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