Live Wire: Human Timebomb (1995)


Live Wire: Human Timebomb
(1995)- * *1\2

Directed by: Mark Roper

Starring: Bryan Genesse, J. Cynthia Brooks, and Joe Lara

Parker (Genesse) is your classic wisecracking FBI Agent. While not afraid to shoot or blow up things and get in the middle of the fight, he quickly becomes embroiled in U.S.-Cuba relations on his latest assignment. In the middle of groundbreaking trade talks between the two countries, a woman named Gina Young (Brooks) approaches Parker about her brother, who is being held prisoner in Cuba. Seeing as Parker just took down some dastardly drug dealers from there, the two head down to rescue him.

Seems like a rather straightforward mission, but the only problem is that the evil Price (Lara) has injected a newfangled computer chip into several fighters from around the world, turning them into his own personal army. Parker himself has been implanted with the chip along with them, and he has to fight against not just the baddies, but his own identity as well! Will he be able to fight the baddies, rescue the Young family, and save a much-publicized trade delegation from a...you guessed it...a HUMAN TIMEBOMB? Well, It's really just a guy in what we might call today a suicide vest, but it sounds a lot cooler to call the whole thing LIVE WIRE: HUMAN TIMEBOMB. Will it blow up in Parker's face? Or will he save the day after all? 

LIVE WIRE: HUMAN TIMEBOMB is probably the best Bryan Genesse film we've seen to date. Around this period he seemed to be one of Nu Image's go-to guys, and here he finally gets a showcase for all his talents. He gets to be the smart-aleck FBI agent on the one hand, and a ruthless killing machine on the other. It's more or less a dual role. Plus, he gets in on a lot of action throughout the course of the movie. There's a lot of blow-ups, shooting, and fights, and Genesse is there for almost all of it.

It all starts out with one of the more explosive Drug Deals Gone Wrong we've seen in some time. We know they don't usually go right, but this one provides more firepower than usual. And who wouldn't be intimidated by that guy on the right? I'm scared just looking at him now, and this is a DTV movie from 1995. Imagine seeing him in real life. 

While the idea of a chip (everyone's looking for the "other" chip in the movie - apparently there are two of them) that can turn already-vicious bad guys into supersoldiers is a good idea, and there is a lot of commendable stunt work throughout the film, around the hour mark things slow down considerably. It would have been hard to keep up the slam-bang pace of the opening sequence.

The Bryan Genesse-Joe Lara fight in the kitchen at the end was the fight we've all been waiting for, and it's a good one. It was enjoyable to watch these two duke it out. It was nice to see J. Cynthia Brooks get in on the action, as we'd last seen her in Coldfire (1990). She was a welcome addition to all the Genesses and Laras we know so well.

Director Mark Roper is no stranger to the site, as he's been behind the camera for several Gary Daniels films that we've enjoyed. The movie was shot in Roper's native South Africa, and it was his first action movie. He improved with his series of Daniels outings, but LWHT is a more than respectable opening salvo. His main error was making the running time 98 minutes. If the movie was shorter, it would have helped things along a bit better. 

Interestingly, in some places this is known as Live Wire 2: Human Timebomb, presumably a sequel to the 1992 Pierce Brosnan movie Live Wire. In other territories, it is not a sequel. It's just a movie with a cool title. In the end, however, LWHT stands on its action scenes. They're well-executed, but seemingly the plot can't withstand the 98-minute running time. With a little editing, we'd be dealing with something outstanding. As it is, it's good. Better and worse movies would come from Both Genesse and Roper, but this one is entertaining enough.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


G2: Mortal Conquest (1999)


G2: Mortal Conquest
(1999)- * *

Directed by: Nick Rotundo 

Starring: Daniel Bernhardt and James Hong

The battle for Alexander the Great's sword is on...again! That's right, as if Gladiator Cop: The Swordsman II (1995) wasn't enough for you, never mind The Swordsman (1995), here we get the third and final (?) installment of the supremely silly series. As you'll no doubt remember, in Gladiator Cop: The Swordsman II, James Hong as Parmenion and Lorenzo Lamas as Andrew Garrett were reincarnated figures who had recollections of their past from hundreds of years ago as they tried to get the sword. Meanwhile there were Punchfighting matches in parking lots.

This time around, in G2, James Hong as Parmenion and Daniel Bernhardt as a man named Steven Conlin are reincarnated figures who have recollections of their past from hundreds of years ago as they try to get the sword. Meanwhile there are Punchfighting matches in warehouses. This may seem a little familiar. You'd think after three movies, coherence would somehow emerge. It doesn't, but James Hong has a variety of stylish hats. Will the MORTAL CONQUEST finally reach its end?

Writer/director Nick Rotundo seemingly has a burning desire. A desire to tell the tale - repeatedly over the course of years - of the sword of Alexander the Great, Parmenion, and someone trying to get the sword. Rotundo's quest is almost as long and labyrinthine as the saga of the sword itself. 

Just why he thinks this story is so interesting, and why he's willing to more or less make three movies about it, at the cost of whether any of them make sense or not, has yet to be explained. But he sure has a lot of what you might call 'stick-to-itiveness'. Even the name "G2" seems to indicate that this is the true sequel to Gladiator Cop. Maybe he doesn't like Gladiator Cop: The Swordsman II, which is a shame, because that was the moment when nonsensicality became real entertainment.

Starting with a John-Woo-on-a-budget intro, we then soon realize we're in Adrian Paul-era Highlander territory. Like all good stories about reincarnation, there are repeated Punchfighting matches. Just what meatheads pounding on each other has to do with Alexander the Great only our most venerated historians can tell us. Some of the guys seem like they would be at home as contestants on The Running Man, including one who has some sort of breastplate that shoots fire out of the sides. Jesse Ventura should have been involved.

Rather than explain any of the above with dialogue, the men in the movie make a panoply of silly sounds. These sounds include, but are not limited to, yelling, screaming, shouting, grunting, yelping, hollering, bawling, howling, yowling, screeching, and ululating. Someone in a warehouse hits a gong, and off they go. Do not make a drinking game out of any time someone says, and I quote, "BwwoaaoooaaaahhhhhhAAAAAA!!!!!

Some of Parmenion's goons have a pretty novel method of deflecting bullets. Actress Meeka Schiro was in the Zagarino outing The Protector (1998) the previous year. Other real people from the cast include men with the names John Bonk and Chris Chinchilla. It's not that bad. It's just disjointed and jumbled, in classic Rotundo style.

G2 (AKA Mortal Conquest) won't make much sense to anyone, regardless of whether they've seen the other "G" movies or not. As a cross between Highlander, The Running Man, Excalibur, and a Shirley MacLaine autobiography shot on a low budget in Canada, it works about as well as you might expect.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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


Face Of Terror (2004)

 Face Of Terror
(2004)- * * *

Directed by: Bryan Goeres

Starring: Rick Schroder, Kadeem Hardison, Paulina Galvez, Rachael Stevens, Abel Folk, and Eric Balfour

Nick Harper (Schroder) and his partner Jefferson (Hardison) are tough cops who are attempting to clean up the streets from drug dealers and hoodlums. However, Nick must take a break from doing that because he cottons on to the fact that his sister Faith (Stevens) has gone missing. She was last seen working as a model in Barcelona, so Nick flies there to get answers. As he's turning Barcelona upside down trying to find his sister, he stumbles on to a terrorist plot. There have been numerous bombings in Spain of late because a terrorist cell including the evil Saleem Haddad (Balfour). Teaming up with Ana Palacios (Galvez), they now must simultaneously keep the local cops off their back, find Faith, and stop the next bombing! Can they do it? Or will the beautiful face of Barcelona become the ugly FACE OF TERROR?

We all wanted it, and now we got it: Ricky Schroder as an action star! Sorry, Rick Schroder. Indeed, this is a performance worthy of a Rick and not a Ricky, because he has a mustache, his voice is gruffer than usual, he bosses people around, and he beats up and shoots baddies as well. It's the Rick Schroder we've all been waiting years to see! Regardless of his past, Schroder has screen presence and it's enjoyable to watch him. He should have done more tough-guy roles like this. But we are thankful he did this one.

Much like how TIG went to Poland in Beyond Forgiveness (1994), Schroder goes to Spain here with Face of Terror. It all plays out like a much more sane version of Gunblast Vodka (2000) - a cop goes to a foreign European city and more or less has to infiltrate the world of modeling. Of course, Gotz Otto is nowhere in sight but that's okay because we've got Rick. I know we make this comparison a lot, but in this case it is really apt - Face of Terror has a similar plot to Taken (2008), and of course it predated Taken by four years. DTV movies are always ahead of the curve. We say that often as well. 

Kadeem Hardison's role was mostly on the phone and fairly thankless. Rachael Stevens as the missing sister was only in two other movies and is something of a mystery. All the other cast members acquit themselves well, and the Spanish locations are picturesque. The whole thing is shot clearly, bright, and well. You never miss a chase or Ricky Schroder beating up Eurotrash photographers.

In the early 00's, director Bryan Goeres was on a roll. Starting with the underrated and hugely enjoyable Phase IV (2002), he then made Face of Terror and Art Heist in the same year (2004), then did Crusader (2005). This time around, he wisely chose unorthodox actors for the roles - Rick Schroder as a fish-out-of-water cop in Spain and Eric Balfour as an Islamic terrorist - and he kept the pace snappy. Consequently, Face of Terror has a lot of positives and a lot to recommend it.

So, if you want to see Ricky Schroder punching and shooting people - as we know you do - please check out Face of Terror.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


13 Dead Men (2003)

 13 Dead Men
(2003)- * *

Directed by: Art Camacho 

Starring: Lorenzo Lamas, David Weininger, Ashley Tucker, Shalena Hughes, and Mystikal

Malachi (Tucker) is in prison. But it's not just any prison, of course. It's run by the corrupt warden Kowalski (Weininger) and his obedient gang of corrections officers. Kowalski stages illegal Punchfights, but he also has his own personal death row where he executes inmates at will (those are the '13 Dead Men' of the title). The Van Peebles-esque Malachi just wants to serve out his sentence as peacefully as possible, but he's put in a cell next to Caj (Mystikal), the Top Dog of the facility who enjoys beating up everyone in sight.

Meanwhile, on the outside, Santos (Lamas) and his girlfriend Jay'me (Hughes) are diamond thieves and they know Malachi has the secret that would lead to a valuable cache of diamonds. So they assemble a team to break Malachi out of prison. They better do it fast, because Malachi just may be on the chopping block. It all comes to a head during a final battle where all hell breaks loose in jail. Will Malachi be the fourteenth Dead Man? And who is this mysterious Cornbread character we've heard so much about? Could he be the key to everything?

13 Dead Men is the perfect movie to watch if you enjoy watching Mystikal repeatedly punch people.

Of course, while some people may argue that that's not the true meaning of the cinematic arts, we would humbly suggest that for 13 Dead Men II that they bring on board Kurupt, C-Murder, Silkk The Shocker, Mr. Ballin Big and others and do a "Black Expendables" sort of thing. It could be huge.

As a director, Art Camacho is a great stunt coordinator. He delivers "urban" action on a very low budget this time around. The artwork (and a lot of the plot) may remind you of Half Past Dead (2002), but instead of Seagal and Ja Rule, we get Lamas and Mystikal. What's the saying? Six of one, half-dozen of the other? Although the aforementioned Kurupt was in Half Past Dead. Couldn't they get him for this?

Anyway, the main problem with 13 Dead Men is that it's a "prison plot" we've seen countless times before. It's more or less a Broken Bars (1995) for the 00's. Or maybe a Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight (1992), Death Warrant (1990), In Hell (2003), Vendetta (2015), etc., etc. It has the same old evil warden we've all come to expect. None of the above could ever match the majesty of Tony Zarindast's Hardcase and Fist (1989). That's the best of the bunch. It has Warden Borden and Beano. So what hope does 13 Dead Men have?

That being said, it is an epic of shirtlessness. There are many shirtless men in this movie, many of which are not in the best of shape. Even Mystikal whips off his shirt at the drop of a hat. Overall, though, the problem with prison films is that they primarily take place in one location. One drab, visually uninteresting location. So things start to get repetitive quick. The main problem with 13 Dead Men is that it's not only very repetitive, it's also relentlessly stupid. A lot of what we see is overlaid with the Godsmack/Linkin Park-esque musical stylings of a band called Crucial Element. If anything dates the movie to 2003, it's that. And we were having a hard enough time trying to decipher the semi-intelligible Mystikal. It was a rocky time back then.

With just a little less repetition and slightly more intelligence, 13 Dead Men could have risen above the morass of all the other Homie Movies. Lamas does what he can but there's only so much any one man can do, even him. As it is, you'd really have to be a fan of any of the personnel involved or an ardent devotee of the Homie Movie genre to want to go out of your way to check it out. Sadly, we honestly can't recommend 13 Dead Men otherwise.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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