Fast Money (1996)


Fast Money (1996)- * * *

Directed by: Alex Wright

Starring: Matt Mccoy, Yancy Butler, George 'Buck Flower', John Aston, Al Lewis, Trevor Goddard, Jacob Witkin, and Andy Romano 

Francesca Marsh (Butler) is a streetwise and tough professional car thief. On one particular job, she ends up in possession of a briefcase with $2.7 million dollars in mafia money, along with some counterfeit printing plates. Around this time, she meets a nerdy and straitlaced newspaper reporter named Jack Martin (McCoy). While, personality-wise, they're the original odd couple, their fates become intertwined and they go on the run together.

Of course, the main baddie, Sir Stewart (Witkin) is not happy that the briefcase is missing, so he instructs one of his thugs, Regy (Goddard) to team up with the corrupt Lt. Diego (Ashton) to track down Marsh and Martin. They're yet another original odd couple. As Marsh and Martin race to the Mexico border to safety - so they hope - Diego and Regy are hot on their trail. With police, FBI, and the mob gunning for our unlikely heroes, will they get away with some FAST MONEY?

We know what you're thinking and no, Fast Money is not the story of Ray Combs and Family Feud. Rather, it is one of those "only in the 90's" video-store gems that made going to the video store (or if you had pay-cable, perusing that) such a fun thing to do.

There are some interesting things about Fast Money. One is that it is co-produced by Don Edmonds, of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (1975), Terror on Tour (1980), and Bare Knuckles (1977) fame, along with Stu Segall, whose Hollywood career is fascinating, having directed Drive-In Massacre (1976), a lot of hardcore adult fare such as Insatiable (1980), then being the executive producer of the Fred Dryer TV show Hunter. So while the exploitation pedigree behind Fast Money is certainly assured, it's not at all sleazy and is perfect for the action audiences of the 90's, as well as today.

Certainly one reason for that is that it seems like the PM stunt crew must have worked on this movie. The car chases, shootouts, and blow-ups are very much in the PM mold. Of course, there are car flips galore, which were the PM specialty. If you like that PM style of action (and who doesn't?), Fast Money is well worth tracking down, because it's like a lost cousin of a PM movie that wasn't, technically, produced by PM.

We also like how the writers of the film switched up the stereotypical roles. Normally, the man is the tough, hard-shootin' hero, and the woman is the mousy reporter. Here, the roles are reversed, and we get Yancy Butler shooting two pistols at the baddies and Matt McCoy as the meek sidekick. So the movie gets points for that, and it was fun to watch their relationship develop over the course of the film.

But, as usual, it's the character actors that steal the show, and once again the underrated Andy Romano, as McCoy's boss in the film, makes his role seem natural and effortless. Fan Favorite Trevor Goddard, who was like his era's Vinnie Jones, comes off as an angry and unhinged Colin Farrell. If they ever remade Fast Money, Farrell should definitely do this role. Oddly, during the final chase and shoot-em-up scenes, Goddard starts to look more and more like an angry and unhinged Morrissey. Possible tagline for a Morrissey action movie: "He may want to save the animals, but he's gunning for you."

In any case, Fast Money is an entertaining road movie and it's rarely boring. It includes some silly humor and it's an easy watch. There are a couple of incidences of where too long a stretch of time elapses between action scenes, but what action you do get is top-notch stuff. It's that great, 90's-style go-for-broke action that we all love and are addicted to.

