Jungle Wolf (1986)

Jungle Wolf (1986)- * * *

Directed by: Charlie Ordonez

Starring: Ron Marchini, Tony Carreon, Romy Diaz, Joonee Gamboa, Dax Nicolas, Michael Bristow, and Laura Abeyta,

“I’m your travel agent” - Steve Parrish

In the Central American nation of San Sebastian, a group of violent rebels kidnap the American Ambassador, Ambassador Porter Worthington (Carreon). (You know he’s American because his name is Porter Worthington, so don’t think he was played by a non-American actor). The leader of the group is Hernandez (Diaz), who sports some intimidating facial hair and has unpredictable taste in hats. He wants the release of the prisoner Isidro Zapien (Gamboa) and will use entire armies of armed men to achieve his goal. Naturally, the one man who can rescue the Ambassador and save the country is Vietnam vet Steve Parrish (Marchini). He teams up with the beautiful Maria (Abeyta) and heads off into the jungle to fight the baddies. But he’s haunted by the ghosts of his past, especially as they relate to Forgotten Warrior (1986). Will he succeed?

Confusingly, Jungle Wolf uses a lot of recycled footage from the aforementioned Forgotten Warrior, but both movies were released the same year, 1986. Seeing as how Ron has the same yellow shirt in both movies, it’s safe to assume they were shot simultaneously, or at least very close together. This seems to be the beginning of his Steve Parrish character, who he played in at least four of his films. His son Zak (Nicholas) makes a brief appearance here, but the plot of Jungle Wolf II (AKA Return Fire, 1988) fleshes out the relationship a bit more. But technical details aside, Jungle Wolf takes the standard El Presidente/Jungle Slog so common in the 80’s, and gives it the old Marchini magic. The movie is almost plotless and could be described as incoherent. But it’s incoherent in a great way. As there seems to be no word to convey this idea, we’ll pioneer a new one, grincoherent.

We’re not sure if the grincoherence is helped or hurt by Marchini’s unnecessary and deadpan narration, the character of Agent Connover (Vance) who looks exactly like Rick Moranis, and of course the constant machine gun shooting. The highlight of the movie is the fist-pumping song “Back In Action” by Michael Bristow (a frequent Marchini collaborator who has worked with him in various guises both in front of and behind the camera). It sounds like a cross between Europe and the Scorpions, which is funny because as far as we know Bristow is American and the song was recorded in California. But that doesn’t stop Bristow from singing with a Klaus Meine-like accent. You gotta love it. When the song plays while Marchini changes into his all-black outfit (complete with horizontal pant-leg zippers) and gears up with guns and knives, you’ll be in action movie heaven. Thankfully it happens twice in the movie.

Why the movie is set in Central America but was shot in the Philippines remains unknown, and sadly this particular Marchini outing was not released in America. Fans in the Netherlands got to enjoy it, and it wasn’t until the advent of the internet that others could complete their Marchini collections. It was also the only Romarc movie not to be released here in the U.S. (that’s Marchini’s company, the word being a contraction of his first and last names). Lovers of low-budget and/or obscure action from the 80’s, and of course Mr. Marchini, will likely get a charge out of Jungle Wolf. For casual viewers, it may be better to start elsewhere. 

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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


The Big Heat (1988)

The Big Heat (1988)- * * * 1\2

Directed by: Yeung-Wah Kam, Johnnie To, and Tsui Hark

Starring: Waise Lee, Philip Kwok, Matthew Wong, King Wah Lo, and Tsui-Han Mak

Hong Kong cop Wai-Pong “John” Wong (Lee) has been having nightmares about his right hand. He’s worried it will cramp up and be of no use should he get into a firefight and he won’t be able to protect his partners Kam (Kwok), Clumsy Lun (Wong), or Malaysian cop working with them, Ong (Lo). Not to mention his wife Maggie (Mak), who he’s been having troubles with lately. 

But Wong is going to have to put his psychological/physical issues on hold, because Hong Kong is about to be turned upside down by drug-dealing, blackmailing, ruthless gangsters that kill witnesses at the drop of a hat and want to do as much illegal activity as possible before 1997 (when HK becomes independent of British rule). This sets the stage for one of the most blood-drenched battles Hong Kong has ever seen. The heat isn’t just big...it’s HUGE!

It’s pretty easy math to do: Stylish police drama + Hong Kong + The 80’s + GORE scenes = complete and total winner! We believe this movie’s under-the-radar status, coupled with its being credited to not less than THREE directors, one of which is Johnnie To, another being an uncredited Tsui Hark, plus its groundbreaking uses of extreme violence, puts The Big Heat firmly in the category of cult movie. Which is saying a lot because that’s one of the most misused terms out there today. Most movies deemed “cult” are not. We’re pretty sure The Big Heat is. The title is not to be confused with the also-excellent (but couldn’t be more different) film noir from 1953. Quick sidebar: if you look closely in one of the scenes, you can see a poster for Young Warriors (1983) in the background.

The Big Heat delivers all the bone-crunching violence you could ever possibly want, and we applaud them for going so far over the top. But the real truth is that this would be a good, solid, interesting movie even without the excessive blood and mayhem. 

It’s stylishly and energetically directed, and would easily hold the viewers’ interest sans all the brutality on show. So you can imagine the thrill-ride this movie is WITH all the violence. All the fights and stunts are spectacularly well-staged, and the viewer is never less than totally entertained. Plus there’s plenty of slow-motion dramatics so popular at the time to increase the operatic feel of it all.

If The Big Heat was an 80’s boombox, it would have all the levels cranked to the top. We give this movie a very strong recommendation so make sure you see it!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out a write-up from out buddy, A Hero Never Dies!


Sword Of Heaven (1985)

Sword Of Heaven (1985)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Byron Meyers

Starring: Tadashi Yamashita, Joseph J. Randazzo, Gerry Gibson, Mel Novak, Karen Sheperd, Bill "Superfoot" Wallace, Gerard Okamura, and Mika

When a meteor crashes to earth in the ancient past, Japanese monks use it to fashion a magical, glowing sword. Now, in present-day Los Angeles, a cop named Tadashi (Yamashita) and his very Irish partner Patrick (Gibson) are fighting not only police corruption, a sadistic pimp named Cain (Randazzo) and a paramilitary group led by camp commander Dirk St. John (Novak), but Tadashi agrees to try and find the missing sword and return it back to its rightful owner, because it has been in his family for centuries. 

Not only that, but the daughter of the sword’s owner, Satoko (Mika), has been kidnapped. It sure looks like there’s a lot on Patrick and Tadashi’s plate, but luckily Tadashi “Is the best the Japanese have to offer” and he can “handle any weapon ever made”. Does that include the...SWORD OF HEAVEN?

We absolutely loved Sword of Heaven. It has that funny, insane, yet unwittingly (?) wacky sensibility we enjoy so much. It has one of the best openings we’ve seen in a while, as Tadashi tears around the desert, popping wheelies on his motorbike - this after we actually see the materials for the sword coming out of space hundreds of years ago! 

The music that accompanies these scenes and many others is triumphant and Superman-like, and the rest of the score is extremely catchy as well. There’s even a song during a chase that sounds a LOT like ZZ Top’s “Legs”. The music, like the movie itself, is upbeat and fast paced.

While it may seem impressive that genre stalwarts Karen Sheperd, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace and Gerald Okamura have joined Tadashi, you truly haven’t lived until you’ve seen Tadashi Yamashita - who looks like a Japanese Mitt Romney - executing his Martial Arts moves while (needlessly, which makes it funny) going undercover in a red dress. This when not on his awesome motorbike with a sword strapped to his back. 

His most noteworthy nemesis, in a movie full of them, is Joe Randazzo as Cain. He wears one glove like Michael Jackson and puts in an over-the-top, bonkers performance that on the John Miller scale of acting, rates about a 6.5 to a 7.

There’s the token barfight (check out the pinball machines), absurd 80’s insults are thrown around, and even though the kidnapped girl’s name is Satoko, it REALLY sounds like all the characters are calling her “Sudoku”. For half the movie we thought Tadashi really loved seeking out challenging number puzzles. 

But even though the movie is slathered in the loony goings-on you just have to love, there’s plenty of great action and stunts as well, so the action side of our brains is fully satisfied. There’s even a classic “hero goes in the woods and proceeds to kill goons” ending, each with different weaponry, which shows the movie’s heart was in the right place all along.

During the infamous nightclub scene, a metal band is on stage called Ninja Warriors of Rock, playing a song called “War of Love”. Released on VHS by TransWorld, do yourself a favor and see Sword of Heaven!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett 


Troma's War (1988)

Troma's War (1988)- * * *

Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz

Starring: Rick Washburn, Jessica Dublin, Ara Romanoff, and Lisa Petruno

When a plane crashes on the remote island of Isla de Providencia, the survivors of the wreck find they’re in for a nasty surprise. While they were total strangers moments before the crash, now they must band together to fight battalions of terrorists using the Cuba-controlled island for training to take over the U.S.! 

These communist-terrorists may have met their match when it comes to the everyday citizens aboard the plane, such as Parker (Washburn, using the name Michael Ryder), a gun expert who presumably was in Vietnam, A grandma in her 70’s, Dottie (Dublin), a blind girl, Jennifer (Petruno), and the large-and-in-charge Cooney (Romanoff), who is just one of the many unlikely heroes to emerge from this conflict. Will the baddies prevail? Will there be a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top? Will their nefarious plans be stopped by the unanticipated heroes? Find out today!

While viewers looking to satisfy their action fix might not immediately run to Troma, here they show what they can do with the genre. The 80’s action boom was so huge in video stores, clearly Troma wanted in on the action. Literally. 

So Lloyd Kaufman and his team fashioned Troma’s War, which has all the gun-shooting, blow-ups, fighting, and guard tower falls as any other movie you might see, but it has that wild n’ wacky, politically incorrect humor that Troma is known for. It’s their take on the jungle slog genre, and as long as you don’t take it too seriously, you should have a good time watching it.

We can’t be sure if this falls into the categories of parody, satire, spoof, or if this was their sincere attempt at a guns-blazing action movie. But whatever this is, it didn’t have to be 105 minutes long. Sure, the body count is huge, and it takes a lot of time to kill that many people, but as an exercise in silliness, there surely are parts that could have been trimmed down. 

But Troma’s War must have had an influence, because it’s plainly obvious that the makers of Lost ripped off a lot from this movie. Any Lost fans out there, simply watch the first few minutes of Troma’s War: you may notice some interesting similarities, such as a bunch of different personalities on a beach with a lot of plane wreckage strewn about, and a male character even needs to be sewn up by a female character. The way it looks and the way it’s shot looks very familiar.

The movie truly is Rick Washburn at his absolute best, and it shows you can be a middle-aged man with thinning hair and still kill the baddies with aplomb. If you can have Middle Aged Punks, surely you can have a middle-aged hero. But that’s what the movie’s all about: people of different ages and nationalities banding together in unity to save the United States. It’s a positive message that’s not heavy-handed, and it’s certainly there beneath all the machine gun shooting and gross-out humor, if you choose to see it. If not, Troma’s War provides enough entertainment value anyway. How tongue-in-cheek it all is may be open to audience interpretation.

Featuring the songs “Alive” and “Storm is Rising” by Christopher DeMarco (which are entirely in keeping with the genre and one is even used during this movie’s version of a training sequence), Troma’s War puts a spin on the wilderness shoot-em-ups we’ve become so used to, and we welcome it.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddy at The Unknown Movies!

Note: Lloyd Kaufman tweeted us these kind words:

"Congrats! You write very well! Lost In Troma's War!"


The Intruder (1986)

The Intruder  (1986)- * * *1\2

AKA Rambu

Directed by: Jopi Burnama

Starring: Peter O'Brian, Craig Gavin and Lia Warokka 

When criminals and baddies of every kind stalk the streets of Indonesia, only one man can stop them in their tracks: Rambu (O’Brian), of course. The man his enemies call Rambu is actually an unemployed dude with a wicked fashion sense named Alex Terambuan. But to criminal mastermind John White (Gavin, who is credited as “John Smith” in the end credits) and his hordes of goons, he is an “Intruder” into their evil business. So they kidnap, rape and murder his wife Ella (Warokka, credited as “Angela” in the end credits). 

At one point he even gets Rambushed by the bad guys (hence the Prerequisite Torture Sequence). Luckily Ella gave him a red scarf to remember her by before she was abducted. After he wraps it tightly around his forehead, Rambu goes out for revenge. Can anything stop a Rambu on the rampage? Find out today!

The great and mighty Peter O’Brian returns in his second film after the awesome The Stabilizer (1986) - and The Intruder has the same kind of utterly winning, infectious, nutty charm. The entertainment value of this movie is off the chart, as it delivers the goods and then some starting with the great opening scene and not really ever letting up. 

The whole outing has energy (sped-up fights will do that), exotic flavor, and general insanity that viewers just have to love. Why he has a cricket ball (?) that returns to him like a boomerang is just one of the many brain-teasing questions this movie will confront you with.

As we will learn from Rambu, only suckers don’t undo the first 4 to 5 buttons on a shirt. Actor Craig Gavin has only ever appeared in two movies in his career - and both of them were playing villains to Peter O’Brian’s heroes. Who could forget him as Greg Rainmaker in The Stabilizer? Seeing as how both movies were made in 1986, we suspect he uses the same white suit here as he did there. It’s a shame he wasn’t in more movies, he could have had a career. 

But as for The Intruder in general, even the dubbing is enjoyable on its own. You could watch this movie with your eyes closed and still have a great time. But if you did that, you’d miss all the great hair, clothes, high-quality explosions, and references to a certain Stallone movie that shall remain...well, not nameless, but let’s just say one vowel different.

It’s always great when filmmakers are so proud of a name they came up with, they say it excessively throughout the movie. A classic example is Best of the Best 2 (1993), where the name “Brakus” is said countless times. Here, it’s the same thing, the name “Rambu” is uttered endlessly throughout the movie by just about every character. And the more they say it, the funnier it gets. 

While American audiences may only know director Jopi Burnama because Troma took one of his movies and re-dubbed it into the unfunny Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters (1982), that’s a shame, because he may just have an Arizal-level of talent but no DVD distributors want to take a chance on his output. Where’s Mondo Macabro on this?

Rambu remains a sparkling gem in the rare 80’s international action canon. Don’t be afraid to draw ‘second blood’ and seek it out soon.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Deadly Target (1994)

Deadly Target (1994)- * * *

Directed by: Charla Driver

Starring: Gary Daniels, Aki Aleong, Ken McLeod, Byron Mann, Al Leong, Ron Yuan, and Susan Byun

Charles “Charlie” Prince (Daniels) is a Hong Kong cop who travels to L.A. in order to bring arch-criminal Chang (Mann) back to his home country to face justice. The tenacious Prince will stop at nothing to achieve his goal, because the arrest of Chang is personal to him. His “cowboy” attitude initially rubs his temporary partner Jenson (McLeod) the wrong way, but of course they learn to work together. Naturally both men are Martial Arts masters, which surely is a coincidence. Somehow Prince finds time for romance with Diana Tang (Byun), but Chang and his army of goons are going to prove difficult to stop: their criminal network is vast and their firepower is huge. Will Prince and Jenson finally achieve their goal?

While Deadly Target has all the hallmarks of mid-90’s PM that we’ve come to know and love, such as constant Martial Arts fights, mindless shooting, car chases/cars flipping and blowing up in the middle of the street, exploding helicopters, and more mindless shooting, an element seems to be missing here. It’s not in the top tier, with movies such as Rage, Last Man Standing, Recoil and The Sweeper, and it doesn’t have the nutty/wacky factor of Wilding or Night Of The Kickfighters, but it’s a serviceable outing nonetheless, most likely, once again, because of the charm of Gary Daniels. While we’ve seen almost all of Ken McLeod’s filmography, somehow Daniels always steals the show. 

The presence of Susan Byun as the love interest was basically pointless, but if not for her, there would be almost no women in the whole production. Max Gail as Captain Peters was the classic WYC (White Yelling Chief) - too bad they couldn’t get his lookalike Peter Boyle to do the role. Ron Yuan, Aki Aleong, and Al Leong fill out the cast of familiar faces and names (well, if you watch a lot of 90’s DTV action product).

While that comfortable feeling of “dumbness” is achieved very quickly, what with Daniels beating up many people while wearing a leather jacket in an extended fight scene early in the film, during that same sequence, not only is there mindless shooting, but it looks like GENERIC shooting! It's just footage of a guy shooting a machine gun that could have been taken from any source was spliced in to fire mis-matchedly at Gary Daniels. We’re not saying that’s the case, but director Driver should have taken more care to make sure it didn’t look that way. But on the other hand, it’s really funny and we laughed, so all’s well that ends well. 

Interestingly, while Charla Driver has served in just about every capacity a person can while working on a film during her years with PM, this is the only movie she directed. Maybe that’s why the vibe is a little different, while all the main elements of PM are present and accounted for.

At least during the fight scenes, there appears to be some sort of baby powder on people’s heads, so when they get kicked or punched, the light picks up the flying particles. Also, while many movies have the time-honored sax on the soundtrack, Deadly Target bests them all by having a live sax player. Not only did he provide the smooth jams, but we can actually see what he looks like. 

Additionally, Gary Daniels proves once and for all that you’ve achieved true awesomeness as a human being if you can wear a vest with no shirt underneath as casual, everyday wear. Your body, your muscles and your confidence level must be so unimaginably high, you can pull it off. See also: Lorenzo Lamas. Finally, there’s an old Chinese gangster in the film named Mr. Zao. Presumably his first name is Po Po and he was named after the classic Kevin Federline song of the same name. Yes, the old man was named after the song. Not ridiculous at all. Think about it.

In the end, Deadly Target does provide all the kicking, punching, shooting, Gary Daniels, and blow-ups that fans want, but lacks that little bit of extra something to tie it all together. It’s still worth seeing though.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

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


Forced To Fight (2011)

Forced To Fight (2011)- * *1\2

Directed by: Jonas Quastel

Starring: Gary Daniels, Arkie Reece, Corbin Thomas, Alexandra Weaver, and Peter Weller

Shane Slavin (Daniels) is a former Punchfighter but now shuns violence and works as a humble auto mechanic. When his brother Scotty (Reece) follows in his footsteps and begins underground fighting for ruthless fight promoter Danny G (Weller), he makes a terrible mistake. He begins borrowing against his fight winnings, and soon he owes Mr. G 64,000 dollars. But he can’t earn it back because G’s goons give him a severe beating. When G approaches Shane about earning the money in lieu of his brother in a “comeback” role, Shane of course says no.

Seeing no other way to earn the money, he’s then “Forced To Fight”. The only problem is, the fight game has become even more brutal since Shane left, and, to compete with younger, stronger fighters, Shane has to train and train to remain in the game. But it begins to negatively affect his personality, and he becomes a jerk to his wife Connie (Weaver) and his son  James (Thomas). What with Danny G forcing him to take dives, and even kidnapping his wife and son, the stakes have never been higher for Shane Slavin. But is he truly forced to fight...or does he enjoy it and now he’s  fighting for his honor and pride? Find out today...

It was great to see an older, wiser Gary Daniels. Especially when he can Punchfight with the best of them. But you also care about his character Shane, who goes from a nonviolent mechanic to the guy who gets “in too deep” and his whole demeanor becomes darker. Whether intentional or not, the theme of the film seems to be that the older fighters have more heart. The younger guys might have flashier moves, more bulk, and stupider tattoos, but Shane Slavin refuses to fight dirty and initially is resistant even to MMA-style floor grappling, insisting he’s a “stand-up” fighter (in more ways than one). Peter Weller then makes a hilarious remark about how it looks gay anyway.

While it is, frankly, amazing that in 2011 Punchfighters of this type are still being made, and we are happy about that, it does kind of make you long for the old days. Probably much like Shane Slavin. Look at a movie like Shootfighter (1992), where fighters had colorful, individual personalities and fighting styles like Boa and Mongoose. Compare that with today where we have a bunch of heartless, soulless, characterless, humorless, merciless thugs as fighters. Screaming fans in the audience no longer hold cash in their hands. Now it’s all done on a computer, and rather than clutching their cash, they now clutch their iPhones. Sure, Punchfighters are still being made, but at what cost? 

The presence of Gary Daniels not only keeps the movie afloat, it highlights and underlines this change of the world to a harsher, less fun reality.

If you watch a lot of Punchfighters (and we assume you do if you’re reading this site) then plotwise, Forced to Fight is nothing you haven’t seen before. It has every single cliche (not meant in a negative way) these movies tend to have. It would be pointless to list them all, because the movie itself is one big cliche. 

But movies like this are made for fans who want to see them - hence you can actually SEE the fights and there, mercifully, isn’t a reliance on quick cuts and nu-metal. That’s absolutely to the movie’s credit, but you may get “punch fatigue” towards the end if your tolerance for shirtless, hulking men in small shorts wailing on each other isn’t super high (i.e. if you are a normal human being).

Fortunately, Forced to Fight is, if nothing else, evidence that our beloved Gary Daniels has still got it. That alone makes the movie worth seeing, and the presence of Peter Weller only sweetens the deal. But if some of the things we mentioned earlier turn you off, thanks to the predictability of it all, at least you’ll know what to expect going in.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out write-ups from our buddies, Cool Target and DTVC!


Full Impact (1993)

Full Impact (1993)- * *1\2

Directed by: David Huey

Starring: Gary Daniels, Kent Ducanon, Sonny Lee, Gerald Okamura, Ron Hall, and Linda Bennett

“That’s love in the 90’s!” - Jared Taskin

 Jared Taskin (Daniels) is an ex-cop, now bounty hunter. Due to a trauma in his past, he is currently in therapy, with a Dr. Weise (Bennett). When a serial killer known as “The Death Touch” starts rampaging around L.A., Taskin reconnects with some of his old cronies on the police force to help bring the baddie down. This includes former partner William Arkaday (Ducanon), and the two men, one representing the police, and the other representing the more “outside the law” angle, go in search of the notoriously hard to catch Death Toucher. Will they do it?

We really hope that this movie is someone’s first experience with Gary Daniels. While it’s pretty unrepresentative of the rest of his career, when you first put on Full Impact and see a montage of a luxuriantly-haired meathead flexing for the camera, it’s inevitable that the viewer will think one thing and one thing only: Awesome. 

Before you watch Full Impact, you just have to brace yourself for rampant silliness. That’s all there is to it. Most of the movie is pretty funny, but it’s so brain-numbingly dumb, the brief 82 minute running time seems longer. Every few minutes, whether it makes sense or not, there is some sort of fight. That seems like it would be a good thing, but after a while the dumbness becomes fairly overwhelming.

While the movie seems to have been shot in America, the dubbing is laughably atrocious. At least Daniels seems to have dubbed his own voice. The guy who dubbed his bald partner (the fact that Daniels, with his lovely blonde locks is teamed with a bald man has to be some kind of irony...doesn’t it?) either has a 30 cigar a day habit or is gargling with razor blades. Other characters on screen also make fun of Daniels’ hair. 

On top of that, he’s even called a “Limey Chuck Norris” at one point. Which is interesting, due to the parallels, plotwise, between this movie and A Force of One (1979). They should have called this movie “Taskin Force”. Maybe a third movie (after American Streetfighter - where Daniels and everyone else played different characters - though other elements remain the same, the two movies remain unconnected, despite what it may seem like) could be made where Jared Taskin is a member of the Taskin Force and he leads a gang of people to fight the baddies. Well, we can always dream. At least Taskin has a novel way of eating breakfast cereal. So it’s not a total loss.

Gerald Okamura has a dialogue-less role as a Punchfighter in the one scene of Punchfighting in this movie. The scene is utterly pointless, but at least it features a shirtless Okamura grappling with his opponent. So it’s not a total loss. Ron Hall makes an appearance as one of Taskin’s opponents, and an American treasure named Sonny Lee plays Bruce Valentaine (no, we didn’t spell that wrong, that’s how the man chooses - yes, CHOOSES, to spell his name. We assume.) - a man unafraid to take on Taskin in the ring. It must be his American flag Zubaz that give him the confidence he needs. I certainly know that it works for me. Though aren’t there laws about desecrating the American flag? Ah, we kid Sonny/Bruce. We kid because we love.

If only Full Impact was shot, written, edited, acted, choreographed, lit and dubbed better, it would be just...better. As it stands now, it’s a highly ridiculous moment in the career of Gary Daniels. Your tolerance for utter stupidity will determine how much you love or hate Full Impact. For us it was a mixed bag.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 

Also check out write-ups from our buddies, Cool Target and DTVC!


Cold Harvest (1999)

Cold Harvest (1999)- * * *

Directed by: Isaac Florentine

Starring: Gary Daniels, Bryan Genesse, Tony Caprari, and Barbara Crampton

Roland Chaney (Daniels) is a bounty hunter in yet another post-apocalyptic world. When his twin brother Oliver (also Daniels) is shot by the nefarious baddie Little Ray (Genesse), Roland goes on a mission of revenge against Little Ray and all his murderous goons. While traversing this dark, dirty, chaotic and treacherous world, he must also protect Christine (Crampton), his late brother’s wife. Naturally Roland has to fight his way through many obstacles before he can get to the final fight. But will he survive that long?

Cold Harvest could have been a tough sit, because it’s a DTV Nu-Image product from the late 90’s - not the best pedigree. But it’s actually entertaining and worth watching. What saves it is the energetic direction by Florentine and the performance (s) by the great Gary Daniels. 

It also contains some relatively novel ideas, such as the fact that in a post-apocalyptic future it will for some reason resemble the Old West (although this idea was also explored by PM with Steel Frontier). All the stunts, fights, and blow-ups are very exaggerated - to comic book-y, almost childish levels (probably a result of Florentine and his stunt guy’s stints with the Power Rangers) - but still they entertain and have that Hong Kong style to them, such as that thing where an opponent will flip quickly in the air multiple times before they hit the ground. 

So to recap, Cold Harvest is a sort of melange of B-movie tropes of the day: post-apocalyptic, Martial Arts, and Westerns. It could have been a mess, but thanks to Florentine, Daniels, Crampton and Genesse, it remains watchable.

Genesse indeed plays a charismatic baddie, and what all action movies need are a strong hero and a formidable baddie to match him, and Cold Harvest does provide this. And what would an evil baddie be without a sidekick named T-Bone (Caprari)? Of course there are the time-honored guard tower falls/explosions, the Prerequisite Torture of the hero, and the classic final warehouse fight. And it is a really cool fight that makes a nice capper to the film. 

While some scenes may recall Neon City (1991), among other post-apocalyptic movies that hit video store shelves in the 90’s, none of them had Florentine’s trademarked “whooshing” noises. Whenever someone lifts an item quickly, punches, kicks, or even when the camera moves swiftly (which is fairly often), it sounds like someone is waving a piece of sheet metal in the breeze. Florentine later abandoned this sound effect, presumably because it made things appear too goofy. But this movie is part of the “whooshing” stage of his career.

Say what you want about Cold Harvest, but it delivers the action goods. It’s amazing how many so-called “action” movies DON’T deliver the goods - but this one does, and we applaud them for it.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

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


Deadly Outbreak (1995)

Deadly Outbreak (1995)- * * *

Directed by: Rick Avery

Starring: Jeff Speakman, Idan Alterman, Bridget Marks, Rochelle Swanson, and Ron Silver

At a defense institution in Israel, Dr. Allie Levin (Swanson) has developed a highly advanced and extremely deadly chemical weapon. When the evil Baron (Silver) and his goons take over the institution by force because they want said weapon, all hell breaks loose. Luckily, a Special Ops escort from the U.S. embassy, Dutton Elvis Hatfield (Speakman) is in the building and plans to stop the terrorist attack. He has his wits, his Kenpo skills, Dr. Levin, and a young security guard, Ira (Alterman) to help him on his quest to take down the baddies. All Hatfield wants to do is get back to his son and play in the park. Will he be able to? Find out today!

The early-to-mid 90’s were truly the golden years for the, as we call it, “DieHardInA” movie. It’s simply amazing just how many Die Hard (1988) knockoffs came out in this short stretch of time. It seems hard to believe video store patrons of the day were really clamoring for them - at least this many of them, but the sheer numbers speak for themselves. Deadly Outbreak doesn’t exactly add much new to the sub-genre; its closest corollary is probably Lethal Tender, with maybe a little Crackerjack - but it does feature one of the best Speakman performances we’ve seen to date.

Speakman is likable, has a lot of great one-liners, and his Kenpo skills are truly fast and furious. Did we mention that he’s LIKABLE? Thank goodness for that. It seems so many DTV movies forget to have even one likable character. Unfortunately, the movie does fall into the “annoying and nagging woman” cliche with the female doctor, which we were disappointed by. That and the fact that there is not one but two “hot scientists” - the other being Starkov, played by a former Playboy Playmate (Marks), might lead to charges of insensitivity, but come on. The whole movie is entirely implausible. You wouldn’t be watching this movie if you were looking for plausibility. The main selling points are the mindless shooting, Speakman’s Martial Arts, and Ron Silver’s interesting performance, which we would dub as “level-headed evil”. One thing about Silver is that he tends to underplay his roles, speaking in quiet tones, which actually provides a nice contrast to all the bombastic shooting, stunts and blow-ups going on around him. We definitely miss Silver. We remain fans.

This is a Nu-Image movie before Nu-Image went to complete crud, although the 90’s CD-ROM-style effects at the outset of the movie perhaps point the way to the future. Although, to be fair, it was the 90’s. But it’s doubtful they looked convincing even then. Speaking of the 90s, look at the size of the word "Deadly" and the size of the word "Outbreak". Were they attempting to capitalize on the hit film Outbreak (1995)? Or just trying to trick video store patrons who aren't paying attention? The world will never know. Director Rick Avery is far more well known for being an accomplished stuntman, not for being a brilliant storyteller, and he does seem to get the most out of everyone, at least in the physicality department, from Speakman to Alterman, who looks like a young Nicolas Cage.

If you take anything away from today’s review it should be these two points: Deadly Outbreak is a textbook example of the 90’s DieHardInA movie, and that Jeff Speakman’s likable performance SAVES the movie. Without him, this would be a slog. So with those two things in mind, now you can make an informed decision as to see it. Go Dutton Elvis Hatfield!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

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


The Perfect Weapon (1991)

The Perfect Weapon (1991)- * * *

Directed by: Mark DiSalle

Starring: Jeff Speakman, Mako, Dante Basco, James Hong, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Professor Toru Tanaka, and Mariska Hargitay

"No Gun. No Knife. No Equal."

Jeff Sanders (Speakman) has been training in Kenpo since he was a young boy. At first, it was because his father wanted to direct all his unruly, youthful energy. Now he’s a Kenpo master who abides by his own tagline, “no gun, no knife, no equal” (though technically he does use Arnis sticks). When his friend, a shop owner named Kim (Mako) comes under fire from the Korean mob, Sanders snaps into action. But will he snap some necks along the way? 

Along his quest, he must utilize the help of his brother, a cop named Adam Sandler...er...Sanders, and a young punk kid named Jimmy (Fist of the North Star (1995) and Blood and Bone (2009)’s Basco) but it’s going to take all of Jeff’s Kenpo skills to fight off Yung (Hong), Kai (Tagawa) and the intimidating Tanaka (played, unsurprisingly, by Professor Toru Tanaka). Is Jeff Sanders the PERFECT WEAPON? Find out today...

The Perfect Weapon is the best Jeff Speakman movie we’ve seen to date...and why wouldn’t it be: it was his first starring role, as well as being a major studio release tailor-made to showcase his Kenpo talents to the world. As might be expected, the fight scenes are the highlight of the production. Speakman clearly has “got game”, as it were, enough to compete with all his competitors at the time. 

The whole thing is well-shot and you can see all the moves. Refreshingly, this was before quick cuts, green screens and nu-metal corroded the action genre. Sure, it slows down before the climax, but that’s a common action movie malady we’ve seen countless times before. There’s the time honored warehouse showdown, but this time employees still work there and it’s not abandoned. So there’s a slight difference there.

Gumming up the works is the introduction of Jimmy, the classic young punk kid. He gives his scenes with Speakman an unpleasant American Ninja 5 (1993) vibe. He even un-ironically whines “are we there yet?” at one point. Now, let’s not forget Mariska Hargitay, TV’s Olivia Benson, is technically in this movie as well. Despite being top-billed, she has literally zero spoken dialogue and appears only in brief flashes. It would have been so much cooler if Speakman teamed up with her to bust some heads in Koreatown. But no, there has to be an annoying kid, and the movie goes slower with Jimmy.

At least the movie is well-made, and, plotwise, it’s actually about Kenpo, which gives the whole thing consistency. Yes, the whole thing looks like it was shot on a backlot (there are some pretty obvious sets), but some of them are cool - look at “Club Croc-Pit”. 

Notably, the film starts out with Speakman sweatily working out, shirtlessly, in sweatpants, to Snap’s “The Power”. You just know he intentionally put that song on because he believes it was written about him. You can’t get more 1991 than that. When I was eleven years old, I remember seeing a commercial on TV for this movie, and even then, thinking, “another one?” - meaning, I already knew about Arnie, Sly, Seagal, Van Damme, and perhaps others involved in the late 80’s/early 90’s action boom, and I was surprised “they” (meaning studio higher-ups) were rolling out a new guy. How could I, or anyone, have known that the U.S. action boom was about to go bust. We should really treasure what we have.

Director DiSalle has had an interesting career - he’s only directed this and Kickboxer (1989), but he produced Speakman’s Street Knight (1993), as well as Bloodsport (1988) and Death Warrant (1990). He wrote the story for Kickboxer 2 (1989), acted in all five of the aforementioned movies, and that’s about it for him. Apparently he only works with Speakman or Van Damme. Seems like a good way to go through life. Anyway, The Perfect Weapon, despite a few flaws, would prove to be the last theater-released movie from the action boom of the day. That alone makes it worth seeing.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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


The Expert (1995)

The Expert (1995)- * *

Directed by: Rick Avery

Starring: Jeff Speakman, James Brolin, Michael Shaner, Alex Datcher, Elizabeth Gracen, and Jim Varney

John Lomax (Speakman) is a civilian military CQB, or, “Close Quarter Battle” instructor. When his beloved sister Jenny (Nagy) is tragically murdered by a serial killer named Martin Kagan (Shaner), initially Lomax is satisfied when Kagan is sentenced to die by going to the electric chair. 

When an inexplicably sympathetic doctor, Alice Barnes (Datcher) insists that Kagan is schizophrenic and that any and all murders were committed by his alter ego Martin Mirman, the dangerous psychopath is granted a stay of execution. But not for long, as an incensed Lomax decides to put his CQB skills to work to finally erase Kagan from the planet. But first he needs to get weaponry from his old buddy Snake (Varney) and find time for romance with reporter Liz Pierce (Gracen). Will Lomax’s Expertise be enough to get the proper revenge?

The Expert starts off in classic Martial Arts movie style, with a shadowy figure displaying his moves as the opening credits roll. Unfortunately, the rest of the film doesn’t live up to this promising intro. The actual action scenes are minimal, and Speakman only Kenpo’s it up on the baddies a scant few times. The first major action scene feels strangely slow and confused. A lot of the running time is spent as a Prison Slog, with no action whatsoever. Despite the presence of James Brolin as the warden, these scenes are ultimately pointless. We liked the moment when Brolin becomes unhinged, but overall neither he, Speakman, or the rest of the cast can overcome the mediocrity within.

Michael Shaner, who we remembered from Bloodfist (1989) where he played the infamous “Baby”, and Angelfist (1993), or possibly other movies with the word “fist” in the title, portrays the main baddie in a  boo-hiss hateable style. His resemblance to a young Robert Davi made us believe fan favorite Davi also could have assayed the role. 

Because of the fact that when we first see Martin Kagan he’s fixing a copying machine and has ink on his face (and because the camera keeps cutting closer and closer on to his leering face with each successive loud musical stab), we were prepared for a first, an evil copying machine repairman. Sadly, despite the hilariously ham-fisted telegraphing of his evilness, he was just your standard baddie.

Let’s not forget that Jim Varney is also onboard as a Vietnam vet who works at a store called Gun City USA. Now that’s what I call shop ‘til you drop. Even though it’s a glorified cameo, it was nice to see Ernest himself call Speakman “The Best” and act as this movie’s Machine Gun Joe

Elizabeth Gracen played the typical female reporter, this time resembling Teri Hatcher, not to be confused with fellow cast member Alex Datcher. The main problem with The Expert is that it ceases to be an action movie for vast portions of the running time. 

And anyone renting or buying a Jeff Speakman movie called The Expert isn’t expecting that, and it’s a disappointment. Supposedly the great Larry Cohen and the equally-great William Lustig had something to do with this production, but went uncredited. We can see why.

A prime example of 1995 video store shelf-filler, regrettably, we were not impressed with The Expert.

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


The Hunted (1995)

The Hunted (1995)- * *1\2

Directed by: J.F. Lawton

Starring: Christopher Lambert, John Lone and  Joan Chen

Paul Racine (Lambert) is a New York businessman on a business trip to Tokyo. After getting involved with the beautiful Kirina (Chen), he finds himself inadvertently drawn into the shadowy world of Ninjas. When he tries to stop her murder, it’s “Businessman to the rescue!” but he doesn’t realize what he’s up against. None of the Tokyo authorities believe Ninjas still exist in modern-day Japan. 

Obviously they’re not aware of the highly-trained, yet evil Kinjo (Lone) who now takes Paul as his main enemy because he knows too much. So Paul trains in the ways of the Ninja to face off in the eventual final confrontation with Kinjo. Who will win?

The Hunted comes from a not-so-distant past when Christopher Lambert movies came to the movie theater. And ones about Ninjas no less. Ah yes, it was a different time in our nation’s history indeed. Part of the interest of a Christopher Lambert movie is attempting to decipher and determine if it’s a Christopher Lambert movie or a Christopher Lambair film. The jury may still be out on The Hunted, because it is a fairly glossy, professionally made product with an almost two-hour running time and a pretty slow pace by today’s standards. But because it’s a movie about Ninjas with a lot of “Sword Violence”, it’s probably an “Ert” title, not an “Air” film.

We give the movie credit for the fact that when the Japanese locals talk, it’s in Japanese with subtitles. So many movies have locals in foreign countries speaking English to each other. Speaking of voices, Lambert’s is kind of odd. It’s accented, of course, but the real problem is that it’s a bit thin and quiet to boot. With a more powerful voice, his screen presence could have been improved. 

The Hunted is at its best when it’s executing its action setpieces, and the scene on the train is a movie highlight. But on the whole the movie seems bloated, and some trimming could have helped. Plus the movie takes itself so seriously. During the Ninja scenes in the woods, it made us miss Godfrey Ho and the fact that Ho’s Ninjas have headbands that say “Ninja” on them. Well, maybe they don’t have to be that silly, but a happy medium would be nice.

We appreciate the professionalism and the obvious care that was put into the action/stunt sequences of The Hunted, but the hard fact is that this is not an essential movie. You could probably miss this one and not feel too bad about it. But if you do see it, you’ll see a competently-made and pretty slick time-filler.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett