Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Attack Force 'Nam (aka P.O.W The Escape)


ATTACK FORCE ‘NAM (aka P.O.W. THE ESCAPE) (1986)

Directed by: Gideon Amir
Screenplay: Malcolm Barbour, James Bruner, Avi Klienberger, John Langley & Jeremy Lipp
Starring: David Carradine, Steve James, Charles R. Floyd & Mako

Within 30 seconds of this action opus, you know what’s going down: David Carradine is a bad ass, he doesn’t leave any POWs behind (and we know this as he says it about 600 times during the 80 minute runtime!) and he’s been given a mission to go rescue a bunch of soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. Cue credits and then we are into the first big action scene, which must last for a good ten minutes or so (cool!), as Carradine and Co blow the shit out of huts, vehicles and evil Vietcong. However, despite Carradine’s coolness and steely-eyed determination, things don’t go according to plan as the rescue team are obliterated and Carradine is captured. Taken to a POW camp run by the incredibly evil Mako, Carradine now has to plan his own escape, get a whole new set of POW’s back to freedom, contend with quite possibly the most douchebag American soldier ever (Charles R. Floyd) and blow up every hut, vehicle and Vietcong soldier going. Oh, and leave no one behind as everyone goes home. EVERYONE!

Attack Force ‘Nam is cheesy 80s jungle based, exploding hut, military action awesomeness. While perhaps not as fondly remembered as the like of Rambo First Blood Part II, Missing in Action 1 -3 or any of the Italian made military action films of the era (such as Double Target or Strike Commando), Attack Force ‘Nam is still some great M16 firing jungle action brilliance. Produced by 80s military action specialists Golan and Globus (of Cannon fame), the film makes good use of its Philippine locations, plentiful military vehicles (with an impressive amount of helicopters) and endless supply of extras waiting to be gunned down as unfortunate (and mainly useless) soldiers. The action, while somewhat scrappy and rough around the edges, is impressively mounted with several big battle scenes as Carradine and his crew decimate the opposing Vietcong with pretty much every vehicle, hut and the surrounding area blown up at some point. Carradine even rolls the back of a tanker down at hill in order to blow more stuff up in one outrageous scene and once the action starts the M16 machine gun fire rarely lets up.


While there is no doubt this is cheesy 80s action fare (with some painfully outdated patriotic overtones) , there is a tough and often grimy feel to proceedings with the squalid camp the prisoners finding themselves in giving off a sense of hopelessness. Carradine is his usual tough and ever-so-cool self (and even gets to kick some ass kung-fu style), Charles R. Floyd makes for a thoroughly rotten egg amongst the gun-ho group (whatever happened to him and how come he was never in more films? He would have made a great bad guy in more action films) and Mako is an absolute repellent hoot as the evil camp leader. American Ninja star and all round bad ass Steve James is also on hand (though could have been given a bit more to do!) filling out an awesome B-movie cast which just adds to the over-the-top gung-ho heroics and jungle destroying action.

Also known as P.O.W. The Escape and Behind Enemy Lines but whatever title you pick it up under you’re guaranteed a gun blazing good time from a bygone era of action cinema.

Tidal Wave


Check out my new review of Tidal Wave over at Far East Films.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Best of the Best


Check out my new review of Best of the Best over at Far East Films.

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Four


Check out my new review of The Four over at Far East Films.

Monday, 14 October 2013

China White


Check out my new review of China White over at Far East Films.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Ghost Shark


Check out my new review of the incredible Ghost Shark over at Blueprint Review.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Techno Sapiens


TECHNO SAPIENS (aka SHADOW WARRIORS) (1995)

Directed by: Lamar Card
Screenplay: Steven Finly
Starring: Terry O’Quinn, Timothy Patrick Cavanaugh, Ashley Graham, Evan Lurie & Russ Tertyask

Somewhere in between playing The Stepfather and staring as Locke on TV show Lost, the great Terry O’Quinn popped up in this bargain basement B-movie that what it lacks in any sort of coherency, craftsmanship or logic makes up for it in full throttle action. This cheap and cheery Universal Soldier knock off see’s the evil O’Quinn creating a new cybernetic super soldier in the form of Evan (T-Force) Lurie. Then, for reasons only valid in a low budget action film, Quinn programmes another super soldier (Russ Tertyask) to go on a killing rampage to source more bodies to turn into super soldiers. Though, really all he does is kill and maim his way through Kiev (!) with no rhyme or reason blowing up everything in his path. Lurie is then programmed to go after the renegade cyborg with a gun-toting cop and a pretty lady scientist in tow.

