Last Hour (2008)


Last Hour
(2008)- * *

Directed by: Pascal Caubet

Starring: Michael Madsen, DMX, Tony D'Amario, Tommy Wong, Krystana Ferentz,  Pascal "Kobe" Caubet, Monica Cruz, Paul Sorvino, and David Carradine

When a group of "dangerous men with guns" are summoned to a house somewhere in China, a potentially volatile situation presents itself. They all have nicknames, and they are: Monk (Madsen), Mr. Casino (D'Amario), Black Jack (DMX), Poker (Caubet), and Shang (Wong). A woman nicknamed Poison (Ferentz) invites them into the house. After a lot of mutual suspicion, they find out they can't get out and they only have an hour to live. Detectives Mike Stone (Carradine) and Rosa Mulero (Cruz) from the NYPD follow them to the house and a standoff begins. And what does Steinfeld (Sorvino) have to do with any of this? Will it be THE LAST HOUR for our assembled houseguests?

If you loved the utter incoherence of Diamond Cartel (2015), also starring Madsen, you'll also love The Last Hour. It's pretty surprising that they weren't directed by the same person. The Last Hour isn't a movie in the traditional sense that we all know, it's more of a 95-minute series of disjointed, puzzling incongruities. If you've seen one or the other of these whackadoo outings, you'll know what we're talking about. If you haven't, it's hard to recommend them outright, but we can guarantee you won't see anything like them.

This isn't to be confused with The Last Hour (1991) starring Michael Pare and Shannon Tweed - this particular Last Hour is directed by, and stars, a French gentleman named Pascal Caubet who goes by the name Kobe. The Last Hour was his first and last theatrical (i.e. not a telefilm) outing to date and lord only knows what he was thinking.

The first third or so of the film jumps from Reno, to New York, to San Diego, to "Somewhere in Eastern Europe", to Beijing, to Miami, to Macau, to Hong Kong, and probably some other places we've forgotten. With each place, we seemingly get a new plot. When we finally land at the "13th Precinct" in NYC, we find out that this particular precinct doesn't use lights. New York's finest wander around in literal darkness as they try to solve crimes.

Before all this, we get a trailer-like montage of scenes that we're about to see. Then during the opening credits, many of them are illegible. Perhaps they were trying to be so cool, they forgot to include a readable font. At some point we're introduced to Michael Madsen's hair, which looks like someone glued a kid's stuffed lion doll on his head. Kobe's accent is impenetrably thick most of the time.

DMX seems to be trying to inject some much-needed energy into the proceedings, but it all comes up against the brick wall of the quizzical, shoulder-shrugging randomness of the film itself. He mainly ends up yelling and pointing his gun at people, which is what almost every character does. Points should also go to Tony D'Amario as Mr. Casino, who was one of the better characters. He was known for his appearance in District B13 (2004), but, sadly, The Last Hour was D'Amario's final screen appearance. While D'Amario passed away in 2005, the film was released three years later, in '08. His career was just getting going. That was truly unfortunate.

More than likely thanks to the fact that Caubet somehow managed to wrangle a very solid B-Movie cast together for this, it received a DVD release. There are no features on the disc which might explain what the heck we just watched. Because none of this makes any sense, it's hard to care about the characters or what happens to be happening to them. If none of the above bothers you, feel free to check it out, but you've been warned.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Tunnel (2002)


(2002)- * *

Directed by: Daniel Baldwin

Starring: Daniel Baldwin, Kim Coates, and Jeanine Theriault 

Usually when a prisoner has to be transported somewhere, something bad happens. As we always say, never transport prisoners. Just leave them where they are. Unfortunately, when a baddie named Geary (Coates) has to be moved from one place to another by train, his criminal compatriots come to his rescue and they all escape into an underground tunnel. They're looking for some stolen diamonds, and only a man named Seale (Baldwin) can flush them all out. He's trapped down there with a woman named Sarah (Theriault), and together they have to stop the bad guys, find the diamonds, and get out alive. Who will escape THE TUNNEL?

