Dune Warriors (1991)


Dune Warriors
(1991)- * * 

Directed by: Cirio H. Santiago 

Starring: David Carradine, Rick Hill, Luke Askew, Jillian McWhirter, Blake Boyd,  and Maria Isobel Lopez

In New California in 2040, water is the most precious commodity. The world is a destroyed, desert-like wasteland and most people are just scraping together to survive. When a roving gang of toughs led by the sinister William (Askew) and Tomas (Nicholson) invade the small village of Chin Le because they have a water supply, all hell breaks loose. Wanting to fight back against the new situation she and her fellow survivors have found themselves in, a young woman named Val (McWhirter) puts together a team of heroes. She finds Michael (Carradine), John (Hill), Dorian (Boyd), and Miranda (Lopez), all of whom have specialties when it comes to the fighting arts. Will our small band of plucky heroes be able to expel the baddies once and for all?

As Dokken once sang, “we’re the Dune Warriors, don’t wanna Dune no more.” We’re pretty sure those were the lyrics. If you've seen such films as Steel Dawn (1987), Raiders of the Sun (1992), Wheels of Fire (1985), Stryker (1983) or any Cirio Santiago or post-apocalyptic movie, you may know what to expect with Dune Warriors. It's really just more of the same. That's not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. It just fits in with its other compatriots in the genre.

Because David Carradine is a man who travels around doing Martial Arts, there's a certain Kung Fu vibe, and because Rick Hill and his buddies are guys who do jousting tournaments on motorcycles, it may recall Knightriders (1981) to a certain degree, but those are the only elements that differentiate Dune Warriors from the pack at all. It's all very standard stuff, but the U.S. VHS is 77 minutes long, so that is very merciful and it doesn't take up much of your time. 

The whole thing opens with a bang, an action scene that appears to be William's raid on another small village. It's chock full of shooting, blow-ups, and the like. There's even a decapitation. It feels abrupt and like it should have been in the middle of the movie, but I guess that's part of the charm.

The character names are some of the most undistinguished we've seen in years. Oh boy, here comes Michael, John, and William. It's the future, people. Where's Paco Queruak when you need him? The music was done by a mysterious collective of musicians known as The Score Warriors. The end credits tune was some of their best work. We may never know who they are, but their name is more interesting than Michael or William.

We've seen the whole "teaching the farmers to fight so they can defend their village from roving marauders" plot many times before. Like we said, Dune Warriors doesn't add a whole heck of a lot to the genre, but it's not offensively bad or anything. There isn't much in the way of character development so it's kind of hard to get to know the people we're supposed to care about. Action mainstays like Carradine, McWhirter, and Hill get by on their natural talent and screen presence, but there's only so much they can do. For better Rick Hill, check out Fast Gun (1988). For better McWhirter, check out Last Man Standing (1996).

While it is sort of impressive that Cirio could make basically the same movie over and over again - Dune Warriors is especially close to the aforementioned Stryker; it's a veritable remake, including a similar scene involving what we called "Jawa-like Pygmies" in our Stryker review - it would've been nice to see him break the mold a bit this time around. By 1991 I think we as video store patrons kind of got the idea. But if you like these kinds of post-ap movies and you see it cheap somewhere, it couldn't hurt to pick it up. But don't go in with high expectations.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddies, The Video Vacuum and DTVC!


The President's Man: A Line In The Sand (2002)

 The President's Man: A Line In The Sand
(2002)- * * *

Directed by: Eric Norris

Starring: Chuck Norris, Jennifer Tung, Judson Mills, Maz Jobrani, Robert Urich and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson

If you've been following the adventures of Joshua McCord, Que, and Deke Slater (Chuck, Tung, and Mills respectively), you'll know that they now face the greatest threat yet posed to them: international Islamic terrorism! For those that may not know, McCord is a college professor by day and secret warrior by night who is dispatched to solve the President's toughest problems. His daughter Que and his protege Deke round out the team. When terrorists start planting bombs, as they're wont to do, and president Adam Mayfield (Urich) summons them, our triumvirate of heroes snap into action. But will it be too late? Will Chuck Norris stamp out the scourge of terrorism once and for all? He's already drawn A LINE IN THE SAND....

Chuck Norris's TV Movie career ends on a high with A Line in the Sand. It's a lot of fun, very silly, and delivers what you want. I have to say that when we picked up the 3-movie collection of Logan's War: Bound By Honor (1998), The President's Man (2000) and President's Man 2 for two dollars at Goodwill, we were not expecting much. But this trilogy proved to be far more entertaining than we thought it would be. This set exceeded our expectations and A Line in the Sand might be the best of the bunch, because it features Chuck doing what you think Chuck should be doing: killing terrorists. It's a great formula, and it really works here. Like the other entries in the set, it's surprisingly violent for a CBS telefilm, but it also has plenty of laughs along the way. This is what Body Armor (AKA Conway) (1997) should have been. 

Now, since he's the guy Joshua McCord is training because Josh is getting on in years, Deke Slater gets in on most of the action. But that's okay, because he does a great job. But don't go expecting Chuck to be on screen the entire time. A different actor plays Deke this time out, which means in total, they're up to their third hunk. The first was Eddie Cibrian, then Dylan Neal, now Judson Mills. They just can't keep their hunks from running away. As you might expect, this new Deke Slater is the Zack Morris of Dallas. He may crack wise, but he always makes good in the end.

Besides the casting change from Neal to Mills, there are some other noteworthy cast members. Firstly, Robert Urich as the President was a fantastic choice. He looks presidential, that's for sure. I'd vote for him any day. But the Norris brothers snagged yet another casting coup: real-life Republican Senator from Texas Kay Bailey Hutchison. While she was in an episode of Walker: Texas Ranger, this is her - to date - only acting role in a film, albeit a TV film. She's better than Gloria Allred, we'll say that for sure. Leave it to the Norrises to always keep us on our toes with surprises like this. It's what keeps you watching. 

In this particular sequel, they took what worked from the first installment and just did it again: a funny opening to to kick things off in grand style, the use of recycled footage, an extensive training sequence, and a slam-bang ending. Hey, if it works, why rock the boat? The training this time around features a very amusing song with lyrics that reference then-hot CBS TV show Survivor among other funny lyrics. 

While this is going on, there is a very Eternal Champions-esque method of whipping Deke Slater into shape. Much like what happened to Rax in that classic Genesis game, red balls come shooting out of holes in the wall and Deke must defend himself against them. When he protests that it's too easy, Que makes him do it blindfolded. And shirtless. But he might already have been shirtless. It's tough to say because he was always shirtless.

In the end, The President's Man: A Line in the Sand (get it? Because they're fighting middle-eastern terrorists?) delivers the goods. While this may have been Chuck's attempt at being topical and serious, it is indeed topical but it's not so serious. But it does have Deke and Joshua shooting terrorists in slow motion while cars are on fire in the background. I'm sure Senator Hutchison enjoyed watching that, as we all did.

For an enjoyable romp with the Chuckster, do check out The President's Man: A Line in the Sand.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


The President's Man (2000)

The President's Man
(2000)- * * *

Directed by: Eric Norris

Starring: Chuck Norris, Dylan Neal, Soon-Teck Oh, Jennifer Tung, and Stuart Whitman

Joshua McCord (Chuck) is just a simple college professor who teaches the ancient art of Bushido to young punks who look like Frankie Muniz. Or is he? McCord's secret, other life is that he's THE PRESIDENT'S MAN - a highly-trained Delta Force/Special Ops-style commando warrior who has as his special mission to get the President and his wife out of trouble.

When a Brazilian terrorist group named the People's Liberation Army kidnaps Mrs. President and demands 100 million dollars and high-powered weaponry, McCord swoops in to save the day. But he worries that he's getting on in years and that he may have to pass the torch to a President's Man, Jr. After an extensive search, he and his partner Que (Tung) settle upon Sgt. Deke Slater (Neal), a cocky badass/hunk. McCord then seeks the advice of his aging mentor, George Williams (Whitman), and then the extensive training begins.

It turns out they're going to need it, because McCord's old nemesis from 'Nam, General Vinh Tran (Oh), is now in South America and looking to get into the drug trade. The baddies have kidnapped a scientist and his family and is forcing the poor guy to make nuclear weapons for them. But Slater, Que, and McCord are on the case...can they rescue the family and at the same time settle the score with Tran? Find out today!

If you read our review for Logan's War: Bound By Honor (1998), a lot of what we said in that review applies here, because that movie and this are both quite similar. They're both late 90's/early 2000's TV movies produced by Norris Brothers Entertainment for the CBS network and shot in and around the Dallas, Texas area. They seem like extended versions of the classic Walker: Texas Ranger TV show. What might surprise you, however, is how entertaining these movies are. They're not nearly as "bad" as some wags out there say they are. They provide good action, amusing dialogue, and are Chuck all the way. They're even better than some of Chuck's earlier output.

How The President's man differs from Logan's War is that President's Man is more James Bond-esque. Joshua McCord is like a Texas-Fried Bond who gets into a lot of high-flying adventures. There's even a horn-based musical sting that might sound a little familiar. There's even a special room in Chuck's compound for high-tech anti-baddie gadgetry.

There are not one but two extensive training montages as McCord and Que show their new recruit the ropes. The training sequences are set to patriotic country music, as you might expect. More than just Martial Arts and target shooting, there is an alarming amount of gymnastics involved in becoming the President's Man. It was almost Gymkata-esque. To be fair, it does kind of pay off during the Prerequisite Torture scene with Slater, but still, at times we weren't sure if they were training a soldier or Mary Lou Retton.

Maybe we're biased because we saw Logan's War first, but Dylan Neal is no Eddie Cibrian. I know that's controversial and might ruffle some feathers, but, there, I said it. And I'm not ashamed. He's very similar, however, and the plot idea where Chuck trains a new recruit who looks like a soap opera hunk will invariably remind you of Logan's War.

Some further noteworthy aspects of The President's Man include the fact that evil Vietnamese generals have teamed up with Colombian drug lords, and some of the Colombian drug baddies know "Colombian Kung Fu", a funny form of Martial Arts. For a TV movie, there are more neck snaps than you might expect. Also there seems to be a lot of stock footage interpolated into the film in entertaining ways, and the sounds that arise when someone gets punched or kicked sound like Alex Van Halen's snare drum hits. In other words, they're extraordinarily loud.

If you're looking to embark on seeing Chuck's later TV movie career, The President's Man is a fine place to start. Logan's War would do the trick as well. It's recommended for people that have explored every other aspect of Chuck's career and are seeking out more of his output. There's also a sequel, so watch out for that.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Fast Gun (1988)

 Fast Gun
(1988)- * * *

Directed by: Cirio H. Santiago 

Starring: Rick Hill, Robert Dryer, and Brenda Bakke

A gang of baddies led by Nelson (Dryer) are going around to different military bases and stealing their guns and ammunition. After hiding their stash, they decide to hole up in the small town of Granite Lake, California. The sheriff of this dusty ol' burg is one Jack Steiger (Hill). He once was a big-city L.A. cop, but after tragedy struck, he retreated to the country. You know the story. His girlfriend is the local barmaid, Julie Comstock (Bakke) and all seems peaceful in the town. That is, until Steiger gets wind of what's going on. Suddenly, in the peaceful town of Granite Lake, Hill has to fend off bikers, baddies, and ruthless CIA gunrunners. Will his skills as a FAST GUN save him now?

While set in the modern day, Fast Gun is clearly influenced by the Westerns of the past. Most of the action takes place on a classic Western street, with perhaps the only modern update being that this street has a video store on it. The plot overall isn't too dissimilar from the Westerns of yore. The difference this time around is that the baddies have rocket launchers and the lone hero has a machine gun! While Cirio has upped the firepower quotient, this is clearly a tribute to the Westerns he must have grown up watching.

In many ways, it follows a tried-and-true Cirio Santiago formula. That's not a bad thing. It's very similar to The Devastator (1986), which also starred Rick Hill, and Final Mission (1984), among others. There are even many names in the end credits stating certain cast members were "Marijuana Runners". There were marijuana runners in this movie? I thought that was the Devastator! Well, it doesn't really matter, because it all comes to a satisfying, explosive conclusion at the end of its wonderfully brief 75-minute running time. 

Rick Hill looks a lot like Peter Weller. Or perhaps Stephen McHattie. He inexplicably loses his shirt at the beginning of the final battle and spends the rest of the movie shirtless, sweaty and machine gun-shooting. As all heroes should be, obviously. As his paramour Julie, Brenda Bakke has a fairly thankless role but at least she's pleasing to the eye. We last saw her in Fist Fighter (1989), so it was nice to see her again. Hopefully it won't be the last time. Lead baddie Robert Dryer looks a lot like Paul Koslo from The Annihilators (1985), but we've been assured they're not the same person.

To quote Tesla, "It's a showdown in a no-man's land

For the cowboy of the modern day.

Come on, sundown, don't be hangin' round

'Cause the cowboy will blow you away."

Never mind the fact that this song was recorded before Fast Gun was released. We're fairly sure Tesla was watching Fast Gun and were heavily influenced by it. And by "blow you away", they obviously meant by Rick Hill toting a machine gun.

If you can find the VHS of Fast Gun, we say pick it up. It's short, to the point, and delivers the goods. It's hard to ask for more.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Body Armor (1997)


Body Armor
(1997)- * * *

AKA: Conway

Directed by: Jack Gill

Starring: Matt McColm, John Rhys-Davies, Morgan Brittany, Shauna O'Brien, Michael Paul Chan, Annabel Schofield, Carol Alt, Clint Howard, and Ron Perlman

Ken Conway (McColm) is The Best. What is he the best at, you ask? Apparently, Conway is a highly-trained professional toughguy, a sort of likable soldier of fortune, and if you have the money, you can hire him to protect you, beat people up, shoot them, or whatever you may want. Tiring of his latest assignment, protecting a bad guy named Rasheed (Rhys-Davies), Conway decides to do something more positive with his life and his skills. His accountant/sidekick 'Hutch' Hutcherson (Howard) wants him to help guard a Red Cross convoy in Sri Lanka, but Conway demurs, saying he "doesn't know what diseases he'll get". Conway doesn't realize how prescient his words are, as he then quickly goes on the case of a missing scientist, which leads to a sinister virologist named Ramsey Krago (Perlman).

Ostensibly, Krago and his partner Sloane Matthews (Brittany) are looking into the cure for a deadly, Ebola-like new disease inexplicably named Ferris. But something evil is going on, and Conway is going to find out what it is. But time is of the essence, because Conway becomes infected with Ferris and only has 48 hours to live. Joined on his mission by old flame Marisa (Schofield) and Agent Monica McBride (Alt), CONWAY is going to have to act quickly or the evil Krago will get away. Can he do it?

Body Armor is comic-booky good fun. It features exaggerated, larger-than-life heroes and villains, and the women that accompany them. If you're looking for something realistic and gritty, this isn't it. Similar to what The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) is to the Sci-Fi genre, Body Armor is comparable to that in the realm of low-budget action. It's all done with a rather silly sense of humor. Clint Howard is the comic relief character, but a vein of humor goes throughout the whole film, including during some of the fight scenes. Of course, Howard and McColm are the Original Odd Couple. One of them looks a lot like Ben Affleck, and the other...doesn't.

The director, Jack Gill, has mainly worked in the field of stunts for his whole career, and Body Armor is nothing if not a stunt-fest. That would make sense, as it's Gill's only directorial credit to date. He pulls out the stops in that department, as you would think he would, as it's what he knows best. Besides the high-quality stunt work, Body Armor also has a noteworthy cast. 

Besides the aforementioned Howard and McColm, we also have Carol Alt, star of one of our favorites, Crackerjack 2 AKA Hostage Train (1997). With Body Armor, you really get the Alt you want. As much as we love it, in Crackerjack 2 she's a hostage of the baddies. Here, she gets in on the action and continually shoots people throughout the film. Finally, Carol Alt shooting people! It's what we've always wanted to see. Annabel Schofield and Shauna O'Brien provide even more backup in the beautiful woman department. John Rhys-Davies and Michael Paul Chan provide small but memorable supporting roles, and Ron Perlman and Morgan Brittany are an amusing team of baddies. As good as Perlman was in the role, it's also the type of thing Ron Silver excelled at during that time period.

As an antagonist named Krago - which is sort of hard to take seriously because other characters pronounce it like 'Eggo', but then again that was probably on purpose because of the goofy tone of the film - he has virologist goons. That's right, virologist goons. Even though, to the public at least, he is a venerable, white-coated doctor, when Conway starts going after him, he sends his goons to beat/kill him. You don't see that every day. 

Naturally, lots and lots of stunt people worked on the film, notably Kane Hodder and a guy named Mike Justus. Could he have been the inspiration behind the man of the same name from Street Corner Justice (1996)? We may never know, but it is comforting to know that there is a real guy out there named Mike Justus.

Before its final release on A-Pix VHS as Body Armor, the film was known variously as The Protector, Krago's Island, and simply Conway. We can see why they went with Body Armor, as there are a lot of other movies called The Protector, and you really don't want to mess with Ed Marinaro. Krago's Island was bound to be confused with The Secret of King Mahi's Island (1988) and/or McCinsey's Island (1998) - plus that's not a very accurate title to begin with. Conway is a bit plain and doesn't exactly scream "stunt-filled action!", so ultimately they went with the best choice.

While the tone is a bit goofball, and the pacing could perhaps have been a bit more ironed-out, the action, stunts, and lovable B-Movie cast raise Body Armor above many of its competitors.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty