Terror Force Commando (1986)


Terror Force Commando
(1986)- * *1\2

Directed by: Richard Harrison 

Starring: Richard Harrison, Gordon Mitchell, Alphonse Beni, and Rom Kristoff

Zero (Kristoff) is a terrorist whose goal is to assassinate the pope when he swings through Cameroon on his African tour. Michael Baiko (Beni) catches wind of Zero's plan and ends up teaming up with the mysterious Mathews (Harrison) who, in his words, "works for Uncle Sam". While our two heroes are going from Cameroon to Rome to try and stop Zero, a man named Milhench (Mitchell), the chairman of the Organization of World Peace, is also in grave danger. Things get personal when Zero kidnaps Baiko's daughter. Will Zero be stopped before it's too late? Will Baiko and/or Mathews be the ultimate TERROR FORCE COMMANDO?

Directed by Richard Harrison, co-written by Harrison with Romano Kristoff, co-produced by Harrison and starring Harrison, clearly this was a labor of love for the man. Although neither Teddy Page or Godfrey Ho are involved here, Terror Force Commando (or TFC) is like the lost movie by either Page or Ho. Harrison must have learned a lot from those two guys after working with them so often throughout his career, and it shows. If Page and Ho were your teachers, TFC is the final homework assignment.

If you're familiar at all with Teddy Page, Godfrey Ho, Richard Harrison, or Rom Kristoff, you'll have a good idea of what to expect with TFC. It has that "foreign" vibe to it that we've become so accustomed to over the years. Fights break out, guns are shot, and disco plays on the soundtrack. There are some pretty brutal headshots as far as the gun-shooting is concerned. Maybe it's because the film was partially shot in Italy, but they have that Italian gore feel to them.

Kristoff gets a chance to be the baddie this time around, which is a chance of pace from his usual "Rombo" roles. The Africa scenes and Alphonse Beni may remind you of David Broadnax. The choice of Cameroon as a filming location was unusual, and because this is not a jungle movie, it's not a slog. Sure, there are some slower moments, but then Richard Harrison will show up with his fedora and trenchcoat and usually save things.

If this wasn't such a 'cheap and cheerful' production, perhaps Harrison could have gotten another star for the film, such as a Donald Pleasence. We were happy to see fan favorite Gordon Mitchell, however, and his character name, Milhench, must have been inspired by Harrison's Blood Debts (1985) co-star Ann Milhench. There's also a man listed in the credits as Jerry the American. We don't know who he is, and this is his one and only film credit that we know of, but we'd like to know more about Mr. The American. He's truly a mystery wrapped inside a riddle.

While the title is a bit misleading - it sort of leads you to believe this will be an exploding-hutter and it's not - there are still things to appreciate about TFC. But maybe we're being overly generous, because we had waited many years to see the film. It was released in many western European countries, but it never came out here in America. So, it remained virtually impossible to see here until recently, when it was uploaded to a thing called the Internet.

Despite its rarity, Terror Force Commando remains a curiosity. It's worth seeing if you like these sorts of strange underground action movies, but it is unlikely to win anyone over if they've never seen things like this.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Black Spot (1994)


Black Spot
(1994)- * * *

Directed by: Bruce Le 

Starring: Bruce Le, Fanny Hill, and Rossieo Badin 

Wong Lung (Le) is a living the good life as a Martial Arts instructor, and along with his girlfriend Fanny (presumably Fanny Hill in her only film role to date), the two seem to have it all. When a group of goons interrupts his all-female Kung Fu class, he knows he's in trouble. A former drug kingpin that was "in charge of Southeast Asia", Lung turned his life around. But now some baddies, including a man known only as Mark (Lo Lieh?) are forcing him to use his former expertise as it relates to a massive drug operation in the Golden Triangle. With no place left to turn and with crimefighters such as Nora Badine (likely Rossieo Badin) closing in under the banner of a joint operation called White Horse Action, Wong Lung must wage the ultimate battle for his life. But will he win? And what is this mysterious BLACK SPOT we keep hearing so much about? Tune in to find out...

Ever since we saw Challenge of the Tiger (1980), we've been big Bruce Le fans. When we first see him in Black Spot, he's working out on his home gym while his blonde girlfriend Fanny - of course her name is Fanny - is prancing around in a white one-piece bathing suit. So far, so good. Wong Lung wears a Eurogroup Film sweatshirt and we really root for the guy. There are a lot of nice 80's-style musical stings on the soundtrack, and a lot of funny yelling as well. It's mostly entertaining despite a couple of slow moments.

Apropos of nothing, suddenly Wong Lung is in a cage, facing off against a hulking brute in a Punchfighting match. While most people might drink water or Gatorade during such a contest, this particular brute drinks fresh-squeezed sheep blood. Lung is going to have to be extra resourceful to get out of this situation. Black Spot covers a lot of action bases: it starts off as more of a chop-socky-type film as you might expect from Le, but then there's some Punchfighting, and the last third of the film is more of a war situation with soldiers, tanks, machine gun fire and guard-tower falls. The more fun and ridiculous moments come towards the beginning, as the movie cycles through its changes.

Black Spot is a rare movie that we had been looking for for years. It was released in America on a Tai Seng VHS but quickly disappeared and that was the end of Black Spot for us. Thankfully, some helpful soul put it up on YouTube for the world to enjoy. If you like the Asian action boom of the 90's, and have seen a lot of the Golden Harvest-type stuff with Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Jet Li or movies directed by John Woo and the like, and you want to check out Bruce Le's addition to that canon, Black Spot would fit the bill perfectly. It has a little something for everyone, and that's basically a good thing.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


The Circuit III: The Street Monk (2006)


The Circuit III: The Street Monk
(2006)- * *

Directed by: Jalal Merhi

Starring: Olivier Gruner, Brad Milne, Cristina Rose, Jason Carter, James Lew, Jalal Merhi, and Loren Avedon 

"Mission Control: We've Found Mr. Longstreet." - Helicopter Pilot

After Circuiting it up over the past two films, our old pal Dirk Longstreet (Gruner) has renounced fighting and becomes a surfer. He lives in a van down by the ocean and just wants to be left alone to hang ten to his heart's content. Things change for Longstreet when he rescues a young girl named Cherrie Wendover (Rose) from a bunch of thugs. The baddies were after her because she knows the truth about Octavio Ventura (Carter), a man who stages illegal Punchfights to the death at a strip club called the Playpen.

When Cherrie gets kidnapped, Ventura forces Longstreet to come out of retirement in order to win her freedom. But he has to fight the current champion, Stuart "Spider" Webb (Lew), among others. Meanwhile, both Editor Bill (Merhi) and Detective Sykes (Avedon) want to figure out what's going on. Will this be the FINAL FLIGHT - or is it FIGHT - for THE STREET MONK, Dirk Longstreet?

Okay, we know that Dirk Longstreet is an awesome name, but we established that a long time ago. At this point, the whole "Circuit" thing is starting to wear a bit thin. It has an even cheaper look to it than the other installments, which wouldn't be such a bad thing in itself if the writing wasn't so monosyllabic, monotonous, and moronic. Yes, the whole thing is very, very dumb. While you shouldn't run to the Circuit series expecting intelligence, it still comes off as somehow disappointingly stupid.

There are only a couple moments when the dumbness becomes funny or entertaining, such as when one of the baddies inexplicably hires a group of surfers to beat up Dirk Longstreet. Normally not known for their violent tendencies, perhaps the choice of paying a gaggle of extra-chill California surfer dudes to assault Longstreet was the wrong move. Longstreet dispatches with them quickly by beating them up extra-stupidly with his surfboard. Oh dear.

Other funny moments occur when fights break with little or no pretext. A lot of these fights have, let's just say, choreography issues. We don't mean to nitpick, because it's probably hard to make a movie like this, but come on. A little more professionalism would have gone a long way.

In between all this, there are many scenes of Longstreet having his own Endless Summer (AKA endless surfing). While that slows things down considerably, the real problem is that Longstreet isn't that likable a character, at least for 90 percent-plus of the movie. He's kind of a jerk to Cherrie for no reason that we can see. Having likable characters is key, and The Circuit III does not deliver them. Avedon and Merhi don't add much to the mix, and James Lew doesn't say anything. This ship is sinking fast.

The many scenes at The Playpen strip club got us thinking. If men go to strip clubs to see naked women, would they be happy or disappointed to see a bunch of half-naked men grappling with each other? Would this be a net benefit for the strip club patron, or an unpleasant surprise? Nevertheless, all the fights at this one location, with its particularly annoying announcer, got repetitive fast. It's all very reminiscent, unfortunately, of Las Vegas Warrior (2002). That's probably the film that's the closest comparison to Circuit III.

While the film opens up with a truly impressive location, the top of some sort of mountain, the scenes that take place up there are face-palmingly dumb. Longstreet is at the top of the mountain wearing a Karate gi, and guys just show up there and begin fighting him in a very silly manner. It goes on for a while.

While The Circuit III was never released in America - and it is unfair that Merhi would foist this muck on the rest of the world - it can now be seen on Merhi's YouTube channel. While it all caps off with a catchy song, performed live by Cristina Rose, perhaps the best thing about the whole experience is its end credits. It's so filled with spelling and other errors, it's more entertaining than the movie itself.

However, we would only recommend this to those who have seen the other two Circuit films and are Circuit completists and need to see it out of some kind of OCD-like compulsion. Assuming you don't have this kind of medical issue, we can safely say to skip this one.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a review from our buddy, DTVC!


Iron Thunder (1988)


Iron Thunder
(1988)- * * *

Aka: Contemporary Gladiator 

Directed by: Anthony Elmore

Starring: Anthony "Amp" Elmore and George M. Young

Iron Thunder tells the tale of Anthony "Amp" Elmore's journey from wide-eyed Shotokan Karate student - where his sensei (Dorsey) tells him to punch walls and floors and take cold showers - to the top of his profession as a kickboxer. His buddy Kingfish (Young) becomes his manager, and despite all the pressure to become a traditional boxer, Amp perseveres in the rough and tumble world of kickboxing. He eventually lands a sponsorship from Coors beer and works his way up the ranks. But will he hit the wall when faced with his toughest opponent yet? Elmore really took control of this presentation of his life story; he's the writer, producer, director, and star, and also he sings on the soundtrack (and dances). Is there anything Anthony "Amp" Elmore can't do?

In a typical kickboxing movie, the hero's manager doesn't get into the center of the ring before the match and sing the ENTIRE national anthem. But Iron Thunder isn't your typical kickboxing movie. This passion project by Mr. Elmore runs 67 minutes and has a lot of homemade charm. Sure, despite its brief running time, there are many extended kickboxing matches, but how could anyone dislike this movie? There are many funny, entertaining, and even endearing moments, and the many nonprofessional cast and crew members give it a lot of heart. It was Razor Sharpe before Razor Sharpe.

It all starts out during the Vietnam era - that's right, despite the film's limited resources, the first section of it is a period piece - and Amp's father disapproves of his kickboxing ways. But Amp follows his own path. Without so much as a title card reading "Present Day", we surmise there has been a leap forward in time solely because in the next scene, Amp's afro and Dashiki are now gone.

It's here we get the entrance of George M. Young as Kingfish. Young steals the movie, which isn't easy to do when Anthony "Amp" Elmore is the star. Young is genuinely funny, energetic, and charismatic as Kingfish. (Perhaps his name is meant to evoke a certain other boxing manager...Don Kingfish anybody?) It's truly a shame that Iron Thunder is his only screen credit. Hopefully he did stage plays or something, because he had the humor and screen presence to take his career quite far.

Iron Thunder is also filled with characters spouting hilariously unintelligible dialogue, funny yelling, and classic musical stings on the soundtrack. What's not to love? Now, this is important: do NOT confuse this movie with the awful Iron Thunder (1998) with Richard Hatch. That remains one of the worst movies we've seen on this site to date. Just one more nail in its coffin is its unoriginal title. Amp was there first! Sure, the original title was Contemporary Gladiator, but it came out on Xenon Home Video as Iron Thunder. In the golden year of 1989, no less. If you watch only one movie with the title Iron Thunder, make sure it's the one with Elmore.

After the end credits, it states: "COMING SOON: IRON THUNDER II". Sadly, this never materialized, but it shows the level of ambition at work here. Despite having not a lot to work with, not only did Elmore and his crew make a movie and get it into stores, but they planned a sequel! You've got to love their drive and determination.

In the end, while people more used to mainstream cinema might not appreciate its style, those of us out there who are fond of these underground classics will find a lot to love with Iron Thunder.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Crime Of Crimes (1989)

Crime Of Crimes
(1989)- * * *

Directed by: Alfredo Zacarias

Starring: David Carradine, Aldo Ray, Richard Yniguez, Miguel Rodriguez, Jimmy Williams, and Jeff Celentano 

Something sinister is happening on the streets of L.A. A kidnapper of children, using an ice cream truck for cover, is on the loose. A man by the name of Johnson (Ray) is the driver of said truck, but he's not a molester as you might think. He's shipping them off to someone credited as The 'Mad' Doctor (Williams) so their organs can be sold on the black market. Unfortunately for a good-natured dad named Paco Mendoza (Yniguez), two cops named Young (Celentano) and Silva (Rodriguez) think he's the culprit. Captain Frank McEntire (Carradine) doesn't know what to believe.

When Paco's daughter is abducted while he's being held in jail, the officers reluctantly have to admit he's not their guy. But now it's a race against time to find the organ harvesters and stop them before Paco's daughter is the next victim. Can anyone put an end to the CRIME OF CRIMES?

Just to avoid any confusion, Jesus Christ is the King of Kings. An obese, sweating Aldo Ray luring children into his ice cream truck so he can sell their organs is the Crime of Crimes. Now that that's cleared up, we can move on.

You might be wondering why we're taking such a lighthearted tone with such supposedly dark subject matter. That's because Crime of Crimes is such a goofball movie - as you might expect from director Alfredo Zacarias, the man behind the wonderfully whackadoo classic Demonoid (1981). COC (that's Crime of Crimes, not Corrosion of Conformity, as I'm sure the two get mixed up all the time), despite its presumably serious (?) intentions, comes off like one of those "disconnected from reality" movies, the closest comparison here being the canon of Amir Shervan. Besides, it's hard to see the seriousness of abducted children when a container of pee is being thrown in an old man's face. Yes, that happens. And it's not in a romp like Screwball's Vacation (1984). It's right here in Crime of Crimes!

Organ-harvesting movies have a rich tradition going back many years. B.O.R.N. (1989), The Harvest (1992), Pound of Flesh (2015), the list goes on and on. But Crime of Crimes has something all its competitors don't: a cast made of 80 percent English-As-A-Second-Language speakers. It's almost like Zacarias went out of his way to go to an ESL night class to cast his movie. Of course, the first credit you see on screen when you start the tape is "A David Carradine Production" - always words you want to see - so maybe he's behind that decision. Carradine chomps a cigar so enthusiastically, you can't tell a word he's saying either. 

Consequently, this might be the most unintelligible movie we've seen in years. Needless to say, that's a compliment, as it only adds to the ridiculous nature of everything we're seeing here, including the faces people make, their reactions, line readings, etc. It's all gold. Especially the enjoyably silly plot contrivances you just have to see to truly appreciate.

Jeff Celentano (credited here as Jeff Weston), was in Code Name Zebra (1987) and The Revenger (1990), among other action movies, before this one. He helps a lot to keep the movie afloat, and his partner Silva, as played by Miguel Angel Rodriguez, can't speak English too well, but that's ignored by everyone. It didn't stop Rodriguez from having a huge career in Mexico, however. Aldo Ray and Carradine are the names here (although Yniguez was on seemingly every TV show in the 70's and 80's) and it's all a bunch of fun, "what were they thinking?" sort of entertainment.

Released in the golden year of 1989, the VHS tape of Crime of Crimes appears to be quite rare. Released on VCI Home Video, as if this whole outing wasn't nutty enough, after the credits there is a PSA done by an organization from Carrollton, Texas that is trying to save the children. They seem very well-meaning. They didn't seem to realize that putting their PSA after a nutty movie like Crime of Crimes might not be the best way to achieve their goals. But, hey, you gotta start somewhere.

Crime of Crimes is a solid case of "only in the 80's, only in video stores could this have happened". Do check it out. For the CHILDREN!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett  and Ty