For 90s B-movie cyborg action movie mayhem, Techno Sapiens has it all: copious amounts of ammo dispensing gun battles; a surfeit of random helicopters, speed boats and various other machines the producers obviously got cheap, so they cram them in as many scenes as possible; various walls being demolished by super soldiers walking through them; inexplicable, random and extremely shoddy CGI effects including the super soldiers firing lazers from their hands and haphazard scenes of Lawnmower Man style effects sequences; cartoony POV effects for the cyborgs; and perhaps the worst and not to mention fakest climactic explosion to feature in an action film ever. B-movie excellence.


Incoherent, random, and often defying logic Techno Sapiens feels like a film that either ran out of money, or was probably directed by various people during its production, or was hacked to pieces from its original version or cobbled together from the usable footage in the editing room or, all of the above. And strictly because of this and the fact that it throws all narrative logic out the window (those who have a thing for banging on about plot, even when dissecting a B-action movie will have a field day with this!) Techno Sapiens is an absolute hoot. Cheap Universal Soldier knocks off don’t come much better, especially when they feature one of the kings of cheap Universal Soldier knock offs: Evan Lurie (T-force, Hologram Man, Cyborg 3). The one time low budget action movie mainstay actually gets to kick all kinds of butt in this film, proving very energetic in the action scenes and going fist-to-fist with man mountain Russ Teryask on numerous occasions.

There is a ton of action in Techno Sapiens, well after a bit of filler and O’Quinn spending way too much time punching keys at a computer and sounding evil, with the last forty or so minutes of the film pretty much just being one giant running gun battle. Thanks to some pretty awesome camerawork (and good use of a steadicam) the action, while a little scrappy, is impressively ballistic, explosive, punchy and features all those aforementioned vehicles engaged in high pursuit or exploding at one point or another. The whole of Kiev (I’m guessing they got a good tax break to film there?!) is riddled with bullets and while you will often wonder what the hell is going on and how everyone seems to have a never ending supply of ammo, you’ll certainly be entertained if you like your action thick, fast and over-the-top.

O’Quinn is unfortunately underused and disappears for a good part of the film though is suitably slimey (and was presumably just collecting a quick pay check) and some may find the absurdity of proceedings just too hilarious (in an un-intentional way) to take serious but Techno Sapiens is barmy action fun if you’re looking for a quick fix of cyborg smashing mayhem (at 2 in the morning).

Monday, 9 September 2013

Assembly


Check out my new review of Assembly over at Far East Films.

Cyclo


Check out my new review of Cyclo over at Far East Films.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Hard Rush


Check out my new review of Hard Rush over at Blueprint Review.

Axe Giant


Check out my new review of Axe Giant over at Blueprint Review.

Monday, 19 August 2013

The Tower


Check out my new review of The Tower over at Far East Films.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Excessive Force 2: Force on Force


EXCESSIVE FORCE 2: FORCE ON FORCE (1995)

Directed by: Jonathon Winfrey
Written by: Mark Sevi
Starring: Stacie Randall, Dan Lauria, Dan Gauthier, Cyril O’Reilly & Jay Patterson

The original Excessive Force was a sweet slice of tough early nineties action starring Thomas Ian Griffith who was backed up by genre legends Lance Henrickson, Tony Todd and James Earl Jones. It was some slick and straightforward out for revenge action theatrics with some sold hard-edged action scenes. The sequel unfortunately jettisons that awesome cast and while not really linked to its predecessor still thankfully delivers enough out-for-revenge nonsense and some stellar hard edged action scenes to be a decent sequel.

Instead of Griffith we get the very cute and extremely badass Stacie Randall (Trancers 4 & 5) as Harley Cordell a former Special Forces agent looking to get revenge on her former C.O. and man squeeze, Lydell (Gauthier). He’s now head of a crack team of mercenaries who live the high life, act like douchebags and kill people for money. Cordell gets wind of their latest hit, weasels her way onto the investigation and goes gunning for vengeance. Well, after she’s hooked up with another former squeeze and spent a load of time loving it up with him first. Just get to the gun blazing revenge already!


While not as good as the original, Excessive Force 2 is still a highly entertaining low budget action film. While arguably there is too much downtime spent on Cordell’s relationship with her doctor boyfriend and him lecturing her to give up her gun-toting vengeance ways (boooring!), the film is a nicely fleshed out package. Sure the narrative is seen-it-all-before action movie revenge 101 but the characters are nicely rounded, the bad guys getting as much screen-time as the good guys meaning they actually have personalities. Despite some frightening 90s fashion on display (Cordell’s scary silver suit, the dude with all the sleeveless shirts!) the actors bring individuality to their characters elevating the narrative from its run-of-the-mill trappings. Randall also makes for a great heroine and is certainly adept at kicking bad guy butt.

Much like the first film, Excessive Force 2 is jam packed with action from numerous and well put together fights (choreographed by Phillip Tan and James Lew who both appear as some goons who get their asses handed to them!) to the all-out police station attack/siege the film climaxes with. This end action scene is worth seeing the film for alone and is impressive for the scale and verve it is staged with considering the low budget nature of the film: it featuring many large scale explosions, some sweet gunplay and one wicked car flip.

It may be a little generic but Excessive Force 2 is good action sequel fun thanks to the sprightly lead, some decent bad guys, assured direction and some barnstorming actions scenes.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Quick (aka Adrenaline Rush)


Check out my new review of Quick over at Far East Films.



Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Wired to Kill (aka Booby Trap)


WIRED TO KILL (aka BOOBY TRAP) (1986)

Directed by: Frances Shaeffer
Written: by: Frances Shaeffer
Starring: Emily Longsreth, Devin Hoelshcer, Tiny Lister & Merritt Butrick

It’s 1998. It’s the future y’all. Well it was the future back in 1986 when this flick was made. The world ain’t the place it used to be, gangs run rampant terrorizing the neighbourhood and most of the cast look like they have just stepped off the set of one of the Mad Max films. So much like the real 1998 was then! Once such gang led by the slimy but well read Reegus (Butrick) are out on the town all jacked up on drugs looking to terrorize. When the first fancy building they plan to rob and ransack proves difficult to break into the gang head to a less affluent neighbourhood looking for an easier target. They pick the abode of Steve (Hoelshcer) who lives with his mum and grandma and has invited his new girlfriend Rebecca (Longsreth) over for dinner. Reegus and his crew attack the family and leave poor Steve crippled. However, the gang didn't bank on Steve being a technical wiz who has built his own robot: a robot he quickly adapts to war mode. After a little recuperation and much crying, Steve and Rebecca devise a plan to make the gang pay for what they did: killer robot style!

Wired to Kill (or as it’s also awesomely known over here in the UK, Booby Trap) is a mixed bag. On the one hand a groovy slice of 80s low budget sci-fi action schlock with a funky killer robot, on the other it’s a little slow going and even a bit arty never reaching its robot bent-on-revenge potential. Frances Shaeffer (who also directed the equally schlockly futuristic cum arty sci-fi action flick Rising Storm) makes proceedings just a little bit too serious robbing the film of some its kids-use-a-robot-to-take-revenge fun. On second thoughts, a family being attacked in their home by a vicious gang and left scarred by it is a serious subject matter not to be made fun of and some kudos to the filmmaker for not making light of it. His teen characters seem shaken by the whole ordeal and refreshingly don’t turn into cliché action heroes instead using their brains and wits (and their robot) to outsmart the gang, and they always appear shaken by what they have experienced and are now having to do.

The gang are also genuinely threatening their grubby look, continuous drug induced state and the unpredictability of when they might attack adding requisite menace. The film has a dark, grimy, industrial look and feel differentiating it from many of post apocalyptic future action movies of the time and while there should have been way more robot killing action the little bot is put to good use come the finale. Low tech by today’s CGI obsessed tastes, it’s still kinda cool seeing an old school robot trundling around with its claw killing bad guys.

Its doesn’t quite live up to its title(s) or awesome video covers and a heap more robot action would have made it a lot better but Wired to Kill is still an interesting and mostly entertaining sci-fi action oddity worth seeking out if you can find an old VHS copy.




Thursday, 11 July 2013

Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell



JENNY RINGO AND THE CABARET FROM HELL

Directed by: Chris Regan
Written by: Geraint D’Arcy
Starring: Rosie Duncan & Lukas Habberton

Taking a brief break from the action movie mayhem Cool Target loves, I review the really rather awesome comedy horror short film Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell.

Cabaret from Hell (great title) is the follow up to Chris Regan’s earlier short Jenny Ringo and the Monkey’s Paw which catches up with best friends and flatmates Jenny and Gavin. Eternally lazy Gavin (Habberton) is still whiling away his days playing video games, making a mess of the flat and constantly wearing his favourite dressing gown. Would be witch Jenny (Duncan) returns from work to find the flat in complete disarray and Gavin completely useless at correctly taking down phone messages: mistaking their landlords notice of eviction for a request to carry out a flat inspection. To make matters worse, Gavin also lost the money he was supposed to pay the rent with in a singing competition that he figured he was a shoe in to win. He was wrong. So how will the best mates overcome this most recent disaster, avoid eviction and salvage their friendship: why with an impromptu sex change spell, a musical called Splatterface (!) and in one moment of inspired zany Meta genius show the film crew actually filming the movie we are watching. Obviously.

Witty, fast paced, always inventive and featuring two very likeable lead characters, Cabaret from Hell is a fun ride dropping one liners, f-bombs and moments of creative genius with aplomb. At the heart of the film (much like the first instalment) is the friendship between Jenny and Gavin affectionately portrayed by Duncan and Habberton. Their chemistry is infectious, their modern approach to young life relatable and the two are equally amusing as their quest takes on ever increasing absurd twists and turns. Both Duncan and Habberton are great in these roles making each new bonkers adventure the two find themselves in a pleasure to watch


Mixing horror, comedy and musical numbers Regan and his team balance all elements well meaning creativity is always flowing as the characters flit from everyday conversations, to body swap shenanigans, to battling demons in a bucket! It doesn’t stop there with some nifty animated sequences spliced in as well, an all out musical number come the end and as mentioned above the brilliant bit where the films stops to show the film crew breaking for lunch. Awesome. With its mixture of genres, ample helping of comedy and constant inventiveness, Cabaret from Hell is a little like a more horror tinged version of Spaced but with a distinctive personality all of its own.

The comedy and overall vibe may not be to everyone’s taste but Cabaret from Hell is a unique horror comedy ride made with skill, ingenuity and affection and another round with Jenny Ringo would be very much appreciated. Oh and please, please make Splatterface for real!

Look out for Cabaret from Hell soon and you can watch the first film Jenny Ringo and the Monkey’s Paw over at www.jennyringo.com




Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Java Heat


Check out my new review of Java Heat over at Blueprint Review.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Night of the Warrior



NIGHT OF THE WARRIOR (1991)

Directed by: Rafael Zelinski
Written by: Thomas Ian Griffith
Starring: Lorenzo Lamas, Kathleen Kinmont, Anthony Geary, Ken Foree, Jeff Imada, James Lew

Miles Keane (Lamas) rides a motorcycle, can rock the denim, runs a classy club with sexy dancers and is a badass fighter to boot. Determined to pay off a debt to local drug douche Lynch (Geary), Miles competes in illegal underground fights organised by the would be crime boss. The wicked fight that opens the film sees Miles finally clear his debt with Lynch and he rides off to pursue his passion for photography and woo local art student Katherine (Kinmont). All appears swell at first, their romance developing nicely but when another crime boss puts pressure on Lynch to organize a further brawl with his former prize fighter, Lynch then puts the pressure on Miles to knuckle up once more. Non-surprisingly, Miles doesn’t want to fight meaning Lynch resorts to increasingly desperate and violent ways to convince Miles to fight.

Now this sounds like your run of the mill early 90s fight tournament actioner and in many ways it is: a reluctant hero forced to fight, shady crime bosses organising the illegal tournament and some knuckle dusting fights. But Night of the Warrior, penned by former 90s action star Thomas Ian Griffith (Excessive Force), is a little different, often stylish and a whole lot of fight tournament entertainment. Despite the low budget and dated look and fashions, Night of the Warrior is very well shot for an early 90s straight to video fight film, some excellent photography giving the film a great look. With photography being a main theme it gives the director an excuse to fill the film with stylish flourishes (photo montages, slinky dance sequences, groovy slow motion) that help accentuate the film’s noir trappings. In fact, Night of the Warrior could be best described as a noir martial arts film, making it stand out from many of the other straight to video fight films of the 90s: including many of Lamas’s own films. Always a watchable action star that had a fairly lengthy action career, Lamas is on fine form here. Kinmont (an action star herself) doesn't get to fight here but has good chemistry with Lamas and the bad guys are nicely fleshed out with former Dawn of the Dead star Ken Foree on hand as an obnoxious henchman.

For action fans, Night of the Warrior could be a sort of marmite film: you’ll either love it or hate it. The film is as much about style, character and taking its time to get to the big end fight as it is with cheap action thrills. While some of the styling looks dated and may put some off, it still adds an extra element to an otherwise routine story. In addition, there isn’t as much fight action as one may expect either: there being as many dance scenes as there are fights! Much more concerned with the noir crime aspects of the story, Night of the Warrior isn’t packed with fight action but on the other hand it doesn't really need to be. The story is well told, the characters engaging and the several fights that are featured are quality. Lamas gets to strut his stuff in the two big fights that bookend the film showing some impressive skill and even gets to fight genre stalwart James Lew (Red Sun Rising) in the final fight. However, the best fight is the one that opens the film. Sustained, well shot with some fluid camera moves, it is a nicely choreographed fight from a time when action films let fights play out so we could see what was happening. In fact, the first fight is so good the rest of the film has trouble living up to the great opening.

A good fight film and something a little different at the same time, Night of the Warrior is a pleasant discovery and one of Lamas’ best.



Tuesday, 2 July 2013

For Love's Sake


Check out my new review of Takashi Miike's crazy romance fight film For Love's Sake over at Far East Films.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Sahara



SAHARA (1995)

Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Written by: David Phillips & Philip MacDonald
Starring: James Belushi, Alan David Lee, Michael Massee & Jerome Ehlers

James Belushi is ace in this solid mid 90s remake of the Humphrey Bogart film of the same name. Some may cry foul at the idea of a Bogart film being remade, and on a somewhat low budget, and while the original Sahara is a fine slice of Bogart it’s not exactly a crime to think of remaking it. Under the assured hands of veteran genre director Brian Trenchard-Smith (Day of the Panther, The Man from Hong Kong, Siege at Firebase Gloria), this version of Sahara is well made, nicely acted and packed with gun busting action. Belushi is Joe Gunn an army sergeant who is forced to go on the run through the Sahara desert in his beloved tank Lulubelle during WW2. He heads deeper into the desert, picking up wandering stragglers from a range of allied forces along the way, attempting to outrun an advancing Nazi army. From tank breakdowns to the unrelenting hardship of the desert, the motley crew face their fair share of adversities before finding a desert oasis with a well full of water. Holing up there they decide to stand strong against the Germans who mount a full scale attack against Belushi and his men in a bid to take the oasis and seize the precious water.


Despite being originally produced for television, Sahara looks great, benefits from some great location work, features some pretty impressive action staging and doesn’t skimp on the violence of war either. Essentially about a group of differing men having to overcome their differences and the notion of whether rank is important to survive the harsh landscape, Trenchard-Smith’s film benefits from some well-written characters and the actors who portray them. Belushi is brilliant as the no-nonsense Gunn flexing his dramatic muscles, as well as his physical ones, as he tries to do right by his men even if it means making tough and life threatening decisions. He has good support from Jerome Ehlers (The Marine) as the sensible Brit who bonds with Gunn and Michael Massee (The Crow) as a tough as nails French soldier. Refreshingly, after an initial spot of tension, the group get along and learn to survive and fight as a unit avoiding the usual clichés of group antagonism.

The makers don’t forget to stage some impressive action either as the tank is as much a part of the cast as any actor, it causing major wholesale Nazi destruction come the finale. In fact, the finale sees the film turn into a siege picture as the crew hunker down to make a stand within the ruins of the oasis. Trenchard-Smith is a dab hand at staging action and gets to let loose with a large cast of extras, some impressive machine gun action and a tank in an exciting last act battle. War based action coupled with an excellent cast and solid production values; Sahara is a taut and tight war film worthy of tracking down.

Good stuff.



Monday, 24 June 2013

Weekend of Trash XI


I met up again with a couple of the guys from Blueprint Review  for another weekend of non-stop B-movie madness. Turing my pad into a mini cinema (thanks to the Blueprint projector) we managed to get through an abundance of low budget insanity including Spacerage, Codename: Wildgeese, Texas Chainsaw, Dragon Wasps and many more distinctly B-movie gems.

Check out the write up.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Courier



THE COURIER (2012)

Directed by: Hany Abu-Assad
Screenplay: Brannon Coombs & Peter Dris
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Josie Ho, Mark Margolis, Til Schweiger, Lily Taylor, Miguel Ferrer & Mickey Rourke

The Courier aint bad but it could have been better. Veering from hardboiled coolness to messy exploitation from scene to scene, the film isn’t quite the streamlined thriller it should have been but thanks to a committed performance from lead Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a couple of hard-edged action scenes and an odd-ball husband and wife assassin team (played by Lily Taylor and Miguel Ferrer) it makes for a breezy 90 minutes of entertainment. You’ve heard/seen this story before: Morgan is a man who delivers packages/money/whatever-you-want-delivered no questions asked. But instead of jetting around sunny France and Miami ala The Transporter, The Courier plies his trade in a hurricane ravaged New Orleans using his wits, his fists and with what looks like an extreme lack of sleep. Whereas The Transporter is all slick and cool, The Courier is all grit and sweat as he attempts to deliver a briefcase that threatens to unravel his life completely, sets him on a collision course with his past and sees him confronted by a very strange performance from Mickey Rourke (strange even by Mickey Rourke standards!).


While the film starts off promising (courier finishing off a previous job, time spent getting to know the characters, a couple of decent action beats), it unfortunately begins to unravel as pointless characters are introduced, the pace threatens to become a lethargic trudge and good old Mickey Rourke (or his stand in?!) is hidden in the shadows for most of his screen time ala direct-to-DVD Steven Segal. The first half of the film begins to build a hard-boiled Southern edge quite nicely but this is soon jettisoned in favour of wasted characters (Til Schweiger’s FBI agent, Josie Ho’s sort of love interest) and a plot that come the second half is all over the place with too much back-story, Rourke’s disappointing villain and a twist that really wasn’t needed. With something like 20 or so producers listed in the credits it seems like there really were too many cooks in the kitchen on this one.

Still, if you can past these negatives (oh, and some embarrassingly awful green screen work in several scenes) The Courier still dishes up enough cool action and attitude to be worth your time. The always underrated Jeffrey Dean Morgan gives it his all and is effectively tough and gruff as the hardboiled courier. The equally underrated Mark Margolis is also good as Morgan’s mentor/best mate and Taylor and Ferrer make for a great couple of bad guys: they really should have been the main antagonists. There are a couple of decent chase scenes, one rather brutal torture scene and a wicked fist fight which keep the action trundling along. Plus the flick has a cool sweaty Southern feel which helps emphasize the hardboiled nature of proceedings.

While the last third unravels into a mess and the tone becomes disjointed thanks to unnecessary characters, The Courier still delivers (sorry!) just enough pulpy action entertainment for the less critical film fan.



Monday, 10 June 2013

Shanghai


Check out my new review of Shanghai over at Far East Films.

Roaring Dragon, Bluffing Tiger


Check out my new review of Roaring Dragon, Bluffing Tiger over at Far East Films.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Sweet Justice



SWEET JUSTICE (1992)

Directed by: Allen Plone
Written by: Allen Plone & Jim Tabilio
Starring: Finn Carter, Frank Gorshin, Kathleen Kinmont, Marjean Holden, Marc Singer & Mickey Rooney

A squad of ex-military, kung-fu kicking babes decide to clean up their town and kick some ass in this decent battling babes action flick. Walking the line(s) between badass action, soap opera naffness and outright exploitation, Sweet Justice is, well, pretty sweet. The lovely Finn Carter (of Tremors fame) is a tough talking, no-nonsense, martial arts whiz who when her sister is set up and killed by the evil toxic waste dumping Frank Gorshin decides to get her old unit of fighting females back together and take revenge. With no help from the local law enforcement douche (Marc Singer) the girls train up, tool up and ride into town on some cool looking motorcycles to kick some serious ass. Not before they've had a group sauna or two though!

If you can get through the first twenty/twenty five minutes or so, then Sweet Justice turns out to be a nice little action flick with some impressive rough and tumble stunts and action scenes. While it’s nice that the filmmakers set up the characters and their relationships, the first part of the film is a bit of slog to get through. Scenes tend to drag (despite Gorshin and good old Mickey Rooney hamming proceedings up!) and there are only so many scenes of Singer moping around and trying to romance Carter a viewer can take.

Luckily once Carter decides to get her team back together (which includes action stalwarts Kathleen Kinmont and Marjean Holden) proceedings pick up immensely. Cue many training montages as the girls work out, practice martial arts and even have an all nude sauna together! Nothing says camaraderie like an all nude group sauna. The girls then get down to business quick battling Gorshin’s seemingly never ending army of machine gun toting goons. There is a nice mix of martial arts, gunplay and motorcycle stunts, it all packs a punch and with each lady getting to deliver justice once the action starts it rarely lets up. It may be a little rough round the edges but the stunt people and leading ladies are put through their paces and there is a particularly memorable scrap in a house between one of the girls and a high kicking goon.

Sweet Justice works both as a high powered female action film and an exploitation film. The makers switch back and forth between presenting the female cast as a tough and in control female fighting force before then getting them to strip down in the sauna so we can ogle their bodies: meaning the tone is a little all over the place. Carter brings the requisite tough girl swagger and come the ending (after all the shooting, kicking and inevitable casualties) she even stops to consider whether it was all worth it with several members of her team now dead. It’s not every day a low budget action film ends on a downer assessing the unnecessary deaths of loved ones.

Sweet, sexy, rough, tough and once it gets going packed with high impact action Sweet Justice is a fun all female fighting ride.



Death Raiders



DEATH RAIDERS (1984)

Directed by: Segundo Ramos
Written by: Segundo Ramos & Daddy Gomez
Starring: Joel Alano, June Ariston, Renato Del Prado, George Estregan, Rodolfo ‘Boy’ Garcia, Robert Lee

A low budget and trashy Philippine action movie that is so low budget and trashy that other low budget and trashy Philippine action movies say “damn that is one low budget and trashy action movie.” Probably. After five to ten minutes of ample stock footage (complete with the “stars” of the film throwing hand grenades at the camera and then vehicles/bridges/huts exploding in footage obviously taken from some other film!) Death Raiders gets down to business fast as a bunch of jungle based despots (led by their rather unintentionally hilarious leader who loves to coordinate his shirts and hats: nothing says crazy bad guy like a matching red shirt and hat combo!) kidnap some important officials/random people and hold them hostage in a cave somewhere in the deep dark jungle. Some other important officials/random people are upset by this, won’t stand for it and decide to get together and send in their roughest, toughest, disco loving crack team of commandos: the Death Raiders. Running, shooting and a fair amount of tedium follows.

Neither living up to its awesome video cover, title and the above synopsis Death Raiders feels like it’s been made by a bunch of dudes who have seen many (many) movies (or at least many other low budget and trashy Philippine action movies) and decided to make their own. Coherency is a no go but absurdity certainly is! Death Raiders is all over the place with loads of random characters, a team who are supposed to be badasses but seem to be more inept than the actual bad guys and a ridiculous amount of somewhat overweight guys you all insist on wearing their shirts open in order to expose their impressive beer guts. This is perhaps the only movie where if you are a skinny and in shape guy you have to wear your shirt done up but if you have a large gut, are pushing 50 and look like you are on the verge of a heart attack then, hey, you get to wear your shirt open!

Fortunately there is mucho running and shooting action and even a bit of martial arts. It’s not particularly good with such well “choreographed” scenes including dozens of extras continually running into the path of our heroes firing guns and dying in a hilariously unconvincing manner, the best-worst rescue of a hostage (this scene features the raiders in the wide open running in a line firing their guns and not one of the bad guys can hit them: awesome!) and a hilarious kung fu fight in a disco! At least come the finale there is plenty of machine gun action and exploding huts which is the main reason to be watching a low budget and trashy Philippine jungle based action movie.

You usually can’t go wrong with a Philippine jungle based action movie (all you need is lots of running, shooting and exploding huts!) but Death Raiders is not a prime example of this genre. There is just enough silly action to make it worth a watch but sadly (and as mentioned many, many times during the course of this review) it is just too low budget and trashy (and amateur!) to really be much fun.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Painted Skin


Check out my new review of Painted Skin over at Far East Films.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Warrioress



WARRIORESS (2012)

Directed by: Ross Boyask
Written by: Ross Boyask, Cecily Fay & Chris Regan
Starring: Cecily Fay, Joelle Simpson, Christian Howard, Merrilees Fay Harries, Will Brenton,  Brendan Carr, Helen Steinway Bailey

Director Ross Boyask returns to the feature action fray with the post-apocalyptic fight action flick, Warrioress. Taking a slightly different route this time around (after his previous film: the brutal action crime flick Ten Dead Men), Warrioress sees Boyask and his crew aiming bigger despite what must had been a tiny budget. Regardless of this, Warrioress is crammed to the rafters with some wickedly choreographed fight action and an energetic performance from leading lady Cecily Fay.

In a post-apocalyptic world that’s one part Xena, one part Mad Max and another part crazy kung fu madness, two female warriors (Fay and Simpson) must travel the lands to an ancient site in order to fight to the death in a sacred tournament and fulfill an ancient foretelling. Forming a shaky alliance they face foe after foe on their journey to the hallowed land as an evil army, known as the Falonex, attempt to stop the two lady warriors from completing their mission. What follows is a seemingly unstoppable onslaught of martial arts combat as the feisty females decimate all those in their way.

While as mad as the above sounds, Warrioress delivers some fine fight action and is an excellent showcase for some impressive female fighters to strut their stuff. Utilizing some striking locations and crisp clean photography, Boyask and his team have created an impressive and distinct world for the characters to venture through: and all on a minuscule budget. Fay makes for a sprightly, sexy and super kicking heroine, carrying most of the picture on her tiny, albeit very strong, shoulders. Joellle Simpson is also good as her feisty, and taller, adversary cum friend and Helen Steinway Bailey makes a memorable impression as a thoroughly badass Falonex warrior determined to kick our heroine’s ass. The boys also get in on the action with Christian Howard cutting some cool moves while Ten Dead Men star  Brendan Carr is an absolute hoot as a manically laughing bad guy out to make trouble for the freedom fighting females.


Due to its budget the film’s constraints, non-surprisingly, do show through sometimes. The tone occasionally veers towards taking itself a little too seriously (the dialogue a little cringe worthy on occasion) but is always reigned in by the mood being lightened or the wickedly fun fight action kicking in. Arguably the film gets better as it goes long, the second half really switching into high gear as the action mounts and the threat towards the protagonists increases. In addition, the pace rarely drags as the action continuously ramps up the entertainment value.

Boyask, Fay and their crew of fighters and choreographers deliver the goods in terms of fight action, topping even the good work they did on Ted Dead Men. Fay is an excellent fighter and the tight and varied choreography of the fight scenes makes Warrioress a terrific action film. From two blistering face-offs between Fay and Steinway Bailey (both excellent fighters and stuntwomen having worked on the likes of Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman), to a raid on a Falonex base and to (arguably the best fight scene) the girls taking on a group of groovy ninjas, the fight action is crisp, fluid and full of energy. Boyask knows his action and piles it one here delivering some very satisfying martial arts action.

While some may be surprised that Boyask has gone the fantasy action route after the hard hitting crime action of Ten Dead Men (and his earlier flick Left for Dead), Warrioress is nevertheless a fun ride, a great vehicle for Fay and, well, just a well mounted and immensely enjoyable action flick. The conclusion sets proceedings up for a potential sequel, which wouldn't be a bad thing: though I would like Another Ten Dead Men first.

Good stuff.



Monday, 29 April 2013

The Collection


Check out my new review of The Collection over at Blueprint Review.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Deadful Melody


Check out my new review of Deadful Melody over at Far East Films.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Weekend of Trash X



I caught with a couple of the guys from Blueprint Review recently for another weekend of non-stop B-movie watching. Turing my pad into a mini cinema (thanks to the Blueprint projector) we managed to get through an abundance of low budget insanity including Maximum Conviction, Commando Leopard, Truck Turner, Mandrill and many more distinctly B-movie gems.

Check out the write up.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Superpower



As part of Far East Films Old School Easter, my review of Billy Chong's Superpower.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Rome 2033: The Fighter Centurions


ROME 2033: THE FIGHTER CENTURIONS (1984) (aka THE NEW GLADIATORS)

Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Screenplay: Elisa Briganti, Cesare Frugoni, Luci Fulci & Dardano Sacchetti
Starring: Jared Martin, Fred Williamson, Howard Ross, Elonora Brigliadori, Al Cliver, Hal Yamanouchi & Claudio Cassinelli

Italian Zombie master Lucio Fulci (The Beyond, City of the Living Dead) also liked to dabble in sci-fi weirdness (see the tripped out Conquest) and Rome 2033 brings both the sci-fi and the weirdness in equal spades. In a distant future (well, a distant future from 1984) two rival television networks vie for ratings supremacy with their ultra violent game shows. One network frames the supreme death bike champion (!) Drake (Martin) for the murder of his wife and her killers and force him to take part in their own violent sport of convicted criminals battling one another to the death on armoured laden motorcycles. However, Drake being the extreme badass and charisma vacuum that he is has other plans and after much messing about and lengthy scenes of serious talking convinces his fellow forced-to-fight criminals (including none other than The Hammer himself, Fred Williamson) to strike back and reclaim their freedom.

Despite the ridiculous costumes, ropey effects (complete with comedy cartoon laser effect!) and the fact Fulci plays everything stone cold serious (and by serious, I mean deadly serious: no matter how ridiculous things get everything is played straight!) Rome 2033 is actually a pretty groovy sci-fi flick. Sure, it takes a while to get going, we have to get through an awful lot of slow-mo strobe effects (seriously, Fulci loves his strobing in this flick!) and The Hammer just isn't in it enough but Rome 2033 is a funky time capsule of mad concepts, crazy 80s Italian styling and come the ending, some sweet motorcycle mayhem.


Jared Martin (Aengima, umpteen TV shows) is the sombre Drake, who scowls his way through proceedings stopping now and again to partake in some epic gurning (!) and bag the pretty Kim Cattral look-alike leading lady. Fred Williamson does “his thing” as a tough as nails convict (complete with funky head band!) and there is some cool support from Italian trash regulars Al Cliver and Hal Yamanouchi. Most of the motorcycle crunching action is saved for the finale (as Fulci has to fill up the rest of the running time with endless strobing effects and countless shots of the, admittedly quite cool, model futuristic city). When these “fighter centurions” engage in combat it’s on custom made motorcycles with side cars which, while they look camper than a row of pink tents rather than the badass killing machines the makers were probably hoping for, do provide a lot of stunt filled mayhem and allow for endless extras to get run over. Sweet.

While it doesn’t quite live up to its video box artwork or groovy title and is often too slow for its own good, Rome 2033: The Fighter Centurions has enough kookiness, cool actors and over-the-top action to make for a decent 80s Italian trash fix.