Oh, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), what have you wrought? While a lot of The Tunnel, naturally enough, takes place in a dimly (i.e. poorly) lit tunnel, a large section also takes place on the train which is transporting the Geary character. Every time we watch a movie like Death Train (2003), Hijack (1998), Derailed (2002), Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995), or Evasive Action (1998), we have to wonder why filmmakers, low budget action filmmakers especially, thought trains were so awesome hot and cool. This isn't the 1830's anymore. Most people over the age of three aren't wowed by choo-choos. So why fully-grown adults are continually making these train movies, presumably with the intention that audiences are, yet again, going to breathlessly exclaim, "Whoa, Cooooolll!" when they see a film set on a train, we have no freakin' clue.

So, with that said, we have to conclude that star and director Daniel Baldwin can do better than this. We know - or, at least we suspect - that he's capable of directing stronger material than The Tunnel. So that's why it's so disappointing that The Tunnel is comprised of more mediocre Die Hard-isms that bring nothing new, interesting, or exciting to the table.

It all starts off promisingly enough, with a car chase/blowup and some impressive stunt work. We get a fairly interesting back story to Dan's character at the outset but it never pays off or maintains its initial promise. Just when you think the movie is going to continue in this direction, it quickly devolves into a boring, cliche-ridden slog.

While Kim Coates always puts a lot of energy into his baddie roles, which are most of them, and Baldwin has a few charismatic moments, most of the tunnel sequences are very poorly lit. If you can't see what's going on, the dialogue descends into the sort of stuff you've heard a million times before, and the plot does likewise, things become real dull real fast. One might see the box for The Tunnel at their local video store and then just pass it right on by.

There's a certain bleak Canadian-ness to it and by the end of the ninety-five minute running time (gotta make sure you have those extra five minutes), this tunnel has collapsed.

So, as excited as we were to see the second film Daniel Baldwin directed after Fall: The Price of Silence (2001), we have to say it was a letdown. The Tunnel is inessential viewing, but you're unlikely to come across it anyway. If you do, there's really no need to see it. You'll feel like you've seen it all before, and done better.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Nasty Hero (1987)

Nasty Hero
(1987)- * * *

Directed by: Nick Barwood

Starring: Scott Feraco, Carlos Palomino, Raymond Serra, Robert Sedgwick, Teresa Blake, Jon Tenney, Rosanna DaVon, and Mike Starr

Chase (Feraco) is a cool dude with an attitude. His attitude is warranted, however, because some baddies framed him for car theft and he was left to rot in jail for six months. All Chase wants to do is work as a sort of "car courier" who delivers cars from Vic's (Serra) garage to their wealthy clientele. But the evil Bradford (Sedgwick) is in cahoots with corrupt cop Hackett (Starr) in a nationwide car theft ring. When the baddies realize it's not so easy to get rid of the appropriately-named Chase, they kidnap Yolanda (DaVon), the niece of his buddy Carlos (Palomino) and Chase's love interest, and Carlos's girlfriend Virginia (Blake). Now Chase and Carlos have to save the cars, the girls, and the day. With the odds stacked against them, Chase may still have one certain trick up his sleeve...but will he be the NASTY HERO everyone expects him to be?

Nasty Hero is a completely enjoyable 80's gem that is unheralded and just waiting to be rediscovered. It's a sort of cross between Banzai Runner (1987) and No Man's Land (1987), but with a strong dash of Miami Vice thrown into the mix, thanks to its locations in and around the Miami area during 1986-87 when Miami Vice was at its height. The female leads, DaVon and Blake, both appeared in episodes of 'Vice.

Scott Feraco makes for a strong central hero, and he has a great voice, which shines during the opening voiceover. The score by Ross Levinson is superlative and perfect for the subject matter of the film. So right from the jump, from the audio aspects alone, the viewer is sucked in and the movie never lets go. It's a shame that Feraco only has six known acting credits to his name, and doubly a shame that none of them are with Vince Murdocco. The posters would be amazing: FERACO and MURDOCCO in...Blood Justice. Or something like that.

Further praise must go to the lighting, which is colorful and 80's-tastic, and Feraco is always shown in a heroic and dramatic shadow. The camerawork must be singled out for accolades as well, which has a lot of Sam Raimi-esque energy to it. Amazingly, Nasty Hero is the only credit for director Nick Barwood, who clearly had talent and a big future in filmmaking. What happened we may never know, but Barwood delivered the goods here and more people need to see that and appreciate it.

The icing on the cake is that Nasty Hero is a mere 79 minutes. It's actually more like 75 before the credits. We're always saying how movies are too long, and now someone is finally, FINALLY listening. It has to not be a coincidence that fun, enjoyable movies like Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) and Nasty Hero are 79 minutes and they breeze by, while ponderous, self-indulgent opuses that shall remain nameless are what Hollywood seems to prefer. Nasty Hero can proudly say it's in the tradition of "have some fun and get out" films that don't take up much of your time, but they're worthwhile because they pack in all the good stuff that you want to see.

Nasty Hero has a good good guy, a bad bad guy, car chases, beat-ups, and the time-honored nightclub scene. There's really nothing to dislike about it. Vinegar Syndrome should release it on Blu-ray, so then it will be out of VHS purgatory and more readily available for all to see.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddies at Bulletproof Action!


Marked For Murder (1990)

Marked For Murder
(1990)- * * 1\2

Directed by: Rick Sloane

Starring: Wings Hauser, Renee Estevez, Blake Bahner, James Mitchum, Ken Abraham, Ross Hagen, and Martin Sheen as Man In Park

When a TV news cameraman inadvertently films the murder of a police informant, everyone is after "The Tape". Because a fed, Winfield (Bahner), a TV news station owner, Emerson (Wings), and police higher-ups, including Rainier (Mitchum) all want the tape for various reasons, and no one can seem to get their hands on it, two employees of the aforementioned news station, Justine (Estevez) and Corey (Abraham), are framed for - and MARKED FOR - murder. So they are now on the run and trying to clear their good names. Things come to a head when Emerson tries to do a drug deal with Tyrell (Hagen), and then all hell breaks loose and the truth is finally revealed. Who will end up with the tape?

While director Rick Sloane's later effort Mind, Body & Soul (1992) - also starring Wings Hauser - is his most watchable effort that we've seen to date, it seems that he was still perfecting his formula with Marked For Murder. His prior films such as Hobgoblins (1988) and Blood Theatre (1984) can be quite painful to sit through at times, but 'Marked marks a marked improvement over those initial horror-esque outings.

However, the film lacks a certain dynamism. The pacing, let's just say, is pretty slack. Sometimes it's nonexistent. Mr. Pacing just kind of leaves the building right before the final showdown. That being said, It is kind of impressive that Sloane and the gang made a film about people looking for a VHS tape for 90 minutes.

The humor, such as it is, doesn't work, and there's a lot of facepalm-inducing dumb dialogue that's really dumb. Not to mention stupid. But it's all somewhat pleasant and rather harmless stuff. Many improvements could have been made in just about every department in order to make things better, but Marked For Murder is far from the worst thing we've ever seen.

It seems likely that Sloane just corralled a bunch of B-Movie names (and one or two A-Movie names) and just sort of hoped that by simply putting them in front of the camera, magic would happen. Yes, Wings Hauser unquestionably has "It" - that magnetic, indefinable screen presence that audiences like. But his appearance in the film is intermittent. He comes and goes like radio static. When he's around, things definitely improve.

Renee Estevez is cute and appealing as the female lead, and it's probably because of her that Martin Sheen makes a dialogue-less cameo as "Man in Park". Clearly a shining moment for his resume. Blake Bahner is involved in one of the silliest car chases/crashes we've seen in some time, but we're dealing with Marked For Murder here. Would we expect anything less? Also, there's a character in the movie called Spider. Bahner is most famous for playing Brad Spyder. Coincidence? Jim Mitchum has a glorified cameo, though he does get more dialogue and screen time than Martin Sheen this time around. Hagen doesn't show up until the end, but what Hagen you get is good Hagen.

During the extra-silly nightclub scene, Marky DeSade provides two songs, "T.V. On Trial" and "Young Girls". There are two musicians who called themselves Marky DeSade, one from the band Ded Engine and one from the punk band The Hypnotics. I'm not sure which one wrote these songs, but in any case they're not the type of songs anyone would dance to in a nightclub. But Marky did go on to work with Rick Sloane on some of his later films. Just one of the many mysteries behind Marked For Murder.

Marked For Murder would make an interesting double bill with Midnight Warrior (1989). Both are DTV films that deal with the TV news business in one form or other. Fans of any of the B-Movie favorites involved may want to check it out, but 'Marked goes from silly to stupid a bit too often for most people's taste, we think.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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


Icebreaker (2000)


(2000)- *1\2

Directed by: David Giancola

Starring: Sean Astin, Bruce Campbell, Suzanne Turner, Mark Keppel, and Stacy Keach 

Carl Greig (Campbell) is a terrorist who leads his team of baddies to an unlikely place: Killington Ski Resort in Vermont. They're after some nuclear material found in a downed Russian aircraft. While they're in the midst of pilfering the nuke stuff, they take the time to take the resort and all its partying inhabitants hostage. Mostly this takes place in the dining room, where concerned dad Bill Foster (Keach) is admonishing his daughter Meg (Turner) not to marry the local "ski bum", a guy named Matt (Astin). Naturally, it's up to Matt and his "wacky" forest ranger buddy Beck (Keppel) to save the day. So now the pressure is on for Matt: not only must he stop the baddies using the only skills he knows - mainly snowboarding - but the lives of the hostages AND the approval of his potential father-in-law is on the line. He wants to start a dialogue with the hostage-takers...but what's his ultimate ICEBREAKER?

Icebreaker, let's just say, has some problems. While the above description might make it sound fun and entertaining, sadly, it is not. Yes, of course it's yet another one of those "DieHardInA" movies, but even the "Die Hard on the ski slopes" idea had been done at least twice before: in White Fury (1989) and Crackerjack (1994). While those aren't the greatest films in existence either, both are far superior to Icebreaker in just about every way. Crackerjack has much better production values (most movies have better production values than Icebreaker) and White Fury, while also a very low-budget outing, has that AIP charm to it. When White Fury is kicking your ass, you know you've got a serious problem.

Because Icebreaker has an almost-punishingly cheap and chintzy look to it, it seems likely that any budget it had went to its three principal actors: Keach, Campbell, and Astin. It's amazing that all three of these names actually agreed to be in Icebreaker, essentially a homemade production from the makers of Pressure Point (1997). Unfortunately, Don Mogavero is nowhere in sight. He would save us all.

Fan favorite Bruce Campbell here fills the shoes of the typical Eurotrash baddie. He's bald this time around, and even his typical energy seems tamped down, almost like he realized that no matter how much effort he put in, it would be all for naught. It would be like swimming against the tide of the flat, brain-cell depleting plainness that is Icebreaker. Nothing compelling or interesting ever happens. Yes, there is an exploding helicopter, likely sourced from somewhere else. It was appropriate that, of all possible ski resorts, they went with KILLINGton, but all of this is nothing but one big missed opportunity.

It's all very, very stupid and not in a good or entertaining way. We found Icebreaker to be something of a chore to sit through. While we appreciate that it's hard to make a movie and get it out there, and consequently we hate to be negative about things, we still have to tell the truth about what's going on here. All the more frustratingly, they had all the ingredients to make it good, worthwhile, and entertaining, but the filmmakers never bothered to capitalize on what they had. They played it agonizingly safe and took zero chances or risks with the material.

If you want to see an awesome movie that takes place on the ski slopes, just stick with Hot Dog: The Movie (1984) or Better Off Dead (1985). You know you're in dire straits when the combined talents of Bruce Campbell, Stacy Keach, and Sean Astin don't even make a dent in the monolithic wall of crud that is Icebreaker.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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