Tuesday, 17 August 2010
STREET SOLDIERS (1991)
Directed by: Lee Harry
Screenplay: Spencer Grendahl & Lee Harry
Starring: Jun Chong, Jeff Rector, David Homb, Johnathan Gorman, Joon Kim, Katherine Armstrong, Hwang Jang Lee
Low budget, martial arts riff on West Side Story (sort of) that is all kinds of cheese, complete with ridiculous acting and "awesome" 80s styling but is good fun if you are in the mood for some goofy action thrills. Street Soldiers, while now appearing very outdated and raising more than a couple of smirks from the "acting," has its heart in the right place and is packed with a fair amount of karate action.
The Tigers are a cool gang who wear orange jackets and hang out being, well, just cool really. Their arch enemies are The JP's, a nasty gang of scuzzballs who are muscling in on The Tigers territory and aren't apposed to a little raping and killing. They are led by the homicidal Priest, a complete loon who soon discovers his former squeeze is now knocking boots with one of The Tigers. He flips out, declares all out war on The Tigers who themselves turn to a kindly karate teacher to help train them to fight off the ever marauding JP's.
Cheap Street Soldiers certainly is but to be fair the filmmakers put all they've got into making a fun action packed flick. The action is always constantly flowing, creative camera techniques used here and there, and some nice location work help the film overcome its limitations. Unfortunately it is let down by some awfully shoddy acting, everyone over-egging their performances. Not least lead bad guy Priest played with wild-eyed looniness by Jeff Rector, in one of the most over-the-top performances to surely grace low budget cinema. Seriously, the dude must have bee on something when making this flick as he acts so out there it tips into hilarity. Mind you, it all adds to the fun and despite the abundance of cheesy moments the film does have a fairly hard edge to it. The violence is often strong with a home invasion scene, a gang rape (thankfully implied and not seen) and the shooting of a young kid all adding to the exploitation feel of the flick.
There is a fair amount of action on hand as well. It's all a little sloppy and scrappy to begin with, as numerous street fights take place between the two gangs, the multi person dust-ups lacking focus but certainly giving the feel of free-for-all scraps. Things get better as the flick progresses with a big full on showdown featuring some stellar martial arts action. Not surprising really as kung fu aces Jun Chong (Silent Assassins) and the legendary Hwang Jang Lee (The Secret Rivals, Snuff Bottle Connection, Drunken Master) face-off in the final battle. Pretty cool stuff with some great bootwork.
Yeah it's cheesy as all get up (complete with an out-of-the-blue/what-the-fuck psychic moment!), Hwang Jang Lee isn't utilized enough (but does parade around with a rubber snake spitting venom in the eyes of people: awesome!) and Jeff Rector is all kinds of insane but Street Soldiers is harmless late eighties/early nineties action nonsense. It's got a bit of heart, a hard edge and some cool high impact action that makes it an entertaining hoot.