Final Score (1986)

Final Score (1986)- * * * *

Directed by: Arizal

Starring: Chris Mitchum, Andre Mathias and Mike Abbott

Richard Brown (Mitchum) is a Vietnam vet who learned well how to blow up guard towers and huts during his military service. Once in civilian life, he settles with his wife and young son Bobby (Mathias) in Indonesia, ironically believing it superior to America, at least in terms of it being safe and welcoming. 

His dreams of a happy home life are shattered when thugs under the command of wildly evil baddie Mr. Hawk (Abbott) rape and kill his wife, then cruelly and unnecessarily murder Bobby as well. Brown immediately snaps into action, tracking down the perpetrators one by one, and he even has an awesome “to kill” list, where he crosses off bad guy names as they die. You do NOT want to upset Richard Brown. Because even if all of Indonesia has to be annihilated in the process, he’s going to get the FINAL SCORE.

Well, we found it. Final Score is undoubtedly one of the most badass movies on the planet. It’s a crime that it never got a U.S. VHS release in the golden age of the video store, or, to date, even a stateside DVD release. Had that happened, the course of movie history would have changed. We’re quite confident this would be widely regarded as an all-time action classic. As it stands now, it’s an action cult classic, not unlike No Dead Heroes (1986) or Phantom Soldiers (1987).

Take a solid Death Wish (1974) scenario, set it in Indonesia, have it star Chris Mitchum instead of Charles Bronson, and ramp it all up to the nth degree, and you have something of an idea of the charm of Final Score. Everything works like a well-oiled machine, even the opening credits perfectly do their job. 

They’re an ominous (and cool) shade of red on black, and with not just music behind them, but violence sounds such as guns firing and bombs exploding. This gives the viewer a heart-pounding sense of anticipation for what they’re about to see, and expertly and subtly puts the viewer’s mind in a tough, gritty mode that comes with a world of conflict and fighting. Even the young Bobby dresses like a little soldier and plays with toy guns. His dad even buys him a toy gun set for his ill-fated birthday.

Finally, FINALLY, we have been blessed with a movie that truly delivers the goods on every level. Brown is a hero that has no mercy, no remorse, and nothing to lose. Just as they have to be, and are at their best. He has a variety of ways of offing his assailants (so nothing ever gets boring), including a rocket launcher, which was refreshing to see because it’s rare a hero gets one, most times it’s a baddie thing. But not in the take-no-prisoners world of Final Score. Brown even has the world’s most rockin’ motorbike. Just when you think “this can’t get any better”, the awesomeness level just keeps rising and rising until it breaks through the roof.

Of course, some classic cliches are here, such as the aforementioned exploding huts and guard towers, the Prerequisite Torture of the hero, the fruit cart car chase, the “discs” with evidence, and the silly one-liners. 

And Indonesia must be the most flammable country on earth, as things ignite at the drop of a hat, thankfully, and it’s blow-ups, blow-ups, blow-ups. The movie is indeed a blast, with actual non-stop action. Revenge movies are among our most favorite genres, and this is as satisfying as they come, with many goons for the hero to kill and a Christoph-like villain in the form of Mr. Hawk. The brilliant Arizal definitely has a formula for his baddies, as Hawk could be brothers with Craig Rainmaker. With this film, not to mention his others, Arizal has ascended into godlike status in the cinematic firmament.

This is one of those rare movies you don’t want to end. Whatever you do, just see Final Score. This movie rules.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

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


Felony (1995)

Felony (1995)- * * *

Directed by: David A. Prior

Starring: Lance Henriksen, Leo Rossi, Charles Napier, David Warner, Jeffrey Combs, Cory Everson, Ashley Laurence, and Joe Don Baker

When a “Cops”-like reality show films a drug bust, and said bust goes sideways, everyone in town wants the tape it was filmed on. The heinous massacre of twelve police officers caught on video was masterminded by arch-baddie Cooper (Warner), and the cameraman who barely made it out of there alive, a guy named Bill Knight (Combs) finds the next couple of days quite trying indeed. 

Everyone from Cooper’s right-hand man Taft (Henriksen) to the mysterious Donovan (Baker) wants a piece of Knight. Meanwhile, Detectives Duke (Napier) and Kincade (Rossi) are working the case and trying to get to the truth of this tangled web. But when Knight meets an attractive nurse named Laura (Laurence), things seem to be looking up for Mr. Knight...but in this complicated web of twists, turns, and constantly changing allegiances, who can really tell? And who is going to commit the ultimate FELONY?

David A. Prior, known to action fans all over as the AIP guy, here corrals an amazing B-movie cast for this non-AIP outing. It was 1995, video stores were booming, and with the right cast, they had a place for Felony on their shelves. With Jeffrey Combs as the main character, Ashley Laurence as the female lead and sidekick, and Lance Henriksen with an impressive array of multi-colored shirts, that was just the beginning. 

We get Joe Don Baker with a triumphant introduction to his character, with an alley rescue scene that is really a lot like the one in Ring of Steel (1994), also with Baker. Maybe rescuing people in alleys is his “thing”. And with his fringed jacket that he no doubt bought at the local buckskinnery, he gives Seagal a run for his money. Then there’s Napier playing a guy named Duke, as he would right around the same time on The Critic, and Leo Rossi doing his best southern accent. Add to that David Warner with a grenade launcher and a small role from Cory Everson, and you have a recipe that raises Felony above the average dreck.

Prior was surely going big-time with this one, indicated by not just the cast, and the fact that it was released by New Line, but also the level of stunt work, with PM-style car-flipping and blow-ups. Cooper even kills off a lot of cops just like baddies do in PM movies. And of course there is the standard pew-pew bullet shooting. He was aiming high, and it works for the most part. At least it’s better-acted than usual, thanks to the experienced cast of familiar names. 

It’s basically as dumb as an AIP movie (and we mean that in the best possible way, of course), with plot holes so big, Stephen Hawking has warned us all that they could potentially slow down the space-time continuum. But this time Mr. Prior has more resources at his disposal than usual. There are even some interesting contemporary references, like to the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan hoo-hah that everyone was talking about at the time. If only we could have heard David Warner utter the name “Gillooly”, Felony would have shot up a few points.

So go back to a time when strippers stripped to sleazy heavy metal (presumably this is the song “Dynamite” by a band called Psychic Underground listed in the end credits), and to a time when an array of B-movie stars such as this could assemble for a project like this.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Jungle Warriors (1984)

Jungle Warriors (1984)- * *

Directed by: Ernst R. Von Theumer

Starring: Nina Van Pallandt, Marjoe Gortner, Paul L. Smith, Woody Strode, Alex Cord, John Vernon, and Sybil Danning

A pretty irritating guy named Larry (Gortner) is in charge of corralling a bunch of models and flying them down to an unnamed South or Central American country (the movie itself was shot in Mexico). They inadvertently land in the thick jungles of drug-smuggling country. This particular gang of drug lords is commanded by Santiago (Smith) and his sister Angel (Danning). 

They have a team of thugs led by Luther (Strode). It’s not looking good for the models, and making things even worse is that a mobster named Vito Mastranga (Vernon) and his associate Nick Spilotro (Cord) are collaborating with Santiago and Angel and are in negotiations for future highly illegal doings. With no prior combat training, the models are going to have to take up arms against their captors if they ever want to strut on the catwalk ever again. Will they be able to pull off this daring feat?

You’d think - you’d REALLY think - that a movie about a bunch of models who get together and have to shoot a bunch of guns to escape the jungle and get back at the baddies would be a surefire formula for cinematic greatness. Or at least entertainment. 

Somehow Jungle Warriors manages to fumble this potential home run, to use a spot-on sports analogy. Lamely, the movie is talky, boring, slow, lacks action, and the worst crime of all is that it’s not exploitative enough. To compare it to something, Raw Force (1982) is better, and Jungle Warriors kind of falls into that video store shelf-filler netherworld inhabited by the likes of other similarly-themed mediocre flicks like Savage Justice (1988) and Sweet Revenge (1987). Though to be fair and balanced, it is better than Mercenary II (1999).

Perhaps you even saw this or the aforementioned titles collecting dust on the shelf of your local video store. Sybil Danning’s face couldn’t be much bigger on the U.S. VHS box art (as was the case with her “Adventure Video” series), but she is painfully underused in the movie itself. Another quite easy thing the movie could have done to improve itself would have been to include more Danning. 

Actually, pretty much the entire cast gets the short end of the stick somehow. Woody Strode says nothing, Danning is barely there, Paul L. Smith has no facial hair and does minimal fighting, John Vernon is in a veritable sit-down role, Alex Cord does what he can, and only Marjoe Gortner adds some Woody Allen-like spice to this mush. The models don’t seem to have individual personalities.

It’s a plot we’ve all seen many times before, and they saved all the supposed action for the climax. Some pew-pew machine gun shooting and maybe an exploding helicopter at the last minute doesn’t make up for all the waterfall footage we’d seen for the previous eighty or so minutes. 

But on the plus side, 80’s buffs will be delighted to see a vicious-looking drug goon wearing an E.T. shirt, and a too-brief glimpse of the wardrobe girl on the fashion shoot who has a sideways ponytail and is listening to a Walkman with orange ear covers. She should have gotten her own movie, she was the best character. The whole thing tops off with a theme song  featuring the aggressively abrasive, Lene Lovich-like vocals of one Marina Arcangeli. So it all ends on a bad note, literally.

Jungle Warriors is unfortunately lackluster, and it should have been called, if we may borrow a phrase from ourselves, Jungle Slog.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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


Gordon's War (1973)

Gordon's War (1973)- * * *

Directed by: Ossie Davis

Starring: Paul Winfield, Carl Lee, David Downing, Nathan C. Heard, Carl Gordon, Tony King, and Gilbert Lewis

Gordon Hudson (Winfield) comes home to Harlem after serving in Vietnam. Once he gets there, he is angered, saddened, and shocked by what he sees. Drug pushers, pimps, prostitutes, junkies and other undesirables have turned Harlem into a wasteland. Drawing upon his combat training, he sees his mission as driving out the pushers and pimps, and he simply continues the war once home. In order to do this, he reaches out to his buddies Bee Bishop (Lee), Otis Russell (Downing), and Roy Green (King). They set up a command post in one of the many abandoned buildings in their area. They then proceed to clean up the streets in the most effective way: vengeance. 

You may be asking yourself how they know who to focus on, but with names like Big Pink (Heard), Spanish Harry (Lewis) and the dead giveaway Luther the Pimp (Gordon), their work is cut out for them. Will they rid the streets of the baddies and clean up their home? Or will they all lose GORDON’S WAR? Find out today!

Excellently directed by Ossie Davis, Gordon’s War is a winner. Davis adds a lot of nice little, subtle touches that keep the viewer highly entertained. You really do care about Gordon and his compatriots’ plight. You want badly for them to succeed. 

The movie combines many of our favorite things that we’re always looking out for: gritty NYC locations, a tough, no-nonsense approach, good character development, the setup of a command center, and the classic “assembling a team” scene, and of course, revenge, revenge, revenge. Among other noteworthy items, of course.

This was before another one of our favorites, the “Cleaning Up the Community” montage really took hold - the whole film is Gordon and his friends cleaning up the community. Whether this movie is actually Blaxploitation remains in question - simply because it has Black characters automatically pigeonholes it as “Blaxploitation”? 

However, nostalgia fans will see a lot of their favorite things on screen: gigantic cars, fly threads and hip lingo. One of our favorite moments took place in a roller skating rink. No matter what subgenre of action movie may arise, it wouldn’t be complete without the final abandoned warehouse shootout. A very cool chase caps things off nicely.

Featuring the perfectly-chosen music of Barbara Mason and New Birth, Gordon’s War delivers the goods. 

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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


Access Code (1984)

Access Code (1984)- * *

Directed by: Mark Sobel

Starring: Martin Landau, Michael Napoli, Marcia Walter, Gyl Roland, Michael Ansara, and Bill Woods

 Apparently somebody, somewhere has stolen some nukes and a secret government agency is trying to get them back before they blow up the earth. Meanwhile a journalist named Ben Marcus (the Dustin Hoffman-like Michael Napoli, in his only screen credit) is also attempting to get to the truth. Along with him on this adventure are Julie Barnes (Walter) and a man named William (Woods). They’re all on the run and there’s a bunch of talky “intrigue”, meanwhile no one, including the audience, has a very clear picture of what’s going on.

On the side of the government is a man named Agency Head (Landau). It may seem like a strange name, but maybe he’s related to Murray Head of One Night in Bangkok fame. Or, the writers were too lazy to come up with a name for the most respected actor on the project. Will we ever find out the super-secret ACCESS CODE?

The only people likely to wring any enjoyment out of Access Code are fans of “80’s tech”, as there are plenty of single-color computers and reel-to-reel tape machines, not to mention microwaves with dials. 

Thankfully, and unnecessarily, the computers talk to the people tapping away on them, of course in that typical monotonous robot voice. That was amusing, but maybe it is necessary after all, because there were some misspellings on the screen (we spend a lot of time looking at computer screens in this flick), for instance, we think they were trying to spell  “multi-faceted”. All that aside, Access Code has a slow/weird pace, and seemed destined to be video store shelf-filler from moment one.

Director Mark Sobel also directed Sweet Revenge (1987), and wrote the similarly-themed, but much more coherent and entertaining Terminal Entry (1988). Both ‘Entry and ‘Code were produced by Sandy Cobe, the man behind the legendary Revolt (1986). So there’s a nice 80’s pedigree here, and Sobel was obviously influenced by 1984 (probably the novel, because the movie with John Hurt came out the same year as Access Code - unsurprisingly, 1984), as well as The Conversation (1974), among other paranoid thrillers. 

Unfortunately, his attempt does not thrill. But he tried to marry those ideas with the then-current obsession with access codes and all things computer and nuclear. Sadly, the results are lackluster and mediocre, but he did get a second try with Terminal Entry and he made the best of it.

There are, of course, some noteworthy cliches here, such as a computer expert being called “The Best” by a government guy, and the fact that very important information is on a much sought-after disc (in this case, of the black and floppy variety). Let’s not forget Martin Landau is on board for some reason, and most of his scenes appear on a totally black set that would later appear in The Killing Man (1994), and The Charlie Rose show. 

It’s amazing any dialogue gets said at all, because the people we see on screen commit the un-PC act of smoking many, many cigarettes. But at least we get the priceless line readings of one Bill Woods as William. He was our favorite character. An interesting connection occurs in the casting of Gyl Roland as Kathy, who also was in Black Gunn (1972) with Martin Landau. Michael Ansara makes a notable appearance here as a Senator, mainly because he looks a lot like Edward James Olmos. We called him Senator Olmos.

The whole outing has a TV movie vibe and after it’s all over, you sit there wondering “what happened?” - none of it really sticks with you. Despite the deliveries of William, on the whole we thought Access Code was unimpressive.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 


The Super Ninja (1984)

The Super Ninja (1984)- * * *

Directed by: Kuo-Ren Wu

Starring: Alexander Lou, Eugene Thomas, and Yi Tao Chang

John (Lou) and Spencer (Thomas), who may or may not be part of some sort of Blues Explosion, are Kung Fu cops on the beat in “New York”. There’s a mysterious bad guy on the loose named Mr. Tong (Chang) and he commands an army of ninjas known as the Five Element Ninjas. Their history goes back “1000 years!” with each ninja mastering the forces of metal, fire, wood, earth and water. Now we know where those plagiarists at Captain Planet got the idea. 

When drugs are planted in John’s home by a spectacularly evil police captain, John not only has to fight to clear his good name - he has to take on the Five Element Ninjas as well! Will he be able to do it? Find out today!

Having been fans of Alexander Lou since we saw Mafia vs. Ninja (1985), we were happy to see him again (even though MFN came out after The Super Ninja) - especially teamed once more with his co-star Eugene Thomas. The Super Ninja doesn’t disappoint with its Ninja Boom-era insanity and has all the hallmarks fans have come to expect: crazy dubbing (especially for Thomas, it sounds like a White guy doing a racist “Black guy” impression...with hilarious results), gravity and physics-defying ninja action in the forest, and fast and furious Martial Arts, which often get lost in the general aura of silliness.

Because the movie is about Lou going on a revenge mission in a series of events started by the unknown (?) vendetta of his commander, which perhaps is not enough on its own to fill 90 minutes, director Kuo-Ren Wu simply extends scenes to the breaking point: while we usually enjoy the time-honored workout montage, the problem is that the Prerequisite Torture and the quasi-pornographic sex scene with Lou and his girlfriend Nancy (Lung) just go on for an interminably long time. 

That being said, some of the classic items we know and love are here too: the yelling while shooting a machine gun, the sax on the soundtrack, and ninjas that travel quickly underground like Bugs Bunny, and much more. So the crazy quotient, while not quite as high as in Godfrey Ho-land, is still pretty darn high and makes the movie overall pretty entertaining.

One of the best sections of the movie came when it took time out from the plight of Alexander Lou and it introduced the strengths of the Five Element Ninjas in a series of quick profiles. Also it should be noted that ninjas can walk directly up a tree like they’re walking up stairs, and Alexander Lou’s sleeveless half-shirt that says “MAN” on it. As if his manliness was ever in question.

In all, The Super Ninja just reinforces why the Ninja Boom of the 80’s was such a beloved and successful time for ninjas the world over.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 


Direct Hit (1994)

Direct Hit (1994)- * * *

Directed by: Joesph Merhi

Starring: William Forsythe, Jo Champa, Richard Norton, and George Segal

John Hatch (Forsythe) has had a long and storied career as a hitman (alternately called a “triggerman” or a “fingerman” by his associates) but is tired of the game and wants to retire. Unfortunately for him, his boss James Tronson (Segal) won’t allow it, cajoling him into the famous “One Last Job”. 

Hatch still is against the idea, because the target, a woman named Savannah (Champa), is innocent and has a young daughter to support. When Tronson hires rival fingerman Rogers (Norton) to complete the hit, Hatch enters the life saving business and protects Savannah and her daughter from the onslaught of their enemies. Seeing in Savannah his redemption from a life of killing and murder, Hatch vows to protect her at all costs - perhaps even his own life. Will it come to that? Find out today!

Direct Hit is standard-issue PM, but with a few quirks that make it stand out. Mainly it’s William Forsythe, finally in a starring role, who is the main focus. He is cool, tough, menacing, believable, and has an awesome voice. He’s an ideal choice for the role of a hitman with a heart of gold. George Segal chomps his cigar with aplomb, and we also thought veteran star of stage and screen Jerry Springer also could have played that role. Their voices are very similar. 

Fan favorite Richard Norton is of course here too - we always love seeing him, but in this role he doesn’t get to display his Martial Arts skill. Perhaps he was trying to branch out and show he could act without kicking various and sundry goons in the face. Luckily, the movie is largely well-acted and has a downbeat sort of feel to it, which adds to the overall vibe.

Some classic DTV action items are on display once again: the Prerequisite Torture of the hero, and the all-time classic “One Last Job”. Indeed, this whole movie revolves around the OLJ scenario. They even could have called the movie One Last Job, but the title Direct Hit is actually pretty clever because it contains a double meaning. 

Because this is, after all, a PM, it has plenty of gunplay, explosions, car chases/wrecks, and the time-honored “car blowing up in the middle of the street for barely any reason but thank goodness they’re doing it again” stunt. But it’s leavened with drama, the best scenes of which are the ones between Hatch and his father, which are actually effective.

While there are a few lulls during the course of Direct Hit, let’s not forget this is prime 1994 video store material: it has the seemingly-ubiquitous goons with ponytails and suits with colorful ties, and the casual racism you could never get away with today. It’s easy to see this sitting on the shelf of your local video store, vying for rental among its more popular competitors. 

But despite the aforementioned lulls, Direct Hit is an enjoyable action drama, largely due to Forsythe.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Too Hot To Handle (1977)

Too Hot To Handle (1977)- * * *

Directed by: Don Schain

Starring: Cheri Caffaro, Aharon Ipale, and Vic Diaz

Samantha Fox (Caffaro) is an international hitwoman who “just wants to have some fun” (heh heh) and thanks to a multi-million dollar family inheritance, can afford to be a globetrotting gal who can dispatch the baddies using a deadly combination of wits, Martial Arts skill, gun usage, and sexy sexy sexiness. Her latest assignment takes her to the Philippines where she’s taking down some baddies one by one, all the while using an array of different identities and stylish outfits. 

Things get really complicated when Chief of Detectives Domingo De La Torres (Ipale) gets wise to what Samantha is up to - but they can’t help becoming romantically entangled. And what will Domingo’s partner Sanchez (Diaz) have to say about it? Samantha Fox is a woman of beauty and cunning who always gets what she wants...but will she this time? Find out today!

Too Hot To Handle is an entertaining ride and a reminder that there was a time that movies could be firmly in the exploitation camp, but not mean-spirited. The movie is a super-70’s outing that combines kung-fu fighting with afros and bellbottoms to a horns-and wah-wah-inflected funked-up score - imagine an episode of The Love Boat but with much more nudity, killings, and cockfighting. (The cockfight scene was an absolute standout). 

Director Don Schain - who worked with Caffaro before on the Ginger series of similarly-themed nudity-based adventure and intrigue movies, here gets the best out of the lovely Philippine locations, and thanks to a variety of factors, the movie is never boring. It’s a shame this was his last directorial effort. He seemed to be improving.

The clothing alone is mesmerizing: Aharon Ipale as Domingo has an impressive variety of ties, many as wide as his shirt. His collars are so huge and triangular, they go off the shoulders of his jacket like pointed epaulets. He never has anything less than cool hair, cool shoes, and even cool pants. And that’s just one character. 

Many of the baddies aren’t afraid to mix stripes, colors and plaids, let’s just say that. But to get down to it, the movie is all about Cheri Caffaro as Samantha Fox (who even has sunglasses that say “FOX” on them). The eye candy-level is off the chart, whether she’s at a funeral, or stickfighting goofily with an unknown assailant. There’s even a bondage scene that pre-dates “50 Shades of Grey” by about 40 years. But it’s all in fun, and the classy title song, “Lady Samantha” just reinforces this.

Thanks to the fashions, the Moog-y musical score, the good pace, the fun 70’s vibe and of course the delightful Caffaro, Too Hot To Handle is a winner.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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


The City Of Violence (2006)

The City Of Violence (2006)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Seung-Wan Ryoo

Starring: Doo-Hong Jung, Kil-Kang Ahn, Beom-su Lee, Seung-Wan Ryoo, and Seok-yong Jeong

Tae-Su (Jung), Wang-Jae (Ahn), Pil-Ho (Lee), Dong-Hwan (Jeong) and Seok-Hwan (Director Ryoo) were close-knit high school buddies in the late 80’s. They loved scrapping and fighting, but it was a much more innocent time. After the mysterious death of Wang-Jae, Tae-Su returns to his small South Korean hometown to attend the funeral. But suspicions arise, and Tae-Su, who is now a hard-nosed cop, stays in town to conduct his own personal investigation into the death of his friend. 

He teams up with Seok-Hwan and together they tear up the town and even revert back to their old pugilistic ways. When it turns out the aggressor in all this is their old pal Pil-Ho, who grew up to be a remorseless psychopath, and who has become a successful land developer because of his corrupt and ruthless ways, it sets the stage for an epic battle for the ages. Will the hometown of these old friends become the ultimate CITY OF VIOLENCE? Find out today!

The City of Violence is a highly entertaining movie, overflowing with dynamism, energy, color and visual appeal. The cinematic flourishes on a visual level are the icing on the cake to a story about loyalty, brotherhood, betrayal and nostalgia. Not to mention remembrance and tragedy. And of course fighting. It is extremely well-shot, well-lit, and well-directed, and director Ryoo employs all manner of tactics to delight the eye of the viewer and keep them invested. 

What with its fast pace, you don’t really get a chance to become un-invested. Thanks to indicators like this movie, South Korea has become a hotbed of film talent in recent years. The City of Violence is a great example of what Korean filmmakers have to offer, and we definitely recommend it.

There are plenty of memorable moments, but from an action standpoint, the scene in the shopping district with its references to The Warriors (1979), as well as the Shaw Brothers-inspired climax, will more than satisfy action cravings. The scenes set in the 80’s also stand out, with expertly-done hair and clothes, as well as music - note the song by Namee, “Eternal Friendship”. Could there be some irony there? Whoever did the wardrobe for the movie should also be very proud, as characters wear very interesting clothing, which definitely matches the movie’s overall colorful nature. Top the movie off with some nice humorous bits, and you have a winner.

Definitely try to get a hold of the Dragon Dynasty 2-DVD set of this movie. They always do good work and they’ve chosen another gem for their roster of releases. We think it’s definitely worth adding to your collection. 

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Nails (1992)

Nails (1992)- * * *1\2

Directed by: John Flynn

Starring: Dennis Hopper, Earl Billings, Anne Archer, Cliff DeYoung, Keith David, Tomas Milian, and John Hawkes

Harry “Nails” Niles (Hopper) is an LAPD homicide cop - and perhaps the ultimate Cop On the Edge! While his clueless co-workers call him a “dinosaur”, Nails’ old-school ways get results, and you don’t want to get on his bad side. But that’s just what happens when a gang of Cuban drug dealers kills Nails’ beloved Black Partner, Willis (Billings). Nails goes after them with a vengeance, turning L.A. upside down in the process. Not just to avenge Willis, but to settle some of his unfinished business as well. Willis, before his untimely death, was “working on something big” - and it just may be a criminal conspiracy that goes all the way to the top! 

Now back with his old partner, Herrera (Milian), Nails, in his own inimitable fashion, tries to find out how Congressman Stambusky (De Young) and his cohort Noah Owens (David) are involved. And all this while he tries to reconnect with old flame Mary (Archer). Will the bad guys get NAILED once and for all?

Nails is a killer Cop On The Edge movie, and getting Dennis Hopper to play him was an inspired choice. This movie truly is Hopper at his absolute best - his energy, charisma and likability carry the film. He’s angry and drinking from the get-go, just as it should be. Just why this L.A. cop has a Southern accent is never explained (or ever mentioned) but it’s all part of the fun. 

But it’s not all violence and darkness, there’s some nice humor as well and Hopper gives the Nails character charm, in his own unique way. It’s almost weird James Ellroy wasn’t involved with this project, it’s almost like Dark Blue (2002) or Street Kings (2008) in its approach, before those movies came on the scene.

You really have to enjoy cop drama/thrillers (and preferably have seen a lot of them) to properly appreciate Nails. It has just about every cliche you can name - and as we always say, that’s not a bad thing and we need these cliches for our entertainment purposes. 

The Black partner who’s close to retirement, the drug deal gone wrong, the abandoned warehouse, the WYC (White Yelling Chief), the WYC who demands our rogue cop hand in his badge and gun, the echoey guitar riffs on the soundtrack during chases/tense scenes, and of course the Cop On The Edge itself, and so much more. Those of you out there that enjoy these things, like we do, will have a feast here. 

The movie gets further bonus points for being about dyspeptic middle-aged people, not stupid, flashy kids, there’s a lot of un-PC dialogue, there’s no stupid little kid to ruin things, and, the original foodie, Herrera is always seen eating. Usually a burrito. If you don’t like it, take it up with Harry Niles.

We should take a moment here to recognize the unheralded genius of director John Flynn. It’s an absolute tragedy that he’s not a household name, yet plagiarists like Tarantino are. Besides directing the early Seagal in Out For Justice (1991), he also did Lock Up (1989) with Sly, the underrated James Woods vehicle Best Seller (1987), and the Jan Michael Vincent movie Defiance (1980). But the Coup De Grace is that he directed one of the best movies ever, Rolling Thunder (1977). If he directed nothing else but that in his career, he would be a legend in our eyes. But his career making tough, interesting fare speaks for itself. 

Back to the cast, Milian is likable as Herrera, Archer does well in a somewhat thankless role, Keith David fits the bill perfectly as Owens, and Cliff De Young, interestingly enough, plays a guy named Stambusky, which, though different, today has connotations of a certain child molester that are hard to ignore.

Featuring an end credits song by Eddie Money, Nails might be THE classic example of the Cop On The Edge movie. We say see it soon.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Special Post: We're on a Podcast!

Our friend, the great Matt (AKA The Direct-To Video Connoisseur- Check out his site here ) was gracious enough to have us on his podcast, not once, but twice.

He has a Podcast up every week dealing with our favorite subject: Action Movies!  Here are the links to those episodes:

Episode 9: Ambushed 

Episode 23: Man Of Tai Chi

We think you'll enjoy them!


Laser Moon (1993)

Laser Moon (1993)- 1\2*

Directed by: Douglas K. Grimm

Starring: Traci Lords, Harrison Le Duke, Peter Boyles, Bruce Carter, and Bob The Cat

“You know, this movie really sucks.” - Barbara Fleck

Zane Wolf (Le Duke) is a jaded, cynical late-night talk radio personality. You know he’s the ultimate coolguy because he has an awesome 90’s haircut and smokes cigarettes in front of “No Smoking” signs. When a serial killer starts murdering women every time a full moon appears, and using a laser pointer to do them in - yes, a laser pointer - Wolf tries to get the “Laser Moon Killer” to call into his radio show. Meanwhile, Detective Musso (Bruce Carter, in his only credited film role to date) is hard at work trying to catch the killer, continually reviewing audio tapes while floating in his fishing boat (don’t worry, we don’t get it either). 

When enthusiastic and inexplicably beautiful cop Barbara Fleck (Lords) joins Musso on his investigation, their differing styles of police work cause the expected problems that we’ve seen countless times. What will happen to the Laser Moon Killer?

It’s Talk Radio (1988) meets Zipperface (1992) in this extremely junky outing. We’ve seen low-budget production values before, that’s no big deal, but the amateurish nature of the technical aspects hinder the movie this time around. And the pace (and calling it that implies that it may be intentional) is so glacial, it’s an insult to icebergs. I know we’ve said this before, but it’s almost like the makers of Laser Moon had never actually seen a movie before in their lives. Then they decided to make one, sight unseen. Like if aliens from another planet came to earth not knowing what a movie was, but then launched a production anyway. 

Which is ironic because director Grimm acted in, wrote and edited Alien Seed (1989). There’s even an Alien Seed reference in Laser Moon. He also had a bit part in Elves (1989) - and that’s the full extent of his movie career. Maybe the fact that Laser Moon is not an AIP (like his other two) made him uncomfortable.

Maybe Grimm was attempting to make a noir-ish erotic thriller, which were huge in video stores at the time, but it’s hard to tell. The whole thing seems like a taped rehearsal, not a finished film. The total lack of energy, as well as the total lack of suspense, character development, action, or interest doom the movie. 

But it’s easy to be tricked by the box art - a front-and-center Traci Lords under an intriguing title - “Oh, Laser Moon, what’s that? Maybe I should rent this and find out...” We say, don’t be fooled. It’s all a ruse. They should have called it Laser Ruse, am I right Brah? Anyway...Harrison Le Duke is your classic Keanu Reeves/Billy Baldwin/Kyle MacLachlan/Colin Farrell/Nicolas Cage lookalike - he even acted with Cage in Fire Birds (1990). Bruce Carter as Musso strongly resembles Night Court’s Harry Anderson, and Zane’s radio station sidekick, Bernie Bernard (Peter Boyles - note the “s”) - is basically a carbon copy of strange entertainment reporter Pat O’Brien.

We actually really feel for Traci Lords here - through no fault of her own, this is the worst movie she has ever appeared in that we’ve seen. The movie is just bankrupt of everything that make movies worth watching. It needed some serious pep, and Fleck/Lords even sleeps on-screen in one scene. The problem is, this movie needed at least one other name star besides her. A Robert Z’Dar, Bo Hopkins, Mickey Rooney - pretty much any of the cast from The Legend of Wolf Mountain (1992) would do. (There’s a trailer for this movie on the VHS.)

Perhaps the best non-Lords performer in the movie is Bob the Cat, who sadly actually died either during or shortly after the film’s release, as the movie is dedicated to him. 

So despite the rotary-dial phones, sax on the soundtrack, and unintentionally funny line readings from some of the non-professional actors, the only reason to pick up the Hemdale VHS is the PSA from Orville Redenbacher before the movie starts. One can only imagine a lonely single man renting Laser Moon at his local video store, hoping to see a naked Traci Lords, and instead the first thing he sees after popping in the VHS tape is a screen-filling, gray-haired, bespectacled ORVILLE REDENBACHER entreating you to register to vote. Perhaps the PSA’s producers were trying to think of celebrities that had the most sway with public opinion. Or maybe they were going for the youth market. Regardless, it’s by far the best part of the Laser Moon experience, and one that is totally lost in the era of DVD.

For a snail’s-paced movie that lacks pretty much everything, Laser Moon is a prime example.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


The Last Samurai (1991)

The Last Samurai (1991)- * *

Directed by: Paul Mayersberg

Starring: Lance Henriksen, John Fujioka, Arabella Holzbog, Lisa Eilbacher, and John Saxon

Yasujiro Endo (Fujioka) is a Japanese businessman who decides to go to the African nation of Imtazi. He believes an ancestor of his was a samurai warrior who somehow got lost in Africa, and he is searching for answers. But for him it becomes a sort of spiritual quest to reconnect with his past. Meanwhile, he is surrounded by other colorful characters, such as Johnny Congo (Henriksen), a Vietnam vet, and Al-Hakim (Saxon), an Arab sheik. Caro and Susan (Holzbog and Eilbacher) have their own reasons for being there as well. 

Things really start to heat up when, surprisingly enough, strife occurs in Africa. That seems to give everyone the excuse for violence they’re looking for (or maybe that’s just the audience). Will Endo truly be THE LAST SAMURAI?

Not to be confused with the Tom Cruise movie of the same name, here the Last Samurai in question seems to be John Fujioka. He was a prolific actor that appeared in American Ninja (1985), American Ninja 2 (1987), American Samurai (1992) and American Yakuza (1993). He was obviously as obsessed with “American”-based action movies as we are here at Comeuppance Reviews, and for that we salute him. Clearly Tom Cruise is jealous of this guy. 

But here’s the problem: The Last Samurai is a case of the old “bait and switch”. With a title like that, and with a picture of Fujioka on the front brandishing a giant sword, you think you know what you’re in for. But you’d be wrong: this movie is an Africa Slog. Much like a Space Slog, a Submarine Slog, an Airplane Slog, or perhaps a Sci-Fi Slog, An Africa Slog might be fun for the cast and crew of the movie, but it’s not for the audience. After sitting there restlessly throughout most of the running time, you’re GLAD he’s the Last Samurai.

Even the great Lance Henriksen cannot save this. He does his absolute best, and his bolo tie is pretty awesome, but he’s struggling against a wall of incoherent plotting and incompetent direction, which is surprising for the normally talented Paul Mayersberg. Knowing his history, he may have been going for the artier end of things, but it all seems to fall flat. It’s hard to tell what’s going on here and why. Simply putting a bunch of characters in Africa is not the same thing as a plot. But Henriksen - whose name is Johnny Congo, it feels important to reiterate - had faced very similar challenges before, namely with Savage Dawn (1985). 

Interestingly enough, his co-star here, Arabella Holzbog, would appear with him again the same year in Stone Cold (1991), which was sort of like a biker do-over to correct the mistakes of Savage Dawn. It was also interesting to see fellow fan favorite John Saxon as some sort of Arab sheik. Saxon’s accent, or Saxccent, set him apart and showed his acting range.

Yes, the beginning of the film has a classy black and white Kendo match, and the climax has some good action, but it’s too little too late, as there’s not much of any in the middle of the movie. The Last Samurai is closer in spirit to Danger Zone (1996), Sweepers (1998), and even, heaven help us, High Explosive (2001), but it’s not that bad. 

We don’t want to malign the movie too much, but we felt it did not deliver on its promises. It lacks surprises or excitement. We really wanted to like the movie, but not much happens that makes it easy to like.

We found the Front Row Entertainment VHS at the Salvation Army, and we were excited at first, but it may get put back into circulation there.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty