Black Belt Jones (1974)

Black Belt Jones (1974)-* * *1\2

Directed by: Robert Clouse

Starring: Jim Kelly, Gloria Hendry, Scatman Crothers and Mel Novak

When the Mafia, as best represented by Don Steffano and Big Tuna (Andre Philippe and Vincent Barbi) try to overrun Pop Byrd (Crothers) and his BlackByrd karate studio because they want the land it’s on, a conflict ensues. So the best man for the job is called in to clean up the mess with the mob: Black Belt Jones (Kelly)! Enlisting the help of Sydney (Hendry), who’s one bad mama, the two do what they do best: kick and punch the unwitting baddies until their heads spin. But will the mafia give up, or will they continue to fight? Find out today!

Black Belt Jones is classic 70’s Blaxploitation all the way. It’s an extremely enjoyable and lighthearted romp, filled with everything that makes the era great: fly threads, cool cars, big hair, evil whiteys and of course the music, the theme by Dennis Coffey and the rest by Luchi DeJesus. The music is integral to the film and goes a long way towards propelling the action. It’s also completely great in its own right, and while it, surprisingly, has never been reissued on CD (as far as we know), there is a reissue LP that’s floating around out there.

It’s easy to forget this, but Jim Kelly’s actual name in the movie is Black Belt Jones. No other name is given - ever. So dialogue like this is heard: “Belt, you better get over here quick”. This among many other examples.  But Jim Kelly is one cool customer, and everything he does is cool - he even presses a button for an elevator in an amazingly cool way. Most of the movie is just entertaining and funny, in that way that movies were in the blissful age before political correctness corroded the world.

It also was ahead of its time, as it features prominently women on trampolines, predating The Man Show by 25 years, and, having a character named Big Tuna, it predates The Office by a whopping 31 years. There’s also what might be dubbed a “Black Belt Funeral” (not for Jones, of course - but don’t you want some strong Black Brothers practicing their moves next to your coffin - next to what looks to be a painting of Toshiro Mifune? We thought so.) And the movie all comes to a head at a car wash with an insane amount of suds everywhere. Apparently car washes were huge in the 70’s.

We had seen this movie on the Warner Brothers big-box VHS, but then re-watched the Widescreen DVD, which is a nice improvement and a worthwhile purchase. So travel back in time to when Martial Arts was FUN and definitely see Black Belt Jones!

Also check out a review by our buddy, The Video Vacuum! 

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Vigilante (1983)

Vigilante (1983)-* * * *

Directed by: William Lustig

Starring: Robert Forster, Fred Williamson, Richard Bright, Joesph Carberry, Don Blakely, Carol Lynley, Willie Colon, Woody Strode, Steve James, Rutanya Alda, and Joe Spinell

Eddie Marino (Forster) is a blue-collar guy who goes to his factory job, then goes to the local dive bar with his friends (Nick, Burke, and Ramon - Williamson, Bright and Carberry, respectively), then comes home to his loving wife (Alda) and son. His simple life is interrupted when a vicious street gang led by the evil Rico (Colon) and Prago (Blakely) invade his home and assault his wife and son. Feeling defenseless against everyone from small-time drug pushers on up, Nick forms a vigilante group because the court system is a corrupt failure and isn’t protecting its citizens. Now crime is running wild so everyday citizens must stand up and fight. Eddie is initially resistant to the idea, but after seeing shyster lawyers like Eisenberg (Spinell) pull the rug out from under good-faith lawyers like his own, Mary Fletcher (Lynley), Eddie snaps and is sent to jail for contempt. It’s while he’s inside that he meets Rake (Strode)...but when he gets out, he decides to join Nick’s group after all and it’s then that the truth that he initially denied comes out: if you want justice, you have to do it yourself.

Why, oh why aren’t there more movies like Vigilante? We will never stop pining for them. Just about everything about Vigilante is awesome. From the second you see the font the opening credits are in, you know the movie is going to be good.  The cast is amazing: it’s one of Fred Williamson’s best - he puts a lot of energy into it and gets all the best lines. Plus he’s just so cool. There are moments when he breaks through the top of the coolness thermometer. Joe Spinell is perfectly cast as the sleazy lawyer. He has a small but integral role, as does Steve James. Come to think of it, same for Woody Strode. Robert Forster is always worth watching. Jay Chattaway’s music is superb and ties it all together.

Revenge movies are one of our favorite things to watch, and the gritty NYC locations of the 80’s are simply mesmerizing. The post-Death Wish (1974) cycle of The Exterminator (1980), Vigilante, and The Protector (1985), and, to a certain extent, Exterminator 2 (1984) give an excellent picture of the New York City of the day. It’s simply fascinating, not to mention addictive to watch - if you know any other movies like these, please write in a comment to suggest them!

The Anchor Bay DVD is excellent, with a beautiful widescreen transfer that looks great, and some nice extras. There’s not much more to say, really...for a great movie from a never-to-be-duplicated time period, with a top-notch cast that’s fast-paced and entertaining from start to finish, with a great message...Vigilante rules! What more could you want? If you haven’t already, just buy the DVD today!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a review by our buddy, M. Brown from Two Dollar Cinema!


Delta Force Commando (1988)

Delta Force Commando (1988)-* * *

Directed by: Pierluigi Ciriaci

Starring: Brett Baxter Clark, Fred Williamson, Mark Gregory, and Bo Svenson

Lt. Tony Turner (Clark) is a highly respected member of the elite team known as the Delta Force. While stationed on a military base in Puerto Rico, evil Sandinistas (?) break into the base and steal a nuclear bomb. During their raid, they maliciously kill Turner’s pregnant wife. BIG MISTAKE. Crazy with revenge, Turner begins tracking their every move (and killing everyone in sight), and along the way he ends up dragging ace pilot Capt. Samuel Beck (Williamson) along for the ride. While they don’t always get along (the main theme of the soundtrack sounds like a disco version of the theme from “The Odd Couple” - coincidence?), they must fight for their lives as they face a barrage of attacks from their enemies. Once they make it to the hideout of the baddies in Nicaragua, Col. Keitel (Svenson) injects himself into the final outcome. What will happen to Turner and Beck?

Here we have some Italian-made silliness that’s enjoyable to watch mainly because of Fred Williamson, the endless violence (which is more amusing and cartoon-like than dark) and the funny dubbing. It has enough standout moments to keep the viewer interested. Sure, the editing is choppy and abrupt a lot of the time, but that just adds to the charm and uniqueness.  Every movie you see in the theater nowadays is perfectly edited, and it’s just plain boring! Don’t be afraid to let the magic of Delta Force Commando sweep over you. Don’t fight it. Just enjoy it.

Amidst the constant mindless shooting and rocket launcher blow-ups, we should point out that it’s said that as a pilot, Beck is “The Best”, and, of all the possible names they could have chosen as his handle, it’s “Black Eagle”. Nothing racist there. But why should Sam “Black Eagle” Beck be annoyed that Turner is following his every move like a puppy dog, when, despite the never-ending supply of machine guns, Turner breaks out the most effective weapon in war: a slingshot! It’s nice to know that in the thick of combat, Dennis The Menace could triumph in a firefight.

 Like any video game worth its salt in the 80’s, there’s an inexhaustible supply of enemy soldiers to dispatch who all wear the same clothes (and in this case, all have Nazi-like black helmets). During the Prerequisite Torture Scene, Beck’s interrogator wants to know if he’s “working for the Contras”. Not only was this very topical, but it will put you in mind of a certain video game with a constant stream of baddies you must kill with your machine gun: Contra! But unlike Contra, Delta Force Commando has extremely inane dialogue, stock footage, and our personal favorite, REPEATED footage.  But you could never accuse this movie of skimping on the action. There’s actually some filler, and the movie starts to lose focus after a time - but it’s going to take a WHOLE ARMY to stop our two heroes. Including tanks!

Mark Gregory (who’s had an amazing career in the Italian film industry, most notably with some of the post-apocalyptic movies) is the main baddie with the ill-fitting, ridiculous women’s shirt. Naturally, unanswered questions about this led to a sequel, the long and confusing title of: Delta Force Commando 2: Priority Red One (1990). Nothing else could possibly explain why there’s a SEQUEL to this movie. Was this financially successful? But in the sequel, which was also directed by Ciriaci, Bo Svenson and Brett Clark did not return. Who would be the best replacement for Brett Clark? Van Johnson, naturally. And instead of Svenson (who wears the same kimono here that he does in The Kill Reflex, 1989), Ciriaci got Richard Hatch (booooo.) Fred returned, of course.

As long as you don’t take it too seriously, you’ll probably get a kick out of Delta Force Commando.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Down N' Dirty (2001)

Down N' Dirty (2001)-* * *

Directed by: Fred Williamson

Starring: Fred Williamson, Gary Busey, Tony Lo Bianco, David Carradine, Bubba Smith, Sam Jones, Andrew Divoff, Randy J. Goodwin, and Charles Napier

Dak is back! That would be Dakota “Dak” Smith (Williamson) to be precise. First seen in Night Vision (1997), Down ‘n Dirty is his second appearance, followed by On The Edge (2002). He also portrayed Dak in The Rage Within (2001) the same year as D’ND, 2001. This time around, the Dakster is in a whole heap o’trouble after his partner of many years is suddenly shot. As he tries in his inimitable style (ranging between cynical Cop On The Edge to smooth ladies man) to get answers, he runs up against resistance and even outright hostility in his own department - everyone ranging from his Captain, Teller (Napier), to Det. Ward (Lo Bianco). It turns out there’s corruption and conspiracy involved from D.A. Casey (Busey), who is in contact with the mysterious Gil Garner (Carradine) - who commands an army of goons such as Jimmy (Divoff). Naturally, they all want Dak’s head, because he’s trying to get to the truth. Does even his friend Det. Cale (Smith) believe him? Dak is going to have to team up with photographer Nick Gleem (Goodwin) to ultimately find out. Can he do it?

Somehow Fred is able to corral all these great stars to be in his movies. Sure, as we noted in our review for On the Edge, the dialogue is muffled at times, and the music drowns it out - because apparently for us, the audience, hearing electronic drums bashing away is more important than hearing valuable plot points - but thankfully the great Fred Williamson carries the 70’s/80’s-style cop drama/thriller into the 21st century, with no apologies. To the jaded and cynically minded, you could say it’s filled with all the cliches we’ve all seen thousands of times before, but those people are overlooking one crucial detail: the charm of Fred Williamson. Fred’s charisma absolutely carries this movie, as well as many of his others, and even the filler (which there’s plenty of, and as a result this movie could have been shorter) is enjoyable. The cliches are fun cliches, and the filler is fun filler, and we should be happy this movie was made in the first place.

Let’s not overlook that this is Bubba Smith at his absolute best. His line deliveries are priceless. He’s a giant man who wears a short tie that only reaches to about his sternum, and his hair is just...inexplicable. It looks like as if the top of his head - which doesn’t match the sides, mind you - is a cross between Frankenstein, Alfred E. Neuman and a black lacquer floor. Moving on, fan favorite Sam Jones makes a very brief (one scene) appearance, and looks highly uncomfortable. He also has an unexplained bearded biker dude as his sidekick. So many questions, so few answers. There’s minimal Jones, minimal Divoff and minimal Carradine. Carradine does a “sit-down” role and both he and Busey don’t appear until 51 minutes in.

Nick Gleem, as the sidekick, and who adds “like the toothpaste!” every time he introduces himself, ends up being called simply “Toothpaste” as his nickname. Not to be confused with “Speedboat” from Snake Eater II (1989). In the “awesome urban compound word nickname” awards, Toothpaste has the wackier hat, so we’ll give him the prize. And, unrelated to Mr. Toothpaste, as in Direct Contact (2009) when someone says “What if he goes AOL?” here, in Down N’ Dirty, someone says “Get it to me SAP”. Either this guy is REALLY in a hurry, so much so he has no time for the initial “A”, or maybe he wants to use his TV remote to watch his favorite shows in Spanish, but like a lot of things in this movie, it remains unexplained.

Besides Fred’s screen presence and a cast of familiar faces, the other thing that keeps this movie afloat is the music. By Johnny Ross (some songs are credited to J.R. and Li’l Big - we assume J.R. is Johnny Ross), the standouts are the main title theme and “Come Back Dak”. It sounds like it could be the same singers who sang “Dakota Smith - You‘re 12 Steps Away”, from Night Vision, but we’re not sure. We love the idea that Fred Williamson has his own personal singers who are on call for him at any time. Hopefully that is the case. Supposedly, the legendary Volt label released the soundtrack, and the main title features the line “If you’re on the take, you made a big mistake”, so it might be well worth finding. You don’t hear lyrics like that every day. More top 40 hits should be about systemic inter-office police corruption.

There is plenty to enjoy here for Fred fans such as ourselves...and for non-Fred fans: what’s wrong with you? Become a Fred fan.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Black Cobra 3: The Manila Connection (1990)

Black Cobra 3: The Manila Connection (1990)-* * *

Directed by: Edoardo Margheriti

Starring: Fred Williamson, Ned Hourani, Forry Smith, Debra Ward, and Mike Monty

Black Cobra is back! Cobra! This time around, Robert Malone (Fred), who is one cool customer, travels from his native Chicago to the Philippines (where else?) to investigate the death of a former Vietnam buddy, Charlie Hopkins (Hourani), who was working as some sort of commando trying to infiltrate a weapons-smuggling ring. But it’s not just simple handguns, it’s actually missiles that once belonged to the U.S. government! Capt. Phillips (Monty) is demanding answers. So Malone teams up with Interpol agent Greg Duncan (Smith) and fellow operative Tracy Rogers (Ward) and the three of them travel all over the Philippines searching for the truth. Naturally, fights and shootouts follow. But due to the unending stream of baddies with machine guns, will Malone’s Manila connection get severed? Find out today!

While it may, at first, seem surprising just how many Black Cobra movies there are, it becomes less surprising when you think about the cooler-than-cool Fred Williamson. He has charm and screen presence, so why wouldn’t Italian producers - or any producers - want to work with him? Black Cobra 3 delivers the Fred you want, as does the first Black Cobra movie. Starting with the very, very silly opening sequence with Ned Hourani, the movie provides good entertainment value. Granted, it does slow down at a certain point and enters Jungle Slog territory, but then it picks back up at the climax with Fred and his compatriots mowing down wave after wave of Filipino soldiers. You gotta love a good mow-down.

As if we needed to be reminded even further at this point in the series about its roots as a Cobra (1986) knockoff, our introduction to Fred comes in the form of yet another supermarket showdown. To avoid constant danger of being killed, Fred should probably switch to Peapod. But it’s really no sweat for Fred, he deals with the situation with style and aplomb. When he travels to the Philippines to meet up with his contact, the Interpol agent/skintight pink polo shirt collector Duncan, you think he’s finally found the ultimate partner. Duncan is a wealth of information; if you’ve ever finally wanted to know the difference between stone washed and acid washed jeans, Duncan’s expertise can put the matter to rest for you. The female member of this three-person army is armed with a “modem” which seems like some kind of cross between a word processor and a pager. We always love seeing 80’s/early 90’s technology, and this thing is a doozy.

The movie also features one of the best BYC (Black Yelling Chief) scenes we’ve seen in a long time. When Fred is dressed-down by his Captain in Chicago, watch out. Another thing we like is on hand, the disco scene, this time featuring a song highly reminiscent of “Boogie Nights” by Heatwave. Speaking of music, there’s plenty of sax on the soundtrack, and there are two gems for songs: “The Power of Love” (not to be confused with the Huey Lewis and the News song of the same name) and a song we think might be called “Save Tonight For Me”, but alas there are no song credits on the film. Also worth noting are the red grenades, the time-honored waterfalls seen in just about every production of this type, and the fact that it was all directed by Antonio Margheriti’s son, Edoardo.

Released on VHS in the U.S. by South Gate, Black Cobra 3: The Manila Connection is everything you’d expect from an Italian-produced Fred movie from 1990: (despite a couple of slow moments) - FUN. 

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out reviews by our buddies, The Video Vacuum and Cool Awesome Movies!


Black Cobra (1987)

Black Cobra (1987)-* * *1\2

Directed by: Stelvio Massi

Starring: Fred Williamson

Plot: See Cobra (1986)

If you’ve watched the movie Cobra so many times you feel you can’t get any more out of it than you already have - and let’s face it, the movie is truly a modern-day classic and makes for highly addictive viewing, so it’s understandable viewers become repeat viewers - try Black Cobra, a movie that follows the outline of Cobra so closely, you just have to laugh. It’s almost as if writer Danilo Massi got a hold of a copy of the script to Cobra, and every time the name “Cobra” popped up, he crossed it out with a Sharpie and wrote “Malone” (which is Fred’s name in the movie, of course). And if you had ever wished that Cobra starred not Sly, but Fred Williamson, your prayers have been answered. God bless the Italians. They’re known for their “interpretations” of more famous and popular films, and they simply hired a man of African-American descent in the role of Marion Cobretti, gave it the title “Black Cobra” and dusted their hands and proclaimed they were done with work for the day. So shameless, yet so awesome. Thankfully, Black Cobra is an extremely entertaining film, with Fred at his absolute best. It just may be the most fantastic Fred flick: as an angry Cop On The Edge, he shoots criminal scum first and wears stylish sweaters later.

To be fair, this particular Black Cobra also wears a black coat and drives a black car, so maybe that’s what director Stelvio Massi (famed for his work in the Poliziotteschi genre) was referring to by adding the word “Black”. Nevertheless, the movie is well-shot and well-edited, and contains plenty of “Yes!” moments. The music by Paolo Rustichelli is great and has a very catchy main synth theme. And because Fred’s name in the movie is Malone, that makes this romp a cross between Cobra and Malone (1987)...right?

So if you can’t get enough of evil bikers in an abandoned warehouse, and scenes of women modeling (though surely due to budget constraints, it’s a non-robot modeling scene), and other scenes made famous by Sly and the gang, definitely give this movie a shot. But Cobretti never had a cat named Purvis, as Fred does in the movie, so there’s an important difference in the character of the two men. Seeing as how the cat received no official credit, it could be spelled “Purr-vis”, we’re just guessing. The existence of Black Cobra is just more evidence - as if any was needed - of the awesomeness of the original Cobra. Not only did it spill over into creations like the movie at hand, but even this is a three-part series! The main baddie in this movie is pretty reminiscent of Mario Van Peebles in Exterminator 2 (1984), so just do the math: 98% Cobra, 1% Malone, 1% Exterminator 2 + Italian production + Fred Williamson. What does it all equal? Once you’ve reduced the fractions, it’s MUST WATCH!

And if you’re confused as just exactly how to watch the Quality Special Products DVD (read: gas station quality), there’s a very helpful narrator on the menu screen that helps you out.  “Welcome to this interactive digital versatile disc! On this disc, you may select the feature film, the movie review, the scene selection menu, the interactive game quiz...press the enter button when you’ve made a selection. Thank you, and we hope you enjoy the feature presentation!” It tells us. And that’s just the main menu. He also helps out with further direction for the game quiz. What would we do without this helpful (and uncredited) man? Truly he predates Siri. He also worked overtime, because the DVD is a double feature with the William Shatner TV movie Incident on a Dark Street (1973), so you get double value for minimal money. It’s definitely a good deal, so should you be filling up your tank and you happen to pay inside, you’d be crazy not to pick up this disc.

Black Cobra is a triumph for Fred, as well as his fans. We recommend it.

Comeuppance Review by Ty and Brett

Also check out a review by our buddy, Cool Awesome Movies!


South Beach (1993)

South Beach (1993)-* *1\2

Directed by: Fred Williamson

Starring: Fred Williamson, Gary Busey, Vanity, Peter Fonda, Isabel Sanford, Henry Silva, Frank Pesce, Sam Jones, and Robert Forster

 “I can breathe underwater, turnip head.” - Gary Busey

Mack Derringer (Fred) has an awesome name and used to play football. His partner Lenny is also an ex-pro player and now they’re private eyes in South Beach, Florida. And that, if the movie’s tagline is to be believed, is “the world’s deadliest strip of sand”. Mack’s latest adventure involves his ex-wife, Maxine (Vanity), who now runs “Maxine’s Services”, which seems to be some sort of phone sex operation. When a mysterious voice on the phone who calls himself “Billy” starts making threats, Mack snaps into action. As if his partner Lenny wasn’t enough, Mack calls on the services of Jake (Fonda) to help him find his way through the South Beach underworld. But Det. Coleman (Forster) doesn’t trust Mack and seems to be following his every move. But at least Mack’s mother, Mama (Sanford) is proud of him and doesn’t hesitate to tell anyone who will listen. After getting a tip from a rapper named Too Kool (Ross), Mack gets to the real heavies such as Santiago (Silva) and a man named Billy (Jones) - but is it the same Billy that’s been harassing Maxine? Mack Derringer will have to use all the power of his name to get to the truth behind this web of crime and deception. Can he do it?

If the above plot description sounds like a confusing mishmash, that’s because that’s pretty much what South Beach is. Fred is able to get amazing casts for his movies, and in finding a place for everyone, sometimes forgets about coherency. South Beach also has somewhat of a sillier tone than a lot of other Freds we’ve seen, and the end result, while not bad, is likely to not really satisfy anyone except die-hard fans of anyone involved with the production, and only viewers familiar with Fred’s style of filmmaking will be able to glean anything from this movie.

Fred’s array of great jackets is noteworthy, as is he and Busey’s round of what can only be described as “Zany Golf” at the beginning of the film. As in the later Night Vision (1997), Robert Forster plays a cop who yells at Fred. It’s basically the same thing here. There was very minimal Henry Silva - by the time his part in the movie rolled around, he was squeezed out by all the other actors in this broth. And after we were finished pondering why Peter Fonda, as well as his ponytail/mustache combination, were involved in the first place, we got to the rapper Too Kool, not to be confused with Too Short, and another brief Sam Jones appearance. But at least with Jones, there’s a fight, instead of him standing around awkwardly as he does in fellow Fred film Down ‘n Dirty (2001). But all the names in the cast distract from the amazing goons in this movie. We don’t know their names, but we all should. They outshine most of the cast, and they do it in their own lovable way: simply by being humble men, overweight men squeezed into tweed jackets, with mullets and Vuarnet sunglasses. God bless the goons, the unsung heroes of the crime movie world.

As for the DVD we viewed, it’s one of those cheapo gas station jobs and is of very low quality. It’s actually blurry, and we were told in the late 90’s DVD’s would never be blurry. The VHS is of far better quality. However, this particular disc is a double feature with the Mario Van Peebles film South Bronx Heroes (1985), and clearly this DVD company was catering to movie fans just clamoring to complete their “South” movie collections. But, in direct contradiction to that, according to the menu screen, the movie is called “Sonth Bronx Heroes”. You read that right. SONTH. How you screw up the title of the movie on the menu screen of your own DVD, we’ll never know, especially such an easy word like “South”. Either that, or the movie is referring to the heroes of an area of New York City that we’ve never heard of before.

South Beach is kind of a weird outing for Fred, yet also oddly typical of some of his other work. As Survivor once sang when they were surely referring to this movie, “It’s the paradox that drives us all”.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Thank you to DTVC for the hotlink to the cover! Here is his review too.


The Messenger (1986)

The Messenger (1986)-* * *

Directed by: Fred Williamson

Starring: Fred Williamson, Cameron Mitchell, Christopher Connelly, Sandy Cummings, Frank Pesce, Stack Pierce, Magic Wand, and Joe Spinell 

Jake Sebastian Turner (Fred) is an ex-Green Beret in ‘Nam who became a cat burglar. He was busted in Italy and served three years in an Italian prison. When he gets out, one of his old contacts offers him $500,000 or more if he can exact revenge on the drug dealers that killed his son. He takes the job, meanwhile reconnecting with his old flame Sabrina (Sandy Cummings). When drug-dealing scum kill her, Turner kicks into gear, going from Rome, to Chicago, to L.A. and finally to Las Vegas tracking and killing “drug gangsters” as they are called, but also helping people that have been harmed by them along the way, meeting different people and getting into different scenarios in every city he visits. Police Captain Carter (Mitchell) and his number two man, Leroy (Pierce) are trying to track down this “Messenger of Death”, but FBI Agent Parker (Connelly) is sympathetic to his vigilante ways. Watch Fred become a one-man war on drugs in The Messenger!

Fred Williamson once again proves he’s at the top of his game when it comes to the action stars of the 70’s and 80’s. He starred, co-wrote, co-produced and directed this film, and, thanks to his Fred-Fu, was probably Martial Arts coordinator as well. The film might have an odd pace, but it’s Fred’s unique vision that makes it good. Thanks to some of the politically incorrect elements, as well as the ultra-funky score and musical stings (by William Stuckey), you couldn’t make this today. And because, at the time of this writing, it has not been released on DVD, this VHS-only Fred is a true artifact of the time. He also passes a movie marquee showing Raw Deal (1986), and we always like to see these kinds of preservations on film.

As if the strong presence of Fred doing his “Death Wish thing” as has been said, wasn’t enough, he assembled a killer cast: Cam Mitchell plays the angry Police Captain (basically the exact role he plays in Hollywood Cop, 1987), who always has the nub of a cigar in his mouth. And he’s teamed up for what seems like the hundredth time with Stack Pierce, and we always like seeing them, especially when they’re together. In the “awesome glasses” sweepstakes, Christopher Connelly gives Cam a run for his money here, and Connelly also has some great lingo, at one point calling fan favorite Joe Spinell, and we quote, a “Suckfish”. Oddly enough, that word (?) seems familiar and we think we’ve actually heard it uttered before on film. But we can’t remember which movie.

But besides all the names we know and love, we should also point out some of the lesser-known supporting cast: Benny, Fred’s Chicago contact and hot dog chef, is great, and FBI Chief Connors is truly a national treasure. But the drug dealer/pimp known in the movie as Sweet Louie, played by Magic Wand (did they really have to change his name to Sweet Louie?) has an amazing suit with dollar signs on it, making him the Black Matthew Lesko (or “Blesko” as it’s called by people in the know).

Because it was the 80’s, it has a title song (in this case by Jacob Wheeler),  which we always love, and other characters get their own song as well, such as “Sabrina”. It’s a tradition Fred would follow for years to come - just see Night Vision (1997) and its song “Dakota Smith”. So check out some prime, if overlooked, Fred today with this enjoyable outing.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Deadly Impact (1984)

Deadly Impact (1984)-* *

Directed by: Fabrizio De Angelis

Starring: Fred Williamson, Bo Svenson, Marcia Clingan, John Morghen, and Vincent Conte

Computer nerd Harry J. Vincent ( ???) and his girlfriend Kathy (Marcia Clingan) have developed a system to manipulate slot machines and other games in Las Vegas. They make a bundle of money, and escape before they can be caught. But there’s a problem. The sadistic thugs Al (Morghen) and Kurt (Conte) also want their earnings. So it’s up to the cop Ryan (Svenson) and his helicopter-driver buddy Lou (Williamson) to track down the baddies and save the day.

The Italian film industry is noted for its “homages” to more popular films of the time (less charitable people would say “knockoffs” but in their creation they seem to become something altogether new - check out the Italian post-apocalypse films), and Deadly Impact seems to be cut from the same cloth as 48 Hrs. (1982). Instead of Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, it’s Fred Williamson and Bo Svenson (who we would rather see anyway). Fred once again brings his magnetic personality, and he has good chemistry with the more hard-nosed Bo. They play ‘Nam buddies who will destroy any car to get the job done.

The car stunts are the highlight of this film. There are some definitely cool chases, jumps, flips and wrecks. But there isn’t really much in the plot department, and the film lacks one big, major bad guy. It could have used more goons for them to beat up/kill, or even some plot twists. Somewhat disappointingly, it’s a standard, down-the-line cops chasing baddies movie. Fabrizio DeAngelis AKA Larry Ludman, the legendary producer/director and the man behind Operation Nam (1986), delivers a competent, if a tad bland movie but with some standout stuntwork.

Let’s not forget the great John Morghen AKA Giovanni Lombardo Radice as one of the thugs. In real life a very cultured, educated man, he’s known for his thug roles and his appearances in Italian 80’s horror-boom movies. The silly dubbing washes away a lot of his - and others’- performances, but add a charm of their own at the same time. The same can be said of the music, which is enjoyable and catchy, but perhaps inappropriate to the scenes it is accompanying.

Though it was largely shot in Las Vegas and Phoenix, it still retains its Italian feel, and while it’s not exactly a must-see, fans of Italian action or the stars involved might want to check it out.

Released on VHS in the U.S. on the great Vestron label, Deadly Impact might not be the best example of Italian action, but as a way to while away an hour and a half, you could certainly do worse.

Also check out a write-up by our buddy, The Video Vacuum!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Dragon and The Cobra (1980)

 Dragon and The Cobra (1980)-*

AKA: Fist Of Fear, Touch Of Death

Directed by: Matthew Mallinson

Starring: Fred Williamson, Bruce Lee, Ron Van Clief, Bill Louie, and Adolph Caesar

A big fighting tournament is taking place at Madison Square Garden. Many fighters are showing off their various skills. Why is this going on, you ask? It’s because everyone is trying to find the “possible successor to Bruce Lee”. Not the actual successor, the POSSIBLE successor. The event is MC’d by a man with a name that has interesting historical connotations, Adolph Caesar. In the audience for no particular reason (though we’re happy he’s on board) is Fred Williamson. As the fights in the ring go on, we’re treated to a variety of clips from a myriad of different sources, trying to recreate the life of Bruce Lee, and people that knew him talking about him (and, not so subtly, talking TO him using horrendous editing). Is this film a crass cash-in exploiting the greatness of Bruce Lee and insulting his memory for a quick buck? Find out today!

This movie is a crass cash-in exploiting the greatness of Bruce Lee and insulting his memory for a quick buck. Hopefully this saves you some time. Now, this isn’t really a movie per se, as it’s not linear, and is cobbled together footage from a patchwork of sources, with a few new bits filmed to try to glue it all together. All the old footage, which appears to have been re-dubbed, is boring and painful to sit through. The newly-filmed footage isn’t without some merits, however flimsy...

There are some cool NYC locations of the day which we always love seeing, and we even see some movie marquees that are playing Apocalypse Now (1979), Animal House (1978) and 10 (1979). Fred Williamson brings his charisma but he’s obviously confused as to why he’s there so he’s on autopilot. But even The Hammer on autopilot is more entertaining than most actors. There seems to be an inexplicable running gag where people keep thinking he’s Harry Belafonte. Why this is, no one can say. A funky score also underlines these scenes.

But women jogging in the park and being accosted by street toughs and then being saved by one of Bruce’s pretenders to the throne seems to be the sole bit of creative thought put into this trainwreck of a movie. Bill Louie plays “Kato #2”. That’s right, a guy dressed as Bruce’s character, with the name “Kato #2”. As mind-numbingly stupid as that is, Louie gets a pass because he was in one of our favorite movies, the awesome Death Promise (1977). So all is forgiven. In these “saving the joggers” scenes, Ron Van Clief actually shines as well. You gotta love that winning smile. But though this movie technically (by default) has Bruce Lee, Fred Williamson and Ron Van Clief, they’ve got some stiff competition in Fred the Flying Fat Man.

Ah, Fred the Flying Fat Man. He had such dreams. We’d love to be privy to his thoughts. How a morbidly obese vagrant with sleep apnea and diabetes could think he could genuinely become the new Bruce Lee is beyond comprehension. Yes, this is real. If anyone out there has any information on said Flying Fat Man, do leave a comment today.

But the big question here (especially when characters are talking to stills and spliced-together footage) is: WHO DID THEY THINK THEY WERE FOOLING? True Bruce fans aren’t going to accept this tripe. Casual moviegoers won’t care. So what was the audience here?

Naturally, the Fred Williamson stuff is the best here, and after suffering through the footage of Bruce’s “biography”, we were screaming for Adolph Caesar and his famous voice to come back and save us all.

So while there are a few decent moments in this plotless exercise, most of it is an endurance test that would test hardened bad movie lovers. If only they made an entirely new movie with Williamson, Van Clief and Louie, then we’d have something here. As it stands now, we really don’t.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a review by our buddy, The Video Vacuum!


Foxtrap (1986)

Foxtrap (1986)-* * *

Directed by: Fred Williamson

Starring: Fred Williamsom, Cleo Sebastian, Christopher Connelly, Lela Rochon, and Beatrice Palme

Thomas Fox (Williamson) is hired by the wealthy John “J.T.” Thomas (Connelly - yes, there are two characters named Thomas in this movie) to find his missing daughter. Fox, who normally doesn’t do this kind of thing, accepts the job. He gets a lead that she’s in France, so he heads to Cannes just as the film festival is going on. After a bunch of twists and turns, he ends up in Italy, where he gets help from Marianna (Palme) and Josie (Sebastian). After yet more twists and turns, he ends up back in L.A. and must face the reality of the situation he was put into. Will Fox escape this particular trap?

Foxtrap is Fred doing what he does best - being cool and busting heads. If you’re familiar with his 80’s output such as The Messenger, this is very much in the same vein, style-wise. If you’re not familiar, it’s a very basic plot where Fred can get into fights, woo the ladies and smoke a cigar amongst a lot of very picturesque locations. The Cannes scenes are especially interesting, as posters for Invasion USA (1985), Death Wish 3 (1985), Power (1986), Witness (1985), Cocoon (1985), Mishima (1985) and The Toxic Avenger (1986), among others, are seen.

As the movie states, Thomas Fox is “The Best”, and Fred has never looked better, what with his dapper white suit and all. His license plate even reads “DA FOX”. He gets plenty of great lines, and while there is a certain dumbness in the air (especially during the fight/chase scenes), there’s a lot to enjoy about Foxtrap. It has some of our favorite recurring themes, such as middle-aged punks and fruit carts. Not to mention the time-honored final warehouse fight and the classic sax on the soundtrack. And Foxtrap is noteworthy for being one of the few movies we’ve seen (following American Kickboxer 2, 1993 and Last Flight To Hell, 1990) with a misspelling in the opening credits. “Produced An Story By Fred Williamson”, so it says.

Foxtrap has what you want in a movie like this, so it’s a must for Fred fans, and everyone else should check it out too.

Comeuppance Review by Brett and Ty


Silent Hunter (1995)

Silent Hunter (1995)-* *1\2

Directed by: Fred Williamson

Starring: Miles O'Keefe, Erika Rafuls, Jason Cavalier, Fred Williamson, and Dakota Horvath

 “Here comes the dumb Sheriff.”

Jim Paradine (O’Keeffe) is a Miami Cop On The Edge who is tired of the justice system continually releasing criminals back into society. He has a loving wife and daughter, and is about to take two weeks vacation. Suddenly a gang of thugs carjack the family, and end up killing Paradine’s two beloved family members, and shooting him as well. Though left for dead, he does what would only be natural after an event like that, he moves to a snowy, rural location, grows a beard, and becomes a mountain man. When the same gang of baddies shows up in this cold, remote location and disrupts his life again, Paradine gets revenge one by one, and even Sheriff Mantee (Williamson) can’t stop him. Will Paradine use his white coveralls while stalking through the snow to eliminate the criminal scum and become the ultimate SILENT HUNTER?

Silent Hunter was directed by Fred, who gave himself a modest supporting role as the Sheriff. He graciously made Miles O’Keeffe the main hero, instead of himself. We’re definitely fans of O’Keeffe, having enjoyed his performances in Cartel (1990) and Zero Tolerance (1994) - though not so much in Liberty & Bash (1989), but we’ll let that one go because it wasn’t his fault that movie sucked. When he grows his beard and long hair, it’s surprising how much he looks like Ashton Kutcher. When the movie starts out, he’s on the streets of Miami, battling it out with goons with outstanding hair. The next thing you know, we’re in the midst of a snowy wilderness slog. The movie should have stayed with what was going on in the first third, where ideally Miles battles a bunch of meatheads until he finally gets revenge on his attackers. That’s almost what happens in the wilderness, but it takes a patience-testing 97 minutes to get there. Silent Hunter, while not too bad, should have been shorter and snappier.

While O’Keeffe is good, Fred is good in his limited screen time, and Jason Cavalier, who plays the role of the classic 90’s psychotic, cliche-spouting baddie, Dewey, is good, truly the movie is stolen by one Dakota Horvath. Who is Dakota Horvath you ask? Well, he can only be described as a “pint-sized Sinatra” - a young tot who, dressed in a tuxedo, belts out a classic tune like a man four times his age. This occurs at Paradine’s daughter Kathy’s (Rafuls) birthday party. This is the sort of entertainment normally seen at a 12 year old girl’s birthday party, right? Our hats go off to you, Dakota Horvath, wherever you are.

So while the momentum slows during its overlong running time, Silent Hunter isn’t without some redeeming qualities. Like the song, “You’re A Long Way From Home”, by Raymond Fabi and Mark Hillard, and interestingly there is a poster for the movie Scarecrows (1988) on someone’s office wall. While it’s not a showcase for onscreen Fred, Silent Hunter makes a relatively decent one-time watch.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out a review by DTVC!