Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Digital Man


Directed by: Phillip J. Roth
Screenplay: Ron Schmidt & Phillip J. Roth
Starring: Ken Olandt, Matthias Hues, Kristen Dalton, Ed Lauter, Adam Baldwin & Paul Gleason.

Part man, part machine, all, erm, digital: it’s Digital Man. Well not so much digital (save for the opening few minutes!) but really just Matthias Hues in a lot of futuristic combat armour with a big gun wandering around the desert blowing shit up. And a lot of shit he blows up to. This low budget, mid-90s, cyborg-run-amok action flick is all kinds of kooky craziness but is a lot of fun thanks to the striking desert location setting, a cast of familiar A-movie and B-movie faces and an incredible amount of explosions. Hues is the Digital Man of the title, a new combat cyborg who goes haywire after a mission in the Californian desert and proceeds to blow everything and everyone up. His superiors, keen to get him back and retrieve some top secret launch codes (or something!) he is holding, dispatch a squad of marines to go after him and ridiculously huge guns, redneck silliness (!) and explosions ensue.

Sort of mixing the colonial marines from Aliens (right down to the ripped-off giant guns!) with The Terminator and throwing them into a desert, Digital Man is as absurd as its title. Watching a bunch of mouthy marines in bulky combat gear run around a desert chasing after a robot, in even bulkier gear, while a bunch of actors you have appeared in A-list movies bark orders at them from a dark computer room may not sound like a lot of fun but, well, it actually kinda is.

The desert setting adds a pleasing visual aesthetic, Hues is great as the almost wordless on-the-rampage cyborg and thanks to a ridiculous amount of steadicam work the film feels a lot slicker than it probably is. The effects are a decent mix of practical and clunky low budget CGI and the filmmakers deserve respect for the both the ridiculous amounts of explosions featured and the ridiculous amount of times the word cyborg is mentioned. A drinking game could be implemented for either (or both) and becoming shit faced (quickly) is guaranteed!

Plus along with Hues we've got B-movie cast awesomeness in the form of Ed “Raw Deal” Lauter, Adam “Full Metal Jacket” Baldwin and Paul “Die Hard” Gleason. Even Don “Brother of Patrick” Swayze and Clint “Brother of Ron” Howard are in there somewhere playing, non-surprisingly, a redneck and a weirdo respectively. Cool. Add in stupidly large guns (which I’ll admit, look freaking awesome!), the most random training-with-ninjas scene ever (!) and the fact one is never more that 3 minutes away from the next explosion and Digital Man is a mid-90s, B-movie, robot-rampaging, sci-fi hoot. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Mea Culpa

Check out my new review of Mea Culpa over at Blueprint Review.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Die Fighting

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

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Death Match


Directed by: Joe Coppoletta
Screenplay: Curtis Gleaves, Bob Wyatt & Steve Tymon
Starring: Ian Jacklin, Martin Kove, Matthias Hues, Renee Allman, Bob Wyatt & Nick Hill

Death Match is about as 90s a martial arts movie as they come. Set in Los Angeles: check. Tournament fights arranged by some shifty criminal type: check. Two buddies (who know kung fu) trying to make a living in LA and one of them gets sucked into said tournament fights and subsequently goes missing/dies: check. Other buddy drops everything to find his friend and must train, as he will inevitably take part in the tournament fights: check. Hot reporter for said buddy to bed and to help him out with his investigations: check. Matthias Hues: check. Kid sidekick: check. Lots of fights: check. Cool cameos from B-movie action stalwarts Richard Lynch, Jorge Rivero and Steven Vincent Leigh: check. A huge boat to have the big end action scene play out on: check. And there you have it, Death Match.

Taking all the above ingredients and mixing it into a kind of mish-mash of genres, Death Match is still surprisingly enjoyable. It has a load of crisp and crunchy fights (choreographed by the great Art Camancho and Benny “The Jet” Urquidez: who even appears as himself as the hero’s trainer!) and one time would be action star Ian Jacklin (Expert Weapon) makes for a likeable hero and convincing fighter. He even gets a cool motorcycle to ride (sometimes with helmet, sometimes without!) and an obligatory sex scene with the hot reporter. Cool. The great Martin Kove smirks his way through the smarmy bad guy role and Matthias Hues gets a meaty role as his right hand man and a couple of decent fights scenes as well. Hell, he even gets set on fire but comes back for more fighting, fire-scarred an all! Sweet.

It’s all fairly predictable and low rent but with a little more time given to story and a likeable hero who we actually want to see win (and not get kicked in the face because he is always acting like a wannabe bad ass douche!), it makes for refreshing viewing. If you read blogs like this and watch movies like these, you've no doubt seen this type of story a gazillion times (especially if you grew up watching these types of films in the 80s and 90s) but Death Match does it fairly well, has plenty of kicks to faces and is a decent 80 minutes or so of bygone era action junk.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Open Fire

OPEN FIRE (1994)

Directed by: Kurt Anderson
Screenplay: Thomas Ritz
Starring: Jeff Wincott, Patrick Kilpatrick, Mimi Craven, Lee de Broux & Arthur Taxier

One time action star Jeff Wincott got his own Die Hard flick in the form of the very straightforward but nonetheless fun Open Fire. It’s that aforementioned action classic set in a chemical plant this time around, as a bunch of terrorist goons takeover said plant and threaten to blow it all up if their big bad leader Kruger (Kilpatrick) isn’t released from prison. He is, he joins his mob and they still plan to blow shit up and flee with the hostages. One hostage just happens to be the father of Alec McNeil (Wincott) who, wouldn’t you know it, is an ex bad ass cop and wants in on the rescue mission/negotiations. Prickly cop captain Taxier (Davis) isn’t having any of it meaning McNeil has to go rogue, breaking into the plant himself (which proves very easy!) in order to rescue his pops and kick some major ass.

It’s fairly by the numbers and back in the 90s Die Hard clones were a dime a dozen but Open Fire is unfussy action fun for the less discriminating critic that coasts on Wincott’s likeability, Kilpatrick’s slimy bad guy and a smattering of decent action. It’s not as action packed as some of Wincott’s greatest hits (Martial Outlaw, Mission of Justice) and he does seem to be going through the motions a bit (where’s the eager kung fu cop from Martial Law 2 or the permanently on-edge-and-hard-ass-cop from Mission of Justice?!) but when it comes to delivering the bone breaking action he, well, err, delivers. With action choreographer Jeff Pruitt (Scanner Cop, Deadly Target) on hand the fights are lively, crunchy and hard hitting. An early fight in a bar (to show just how tough McNeil is!) and the final one-on-one with Kilpatrick are the standouts featuring flips, crashing-into-furniture-and-surrounding-objects takedowns and in one particular “oh hell yeah” moment, Wincott punches straight through a dude’s beer glass to sock him in the face. Awesome.

Kilpatrick (Death Warrant, Best of the Best 2) may have played this part a dozen times but he’s good value as the smarmy bad guy and proves a believable physical foe to Wincott’s hero. There could have been a bit more action and less dossing around with the incompetent cops but as a cheap and brisk Die Hard knock off, Open Fire aint bad.  

Monday, 3 November 2014

Extreme Crisis

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