Kill and Kill Again (1981)


Kill and Kill Again
(1981)- * * *

Directed by: Ivan Hall

Starring: James Ryan, Anneline Kriel, John Ramsbottom, Ken Gampu, Norman Robinson, Marloe Scott Wilson, Bill Flynn, Eddie Dorie, and Stan Schmidt 

Steve Chase (Ryan) is still 'The Best' when he returns for this sequel to Kill or Be Killed (1976). This time around, a rich baddie named Wellington Forsyth III has taken over the town of Ironville, South Africa. He's renamed himself Marduk, renamed the town New Babylonia, and he's using some sort of potato extract to turn thousands of people into mindless slaves. 

All this comes to the attention of Steve Chase when he's approached by a woman named Kandy Kane (Kriel of Reason to Die fame), and she informs him that her father Horatio Kane (Ramsbottom), a renowned scientist and not David Caruso, has been kidnapped by Marduk and forced to help create the serum used to zombify the population.

Chase's next move is to assemble a team in classic fashion, rounding up his buddies Gypsy Billy (Robinson), Hotdog (Flynn), Gorilla (Gampu), and The Fly (Schmidt). Together, the team invades the compound and attempts to extract Dr. Horatio Kane, but they're going to have to face Marduk's mind controlled Martial Artists. The top man of which is Optimus (Dorie). Will Steve Chase live to kill again...AGAIN?

Kill and Kill Again is a mixture of Martial Arts and broad comedy, but it's more watchable than similar fare such as Catch the Heat (1987) and Hot Potato (1976). There's a lot of comic-bookiness and plenty of outright silliness on display which is entertaining, but not 101 minutes worth of entertaining. If KAKA (that's the abbreviation for Kill and Kill Again) had been about 80 minutes, it could be a new classic. We love a good "assemble a team" movie and we're always up for some off-kilter 80's fun. But the running time is too long. A lot of the talking parrot jokes and other groan-inducing comedy could've been cut. But, on the whole, it's still worth watching, even if it's just to see how influential it is...

Stephen J. Cannell must have seen this movie and it "inspired" him to create the A-Team, which premiered in 1983. Gorilla is like B.A. Baracus, even down to the character trait of being afraid of airplanes. Hotdog wears a similar hat and has a similar demeanor to Howling Mad Murdock. Chase is like Dirk Benedict's Face, etc. At one point, right before they're going to storm the compound, they suggest doing it in teams, with Chase saying, "We're the B Team". We could go on, but there are other comparisons to be made.

What are the odds that the CSI Miami writers would have come up with the name Horatio Kane all on their own? And the creators of Transformers must have liked the name Optimus. Marduk clearly inspired Adam West's Professor Marduk from Maxim Xul (1991), and Marduk's girlfriend Minerva (Wilson) has a short, pink haircut that must have inspired the singer Pink (or P!nk as she sometimes prefers it). A movie highlight comes with a 'Bullet Time' effect that must have inspired the Matrix series, not to mention the Sniper series. So while certain people may make fun of Kill and Kill Again, clearly we're still seeing its influence in the culture.

Kill and Kill Again continues the tradition of projecting the opening credits on people's body parts that was started in the previous film, usually James Ryan's. Ryan is very suave, has a classic 80's mullet, and looks slightly like Billy Drago. While his "Kill" duo may remind viewers of Day of the Panther and Fists of Blood (both 1988), the Jason Blade duo, it's also worth noting that Ryan appeared in Code Name Vengeance (1987), Rage to Kill (1988) and The Last Samurai (1990).

The whole Marduk/mind control plot seems inspired by the Jim Jones incident that occurred in Guyana. But Jim Jones didn't have an odd-looking pasted-on beard. So far as we know. It may also remind you of the 'leader' episode of The Simpsons. He even forces half of his assembled flock to be shirtless men, in what may be the largest shirts vs. skins match of all time. Each of the 'assemble a team' moments comes with its own fight scene, and of course there's a barfight as well. The whole thing is perfect for drive-ins.

Speaking of the barfight scene, the film was cut in the UK by 73 seconds on its initial release, and it was probably this scene. Why? Because James Ryan dares to use nunchuks. The BBFC hates nunchuks. There are also Raphael-style sais in another scene. Could this have influenced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well?

In the end, we can see that director Ivan Hall improved a lot since Vengeance Cops (1971). Kill and Kill Again is a fun and ridiculous ride, but the ride is too long. Despite the over-inflated running time, we'd still recommend it, because it's just so nutty.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Kill Or Be Killed (1976)

 Kill Or Be Killed
(1976)- * *

Directed by: Ivan Hall

Starring: James Ryan, Norman Coombes, Danie DuPlessis, Charlotte Michelle, and Raymond Ho-Tong

Baron von Rudloff (Coombes) is a delusional Nazi with a midget assistant (DuPlessis). Rudloff still has World War II flashbacks. He lives in a giant compound - as any villain worth their salt is wont to do - in South Africa. Steve Hunt (Ryan) is a heroic Martial Artist that is kidnapped by Rudloff, along with many other fighters, including Olga (Michelle). Rudloff wants to train them into being the ultimate fighting force so they can beat the team assembled by his arch-rival Miyagi (Ho-Tong). Evidently this sort of tournament happened before between the two men, but Rudloff wants a rematch because he thinks Miyagi cheated by bribing people with diamonds. So, seeing as they can't escape, it's KILL OR BE KILLED for Steve and Olga. Or will they have a few tricks up their sleeves?

Out of the two James Ryan 'Kill' movies - those being the movie under review today and the sequel Kill and Kill Again - we prefer the sequel to this initial offering. The sequel, while overlong, is more colorful and has significantly more going on. 

Kill or Be Killed has almost no plot and thus it has some pretty serious pacing issues. Most of the final third of the film is one tournament-style Karate fight after another. Much of what comes before that are a series of Karate fights, laced with some humor (?) provided by the Chico character. Also there are some extended training sequences. And we learn how to make some sort of land schooner out of an old Volkswagen.

That's not to say the film doesn't have some cool moments, because it does, and the whole thing is ideal for the drive-ins of the day. It was tailor-made for the Bruce Lee craze of the late 70's-early 80's. As we all remember, everybody was Kung Fu fightin', so the good people of South Africa must have said, "Why not us?"

From there, it was a short step to getting a Sean Connery lookalike in full Nazi regalia to have his own Karate team. Then they fight another man's Karate team. Chico spends significant time assembling the team, which is done in a similar but better way in the sequel. As we wrote in our review for Kill and Kill Again, and mentioned when we were on the Exploding Helicopter podcast, it seems that a lot of people took influence from that film. 

The original appears to be quite influential as well, because there is a Japanese character named Miyagi, and someone else later on catches a fly with chopsticks. Everyone pronounces it "Miya-jee", with a soft G, apparently, and there's at least one moment when he appears on screen and a gong sounds.

For the sequel, the humor is increased, but they did carry over the opening credits idea of projecting the names on people's bodies. They also had another barfight, and you can never have too many of those.

Overall, Kill or Be Killed could have used a bit more structure, and the endless fights toward the finale get a bit mind-numbing. But it's all very silly, and the score is quite good. It alternates from wah-wah funk to fuzzy electric guitar, and the song used during the car/schooner sequence was cool.

While the film probably worked better if you saw it at a drive-in in 1980, it's still worth seeing at least once, if only as a product of the time when those cats were fast as lightning, and it was a little bit frightening.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Tigershark (1987)


(1987)- * *1\2

Directed by: Emmett Alston 

Starring: Mike Stone, Pamela Jean Bryant, Eva Winnercans, Kasey Antonio, Vic Silayan, Roy Alvarez, and John Quade

"In 'Nam we called him Tigershark, because he stalked like a tiger, and fought like a shark."
- Cowboy

Tava Parker (Stone) is a Vietnam vet who now teaches Martial Arts to kids at the Pai-O-Hana Karate School in Hawaii. When his girlfriend Karen Kirkland (Bryant) is kidnapped, along with other women such as Sherry and Aloha (Eva Winnercrans and Kasey Antonio, respectively, in their only screen roles), Tava "Tigershark" Parker snaps into action. He travels to the Philippines (where else?) and links up with his old 'Nam buddy Dave "Cowboy" Reynolds (Quade), and his local contact, the taxi driver Tony (Alvarez). Of course, the mission is not going to be easy, as the evil commie Col. Barro (Silayan) is holding the ladies hostage. Will our three heroes rescue the three hostages? And what will become of the TIGERSHARK?

Mike Stone, known for being a Martial Artist, stuntman, and associate of Elvis, here gets his one and only starring role. Just as Martin Kove sliced that pineapple with a samurai sword in Shootfighter (1993), here Stone kicks coconuts off a stand and shatters them. It's a very Hawaiian form of Martial Arts. In his quest to save the girls, he gets involved in a Punchfighting-type scenario, where the two fighters are chained together at the wrists, and they wear a sort of sandal with a metal piece on it that would definitely incapacitate the opponent. 

As if that wasn't enough, there is a cockfight going on at the same time, and the blood from said cockfight is poured on the sandals. Well, that's what the screaming audience calls entertainment, I suppose.

While Stone is decent enough in the lead, and he can definitely carry the movie, he was helped a lot by John Quade as Cowboy. He puts in an energetic performance and he strongly resembles Charles Durning. Pamela Jean Bryant as Karen is always a pleasant sight to see, especially since the last time we saw her was in the classic "Geteven" (1993), which is a Comeuppance favorite.

Director Emmett Alston, known around these parts for 9 Deaths of the Ninja (1985) and his last directorial effort, Little Ninjas (1993) - but also for New Year's Evil (1980) - really makes you wait for any of the machine gun shootin', hut-explodin' , guard-tower-fallin' action. Most of it is saved for the grand finale. That's all well and good, but the movie overall seems to have a lack of forward drive and it drags in many places. Not that it's bad, per se, but because it has an overly simplistic plot, it should have been filled with many more thrills along the way.

Mike Stone wrote the script along with fan favorite Ivan Rogers. To the film's great detriment, Rogers does not appear on screen at any time. He was just on board in a writing capacity. If Rogers was in front of the camera, that would have improved things tremendously. Too bad that couldn't have happened.

Much like how Rage to Kill (1988) ended with the tender ballad "Do You Remember Love?" after countless people had been slaughtered, Tigershark goes down the same road for its end credits song. After many people are beat up, blown up, shot, or in any case mangled or killed, the soaring, midtempo adult-contemporary number "Two People, One Heart" by Joe Fagin and Tessa Niles croons away on the soundtrack. The song is very catchy and it's the perfect thing to have stuck in your head as you think back to Tigershark's Vietnam flashback scene.

While Tigershark did get a U.S. VHS release on New World, and had decent distribution worldwide at the time (especially compared to some of its contemporaries), it still appears to be little-seen and not very well-loved. That's not entirely fair, but let's face it, it is pretty middle-of-the-road stuff. It's not good enough to be great or bad enough to be awful. That being said, it does have its moments, however. But, for us at least, it's one-time-watch territory.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


The Secret Of King Mahi's Island (1988)


The Secret Of King Mahi's Island
(1988)- * * *

Directed by: Leonard Hayes 

Starring: Gary Daniels, Anthony East, Jim Gaines, Michelle Frankenberger, William Romero, Jerry Beyer, Kurt Otto Frankenberger, Boy Clinton, and Gomez 

A man named Chuck (Daniels) is a treasure hunter. He and his close band of buddies find themselves in the rural, jungle-enclosed areas of the Philippines doing what they do best. I.e., hunting treasure. They're in this particular area of the world because they're on the hunt for a map that would lead to a hidden cache of gold, supposedly left there long ago by a certain King Mahi. 

Of course, a baddie named Ben (East) and his minions are also looking for the map. During the course of their evil map search, they kill a father named Vince, and in his dying moments he gives a boomerang to his son. As you do. Joe (Kurt Otto Frankenberger) and his sister Leah (Michelle Frankenberger), presumably real-life siblings, join Chuck and his crew on their quest. Leah is also handy with a bow and arrow. This ragtag bunch of misfits then team up with friendly local people to find the treasure and wipe out the bad guys. Who will uncover THE SECRET OF KING MAHI'S ISLAND?

The Secret of King Mahi's Island starts off with several paragraphs of on-screen text that is light blue on a patterned background that you absolutely cannot read. We think it had something to do with the origin of King Mahi and his gold, but we can't be totally sure. Starting off on that note isn't exactly the most auspicious way to kick off the film, but things do get better from there.

You know 'Mahi is a Philippines-set jungle actioner due to the cast: Jerry Beyer, Anthony East, Jim Moss, and Jim Gaines (who evidently also performed uncredited co-direction work on the film), among other mainstays, are all here. We also get other classic credits such as Gomez (just Gomez) as 'Chief Right Hand Man', William Romero as 'Black Legs', Tsing Tong Tsai as Kimo (presumably not the same guy as the one in The Ultimate Fight), Anthony Ogunsanya as Tatu (presumably not the Russian pop duo), and a personal favorite, Boy Clinton as Boy.

Naturally, there are lots of silly lines (and silly line readings and funny dubbing). Of course, the main baddie warns his charges that he doesn't want any more mistakes. Gary Daniels should have done more Martial Arts than he does in the film, but what we get is decent enough. He does wear a sleeveless stonewashed denim shirt with acid-washed jeans, which may be the 80's version of not mixing plaids and stripes, but it's one of those "Only in the 80's" outfits that endear the viewer to the film overall.

He also wears an Indiana Jones-esque hat, and the soundtrack by Mon Del Rosario is John Williams with one synthesizer, further underlying that 'Mahi leans more towards adventure than straight-out action. You have to admire that a first-time (and only-time) director, one Leonard Hayes, attempted to create an Indiana Jones-esque movie with minimal money in the Philippine jungle. Maybe that's why Gaines had to step in to help him out; perhaps Hayes got in over his head. But the fact that he tried was extremely impressive, and shows what a golden time it was in that era of filmmaking. Filmmakers must have thought that they could try anything and just see if it worked. There seemed to be little fear of failure. That's why we have all these fantastic 80's movies we have today. Unfortunately, the film barely got a release at the time, but thanks to the magic of the Internet, we can now all see it.

Other highlights include the very excitable Joe, who is clearly the Bin Bin of this movie, there's an exploding helicopter, and a dance sequence involving the native peoples. It's like one of those Italian cannibal movies but without any of the cannibalism. Overall it's better than Dudikoff's River of Death (1989).

'Mahi was one of the rarest Gary Daniels movies to track down. Apparently it got only a minuscule DTV release in 1988 in the Philippines, Spain and Japan. Collectors have been trying to get a hold of it ever since, with hardly any luck. But, as referenced earlier, it's out there these days for all the world to see. Is it the best Gary Daniels movie out there? Not by a long stretch, but Daniels fans will definitely want to check it out. Jungle adventure buffs will enjoy it as well, and anyone who likes hard-to-find action films will be able to get something out of it. But don't go in expecting another Recoil (1998).

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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