Shadow Warriors: Assault On Death Mountain (1999)

Shadow Warriors: Assault On Death Mountain (1999)- * *1\2

Directed by: Jon Cassar

Starring: Hulk Hogan, Carl Weathers, Shannon Tweed, and Martin Kove

Mike McBride (Hulk), Roy Brown (Weathers), Hunter Wiley (Tweed), and possibly some other guy are the SHADOW WARRIORS. They’re a team of mercenaries, but they’re good mercenaries who rescue kidnapped children and fight terrorists. But that’s only, in true A-Team fashion, “if you can find them”. Tasked with fighting some baddies with chemical weapons and ballistic missiles, our Shadow Warrior team snaps into action. They even enlist the help of their buddy Andy Powers (Kove), sort of an auxiliary Shadow Warrior. The only problem is McBride was injected with some sort of poison and is slowly dying. Can he get an antidote in time? Will they stop the launch of the missile? Will they save the children? WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN?!?!

Shadow Warriors: Assault On Death Mountain is a made-for-TV (TNT to be exact) outing, and you can really feel it. It feels like a pilot for a show that was never picked up, and it would have been (and should have been) a syndicated series that would air after Xena or Hercules or Relic Hunter on channel 9 on Saturday afternoon. That’s not to say there isn’t action – there are plenty of shootouts, fights, chases, blow-ups and the like. But it feels sanitized, and the whole outing is very paint-by-numbers.

That being said, there are plenty of funny moments to be had. Hulk Hogan attempting to act “troubled” is worth the price of admission alone. The Hulkster mows down middle-Eastern terrorists holding two large machine guns, and later gets the old Prerequisite Torture treatment. Carl Weathers brings his trademark charisma, and Shannon Tweed practically salvages the whole thing just by being there. Of course, you do get some classic Tweed-Fu. Martin Kove seems to be going for the David Letterman look of the day. They all walk in slow motion away from an explosion, and Hulk Hogan punches people on a hovercraft. So it’s not a total loss.

The whole thing is rife with stereotypes and stupidity, as you might expect from another pairing of director Cassar with Hulk Hogan around the same time as The Ultimate Weapon (1998). But you shouldn’t go in expecting more than that, and there is fun to be had with what’s there. 

So, if you’re willing to accept “The B-Team”, you could do a lot worse than Shadow Warriors: Assault on Death Mountain.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

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


Mister Deathman (1977)

Mister Deathman (1977)- * *

Directed by: Michael D. Moore

Starring: David Broadnax and Stella Stevens

Geoffrey Graves (Broadnax) is an international superspy, or secret agent, or something along those lines. After a run-in with two low-level mobsters, Graves somehow gets embroiled in a complex web of kidnapping, murder, and Stella Stevens. He has all the tricks up his sleeve that a James Bond-esque dude might have, which will come in handy as he fights his way towards the mysterious Mr. Czee. This entails a lot of intrigue in South Africa, which comes to a head in a very perplexing computer room. Who exactly is MISTER DEATHMAN? Is it Graves or is it someone else? Perhaps it’s now up for debate…

A movie that ends as abruptly as it begins (or at least that’s the case with the version we saw), Mister Deathman is more of a spy adventure than a pure action film, but it does have some action moments and blow-ups. It certainly follows in the footsteps of other South African outings like Cobra Force (1988) and Vengeance Cops (1971). Maybe we’re just watching the wrong South African movies, but it seems like the one common denominator to all of them is that they’re afraid to go full-out action. They all seem to pull their punches to a certain degree. Whether that’s down to censorship or some other reason, we have no way of knowing. 

While we enjoyed David Broadnax as Graves, and there are some bright spots peppered throughout the movie, probably our favorite thing about it was the score. Unfortunately we don’t know the name of the composer as of now, but they did a fantastic job and it almost single-handedly keeps the movie afloat, especially in its slower moments (and there are plenty of those). Broadnax should have done more in his career. While the only other feature film he appeared in is Zombie Island Massacre (1984), he does get a “based on an original story by” credit here. Of course, he plays the lead as well. What ever happened to Broadnax?

Mister Deathman isn’t in any way bad, it just loses steam at a certain point and should have been more of a straight-ahead action movie. While it has a cool title, it doesn’t really live up to it, unfortunately. Low-budget, foreign-made variations on James Bond featuring a one-time lead actor are a tough sell for just about any potential viewers. 

Perhaps that’s why it never received a wide release, including the U.S. It should be noted as a point of interest that director Michael Moore (and no, it’s not the Michael Moore that we unfortunately know today, but a Canadian gentleman who passed away in 2013) was the second unit director on Never Say Never Again (1983). Maybe he felt that qualified him to make his own Bond with Broadnax. 

In the end, while this isn’t exactly essential viewing, it may appeal to those who enjoy undiscovered spy thrillers.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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


American Rampage (1989)

American Rampage (1989)- * * *1\2

Directed by: David DeCoteau

Starring: Kary Jane, Thomas Elliott, B.J. Gates, Otis T. Longhorn, John T. Bone, Troy Donahue, Jasae and Linnea Quigley

Samantha Rork (Jane) is an L.A. vice cop who shoots first and asks questions later. She's teamed up with many different partners, among whom are Ryan Hayes (Elliott) and a certain man named Bart (Gates), but the important thing to know is that she really wants to bring down the drug pushers, pornographers, and other criminal lowlife scum of the city. Because this takes a toll on her mental state, she has therapy sessions with Police Psychiatrist (Donahue). He's so integral to her life, he doesn't have a name. Eventually she finds her way to the mansion of the main drug kingpin and yet another shootout ensues. Is Sam Rork going on a classic AMERICAN RAMPAGE?

We really loved American Rampage. It's completely fun from start to finish, in a Samurai Cop (1991), Death Flash (1986), or Savage Harbor (1987) kind of way. It's silly, it's utterly ridiculous, and it's totally 80's. In other words...awesome. The soundtrack is washed in synthesizers, and there's a scene at a mall (apparently the South Bay Mall somewhere in Southern California) where the synths blast, and director DeCoteau has a brief cameo. Hayes, one of Sam's many partners on the police force, is perhaps the only cop in recent memory to wear a stonewashed jacket with the collar up. Most of the male characters in the film have some form of mullet, making the Mullet Per Minute (or MPM) quotient higher here than in any other movie in memory.

Porn purveyor John T. Bone plays - you guessed it - a pornographer. His name in the film is Mike Raisin. Many other characters have silly names like that. All of the characters and their motivations are spelled out during a lengthy slide show sequence towards the beginning of the film. It's a cheat sheet of sorts for the goings-on of American Rampage. Fan favorite Linnea Quigley plays a drug courier who takes a shower and then dies. There is a ton of hilariously gratuitous nudity, including from fellow fan favorite Michelle Bauer, and a woman named Jasae, who appeared in Road House (1989). 

It all starts out with the time-honored convenience store shootout, where many bottles of New York Seltzer meet their demise. And not just New York Seltzer, but also Zeltzer Seltzer. Lots of carbonated water goes flat in this sequence. This sets the tone for all the fun to be had throughout the rest of the film. Of course, there is a classic WYC (White Yelling Chief) that Sam and her partners have to contend with. It's a shame that Kary Jane (credited as only Kary J. on the film, and many of the other actors only did initials or pseudonyms as well) did only this movie. She could have been a rival to Brigitte Nielsen at the time.

While American Rampage received a U.S. DVD release back in 1998 on the low-budget Simitar label, thankfully, Massacre Video has now rescued the film and released it on Blu-ray. Not only did they pair it with the Dan Haggerty film Danger USA (1989), but there is a commentary track by DeCoteau and producer Raj Mehrotra. Also included is a deleted scene that features Linnea Quigley that previously was only available on the French VHS release.

While you can't hear Mehrotra too well on the commentary track, DeCoteau does most of the talking anyway, and he repeatedly mentions PM and AIP productions as his contemporaries at the time. He also namechecks Amir Shervan and Hollywood Cop (1987). He even mentions that a stuntman who worked on American Rampage later died doing a stunt on a PM film, but he doesn't mention their name. There are numerous instances where DeCoteau and Mehrotra crack up laughing during the track. They do mention that the genesis for the film was that foreign markets want "American guns, American cars, American cops, and American girls". Hence, the name American Rampage.

That formula does makes sense, if you look at how many movies were released at the time with the word "American" in them, which we talked about on one of our podcasts. This even goes to low-budget foreign productions like American Hunter (1989). As long as people in other countries view America as the zany universe that American Rampage takes place in, I'm okay with that. I wish we lived in a world where Sam Rork always was there for us and always had our back.

For a thoroughly enjoyable and mirth-filled night of entertainment, it's hard to beat American Rampage. It has a rough-hewn homemade charm that’s easy to love. The Blu-ray is a standout, and keeping in mind that we have nothing to do with Massacre Video and they probably don't even know we exist, we absolutely recommend purchasing their American Rampage/Danger USA release. You won't regret it.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 


Steele's Law (1991)

Steele's Law (1991)- * * *

Directed by: Fred Williamson

Starring: Fred Williamson, Doran Ingram, and Bo Svenson

Lt. John Steele (Fred) - not to be confused with the John Steele from Steele Justice (1987), who is a different person that you unleash - is a Chicago cop with a bad attitude. Surprisingly, he also plays by his own rules. When some FBI suits recruit Steele to foil a terrorist plot, he travels to Dallas to stop an assassination attempt. In this case, a maniacal baddie named Joe Keno (Ingram, whose name may be spelled incorrectly in the credits) is planning on killing the Iraqi ambassador. 

Once in the Lone Star state, Steele makes fast friends with Sheriff Barnes (Svenson) and the mission begins. Along the way, Steele, Barnes, and his contact, "Peacekeeper" face all sorts of trials and tribulations, usually ending with Steele's coolness saving the day. But will Steele be able to change the course of the first Gulf War? Find out today...

Released the year before Three Days to a Kill (1992), Steele's Law is likely the first Snizzlefritz production. Three Days is the second Snizzlefritz production. Now that that's cleared up, we can say that Steele's Law faithfully follows the Fred formula. It's far from fantastic, but it's fine for his followers. In fact, the film is fairly fun. If you have seen and liked other Fred Williamson movies, you will know what to expect and you'll probably dig what he's layin' down.

Certain ideas, themes, and even scenes and character types appear again and again in the Fred canon. He won't get much credit in the snooty circles for being an auteur, but that's what he truly was, if I understand the definition of auteur correctly. Maybe it's because certain gay-stereotype characters and/or prostitutes are played for laughs, which is un-PC these days. 

But so is Steele's rogue cowboy ways and tough-guy masculinity. That's why people are re-discovering these movies. They don't make 'em like this anymore. Or maybe it's because all of his movies have scenes with loud incidental music that drowns out the dialogue. Either way, Fred is an American Original. Even his films that aren't top-flight have something worth watching going on. Steele's Law is no exception.

For example, Steele's Law gets going instantly with a slam-bang opening scene. He's tough and cool right from the jump, and is a master of weaponry, as we soon see. But, inevitably, he has to go from street action to the office of his Chief, just as night follows day. He isn't quite a BYC, but he teeters on the edge. He also has questionable hair. Steele displays more of his classic bad attitude, but he agrees to go after his former nemesis, Keno. 

Once in Dallas he gets into a classic Barfight, but probably the trainyard fight trumps it as a movie highlight. As is typically the case, there are some doldrums in the film during the course of the reasonable 90-minute running time. Perhaps this is best exemplified when we see Steele casually cross a street - the whole street - while the 'Don't Walk' sign is lit. What a badass. We then see him walk back from where he came from. Every step. We're not sure why this was necessary, as scenes like this tend to lessen the overall intensity of the film, but perhaps it was there to build character. We now know Steele has a cool walk. Wait, didn't we already know that? Well, anyway...

Other highlights include the Mike Logan score (presumably not the character from Law & Order), even if it does blare while characters are talking. But that's not Logan's fault. 

Also, when Steele is teamed up with Peacekeeper - which was the working title for the film but they must have been familiar with Dolph's The Peacekeeper from 1997 - we get a classic "cool guy meets nerd and they're the Original Odd Couple" scenario, recently seen between Matt McColm and Clint Howard in Body Armor, also from 1997. And you've got to see the cell phones used in this movie. They're awesome. If anyone ever starts a cell phone museum, they should consult Steele's Law as a reference point. It almost makes the whole thing worth seeing right there. 

It appears that Steele's Law is one of the rarer Fred movies, at least here in the U.S. However, you can still find those cheaply-produced "gas station" DVDs that are floating around out there. That's what we stumbled across at the Salvation Army. If you do see one, pick it up. It won't kill ya. Especially if you're a Fred fan. And if you're not...why not?

Comeuppance Review by Ty and Brett

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