarity. Or fans of regional low-budget cinema may also be interested.

It seems the film was shot in the Cincinnati area and in rural Ohio. If anyone has any information about this film, please write in today.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


The Stabilizer (1986)

The Stabilizer (1986)-* * * *

Directed by: Arizal

Starring: Peter O'Brian, Craig Gavin, Kaharudin Syah, Gillie Beanz, Dana Christina, Harry Capri, and Mark Sungkar

It’s always a joy when we come across movies like this. A true gem, finds like this are what make this site worth doing.

The Stabilizer is one Peter Goldson (O’Brian), a man who “stabilizes” the line between good and evil. He travels to Indonesia to bring to justice a truly sinister baddie: Greg Rainmaker (Gavin) is a gangster, rapist, murderer and drug dealer, and he and his second-in-command Victor (Sungkar) operate in the Golden Triangle. They kidnap a scientist, Professor Provost (Syah), because one of his inventions is a narcotics detector that would seriously impede the bad guys’ plans for world domination. After Rainmaker assaults Goldson’s wife, now things are personal. Goldson teams up with Johnny (Capri), Sylvia (Beanz), and Provost’s daughter Christina (Christina), among other helpers, to take down Rainmaker’s evil empire. Will this team of heroes be successful?

Man is this movie great. The opening theme song, sung by “AJ”, the Indonesian scenery and culture, the clothes, the dubbing, the wildly entertaining stunts, action and blow-ups, the music, the plot, the abandoned warehouse fights, EVERYTHING about The Stabilizer is just so fun, funny and enjoyable, you’ll be smiling the whole time. This is truly what purely entertaining cinema is all about.

Both Peter O’Brian (now a personal hero) and the Indonesian Mr. T guy can be seen in the Cynthia Rothrock vehicle Angel of Fury (1991). Now they, along with their great outfits, are back. Speaking of Rothrock, Gillie Beanz could have been the next one. Whatever happened to her? Gavin as Rainmaker has an evil beard, evil white suits, and evil spiked cleats that he uses to torture and kill people, when he’s not pouring little bits of beer on soapy women that just got out of the bath. His minions even have golden triangle earrings to show they’re with him. Never before has such an evil man met his match with such an utterly ridiculous hero. It truly is a great showdown.

For all the talk of “DIY Filmmaking”, the film-school snobs never mention the true, resourceful masters that that term implies, such as the great director Arizal. He deserves much more acclaim and recognition. His movies deliver the goods on many levels. Not afraid of seeming silly, he goes for broke with the action, stunts and exploitation elements. God bless him.

While we don’t normally support Troma, we have to give them props for releasing this, to date the only Arizal film on DVD in the U.S. We hope they release more of his work. This DVD will provide hours of enjoyment for you and your friends.  We couldn’t possibly list all the standout moments. You just have to see it for yourself.

If you don’t already own this, just go on Amazon and buy it right now. You’ll be glad you did.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Outlaw Prophet (2001)

Outlaw Prophet (2001)-* *1\2

Directed by: David Heavener

Starring: David Heavener, Rebecca Holden, Ric White, Davita Sharone, Aimee Tenaglia, and DJ Perry

John 141 (Heavener) is some kind of intergalactic future TV star. His producers have him running from planet to planet in the galaxy to do increasingly harder challenges. When he is sent to earth, he becomes attached to a young mute girl, Amy (Sharone) and an alien hunter. After some experiences on earth (in the small town of Paris, Tennessee), he discovers God and the Christian religion. With the help of the angelic Molly (Holden), John 141 must fight for his survival and that of his new compatriots, as well as his new religion.

We’re big David Heavener fans. We think he’s talented and underrated, and we appreciate how all of his movies are labors of love where he stars, writes, directs, does the music and probably does the catering and is the Best Boy and Key Grip. We’re always looking out for his movies. If someone not accustomed to low-budget films found Outlaw Prophet and popped it in their DVD player, they would probably groan and say, in one way or another, how they can’t tolerate such “badness”. True, the early CD-ROM-style computer graphics are quite bargain basement and thus funny - and even mesmerizing - but in this case you have to look beneath the surface.

Basically going it alone, David Heavener fashioned this tale of religious awakening in his own inimitable way. While, to be honest, it does become a bit too much of a wacky sci-fi slog for its own good, try to imagine some sort of cross between Abraxas (1990) (with which this movie shares an interesting amount of similarities), Death Drug (1978) and the dreaded Shredder Orpheus (1990). While this movie “shreds” Shredder Orpheus, the cheap, day-glo-soaked set design and lack of coherence reminded us of that film.

And while the vibe of the movie might remind you of something the people behind Hell House (2001) might make, you’ve got to admire Heavener for trying to inject deep theological questions amidst cheesy laser effects, some sort of talking brain called “McBride”, and stock footage from other Heavener movies (including a tantalizing few seconds of some Robert Z’Dar movie), all while wearing tights. TIGHTS! I guess that means he’s from the future. Or space. Or something...

While not the first movie you should see if you’re turning on to David Heavener, Outlaw Prophet remains a unique - if flawed - production. Watch for the music video in the church. It’s a movie highlight.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Twisted Justice (1990)

Twisted Justice (1990)-* *1\2

Directed by: David Heavener

Starring: David Heavener, Erik Estrada, Don Stroud, Shannon Tweed, Julie Austin, Jim Brown, James Van Patten, and Karen Black

In the year 2020, guns are outlawed, so as the saying goes, only outlaws have guns...one of which is L.A. cop James Tucker (Heavener), a cop on the edge who plays by his own rules - but, by his own admission, “I always follow orders”. Cops instead use a gun-like device called a “stinger”, which shoots tranquilizer darts. When a new drug hits the streets called “Umbra”, which negates the effects of the stinger, criminals run wild. One of which is a psychopathic serial killer/rapist called “The Bullseye Murderer”. Taking heat from all sides, will Tucker be able to neutralize this jerk?

Once again David Heavener is tracking down a serial killer (this seems to be the plot of most of his movies), but this time it’s in the future. You can tell it’s the future because of the wacky vests the heroes wear and the futuristic font used for some of the lettering in the movie. He wrote, directed, starred and did the music for this film. His charm goes a long way, and he assembled an excellent B-movie star-filled cast. Erik Estrada puts in a pleasantly-surprising amount of effort into a role he easily could have slagged off. Jim Brown is unintelligible as he mumbles/whispers all his lines. Karen Black is literally wasted in a nothing role that a much less talented actress could have done.  Shannon Tweed takes a break from her “erotic thrillers”, which is a nice change, but she’s under-used as well (she keeps her clothes on). Julie Austin, last seen in Night Of the Wilding (1990), appears here as well, alongside a bunch of other names such as James Van Patten (which they misspell in the credits) and Don Stroud.

The interplay between Estrada and Heavener is a highlight, and Estrada gets arguably the best line of the movie when he describes The Bullseye Murderer as “A turbocharged Fruit Loop”. Clearly David Heavener proves his writing prowess with such a bizarre image. However, he shows some of his weaknesses as well with his blatant imitations of the great Stallone movie Cobra (1986). There are many lifts from Cobra on show here, not least of which is that Heavener is a quirky cop who drives a car and wears shades like Marion Cobretti. And there are also some apparent nods to Future Force (1989), of all things, as well: A loner law-enforcement dude of the future named Tucker that has a futuristic communications device in his car. So in the final analysis, Twisted Justice is like a cross between Cobra and Future Force, but neither of those movies have Freud (also spelled wrong in the credits) the Rat, in his only credited performance to date, sharing a donut with David Heavener.

While the movie could have used some more energy towards the end, especially needing another action scene or two in the final third instead of some talking, with a few minor tweaks, the movie could have been better, while still retaining its low-budget qualities. Unfortunately, this, as well as other Heavener DVD’s, were released by Troma. So the colors are washed out and it adds another layer of cheapness/junkiness where it REALLY isn’t needed. Troma DVD’s tend to suck, let’s face it, and a bunch of self-serving “extras” aren’t what the fans want. Not that I need to say it, but in case any potential DVD companies are reading this, we want as pristine a print of the original movie as possible, in its original aspect ratio, uncut. That’s all we really want. And maybe a trailer for the film. Thanks for reading this.

Heavener fans (there HAVE to be Heavener fans out there) will really enjoy this, as will fans of any of the stars involved. People with a low tolerance for junky-looking so-called “crud” movies won’t be so forgiving, but those people are lame anyway. Go Heavener!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Outlaw Force (1988)

Outlaw Force (1988)-* *1\2

Directed by: David Heavener

Starring: David Heavener, Paul L. Smith, Robert Bjorklund, Devin Mills, and Frank Stallone

"A Story of what happens when a bullet comes between a man and his family."

Billy Ray Dalton (Heavener) is a simple family man and a “Cowboy of the modern day”, to quote Tesla. He loves his rural lifestyle, he loves fried chicken, and he fully lives up to his cowboy persona, putting on live Western stunt shows during the day and pursuing his country music career at night. 

One day some middle-aged punks roll into town and decide to start harassing the town’s gas station owner, Gumby (Patterson). When Dalton stands up for Gumby, the punks then murder Dalton’s pregnant wife and kidnap his pre-pubescent daughter, Holly Lynn (Cicero) to sell into human trafficking and child porn. Must make sense by punk standards. Either that, or they really, really hate Gumby.

Dalton leaves the country and heads into the big, bad, mean and dangerous city streets of Hollywood. We then learn that Dalton is an ex-Green Beret and expert marksman, and he will stop at nothing to get revenge and save his daughter. 

Meanwhile, Inspectors Wainright (Smith) and Grady Purella (Stallone) (did Heavener come up with that name?) are following the case. The “funny” part is, Purella is a glasses-wearing, rulebook-citing, suit-wearing liberal college boy  who loves yogurt and Wainright is an obese, rule-flouting, disgruntled, slovenly dude who loves nothing more than to chomp into the nearest burger. They’re the original odd couple! With the help of Jesse  (Mills), will Dalton emerge victorious, or will his plans and his musical career fall at the hands of the evil Washington (Bjorklund)?

David Heavener wrote, directed, co-produced and stars in this “cowboy Death Wish” and makes the most of its rock-bottom budget. His buckskin fringed jacket is even more awesome than Steven Seagal’s. And Heavener was first with that style. Frank Stallone shows his range as an actor - compare his role here with his character from Fear - totally different. None other than Fritz Matthews is credited with special effects, but he doesn’t appear in the movie. Paul Smith as Wainright is a triumph, especially with lines like “leave the detective-ing to us”.

Sure, the many scenes of Heavener singing may seem gratuitous - but who can argue with such gems as “This Honky’s Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight”? Interestingly enough, the film seems to get more competent as it goes along - as this was Heavener’s first directorial effort, perhaps he was learning quickly on the job.

An amazing highlight of - not the film itself- but the TransWorld VHS tape - is a TV commercial that runs before the movie. It’s a “special TV offer” for the Outlaw Force soundtrack, available on cassette or LP! Remember when they used to advertise for 2-record sets on TV with a 1-800 number and it had a blue background? Call today for “David Heavener” at a certain P.O. Box in Marina del Rey, CA. Now you can have such songs as “I am the Fire” and the aforementioned Honky...right in your own home! What a great commercial! Heavener fans (I assume they’re out there) will want to check out the movie and commercial so get the TransWorld tape!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Lethal Tender (1997)

Lethal Tender (1997)-* * *

Directed by: John Bradshaw

Starring: Jeff Fahey, Kim Coates, Carrie-Anne Moss, Karyn Dwyer, Jonathan Potts and Gary Busey

"Money is the most explosive element."

When a team of terrorists take over a water filtration plant and start holding hostages from a tour group, only one man can stop the madness: police detective David Chase (Fahey, not the guy who created The Sopranos playing himself). He has to go up against not just the main hostage taker, the unbalanced Montessi (Coates), and his team of underlings with wacky code names such as Sparky (Dwyer) and Pogo (Potts), but the TRUE mastermind of it all, the sinister Turner (Busey). Luckily, Chase has a few tricks up his sleeve to deal with the baddies before they contaminate the water supply (he only has about four hours or so), and he has teamed up with Melissa (Moss), a plant worker, to save the day.

It’s Die Hard (1988) in a water filtration plant (I just filled in the blank from our Crackerjack  review). Off the bat, we know this is going to be an odd one. Starting with, believe it or not, some close-ups of Gary Busey's teeth as he talks to no one in particular, with some pounding music behind it, very soon we see something we know isn’t good: nefarious-looking men in overcoats and sunglasses walking in slow motion. Those have to be the bad guys. Kim Coates puts in a noteworthy performance as Montessi. He must have known he was doing the role many people have done before, so he tried to change it up. He has all these little jokes, strange vocal inflections and tics to try to put a spin on the “hostage taker” part. He does wave his gun around a lot, but he at least tried to do it differently, which is a good thing.

Jeff Fahey has a cool jacket and cool hair, and generally just seems “too cool” for the supposedly urgent situation.  We always like seeing him. Carrie-Anne Moss is on hand as the romantic interest/sidekick, and we don’t normally see her in DTV product such as this, so that was a nice change as well. Gary Busey is his normal, unhinged self, and from the bad guy team, Karen Dwyer as Sparky stands out from the crowd.

However, this came out in 1997, meaning the influence of Quentin Tarantino must have proved too hard to resist for the filmmakers. For no apparent reason, instead of action scenes or plot points, characters just start talking about The Jeffersons and Good Times. That now seems somewhat embarrassing, and unnecessary. We don’t want pop culture references, especially apropos of nothing. We’d rather hear Jeff Fahey try to woo women talking about his brie omelets. (Don’t forget, we’ve already seen teams of men walking in slow motion that have code names...but I’m sure Reservoir Dogs never played into the equation here).

For a goofier-than-usual,  shot-in-Canada DTV product, Lethal Tender (gotta love that title) is actually pretty entertaining.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Action Jackson (1988)

Action Jackson (1988)-* * *1\2

Directed by: Craig R. Baxley

Starring: Carl Weathers, Craig T. Nelson, Vanity, Sharon Stone, Thomas F. Wilson, Bill Duke, Sonny Landham, James Lew, Charles Meshack, Al Leong, Bob Minor, Branscombe Richmond, and Robert Davi

Carl Weathers displays his winning charm in yet another title role. Weathers IS Detroit cop Jericho "Action" Jackson - and you know with a nickname like that he doesn’t mess around. Evil, megalomaniacal auto magnate Peter Dellaplane (Nelson) is killing off AWA (Auto Workers Alliance) members in order to keep a stranglehold on his already-impressive power. Dellaplane and Jackson have a past, as Jackson was demoted after roughing up his son before sending him to prison. Ignoring the fact that his wife is Sharon Stone in her prime years of hotness, Dellaplane also has a chick on the side, Sydney (Vanity), who he keeps drugged up with heroin. Sydney and Jackson now must team up to take down Dellaplane before he can frame Jackson for his many murders.

Ah, the golden 80’s. Just take a second to pause and reflect about that magical decade. Back to the review at hand, Action Jackson is classic 80’s action, reminiscent of Arnold vehicles such as Raw Deal (1986). It’s well-shot, and unusually well-written, with plenty of clever jokes and dialogue. But the film also has all the action the underground action movies have, but this came out in a time when things like this came to the theater and had a moderate-to-big budget behind them.

Besides the aforementioned Sharon Stone and Vanity, Weathers has an impressive cast to back him up: Bill Duke as the classic BYC (Black Yelling Chief), Thomas F. Wilson (Biff of Back to the Future, 1985 fame) as the joke-telling uniformed officer, Bob Minor as the evil assassin Gamble, Nicholas Worth as Dellaplane’s butler, Al Leong as Dellaplane’s chauffeur, James Lew as Dellaplane’s martial arts instructor, Charles Meshack of Fear (1988) fame, Sonny Landham and the ubiquitous Branscombe Richmond. It even has fan favorite Robert Davi in a small but important role. Last but not least is the “Coach” himself, Craig T. Nelson, looking more diabolical than usual, probably because of the hair. We even get to see him do some “Craig-Fu” - but does he really think he can beat Action Jackson in a fight?

The movie is funny, snappy and a great vehicle for Weathers’ charisma. But what else would you expect from director Baxley, the man behind Stone Cold (1991) and I Come In Peace (1990), among many others? It’s a product of a great time for cinema - and it’s also filled with great music, especially the title song by Madame X which you’ll be singing for days. It’s pretty tough to dislike this highly entertaining gem.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Rage and Honor (1992)

Rage and Honor (1992)-* * *

Directed by: Terence H. Winkless

Starring: Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton, Brian Thompson, Terri Treas, Stephen Davies, Alex Datcher, Patrick Malone, and Catherine Bach

Preston Michaels (Norton) is a cop from Australia who is in L.A. as an “observer”. Unfortunately, he observes a murder involving corrupt cops in his precinct. This leads to the evil Conrad Drago (Thompson) and his assistant Rita (Treas), the most dastardly drug runners in town. You know Conrad Drago is evil because his name is Conrad Drago. Framed for the murder, Michaels goes on the run to clear his good name, and while doing that, must team up with Kris Fairfield (Rothrock) (not “Fairchild” as is stated in some sources). Forging an uneasy trust, the two team up to beat up a ton of baddies and get to the truth, which isn’t always easy, as both Kris and Michaels have complex backgrounds.

Norton and Rothrock are two of our favorite action stars, and we always try to find the movies they’re in, both separately and together. They’re both likable and quality martial artists. Here, Norton’s Australian identity is actually part of the plot, not something no one ever mentions, as is usually the case. He plays the “fish out of water” nicely, and his personality goes well with Rothrock’s, and they have some good chemistry, which makes the film fun to watch. Most of the movie is set amongst decrepit, graffiti’d buildings, which, visually, makes a nice backdrop for movies like this, but can be a bit depressing at times.

Along their journey, Kris and Michaels meet an array of colorful characters, which serves to liven up the movie. As in life, the more characters you meet, the higher the odds that a lot of them are going to be annoying, and Baby (Davies) and Hannah (Datcher) tend to grate on the nerves,  while the mysterious Chan Lu (Obata) and Norton’s chief, Capt. Murdock (Bach) show us another side. As in Quietfire (1991), our heroes must fight a team of transvestites, or something close to transvestites. It must be a 90’s thing. Brian Thompson of Cobra (1986) and Perfect Target (1997) fame makes an ideal baddie. Just look at his face. It’s almost like he was born to be a bad guy. He even has an evil mullet. It’s the type of mullet that screams “I’m evil”.

On the down side, the plot gets a bit too complex and twisty for its own good, continually piling on new characters. Director Winkless also directed the first Bloodfist (1989) movie, so his aims were probably to step away from some of the more traditional plotting of these action yarns. Luckily, there is some good fighting, and the two leads are likable as ever. There are some good one-liners and humor, and the movie as a whole gives you what you want. Moreso than previous Norton/Rothrock vehicles such as China O’Brien (1990).

For a solid action movie featuring two leading lights of the genre Rage and Honor (not to be confused with the Sho movie Rage OF Honor, 1987) is well worth seeking out.


Heated Vengeance (1985)

Heated Vengeance (1985)-*

Directed by: Edward D. Murphy

Starring: Richard Hatch, Michael J. Pollard, Jolina Mitchell-Collins, Robert Walker, Dennis Patrick, Mills Watson, and Cameron Dye

Lt. Joe Hoffman (Hatch) is a Vietnam veteran who, many years after the end of the war, decides to go back to the “Golden Triangle” to find his lost love, Michelle Twassoon (Mitchell-Collins). She was an interpreter during the war, and they fell in love. They even had a precocious, squeaky-voiced son together. But trouble looms for Hoffman in the form of Larry Bingo (Max) - yes, LARRY BINGO is his name. He’s a disgraced army dude who was kicked out of the service for raping one of the locals back during the war. Now he’s a drug runner along with his compatriots Snake (Pollard) and Bandit (Dye). Coincidentally, they run into Hoffman now, in the present day, and, seeing as how Hoffman was Bingo’s commanding officer, and was largely responsible for his dishonorable discharge, Bingo now wants revenge.

He kidnaps Hoffman and stashes him away deep in their jungle hideout. However, Hoffman escapes and has to shoot his way out. Meanwhile, Charlie Pope (Patrick), a toilet salesman (it just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?) teams up with Michelle and her son to try and find Hoffman. Will these star-crossed lovers ever reunite?

Okay. For a movie called "Heated Vengeance” and with a tagline like “Lt. Hoffman thought the war was over. He was wrong!”, and with the fact that it was shot primarily in the Philippines and released by Media, one would think this would be a no-brainer awesome action movie. Sadly, there is little heat, minimal vengeance, and a lot of unnecessary talking and stupidity.  Technically, there is some mild vengeance, as Hoffman must shoot some of his captors, and Richard Hatch throws his hatch into the ring as being yet another jungle-adaptive action hero, but this is a drama/love story with mild action elements. It uses the Vietnam war as background. Imagine a less-good Final Mission (1984) or First Blood (1982). Or a REALLY degraded Deadly Prey (1987). Everything about this movie is a letdown, from Hoffman’s strange son, to the slow pace, to a botched use of a flamethrower to the choice of naming the main antagonist “Bingo”.

Naturally, the VHS box prominently displays the flamethrower, and mistakenly labels Bingo as “Binko” but who really cares anyway, it’s stupid both ways.  The ending is completely abrupt and feels unfinished, like they had to release it that day and didn’t get to finish editing, or even shooting the complete movie. That just adds to the unfulfilling feel of Heated Vengeance. To add insult to injury, the ever-wacky Michael J. Pollard can’t save the movie with his childlike mush-mouthiness and there’s even further silliness with “comedic” sound effects and tuba music at inappropriate times.

Like many AIP movies, the featured song is far better than the movie itself, and high marks go to Jim Price and his song “Second Chances”.  But this one good aspect can’t support the entire movie. It’s all down hill from there.

Heated Vengeance is a pretty cut-and-dry disappointment.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


City Dragon (1995)

City Dragon (1995)-* *1\2

Directed by: "Philthy" Phil Phillips 

Starring: MC Kung Fu, John Williams, "Philthy" Phil Phillips, Kathy Barbour, Fawn Reed, Millicent Ally, John J. Haran, Leo Fox, and Deva

Ray (MC Kung Fu) is a carefree rapping lothario who is also adept at martial arts. He spends his time rhyming everything he says and hanging out with his two “Home Dogs” Rick (Williams) and Philthy (Phillips). When not chatting up the ladies at the local dive, he’s getting into fights with people of various ethnicities. His life changes when he meets Tina (Barbour), a “fly honey” of the first order. He gives up his womanizing ways after he falls in love with her. There is a problem, however: Tina’s abusive ex-boyfriend John (Haran) isn’t prepared to let her out of his iron fist and he wants revenge on Ray. You know he’s evil because a. he’s white, b. he beats Tina and c. he doesn’t even rhyme everything he says. What a chump. As you’ll see, John gives new meaning to the term “insanely jealous”.  Amidst all his many problems, will Ray be “dope” enough to come out on top?

City Dragon is really something. Yes, it’s shot on video and everything from the acting to the editing and everything in between is incredibly amateurish and incoherent...but that would be missing the point entirely! Philthy Phil Phillips, a multi-talented man, actually made this movie and got it into stores. Sure, the movie isn’t technically perfect, but you must see it to believe it. Ray/MC Kung Fu is like some sort of out-of-control cross between Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen and Wordsworth the cat from the old Heathcliff cartoon. And where did they find the guy who plays Rick (the self-described “wigger”)? Presumably this isn’t the same John Williams who composed the score to Star Wars (1977) Although we’re still not entirely sure. With his bug-eyed, super-fast rhyming style and whiteness, he predates Eminem by many years. But where are John Williams’ millions of dollars and record deal? Injustice I tell you. Injustice.

The clothes are phenomenal. Ray’s wardrobe alone is amazing. He mainly wears a barely-existent muscle shirt in his daily life (which he is constantly taking off and doesn’t even bother to pick up off the ground after his fights, he must have a closet full of them), but when he really wants to hit the town and look classy, he simply puts an oversized silver sport coat over his black tank top. And that’s just one character.

But what’s really unusual about City Dragon (besides everything I’ve just described) is how the plot moves from upbeat rapping and fun to become a family drama which tackles many serious themes: gangs, violence, domestic abuse, family strife, abortion, workplace harassment, blackmail and all manner of racial animus. Not to mention how you shouldn’t step on someone’s miniature ice cream cone or spill their soda unless you are looking for grievous bodily harm. Why Philthy would think audiences wanted to see MC Kung Fu’s domestic and workplace issues remains unclear.

The saga of Ray makes for a one-of-a-kind movie. You may love it, you may hate it, but you can’t ignore it. Well, you COULD, but you shouldn’t. The “home movie” style may grate on some viewers, but the movie is funny and unique. Plus you can usually find it for a dollar or less on DVD. Unfortunately, the alcohol you will probably want to go along with the movie is sold separately.

For a movie that makes Cool As Ice (1991) look like A Clockwork Orange (1971) don’t hesitate to make yourself an unofficial “Home Dog” and watch City Dragon.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Laser Mission (1989)

Laser Mission (1989)-* * *

Directed by: BJ Davis

Starring: Brandon Lee, Ernest Borgnine, Debi Monahan, Graham Clarke, and Werner Pochath

Look at the above picture: Ernest Borgnine is IN the diamond. End of plot synopsis.

This laughably and lovably inept movie is just out and out silly - so take that as a solid recommendation. One of our readers, Gap, suggested we review this movie, and we always try to listen to our followers. Brandon Lee is charming as the CIA agent/mercenary who is a master of disguise named Michael Gold. There is a 526-carat diamond at stake called the Verbeek (?) diamond which will enable whoever gets it to build a powerful laser to take over the world. Naturally many bad guys are after him as he tries to rescue  Professor Braun (Borgnine) who has been kidnapped. His journey takes him from Cuba to the Namibian desert, with Braun’s daughter Alissa (Monahan) in tow.

There are inane action sequences involving shooting, blow-ups, guard tower falls, evil Germans, fruit cart chases and many other cliches, all done in what seems to be an unintentional cartoonish style. The “help the daughter find the kidnapped father” is a very American Ninja-style plot, and Ernest Borgnine’s accent comes and goes. The unnamed song, which repeats many times throughout the film (plus all the nonsensical goofiness) reminded us of White Fire (1984). The song is musically very reminiscent of “There’s No Easy Way Out” and the singer sounds drunk. Apparently it was done by David Knopfler, and his husky, amazingly slurred singing makes Bob Dylan seem like someone with perfect diction.

Laser Mission was done in the golden year of 1989. It was directed by BJ Davis, who has a long history in the stunt world. It has since fallen into the public domain and thus can be found in gas stations all over the world for about a dollar. If you see it, we strongly suggest you pick it up, as it is well worth that meager investment. Sure, the quality is blurry (even the SOUND is blurry) but it will provide entertainment and laughs. And isn’t that what movies are all about?

Laser Mission is a silly great time. We’d love to find more movies like this.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Reason To Die (1990)

Reason To Die (1990)-* * *

Directed by: Tim Spring

Starring: Wings Hauser, Anneline Kriel, and Arnold Vosloo

Elliot Canner (Wings) is a streetwise bounty hunter on the streets of NYC who always gets his man. When his number one most wanted target, the sadistic serial slasher Wesley Wilson (Vosloo) escapes the city and ends up in Angelique, South Africa, Canner is hot on his trail and he follows him there.

The situation is getting desperate, as Wilson has revved up his knife-slashings and gun-shootings to very frequent levels. So Canner enlists the reporter/love interest Lena (Kriel) to act as bait. And it doesn’t help that the local cops are always harassing Canner and not Wilson. But it seems Canner and Lena are always one step behind the nefarious and crafty killer...

Because the movie stars Wings and Vosloo, and has a similar title, you’d think this was some sort of companion piece to Living To Die (1990). But it appears to be completely unrelated otherwise. Wings is his usual charismatic, likable self, and Vosloo puts on his best scowl and evil eye as the baddie. Vosloo as Wilson doesn’t say much, but he does have a menacing presence. Plus his kill count is pretty outrageous.

The plot is as basic as could be: Wings is after the serial killer. End of plot. But because Wilson is primarily hunting hookers, Wings must delve into the seedy underbelly of the city. Sure, there’s some half-assed psychological motivation to Wilson’s prostitute murders, but what’s really interesting is seeing Wings as the hero in a relatively strange foreign land, investigating amongst the seamier side of life in a quasi-slasher movie scenario. We tended to like the horror movie elements, especially since the movie also features some decent stunt work in the action scenes. Unquestionably, Wings carries the movie.

Importantly, the Vidmark VHS released in the U.S. came in two versions: one cut and one uncut. Make sure you get the uncut version. Vidmark made it easy enough to do so, as there should be a square white sticker that says “the original unedited version” on the proper tape.

While certainly not perfect, any fan of exploitation or Wings Hauser should find some meat on the bone with Reason to Die.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Rage Of Honor (1987)

Rage Of Honor (1987)-* *1\2

Directed by: Gordon Hessler

Starring: Sho Kosugi, Lewis Van Bergen, Robin Evans, and Richard Wiley

"When just getting even is not enough!"

 Shiro Tanaka (Sho) is a Phoenix, Arizona cop working for the “Drug Investigation Bureau”. Both he and his partner Ray (Wiley) are sick of department red tape, and even though they always get results, the top brass is always coming down on them for their “reckless” ways. While working an angle, Ray goes solo to the compound of the sadistic drug lord Havelock (Van Bergen), where he is then tortured and killed. Shiro vows revenge and uses every weapon at his disposal to stop his arch-nemesis, and eventually this leads them both into the jungles of Argentina where the final battle commences. Will the resourceful Shiro win the day?

Starting from the opening “party boat” scene, you know you’re in for a heavy dose of 80’s awesomeness.  (frustratingly, the one song used in the film, a Wang Chung/Mister Mister-like jaunt, is not listed in the credits or anywhere online that we could find). Both here and throughout the whole film, Sho’s thick accent is in full force. Some of the most hilarious moments in the movie come during the dialogue scenes, where the other actors have to simply pretend his accent isn’t unintelligible. So, to keep Sho’s dialogue to a minimum, he pauses instead of speaks in many cases. The result is amusing. But the other actors aren’t blameless here either - while Sho’s name in the movie is “Shiro”, it sounds like most people are calling him “Churro”. While this would be insulting to Mexicans and Japanese alike, I think we can put this down to lack of understanding of Japanese naming traditions. While this is part and parcel of the whole Sho experience, fans really want to see Sho in action, and they are treated to some great stuff here.

While the film lacks one of Sho’s trademark opening-credits displays of his moves, we do see throughout the movie his wide array of weaponry. Some of which he is credited with creating himself. While the bad guys have some noteworthy hardware, such as long , Wolverine-like metal claws that remind you of Terror Claws Skeletor, in almost every action scene, Sho seems to have a tackle box filled with throwing stars, nunchuks, swords, grappling hooks and many other items. One of the coolest is a digital throwing star which blows up on contact. It doesn’t get any more awesome than that.

But, if truth must be told, there is some filler in this one. This is director Gordon Hessler's immediate follow-up to Pray for Death (1985), which is a much more consistent film. Yes, Havelock is the classic “hiss-able” bad guy, but Limehouse Willie beats him in both the name and pure evilness departments. Once the action moves to Argentina, it gets dangerously close to a standard Exploding Hut jungle slog, and Sho can do better.  We liked him in the scenes with his tuxedo and white scarf, looking suave. Despite what may surround him, one fact is undeniable: Sho is cool.

Interestingly, while Sho is, here, for all intents and purposes, a ninja, the whole “ninja” aspect is not played up at all. No one says the word “ninja” and no emphasis is put there. Perhaps by 1987 the filmmakers felt the whole Ninja Boom was on the wane and they would try out Sho as a cop...who’s basically a ninja.

So go back to a time when men smoked in hotel lobbies (and the prerequisite abandoned warehouses), and Sho ruled the video store shelves. While we believe the best Sho movie we’ve seen to date is Pray for Death, the Cannon-like fun of Rage of Honor shouldn’t be forgotten among those who can’t get enough of the thrills of Sho.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett