Heroes Three (1985)

Heroes Three (1985)- * * *

Directed by: Shing Hon Lau

Starring: Lawrence Tan, Laurens C. Postma, Kim Bill, Lim Wai-Kee, Hudson Leung, and Mike Kelly

Sailors Dutch Hagan (Postma) and Jim Burstall (Kelly) are on shore leave after traveling from Taiwan to Hong Kong. When a bunch of masked assailants start a brawl with them once they arrive, local private detective and part-time Tai Chi teacher Horatio Lim (Tan) joins in the fray with his newfound friends. 

When Burstall goes missing, it sets in motion a chain of events that leads all the way to the top of the Asian high finance industry. An unscrupulous businessman named Winter (Lovett?) wants to monopolize the gold market and it seems Burstall is involved somehow. However, there are a myriad of baddies looking to cause trouble for Hagan and Lim, as well as Hagan’s new love interest, who just happens to be Lim’s sister. These men, naturally, are named Ah “Coffin” Fang (Lim Wai-Kee), Night Club Wu (Hudson Leung), and Junkmaster Cheong (Kim Bill). Of course, many melees ensue. What will happen to the HEROES THREE?

Heroes Three is enjoyable, modest, and entertaining. It’s set in Hong Kong – and one of the movie’s strengths is some of its fascinating location photography – but has something of an international pedigree thanks to some of its American, British, and European cast and crew, as well as the fact that it was written by a guy named Pat Dunlop, who mainly worked in American TV. There’s a mix of the old culture of Hong Kong, and some of the new, modern technology of that time. For example, Lim has a high-tech command center complete with a stand-up arcade machine, and there are other scenes of characters playing arcade games. So the 80’s-ness is on display clearly, which gives it automatic points in our book.

Speaking of which, it all starts with a jaunty, synthy song which we think is called “Looking For You”, and sung by Rowena Cortes, who sings the closing ballad as well. Cortes had a nice career throughout the seventies, releasing five albums and two singles in the decade, even winning the 1976 Hong Kong Popular Song Contest. As far as we can tell, her work for Heroes Three was her last. 

The whole outing kicks off (literally) with not a Fruit Cart chase, but a Fruit Cart fight. After this display, one character calls another, and we quote, “a snoopie”. If anyone has ever called you or anyone you know a snoopie, please write in today. There are some large and funny burned-in English subtitles in some scenes that are quite amusing. Additionally, some poor schnook is not a victim of Chinese water torture, but Chinese milk torture. So, overall, there are some interesting tweaks that let Heroes Three stand out, and they don’t take things overly seriously, so it all has a fun vibe that is easy to like.

As in a lot of movies, there is a goon that looks a lot like David Cross. His name is Max Schwartz in the film, so do look out for him. But all the heavies in the movie are no match for Dutch Hagan, who wears a very intimidating Donald Duck sweatshirt. He has a lot of great activewear in the movie, but that shirt was probably the favorite. And, as if there was any doubt that it’s a Donald Duck sweatshirt, it has the words DONALD DUCK emblazoned in large letters across the top. Why this sweatshirt is made in adult sizes, we may never know. 

In the end, Heroes Three is a so-called “Chop-Socky” film with a difference. There’s a lot of action and fighting, but there’s some welcome diversity and it never gets boring. While the movie was released in many countries worldwide over the years, it didn’t have a ton of market penetration here in the U.S., and it was probably overshadowed by the contemporary Ninja Boom of the day. (Just to be clear, there are no ninjas in Heroes Three). Now that it’s on Amazon Prime – as of this writing – we say check it out. 

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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


Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)- * * *

Directed by: John R. Leonetti

Starring: Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, James Remar, Deron McBee, Marjean Holden, Litefoot, and Brian Thompson

The good guys, led by Rayden (Remar), have to fight the bad guys, led by Shao Khan (Thompson) before the "merger" of Earth with the baddie lair of The Outworld. That's it. We're not being lazy. That's really it.

Here's a question the filmmakers behind Mortal Kombat: Annihilation must have asked themselves: How do we fashion a 90-minute movie not just out of a beat-em-up video game (because we already did that once before) - but do it again with a sequel? It seems like the answer they came up with was just to feature as many Mortal Kombat characters as they could, and simply by them being there, that would satisfy young people who were already fans of the franchise or simply didn't know any better.

It does seem that the priority here was being true to the game. Maybe they worried that if they didn't include at least brief appearances by all the countless characters that existed by the time Mortal Kombat 3 rolled around, all the 12-year-olds in the audience would revolt or something. So then they just threw a bunch of childish dialogue, plot points, and CGI/green screen silliness at the screen and hoped for the best. 

There are non-stop fights, as you might expect, but it feels like a video game, not so much a movie. It seems like the priority with the casting was to find people who physically resembled the game characters, and then fit them in costumes that followed suit. As our friend Brendan pointed out, it seems like this movie was made by someone who had never made or even seen a movie before, but had existed solely on a diet of video games their whole life.

After getting off to a rocky start, the movie struggles to find its feet, and by the time that happens, you find that the whole outing is just too silly and nonsensical to really hate.

Of course, that hasn't stopped anyone from adding this movie to lists of the worst of all time. Fan favorite actors such as Brian Thompson, Malibu, Robin Shou, and James Remar (who even does some brief Remar-Fu) manage to keep some level of interest, and there does seem to be a kid-friendly message of "believe in yourself!" but the whole outing is very, very ridiculous and is the type of overblown, unnecessary, computer-generated crud that could only have come from the Hollywood system. It seems that that's all they're good for making these days. So, in that sense, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation was ahead of its time.

Featuring all your favorite techno hits on the soundtrack, it's hard to imagine exactly who this movie was aimed towards: if you're a fan of the game series, you're bound to be disappointed, and if you're not, and for some reason you just jumped in cold to the movie, you're bound to be confused and irritated. So, for that reason, it must be "the children" that was the target market. So if, in 1997, they could get their eyes off of Power Rangers or BeetleBorgs for a few minutes, they could watch this. 

For everyone else, it might be wise to steer clear. Let’s face it, you don’t go out of your way to watch Mortal Kombat: Annihilation because you’re looking for a Eugene O’Neill-level of drama. You do it to experience the continuing exploits of Ermac.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Angel Of Destruction (1994)

Angel Of Destruction (1994)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Charles Phillip Moore

Starring: Maria Ford, Charlie Spradling, Chanda, Jimmy Broome, Jim Moss, Henry Strzalowski, Jessica Mark, and Nick Nicolson

"More Peggy Lee, less Marquis De Sade"- Sonny Luso

Delilah (Mark) and her sidekick Reena (Chanda) are the hottest act on the Hawaiian pop scene. They combine the female togetherness of T.a.T.u with the 80's-esque rock stylings of Pat Benatar. And they both perform live and in their music videos topless. Naturally this makes unhinged stalker/former mercenary Robert Kell (Broome) even more nutso. Not only does he kill prostitutes for sport while enacting a bizarre wedding ceremony with them, he also offs Brit Allwood (Spradling), a police officer tasked with protecting the duo.

When Brit's sister Jo (Ford) finds out what's going on, she's none too pleased. Not only does she take up Brit's former role of protecting the gals, she also goes on a one-woman rampage to find and stop Kell. After he kidnaps Reena, all bets are off. Jo then pulls out all the stops to save Reena and save the day. For Kell, will Jo be his ANGEL OF DESTRUCTION?

I want to live in a world where extremely attractive cops wear sleeveless half-shirts as their normal work attire. Even the female ones. Anyone who has ever seen any Roger Corman-produced action movies, from TNT Jackson (1974) to Firecracker (1981) to Silk (1986) to Angelfist (1993) to Black Belt (1992) and beyond will be very familiar with the formula used here, again, for Angel of Destruction. At this point it's basically comfort food. It adheres to the Corman-mandated 85-minute running time and meets or exceeds the nudity requirements. Most importantly, however, it's very entertaining. 

We could all use more Maria Ford in our lives and here is a chance to see her as the tough chick who gets results. She fights in the time-honored barfight, among other beat-em-up moments (including the classic almost-naked fight scene Corman has used before, but once you've struck gold there's no need to mess with the formula).

The first song performed by Delilah and Reena, which is either called "Are You Changed" or "Are You Chained" is a catchy one, and is a clever way for director Moore to improve upon the rather boring stripping scenes Corman insisted upon around this time. Yes, there is stripping during the song, but it's an original song and a live concert performance, not just a strip act (although Maria Ford as Jo, who does mention she was a former stripper, also strips in a later scene. Apparently even though she's now a highly-capable cop, the lure of the old ways is just too strong).

Jessica Mark as Delilah is a mystery. Despite her - dare I say - exquisite, model-esque beauty, this is her only credited acting role and she doesn't have a Wikipedia page. Her career could have been massive, but it seems she just dropped completely off the map. Chanda is less of a puzzle - she appeared in a decent amount of 90's erotic thrillers before disappearing herself (more than likely marriage and kids with a producer, but that's just a guess). Oddly, legendary adult actress Georgina Spelvin is credited as Foley Supervisor. And yes, it is the same Georgina Spelvin, even though her credit is spelled as Spellvin. Can anyone explain this? Just another mystery, evidently.

Because it was shot in the Philippines, some familiar faces are on display - Jim Moss, Nick Nicholson, and Henry Strzalkowski, among others, but Ford's love interest looks like John Stossel. Well, he has a mustache like Stossel. Angel of Destruction is as close as you'll get to seeing Stossel-Fu. For now.

Naturally, it all ends in a Final Warehouse Fight. This ticks off the final box required, so now we can officially say that Angel of Destruction delivers the goods. It's good old fashioned, Cinemax-style, brainless fun. There's bullets, beat-em-ups, and babes. It's a nice fantasy and it won't take up much of your time. 

It's probably one of the last true exploitation pictures in the grindhouse style, and we applaud that to the utmost. Would that more movies had the guts to be this shamelessly entertaining and have such dedication to nudity.

With that, how could we not recommend Angel of Destruction? See it tonight!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out write-ups from our buddies, The Video Vacuum and Fist Of B-List! 


Angel Of Vengeance (1987)

Angel Of Vengeance (1987)- * * *

Directed by: Ted V. Mikels

Starring: Jannina Poynter and David O' Hara

Tina Davenport (Poynter) arrives in a small California town, and all she wants to do is write a biography of her late father, a Green Beret. In her off hours, she goes spear fishing and sings Bob Dylan songs in the woods. Her rural idyll is spoiled when she stumbles upon a rumble between a local dirtbike gang, The Thrill Killers, and a self-made platoon of Doomsday Preppers out in the desert. Knowing she’s got what it takes, she makes an offer to Head Prepper Major Hargrove (O’Hara) to have him and his comrades hunt her in the desert, Most Dangerous Game-style. Naturally, they agree, but she then begins to turn the tables on them as the battle for survival turns deadly…for them! As if all that wasn’t enough, a duo of “Random Killers” (that’s actually how they’re credited) are on the loose and causing havoc. Will Bo Gritz make a surprise appearance? Or maybe Blake Bahner? One never knows, but one thing we do know: Tina Davenport is the ANGEL OF VENGEANCE!

Finally, here is the mashup of Savage Justice (1988) and Savage Instinct (1991) we’ve all been waiting to see. It’s a little surprising they didn’t call this Savage Angel. Anyway, director Ted V. Mikels brings the no-budget drive-in horror/exploitation style we all know from such classics as The Corpse Grinders (1971) and Blood Orgy of the She-Devils (1973) to this, but here applies it to an action romp. The idea of dirtbikers vs. Preppers in some sort of a desert-set brawl is a good one, and introducing a tough-gal character like Tina into the mix amps things up even more, but, sadly, the movie overall doesn’t live up to that promise.

That’s not to say there aren’t some points in the win column for Angel of Vengeance. It’s populated by a lot of people with interesting faces, and the desert setting is a good one (we’re told, quite threateningly, by Hargrove that “It’s a box canyon!!”). The dirtbikers haven’t graduated to the leather jackets of their Harley-riding counterparts, so they all have Thrill Killers M.C. T-shirts. Not quite as intimidating, but they’re getting there. It’s like training wheels. The Preppers love camouflage – not just their outfits, but their truck and their hideout are all camouflage. It’s a wonder we can see them at all. (Not to rain on their parade, but it’s all green camo in the desert, which doesn’t help all that much.)

Happily, Angel of Vengeance is a scant 73 minutes (on Amazon Prime anyway). It still felt a little long because not a lot happens and there isn’t really any character development to speak of, but it’s still better than 90-plus minutes. So while the majority of the goings-on are outdoors and characters’ voices still sound marred by microphone distortion, it never gets too bothersome because it all ends relatively quickly. While this is the only screen credit for Jannina Poynter, shout-outs to the other cast members we’d like to give are for Carl Irwin who played Ron and Mary Bee who played “Old Lady” – a woman who sells bread door-to-door and looks like she would have been more at home on the set of Mama’s Family. Irwin went on to have a solid career as a character actor, while, like Poynter, this was the only credit for Mrs. Bee. Watch out for them, as they enliven the proceedings.

Interestingly, fellow “trash film” auteur Ray Dennis Steckler started the film, but Mikels completed it. You really can’t tell; their styles are very similar. That would also explain why the dirtbikers are called The Thrill Killers, after Steckler’s 1964 outing of the same name (maybe he had some promotional shirts lying around?)

The whole thing concludes with the end-credits song “Take Me Home” not by Phil Collins, but by T. Craig Keller, who also played Craig, one of the Preppers, and acted as an associate producer. In the end, Angel of Vengeance (AKA Warcat) is far from an action classic, but it features some blow ups, gun shootin’ and a handful of silly fights. For those out there that like their action off the beaten path and are willing to plumb the depths a little bit, you could do a heck of a lot worse.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty