Ballbuster (1990)

(1990)- * *

Directed by: Eddie Beverly Jr. 

Starring: Ivan Rogers, W. Randolph Galvin, Bonnie Paine, Rich Komenich, and Dossie Sansing

Roosevelt "Ballbuster" Prophet - or just 'Buster' to his friends - (Rogers, of course) is a private investigator in Indiana. You know he's a private investigator because he wears a trenchcoat and a fedora. When an evil gangster named Nicky Plato (Galvin) goes out of control and starts murdering people all over town, Prophet becomes involved when an artist named Michele Michaels (Paine) witnesses one such murder. In the course of protecting her, naturally Prophet becomes personally interested in taking down Plato and his goons such as Paycheck (Komenich) and Hacksaw (Sansing). After many shootouts and the like, it all comes to a final confrontation between Plato and 'Buster. Who will make the Indiana streets safe again? Will it be Roosevelt "BALLBUSTER" Prophet? The mystery awaits...

The first thing you notice when you turn on Ballbuster is that Ivan Rogers's name is huge above the title of the movie. As it should be. After all, One Way Out (AKA Crazed Cop) (1987) cemented Rogers's National Treasure status. Now, Ballbuster has a decent amount of low-budget charm to it. But not enough to sustain its utterly needless 106-minute running time. As charming as the film may be, and despite the fact that it has Ivan Rogers, what is actually contained herein cannot possibly justify how overlong it is.

That's not to say Ballbuster doesn't have its moments. The soundtrack especially stands out, especially with its sax and such songs as "Rules are Made to be Broken", which is Roosevelt Prophet's credo. Much like a Fred Williamson film, there is a live performance as well - the sister (?) of the gangster Nicky Plato has her own band called Rocky Plato and the Styles, and they put on an enjoyable performance. They should have opened for Wendy & Lisa back in 1990.

Speaking of Fred, Ballbuster makes his outings look high-budget. If you can imagine such Fred vehicles as The Kill Reflex (1989) or Steele's Law (1991) done with less money, you can get a picture of what Ballbuster is all about.

Ivan Rogers looks alarmingly like Richard Pryor this time around. Much more so than in One Way Out. Hacksaw (at least we think it's Hacksaw) has Kool Moe Dee sunglasses and is a powerful goon. But the bottom line is that if you like such films as Hawkeye (1988) or Blood Street (1988), you may also enjoy Ballbuster.

Really, the only real trouble here is the length. If the movie was 80 minutes, it would be a new classic. Or something close to a new classic. But director Eddie Beverly, Jr. apparently thought that every frame of Ballbuster was precious and none of it should hit the cutting room floor. Someone should have told him that "Brevity is the soul of wit"...or at least gotten one of those vaudeville hooks and pulled him off the stage. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

While rare - the Arena Home Video VHS release in America didn't seem to make it to many video stores here, and there was also a release in Australia - Ballbuster is undoubtedly inferior to One Way Out. It definitely has its moments, but they're swimming in a soup that has too much broth and not enough meat. We believe Ivan Rogers can overcome anything - and even he struggles with this overblown running time.

Final verdict: if by chance you find the VHS tape somewhere "in the wild" and it's dirt cheap, pick it up. But don't go spending tons of money online. As of this writing, it's on YouTube. If you've got an extra 26 minutes to kill (80 + 26 = 106), for the Rogers factor alone, check out Ballbuster. But don't go expecting another One Way Out.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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