Featuring cameos by George "Buck" Flower and "Grandpa" Al Lewis, Fast Money is like the DTV version of Fair Game (1995). Despite some minor flaws (don't we all have minor flaws?) Fast Money is well worth seeking out.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


The Instructor (1981)


The Instructor
(1981)- * *1\2

Directed by: Don Bendell

Starring: Bob Chaney, Don Bendell, Bob Saal, and Lynday Scharnott

A man known only as "The Instructor" (Chaney) is, naturally, a Karate instructor in Akron, Ohio. He and his buddy Thumper Rhodes (Bendell) love going on long jogs together, and beating up punks in the local trainyard with garbage can lids. When the town ne'er-do-well Bud Hart (Saal) takes an extreme dislike to Mr. Instructor and Thumper, many Martial Arts battles ensue with his gang of goons, both in and out of the ring. This especially escalates when some of Hart's guys attack Dee (Scharnott), a disciple at the Karate school. Meanwhile, there's a pudgy, bearded white guy named Mr. Fender who is dressed in a ninja outfit and fancies stalking around the neighborhood. What the HECK is going on here? We may never know...

As if the above confusion wasn't enough, throughout most of your viewing of The Instructor, you may continually ask yourself "What IS this?" - and the answer appears to be that it's a local low-budget labor of love. If you enjoy such regional and/or no budget and/or nutso offerings such as The Skid Kid (1991), Furious (1984), Kindergarten "Ninja" (1994), Iron Thunder (1988), or Twin Dragon Encounter (1986), you may get something out of The Instructor.

Either it was Bob Chaney's dream to become an Instructor, or it was The Instructor's dream to become a moviemaker, but we're not sure which. Thumper a.) looks like Frank Zappa, and b.) is named Thumper. Fight scenes break out and have a funky soundtrack behind them, making this whole odd outing seem more 70's than 80's. The sound quality seems to be from the 1920's. If not earlier. Everything is muffled, dull, and almost unhearable, which is a shame because Mr. Fender the wacky ninja gets an internal monologue. We don't hear the thoughts of anyone else, but we're blessed to hear his inner mental workings. Well, if you can hear them, that is.

Naturally, the fighters are all on the older side, so you get some classic Middle Aged Punks. The end section features an extended car chase. You can tell they were trying. While the movie has pronounced pacing, plotting, acting, editing, and sound issues, that's not really the point. They got off their butts and actually made a movie, which should inspire a positive "anyone can do it" feeling. The fact that it was released on VHS by Vestron only serves to reinforce that, especially with its very cool box art. The fact that it's not especially indicative of the movie itself is also beside the point.

If you enjoy handmade, homemade filmmaking, especially along the more "WTF" end of things, why NOT check out The Instructor?

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Cyborg Cop (1993)

Cyborg Cop
(1993)- * * *

Directed by: Sam Firstenberg 

Starring: David Bradley, Todd Jensen, John Rhys-Davies, Alonna Shaw, and Rufus Swart

Jack and Phillip Ryan (Bradley and Jensen, respectively) are brothers and renegade cops from Denver, Colorado. When Phillip travels to the Caribbean island of St. Keith, ostensibly to fight drug runners, he runs afoul of the evil Kessel (Rhys-Davies) and his goons. Because Kessel is a mad scientist, he's trying to create a master race of human-robot cyborg people, and Phillip is his latest experiment.

Jack arrives in St. Keith to see what's going on, and he has to fight his way through the place to get answers. Tagging along is the stereotypical female reporter/love interest, Cathy (Shaw). Kessel's ace in the hole is his prize cyborg, named...Cyborg (Swart), who is seemingly indestructible and looks like an angry, cybernetic Larry Drake. Will Jack Ryan overcome this clear and present danger to his brother? Find out today!

Cyborg Cop is a very entertaining movie and probably one of David Bradley's best. There's usually something of interest going on: if it's not an action scene, then it's something silly or other. In the end, Robowar (1988) is better overall, but that's Robowar, which is very hard to beat. Here, we get a robot Todd Jensen, who looks a lot like Data from Star Trek. Even though this is a Caribbean island and features plenty of reggae on the soundtrack, including the song "Reggae Party" by a band called Gecko Moon, there is a car chase with banjo music behind it like in one of those 70's 'Good Ole Boy' films. It's odd choices like that that keep the viewers' interest.

While David Bradley does wear an open sleeveless shirt at times, which asks the question of why you need a shirt at all, it should be noted that he - and this movie overall - is a pioneer in an all-new genre called "Fanny Packtion". This is where the hero never takes off his fanny pack, even during the most vigorous fight scenes. He may even have more than one, which he then coordinates with his outfit.

Naturally, you get some shootouts, car chases, a barfight, and a dirtbike-based ending which is quite memorable. The Cathy character is one of the more annoying reporters in recent memory. That is, until she falls for the irresistible charm of Jack Ryan. Or David Bradley. We're not sure which. Rhys-Davies is very Bond Villain-esque, complete with a command center, which any bad guy worth his salt has to have. He also has a robotic hand that hands him his telephone, which less bad guys have, so he's got that going for him.

There was also a scene at the medical examiner's office that featured a meathead with a blonde mullet. He should have had his own movie after this, or at least a larger part in the ensuing two Cyborg Cop sequels.

Cyborg Cop was made during the halcyon years of Nu Image, while they were still in South Africa and before they had moved their operations to Bulgaria. Director Sam Firstenberg is an action mainstay and he knows what he's doing here.

So, for a film fanny-packed with action, look no further than Cyborg Cop!

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

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


Abduction (2019)


(2019)- * *1\2

Directed by: Ernie Barbarash 

Starring: Scott Adkins, Andy On, Aki Aleong and Truong Anh

A man named Quinn (Adkins) wakes up in a mysterious room with a bunch of other abducted people, including his young daughter. Everyone has these weird, spider-like devices on the backs of their necks. Quinn manages to escape his captors, and somehow crawls out of a fountain in Vietnam. Last time he checked, it was 1985, and the fact that it's now 2018 is very disturbing to him. Naturally, people think he's crazy and a doctor named Anna (Anh) tries to get to the root of his problem.

Of course, she doesn't believe his tale of missing time and alien ABDUCTION, but when Conner (On) appears with a similar story involving his wife, the three of them get wrapped up in an adventure involving body-snatching aliens who are genuinely interested in Feng Shui. The Expert who may be able to figure out what's going on is Dao (Aleong), but the fact that these extraterrestrials have Martial Arts skills and regenerating power are going to make them tough opponents. Will Quinn and Conner rescue their loved ones from the diabolical space-baddies?

Well, you gotta give Abduction this: at least it's something different. It's DTV Sci-Fi action but thankfully it's not a space slog. So we do give it props for that right off the bat. Our personal hero Scott Adkins is quite good in the film, in both the acting and Martial Arts departments. Without him and his magnetic presence, the movie would have suffered a lot. But it does bring the action, there's no doubt about that, and at regular intervals we get some pretty nifty fight scenes with a Sci-Fi twist.

Sure, the plot doesn't make the most amount of sense, but so what? Most movies that make sense are boring. At least Abduction had some interesting ideas contained within it. The baddies provided worthy fight-foils for Adkins and On, even though it must be said that On's character of Conner is not very likable. Elements of They Live (1988) and The Matrix (1999) are there underneath the surface, and it's all mostly a bunch of quasi-nonsensical fun. Adkins is on record as stating that the fight scene in They Live is his favorite of all time, so he was probably happy to be in something with similar overtones. On perhaps a related note, one of director Ernie Barbarash's first films was called They Wait (2007).

The problem is the usual one: why is this movie 100 minutes long? It should have been 85. Barbarash's movies with Van Damme - Assassination Games (2011), 6 Bullets (2012), and Pound of Flesh (2015) - and Michael Jai White - Falcon Rising (2014) - are all well over the recommended 90-minute mark. Here, Adkins reunites with Barbarash after Assassination Games, which was one of the film's better ideas.

While Abduction may not be most people's first choice for cinematic entertainment, you could do a heck of a lot worse, and for fans it's worth seeing at least once for the Adkins factor alone.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty