The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
After The Asylum's solid showing with the horrible yet fun and hilarious Transmorphers, I was excited to give them another shot. I put this flick on my Netflix queue, anticipating a silly throwback to the old slasher films I used to watch with my friends growing up. I was going to watch it myself strictly for a review on the DTVC, but some friends and my roommates were interested, so I screened it in the living room. Bad idea.
When a Killer Calls is a ripoff of When a Stranger Calls, and this DVD's release coincided with the other film's release in the theaters. Anyway, in this one, a girl is babysitting and gets these bad calls. She thinks it's her boyfriend, but it ain't, and people and kids start dropping. Eventually she's the only one standing.
This was atrocious. Not a good atrocious either. It was a big pile of suck. A disgusting pile. One that requires HazMat suits to dispose of. This may be the most depraved sack of asscrack I've seen this side of Pay it Forward. I'm serious about that. I hurt for a good while afterwards. I'm still kind of hurting. And my friends and roommates have barely forgiven me. Not lookin' good, Asylum.
First off, this film depicts the brutal killing of kids. Not cool. For me murdering kids only works at the beginning of a bad action film, and it's up to said bad action film's protagonist to avenge that heinous killing. It never works in a slasher film. It's just gross and weird. Nobody has fun watching children murdered in a movie, it's just not my idea of a way to spend a Sunday night. After the movie was over, I turned on the Making Of short included in the DVD, mostly because my friend and I wanted to see how anyone could come up with something so stupid and hurtful. We had to turn it off, though, when they were interviewing the little girl who was killed while being babysat by the heroine. The guy who played the bad guy was talking to her on camera asking "Now, do you know why I killed you?" And she's like "Because I didn't clean my room?" And he says "No... remember?" It was too much, and my roommates mutinied, making me turn it off. I couldn't blame them. Just disturbing.
Second, there were a lot of atavistic moments that weren't funny or frightening but annoying, gross, and ridiculous. One of the girls (who also stars in Transmorphers... if you can say anyone really stars in a movie like that) is tied up with her shirt off, and the bad guy slashes her twice above her breasts, then covers the open area with Jaegermeister. Why? The girl's boyfriend has his mouth slashed by the bad guy, and for the rest of the movie he's shown with this big, black, nasty gash in his mouth with some teeth missing and whatnot. Not only is it impossible to do that to someone with a knife the way the bad guy did it, but they kept zooming in on the gross spectacle. Again, why?
Third, there wasn't much actual footage filmed for this. Most of it was flashbacks from parts we'd already seen and long shots held on one person. The lead girl is knocked out and tied up by the bad guy. She's shown tied up for maybe 15 minutes-- literally. Not trying to escape or anything like that, just there, tied up. Fifteen minutes. The actual movie couldn't be much longer than 45 minutes-- and that's being generous. I can get behind silliness like that from a bad movie I like, but when it's so depraved like this one is, it annoys me. Who wants to see flashbacks to scenes from earlier that I didn't want to see in the first place.
There was one shining moment here: Frank. Frank was the heroine's boyfriend's friend. Frank was awesome. He had great lines. One of them after his girlfriend asked if he wanted to play a game: "Yeah, let's play Fuck Frank". My roommate was adamant that he wasn't written, but just improv-ing his role. I didn't see that. Frank was a legitimate creation by the screenwriter; a lone bright spot in a dark, dark, evil movie. And, as the saying goes, you can only be a diamond in a sea of shit for so long before you become a shit covered diamond. Frank was killed off before we really got to enjoy him. Quelle une disappointment...
The Asylum is one-for-two, which means they're still at .500. We'll see how they do for the next movie of theirs I'll be screening: Snakes on a Train. Do not, under any circumstances, rent this abomination of film making. I'm giving it my highest condemnation: it makes Manos: The Hands of Fate seem tolerable. I'll have to go through my previous 200 plus posts, but I believe that's a first for The DTVC.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0490798/
I had never heard of this film before seeing it on the site Movies in the Attic (listed under the section "Other Great Bad Movie Sites). The guy who owns it came across the Direct to Video Connoisseur, and sent me a message via MySpace. When I went to his, I saw the poster for this bad boy, and thought it looked awesome. He told me it wasn't that great, but I had to see it for myself, especially since it has DTVC Hall of Famer Don "The Dragon" Wilson.
Future Kick takes place in 2025. The Earth sucks, so rich people have moved to the moon, leaving the planet to the poor and depraved. A company at some point in time invented android or cyborg policemen (it was never totally clear to me), but they were so pure, when they found out the company was corrupt, they turned on their creators. Now the company wants them all eliminated, and Don "The Dragon" Wilson is the only one of them left. He lives as a poor bounty hunter, hiding from the authorities. While turning in a criminal, he comes across a mustachioed cat with a proposition. Unfortunately this man doesn't make it to the meeting he planned with Don, because Chris Penn and this other dude have killed him because of what he knows about their organ stealing operation. Now the guy's wife is searching for the killers, and only Don can help.
I kinda liked this. Don't get me wrong, it's rough. But it's only 76 minutes long, which means there isn't much time for dull plot exposition or character development, leaving only the fun behind. There were some great head explosions, which I can't get enough of in a film. The future, though silly too, was cool... sorta. It looked like a future where the 80s ruled. I've seen much worse, so I can't get on this one too much for it's version of Earth 2025. The idea of the ultimate gated community on the moon was ridiculous, but for a movie of this caliber, the more ridiculous, the better.
Don was pretty sweet in this. This was like his third film, after the first two Bloodfists (unless you count a cameo in Say Anything...), and so he hadn't really mastered the craft yet (though, has he really?). I'm not sure if he had an acting coach then, but they had to have fired him soon after this. On the other hand, it could've been like when I tutored football players in Anthropology 101 at UMaine. Most of the players got Ds, and I figured that meant I was doing crappy, but my boss was excited. It's possible Donny's acting coach was going for a passing grade here too.
This film is graphic, but in a Robocop ludicrous sense. You can't take any of it seriously. The main baddie takes out people's hearts with this three pronged weapon that looks like a more sinister version of the little stand pizza places put in the middle of their pizzas so the box won't collapse on it in transit. Maybe the grossest scene comes when D "The D" Dubs gets his pinkie cut off, but he's an android, so it's not the same. There's also some electronic game with a glowing ball, and if you lose, your head could explode. It just looks so hilarious, it's hard for it to be disturbing.
That being said, according to imdb, Iceland and Finland banned this gem. I never really had any respect for Iceland, but Finland's diminished considerably in my eyes. What were you thinking Finland? I'm taking my Finnish flag down and replacing it with a Swedish one. Not only did they not ban this, but they have Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who's probably cooler than every Fin combined. I'm sorry, Finland, I didn't mean that. We'll get through this, I know it.
Chris Penn isn't in this much, and when he is, he's a cyborg like Don, so he doesn't have much personality. It's an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, it's Chris Penn, which is really awesome. On the other hand, there isn't much to savor, which sucks. I guess what frustrates me is that the bad guy, who Penn was working for, not only wasn't cool, but was less famous than Penn. Why not just switch the two? These are the kinds of decisions that are the difference between having your movie distributed or banned in Finland.
What do you want me to say? This is pretty fun. At 76 minutes you can't beat it. Don't go too far out of your way to procure, ie, don't spend too much money. Put it on your Netflix queue and show it to your buddies on a bad movie night. Like Quaker Oats, it's the right thing to do.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101931/
I think I first got wind of this film when Netflix recommended it to me after I put something else in my queue. A lot of times what they recommend is some Nicolas Cage or Will Smith sack-of-asscrack, but every once in a while they recommend something like this that has some potential.
The Killing Grounds takes place in Berlin and focuses on the tension between the Turkish population and the local skinheads. Daniel Bernhardt plays a Turkish ganglord who, with his younger brother, is fighting a group of skinheads trying to muscle in on his turf. Then some children are found dead. They're Turkish, but have been painted white. The Turks and local police blame the skinheads, but detective Armand Assante, himself playing a Turk, is called in to investigate, and he thinks there's more going on here. He's right, but can he get to the bottom of things before a war breaks out between the two gangs.
I kind of dug what this movie was going for. I liked the idea of having racial tensions in Berlin as a backdrop. Those kinds of things are often only depicted in American cities. On the other hand, the storyline focusing on the serial killer bordered on too Lifetime-y, and the one about the gang war can't decide if it wants to be an action film or a drama. That's never good, because we know in the end it's the action that suffers, and no one wants that.
This is the eighth film reviewed that featured Daniel Bernhardt in it. That's good for most among actors not in the DTVC Hall of Fame. That may change with all the Ice-T in the pipeline and the fact that I'm running out of Bernhardt to review. Anyway, in this he plays a Turk, which wasn't made clear immediately, so I thought maybe he was an Israeli. Boy, do I have egg on my face. He has like one or two decent fight scenes, and they weren't even that decent. For someone who kicks as much ass as he does, he needed to do it more here. Complete waste.
Armand Assante was solid as a man of Turkish decent growing up in Germany. Considering he grew up in New York City, it was amazing how well he made us believe he was at home in Berlin. I'm curious to see him play Nietzsche in When Nietzsche Wept, which I heard was a horrible movie. He's a great professional actor who always seems to turn in a quality performance, and it's kind of surprising he found his way into a stinker like this. According to imdb, he's always working, so it can't be that. It's possible that the part intrigued him, which, if that's true, would be really cool.
Whenever a film takes place in a non-English speaking country, there's always the issue of what to do about the language. The Pianist probably did the best job, having all the Polish characters speak English, and the Germans speak German, to keep them as foreigners. In other cases, like this movie, you have the deal where they want everyone to speak English, but then have the characters say occasional terms in their native tongue, like a Scheise! here or there. That makes no sense. I understand not putting the film in German in order to make it more accessible to the US, where you'd get the most cash; but it looks silly if they relapse randomly. It's like they're speaking English to each other as a second language. Any bad movie director looking to set a film in Europe, watch The Pianist.
I don't know what Udo Kier was doing in this. He plays the serial killer, which makes sense, because Kier likes playing villains; but he must be getting scripts for much better work. How could you not want Udo Kier in your film? Exactly. He's Udo Fucking Kier. Maybe he dug this gig because it was close to home in Germany, but that doesn't make any sense either, because imdb says he lives in LA. Maybe, since he's in this so little, he was shooting something else near by, and figured he'd make a little extra cash. God, I hope so.
The reality is, this is a snooze fest that'll first sedate you, then anger you when you realize you spent money to watch it. Don't be that guy or girl, don't spend money on it. Take the money you would've spent, and get yourself something nice: you deserve it.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479880/
I first saw this back around 2000 when a buddy and I were on a Dudikoff kick. This one stood out rather prominently at the video store, mostly because of its two-word title. While watching Virtual Assassin on Joe Bob Brigg's movie show that used to be on TNT, Joe Bob did a quick piece on Dudikoff before going to commercial. He went over a list of his films, and almost all of them were two-word titles. I think the best action titles either have two words, or are "The" something, like The Russian Specialist.
Bounty Hunters is about a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter played by Dudikoff who tries to steal a valuable bounty away from his former lover and fellow bounty hunter, played by the chick who was MacLeod's girlfriend after Tessa was killed. The guy they're catching steals a mobsters car that has a hooker in the trunk who they were going to kill because she saw something she shouldn't. Dudikoff wants to ditch the broad there, but his ex wants to help her. The mobsters track the girl down to Dudikoff, and kidnap a boy that hangs out with him so they can exchange. Now Dudikoff is in it bad, and it's going to take all he's got to pull this off.
This was pretty standard fare for a direct-to-video action flick. It was good, but not memorable, and there really wasn't much that stood out. The beginning is cool with Dudikoff in his armored van taking down this dude toting a flamethrower in his trailer. It's pretty off-beat, which plays to Dudikoff's strengths, but when it tries to get serious, it comes off forced and uncomfortable. I guess to use a popular phrase, it is what it is, nothing special.
Dudikoff turns in a solid performance. He's a great action hero, and always fun to watch. I think he's at his best when the role is meant to be played with some humor sprinkled in, and this one was definitely like that. There was a lot of him doing things like dodging creditors, or punching bigger guys and hurting himself more than them. One my favorite scenes came when he was going to a hip hop club in a bad part of town to get some information, found himself on the dance floor. He looked ridiculous. It obviously wasn't anywhere near as funny as Van Damme in Kickboxer sporting the thong tank-top, but it was enough. Keep rockin' it, Dudikoff.
Lisa Howard plays his love interest in both this and the sequel. I generally don't use her name, but instead call her the chick MacLeod hooked up with after Tessa died. She's actually hotter in this than she was on Highlander, and I'm not sure why. One thing that was pretty silly was how strong she was for someone her size. She was doing karate and throwing punches and kicks and whatnot, and guys were falling all over the place like they were being hit by Dolph. If you watch Cynthia Rothrock, her fights are more realistic for her size, with her using her opponent's mass against them to throw them off balance. As such, they don't look as ridiculous the ones in this film.
I don't know what else there really is to discuss in this film. There were some things that could've made it better. First, fix the fight scenes with the chick who hooked up with MacLeod after Tessa died to make them a tad more realistic, or to at least make it look like they were trying. Second, more explosions. The film started off big, then died down. They gotta keep that intensity throughout. Third, bad synthesizer music. Never hurts. Four, more bad guys in bad Italian suits with bad mullets. Five, and perhaps most important, a better head bad guy. This diminutive Italian mobster they had was a waste. Pony up the big cash and hire Brian Thompson or Bruce Payne.
If you're not a Dudikoff fan, you'll probably want to pass this on the rack of your local video store. If you are a Dudikoff fan, you've probably already seen this, so it doesn't matter. If your local TV station or Spike is airing it late at night or something, there's probably a lot worse you could be watching, so in that case why not give it a go. It's just really not worth spending too much cash on.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115737/
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
This movie was first recommended to me by Amazon after I bought or searched for something else. Like the Netflix recommendations, the Amazon ones aren't always great, and tend to be movies I want no part of. They'll also suggest a book for me based on something I bought for a class five years ago, which seems even dumber. I've always wondered why those futuristic movies with computers that anticipate our every thought don't use something like Amazon as a rubric. You could have a guy going into a GAP and getting sold a skirt because he let an ex-girlfriend use his card. The robot would insist on him taking it, and malfunction when he refused.
Deathline (or Redline if you get it on Netflix) is a dark futuristic tale about an arms dealer played by Rutger Hauer that's sold out and murdered by his partner, Mark Dacascos. They're working in Russia, and the Russian army decides he's better alive than dead, so they bring him back to life, and point him at Dacascos to eliminate him. Hauer likes this idea, but is distrustful of the Russians; he meets up with a woman that looks strikingly like the woman that helped sell him out with Dacascos, and they hook up. As they try to take Dacascos down, Dacascos is trying to solidify his ties in the Russian criminal underworld. Everything's a mess and everyone's trying to double-cross everyone else, and the only thing we can count on is Hauer is our man.
This was pretty cool. I liked their take on the future, where it's a Russia dominated by American consumerism. It was like a reverse Clockwork Orange, where the Russians spoke English as opposed to the Brits speaking with Russian slang words. In 1996-7 that view made sense, but now with the boom in Moscow, it's less likely. Just the same, it was a future that took more thought than some of the others in films I've reviewed here, like America only allowing families one child or a Boston with a Little Beirut. The action was really solid too, with Hauer and Dacascos turning in performances worthy of their names. And there were a lot of boobs.
Looking at his bio on imdb, this looks like one of the last films Hauer's done where he carries it as the lead action protagonist. Considering he's 64 years old, I can understand that. But I don't think he'd be as silly as Harrison Ford in Firewall. I think that's because Hauer might actually be cooler than Ford. Is that possible? Let's see: Ford has Blade Runner, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Last Crusade, and the Star Wars movies. Hauer also has Blade Runner, then he has The Hitcher, Blind Fury, and Nighthawks... okay, it looks like Ford has that one... unless you deduct points for Firewall, Air Force One, Six Days, Seven Nights, Hollywood Homicide, and all those Tom Clancy penis envy films... I guess Hauer's still the man.
This is the fourth Dacascos film I've done, and the second where he starred opposite DTVC Hall of Famer Rutger Hauer. The other was Hunt for Eagle One, which was a politically unaware sack of propaganda asscrack. Even though I've seen plenty of Dacascos' other, better films, I think I've done him a disservice by having the Hunt for Eagle Ones so prominently featured, with only China Strike Force and now this film as the only other representations of his work. Redline and his work on Iron Chef America have reminded me of just how dumb that is. He's put out a lot of stuff recently, and I'm looking forward to reviewing it in the future.
Hauer scores huge in this with the Italian actress Yvonne Scio. She's like 25 years his junior, and ten kinds of hot. How can you not dig that? And he doesn't come across like Van Damme with his "Don't you guys wish you were me?", nor does he come across like a Dudikoff with a "Man, I'm lucky to be hooking up with this chick", nor does he come across like the Kinski "Who wouldn't want to have sex with me? And if they don't they aren't worth my time, because I'll find someone else more willing." He comes off like "Yep, this'll work." I think I like all four approaches, but in this case, with the woman involved, Hauer's fits best. Maybe it's a European thing (even though only Dudkoff's not European of the four I listed.)
You gotta get this. It's pretty awesome. imdb lists it as Deathline, but Netflix has it as Redline, so look for both, but don't mistake it for Red Line, a film with Corey Feldman and Michael Madsen. Anyone who's a huge Rutger Hauer fan will love his role in this. He kicks tons of ass and beds some nice chicks. It's a shame that those days are probably done for him, but we'll always have these. And Dacascos is worth looking into more if you haven't already, and this film is a good starting point if you haven't.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0124349/
In April of 2002 Dolph had a press release saying he was quitting acting in favor of spending time with his kids. That was about 8 movies with him as the lead hero ago, and he has another two listed as in pre or post production. Good thing he pulled a rapper retirement, though I have to believe he really intended to retire, and people came up with ways he could make more films and still spend the requisite time with his family; or maybe his year at home really annoyed his family, and they were like "Dude, get out and work, you're killing us!" I know as a fan, I could never see myself telling Dolph to bounce, but I imagine if he was my dad, I'd probably want him to do something other than lay around the house.
Diamond Dogs takes place in Mongolia. Dolph plays Xander Ronson, an ex-Army dude down on his luck and owing money to the Mongolian mob (at least that's what the Netflix synopsis said. As far as we could tell, he owed money to three Mongolian judges, one of whom looked like Lance Ito). To make the cash, he agrees to take a dandy and his crew into the middle of nowhere to find some Buddhist artifact. There's a Russian who wants it too, and he's following Dolph's crew. Not that these guys are any match for Dolph, but they try. Anyway, the artifact might be cursed, and people are dropping like flies (or being killed in dangerous shoot-outs, which might be due to the bullets more than a curse), and after everyone's dead, Dolph hands it over to some monks and hits the road.
This might have been the weakest of Dolph's recent efforts, which doesn't mean it's horrible, just weaker than the others. It was filmed on hand-held digital cameras, so it looked like a Michael Moore documentary. I was expecting Moore to ask some yak herders what they thought of Bush's foreign policy. The plot was kind of ridiculous, which made it funnier, but when it dragged in between the action scenes, my friends' ADD kicked in a little bit. Usually Dolph can overcome this just through his sheer Dolphness, so it's a telling sign on just how slow the plot was.
About Dolph, he still brought it. He's sporting the buzzcut, which I'm hoping isn't an age thing. If his Swedish mane is thinning that could be bad for all of us. He's still as buff as ever, and still kicks as much ass. He'll be 51 this fall, and he has two more movies in the pipeline, at least, with him as the lead role in both. I can forgive a slightly poorer movie when I know he's got so many better ones out there. I'm looking forward to the next one, Direct Contact, even though I have no idea when it's supposed to come out.
One area where he hasn't lost a step is in the woman department. He juggles one Mongolian chick chilling in some outpost he takes the crew to, and the adopted daughter of the guy who hired him for the mission. He's got the second one so bad, he just ditches her at the bar they're hanging out at and goes back to his room. Sure enough, she shows up, and like he did with Tia Carrere in Showdown in Little Tokyo, lifts up the sheet and turns over to let her in. Twenty years later, and he's still got the same magic. Awesome.
A dude named Raicho Vasilev plays the Russian guy leading the competing expedition/bad guys. He's been in like seven movies I've reviewed or plan to review (In Hell, Out for a Kill, Submerged, The Mechanik, and Until Death, plus this one, and Killing Grounds, which will be coming in a couple weeks.) He's a big time That Guy, but I'm not sure he deserves a tag like a Norbert Weisser. Chances are if I put a tag for him, people would click it, not knowing who the hell he is, and it'd just be a mess. As it is I need to clean up the tags anyway, because for a few posts I went tag happy.
The curse thing was stupid. All that happened was what happened in every other Dolph film: he was the last one standing. How is that due to a curse? Also, I think it'd've seemed more believable if people died in their bathtubs or painting their houses. Being shot by a rival group after the same artifact isn't a curse, it's a statistical probability. The other thing was how the monks knew about the curse, even though the curse was set up so anyone reading about it on the parchment with the artifact would be cursed. Is there a pamphlet detailing the curse that the monks get during training? Did someone risk his life to read the curse so they could make the pamphlet?
If you're a Dolph fan, this is a must, even though he's done better. You just can't not watch a Dolph film, especially when you're as huge a fan as I am. If you aren't all about Dolph like me and my friends are, probably skip it. I'm not even sure it'll make it's way into Dolph Fest 2008, in fact I'm sure it won't. Maybe that's a good guide to go by for a non-Dolph fan: if it won't make a Dolph Fest, it's probably worse than I'm letting on.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0858433/
Well, this is it, the 200th post on the DTVC Connoisseur. For milestone posts, like 100 and 150, I usually reserve them for Dolph Lundgren movies. I was going to do the same for this one, until a fellow bad movie fan, and owner of the site Movies in the Attic (there's a link to it in my "Other Great Bad Movie Sites" section), asked me why I haven't reviewed Gymkata. It was a great point, and I couldn't really give him a good answer. It's a classic, and one I've seen multiple times, but for some reason I never considered it for the site. I guess it just slipped my mind. Well, here it is, the DTVC's 200th post.
Gymkata stars gymnastics great Kurt Thomas (not the journeyman power forward) as a gymnastics champ recruited by the US government to be trained so he can compete in a centuries old ritual called The Game in a small khanate called Parmistan. The Game involves the entrant running through an obstacle course while Richard Norton and a bunch of faceless foot soldiers try to kill him or her. If someone wins, he or she gets one wish granted. The US want Thomas to enter so he can win the wish and have the US set up a Star Wars command post there. Things get complicated when the khan's daughter comes to the US to help Thomas train and they fall in love. The khan had planned on her marrying Norton, and Norton's not pleased. He's got a coup planned for after the game too. Thomas will have to use all of his martial arts and gymnastics prowess if he wants to get out of this alive, let alone get the girl.
I don't need to tell you how awesome this is. It wouldn't be post 200 if it wasn't. If you're a MSTie, you're probably familiar with Gymkata, because Joel, Mike, or the 'bots will shout out the title whenever people in the movie they're watching engage in fisticuffs. The movie lives up to their constant usage, as it's that silly. Probably the funniest is the seemingly random placement of gymnastics equipment so Thomas can utilize it to dispatch of his foes. In one scene he finds a bar spanning two buildings in an alley. Hilarity ensues as he spins a few times, then somehow kicks the guys chasing him while rotating on the bar vertically. Later, while fighting his way through a town used as an insane asylum, he finds a concrete pillar with two metal handles on the top, making a perfect pommel horse. He does flair after flair, kicking nutcase after nutcase that charges him. Love it.
There's more to it than the silly marriage of martial arts and gymnastics. The khan is some goofy old man. I looked him up on imdb, and one of his recent credits came on an episode of Even Stevens, where he played "Old Guy #2". Awesome. He was also a former wrestler and body builder, and I mean former, considering he's 86 years old now. If you were going to remake Gymkata now, you'd probably cast Jerry Stiller in the role of the khan. When I think of a khan ruling a small kingdom in Central Asia, I think of Jerry Stiller. I'm serious, I do.
American Kickboxer's John Barrett is in this as Gomez, another competitor, and pal of Thomas. The idea is that a lot of countries want the Parmistan land to start a Star Wars base, and they have people like Gomez trying to beat Thomas. Thing is: Gomez sounds American too. Is he from Canada? They don't say, but the idea of Canada wanting to beat us for a chance to start a Star Wars base is beyond ludicrous, it's fantastic. Why not, right? Also, Barrett is much more likable as Gomez than he is as BJ Quinn in American Kickboxer 1, for what it's worth.
Kurt Thomas was one of the greatest figures in Gymnastics history, but due to Carter's boycott of the 1980 Olympics, he missed his shot at a gold medal. I understand why he made the boycott decision, though, despite how it cut Olympic dreams like Thomas' short. The USSR was so prosperous in 1980, especially with all the cash it was dumping into war in Afghanistan, that if American Olympic athletes went over there, they'd be too tempted to defect, like Cuban ones do here. He was just trying to save our athletes so we'd have them for future games. Thomas' loss is our gain, with this one attempt into the foray of bad action films. Gymkata may be one of the best things to come out of The Cold War.
Richard Norton is too sweet for words, and he's great here as the lead baddie. This is only the second film of his reviewed on the DTVC, but fans of bad movies, especially action and martial arts, are very familiar with his work. As I review more Cynthia Rothrock films, Norton's sure to get more run as well, considering he's done about ten movies with her. At 58, it'll be interesting to see how many films he does in the future, but in 1985, he was 35, and right in his prime. Even though he's a baddie, this is easily one of his best roles. The only drawback was how little he's in it. Also of note: he trained Thomas for his fight scenes. I wonder how that felt when he had to have Thomas beat him for the final fight.
If you've never seen Gymkata, and you consider yourself a bad movie honk, what are you waiting for? This is required viewing. Throw it on the top of your Netflix queue immediately. I'd only buy it if you have a bad movie collection, and in that case, it should be one of your staples. Gymkata is a classic, and if you're just starting out in the world of bad movies, I couldn't think of a better starting place. It's just too many kinds of awesome.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089243/
I first came across this film when I was looking for more Gary Busey on Netflix. When the cast list had Lorenzo Lamas and Roy Scheider on it as well, I had to check it out. Busey and Lamas were great together back in Latin Dragon, and throwing a Scheider in the mix never hurts.
The Rage has Lamas as an FBI agent tracking a serial killer played by Busey. Busey actually heads a band of serial killers, and they're killing a lot of people. Scheider is Lamas' boss, but after a botched raid on a cult compound a la Waco, Lamas has leverage over Scheider, which Scheider doesn't like. So Scheider calls in a female profiler to give Lamas a hard time, and of course, as they're working the case, they fall in love. As they get closer to catching the Buse-inator, Scheider always jumps in with his red tape and stops them. David Carradine guest stars.
This was good, but I'm not really sure how good and why. It definitely wasn't anything to take seriously, by any means. It was a big old pile of suck, but a funny one. Busey was pretty scary as the killer, but that's to be expected. Scheider is decent as the heel, but that's to be expected too. And Lamas was... well, Lamas, and I guess we had to expect that as well. The movie starts first with Busey and his girlfriend killing some poor family camping by the road. Then Lamas stakes out a guy he thinks is the killer, and chases him all through town, crashing into a sporting event and flying through the bleachers. The movie just gets sillier from there, culminating with a flaming Busey being expelled from an exploding boat.
Lamas was great here. My favorite scene was probably when he was on the verge of tears talking about how horrible the FBI had become: "Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity... those words used to mean something!" That's just too awesome. He seems to have a way of taking these horrible scripts and making them still horrible, but cool, because they have Lorenzo Lamas in them. I wonder if he talks to his agent and the guy or gal's like: "Yeah, I just got a bunch of scripts here where you play good cop, and everyone is making your job really hard because of that." and Lamas is like "How much? Yeah, why not, I got some time off from Bold."
This movie was pretty Abusive. He wasn't in it enough for me, but when he was in it, he was great. In one scene, he tells a guy working under him: "I'm gonna put my foot so far up your ass, you're gonna taste my toes! Would you like that? Do you wanna TASTE!" It was so awesome. He had to have ad libbed that part about the wanting a TASTE, because I couldn't see anyone actually writing that. It was so Abusive, which made it all the more amazing. I must admit the DTVC has been rather bereft of Busey for the most part. This is only his sixth film, which will put him one behind a non Hall of Famer in Daniel Bernhardt. I admit, with the massive catalog of Buse-age out there, this is a travesty, and we here at the DTVC are looking to rectify this situation immediately.
The late Roy Scheider pops up in here as kind of a second baddie working against Lamas, but not with Busey. This is his third film on the DTVC, and in each of his roles, he's been a totally different character. In Peacekeeper, the Dolph great with Montel Williams, He was the president. In Dracula III, he plays a blind cardinal telling Jason Scott Lee he's fired. Here he's an FBI higher-up with no morals and a vendetta against Lamas. I'm not saying I didn't like him, but I would've preferred his role to have been played by Stephen J. Cannell, Donald "Dutch" Dixon from Renegade.
David Carradine is in this for like five minutes. He plays a Vietnam vet housed in the same mental ward that Busey and his boys were before they escaped and started killing people. This celebrity cameo was about as superfluous as one you might find in a Hip Hop video. I couldn't figure out why he was there. Did he owe a favor to the director? Did he lose a bet and this was the payment? Was he in town shooting Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, and someone asked if he had a moment? I don't know, I just gotta believe Carradine's got better things to do with his time, but who am I?
If you're a Busey or a Lamas fan, you should give this a shot. If you're not a Busey or a Lamas fan, I'd say give it a shot too, but I you may not like it as much. This is a pretty bad yet silly film, and with the inclusion of two DTVC Hall of Famers, it should have enough material for a bad movie night. I'd throw it on your Netflix queue, or rent it on a special night at your local video store, like get one get one half off.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117433/
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
After having seen Mutant, I had a craving for more Wings Hauser in a zombie film, and fortunately, I was in luck with this movie. Considering it also had Brion James, this had all the makings of being superior to Mutant, and I looked on it with much anticipation.
Nightmare at Noon has Wings as an entertainment lawyer taking a vacation with his wife in their Cadillac RV. They pick up hitchhiker Bo Hopkins, and head into a sleepy little town for some food. Unbeknownst to them, an albino Brion James has earmarked this town for an experiment where the drinking water is contaminated, turning the town into homicidal zombies. They try to escape, but Brion has also set up some device that turns off people's cars if they drive by it. Now they team up with George Kennedy, the town's sheriff, and his daughter, to get to the bottom of this and eventually take Brion down.
This was a pretty solid film. The zombies were kind of weak, and they didn't eat people, they tried to kill them by conventional means, like with guns and whatnot. There were plenty of ludicrous explosions: one had a dirt bike jump a van or something and explode into flames; another had Kennedy getting set on fire and jumping into a van that worked as Brion's command post, causing it to explode; and at the end there's a helicopter chase thrown in for the sole purpose of blowing one of them up. It also wanted to give this Western element, from the showdowns in the abandoned town squares, to the actual showing of High Noon at a local drive-in where our heroes confronted Brion and his men. Whatever it was, Nightmare at Noon is just a ridiculous pile of silliness that gave me and my friends tons of enjoyment.
Wings was good in this. He always had his mouth open, even when he wasn't speaking. I don't know what that was. I couldn't tell if he thought it was a cool acting effect, or if that's what he does in real life. I've seen a bunch of his films, and I can't remember if he did that in all of them. I'll be looking for it now. I'm debating going back and watching all his other ones just to see if he never closes his mouth. Has anyone else ever noticed this?
Bo Hopkins tries to throw us a curve here with his classic type-cast as a sheriff. We think, because he's a hitchhiker, there's no way he could be a sheriff too, but we're wrong. He was a sheriff before he ran off to chase a dude who raped a girl or something and was let off due to a technicality. After George Kennedy dies, Bo slips into his most comfortable role, and takes over as this town's sheriff. How did this guy get into doing sheriffs? It seems like that's all he does. Even when he's not doing them, he is.
Brion. Brion, Brion, Brion. Let me count the ways. Does it get any more amazing? This is the second film I've seen him in as an albino (the first: Virtual Assassin aka Cyberjack, with DTVC Hall of Famer Michael Dudikoff), and I must say, it never gets old. Brion never gets old. It's a shame he passed in 1999, because he still had so much more to give us. How many more albinos could he have played? We'll never know.
I dug George Kennedy in this film. I'll always remember him fondly for those Breath Assure commercials. Is that stuff still around? There was an MTV Music Awards about ten years ago where Jim Carey thought he'd be funny and say about not kissing Will Smith: "One word, two syllables: Breath Assure." I was with a bunch of people, and I only knew a few of them, and when I said: "Breath Assure is two words, three syllables, you moron!" no one laughed, and some of them looked at me funny. I learned a valuable lesson that day: no one likes a Grammar Hammer. Anyway, I digress.
Yeah, this is a good deal. The copy I got from Netflix was listed as the "2003 version". I'm serious. I'm not sure who the pretentious bastard was that decided a crummy zombie film from the late eighties needed to be updated, but it happened. I've never seen the older version, so I can't say which is better. Hopefully they're both hot. This is a fun romp and worth the cash. Give it a spin.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100261/
I can't remember where I first heard about this film. It may have been through a Netflix search, or looking over Christopher Lambert's bio on imdb, or a friend having seen it before. Anyway, I saw it with some friends recently. It made an interesting double feature paired with Wings Hauser and Brion James in Nightmare at Noon.
The Target takes place in South Africa and is about a money launderer played by Dennis Hopper who decides to testify against a bad ass killer crime boss, and needs protection. So he hires hit man Christopher Lambert. Not a bad choice. The two escape the city with Hopper's daughter, leading to a 45 minute interlude filled with Hopper doing tribal dances, fishing with Lambert, and telling goats he wants to drink their urine for its psychedelic properties. After the interlude Lambert has a showdown with the baddie, only to be hit in the head with a rock and find himself chained to a tree and about to be set on fire above a pyre of burning dolls and stuffed animals. Surprising no one, Hopper saves him, then confesses that as a young gangster he killed Lambert's parents.
What? Can someone tell me what's going on here? Even Netflix had no idea. Their synopsis read that Lambert and Hopper were adversaries. That definitely wasn't the case. Hopper was almost Lambert's surrogate dad. It started off all right, but the extended interlude was ridiculous. No action, just a series of things that, I can only assume, were dream situations the director wanted to put Dennis Hopper and Christopher Lambert in. How else do you explain Hopper telling a goat he wants to drink its urine for the psychedelic properties? Or the tribal dance? Or the paternal scene of Hopper showing Lambert how to fish? It was just randomly inserted into the film, and though funny, also dragged on and frustrated me.
Even though Lambert gets top billing, this is more of a Hopper vehicle. Lambert's felled right before the interlude with a serious bullet wound, and is out of action for a chunk of it. Some of the scenes of him dispatching goons and driving recklessly were cool. Probably the best was just watching him try to make sense of Hopper. They'd never worked together before, and haven't since. His reaction to Hopper asking the goat if he can drink its urine for the psychedelic properties seems genuine. Looking on imdb, Lambert hasn't done any big action roles since Day of Wrath. He's done a couple things in Europe and had a small role in the indie hit Southland Tales. Come on Lamby baby, give us another bad actioner!
Hopper was too sweet for words here. First off, he wears this obnoxious wig for a good portion of the film. He matches the wig by applying Grecian Formula to his beard. For some reason, when he loses the wig, the Grecian Formula wears off. If I were them, I'd sue the makers of this film for saying their product sucked. Anyway, beyond the look, he has another scene where he gets drunk and has Lambert drive him and two hookers out to his wife's grave. He's like stumbling over the headstone introducing them to her. Then he throws up in Lambert's car, finds out his daughter was kidnapped, and sobers up. Then you've got the tribal dancing, the fishing with Lambert, and, of course, the asking a goat if he could drink its urine for the psychedelic properties. That's gotta be one of the greatest things I've ever seen done in a movie. Who thinks of that? Whoever it is, I've got to shake their hand, because that's awesome.
Hopper's daughter is played by the chick from Troy and National Treasure. She's hot, German, and stars in bad movies so her English isn't an issue. She's barely listed on the imdb cast, and I almost forgot to mention her in the post. How she went from barely credited in this to a major role in Troy is anyone's guess. Or, it might just stem from the fact that she's extremely hot. Out of the four movies, Troy, this, and the two National Treasures, I'd say Troy is number one, then this, then the two Cage pain rides.
Out of all the weird things in this film, including the part where Hopper asks a goat if he can drink its urine for the psychedelic properties, one scene stood out in my mind. The daughter's girlfriend is captured by the baddies and beaten to death. The video is sent to Hopper to scare him. In the video, the captors force the guy to eat spaghetti with chop sticks. What? Then the video ends and Hopper's like "What, they make a guy eat some spaghetti then beat him to death. What's this go to do with me?" Then they tell him it's the boyfriend, and he looks distraught. Made no sense at all.
Is it worth it to rent this just to see Hopper ask a goat if he can drink its urine for the psychedelic properties? I don't know, you tell me. I got it on Netflix. You may see it as either The Piano Player or The Target, but on Netflix it's definitely listed as the latter. I can say this about it, though: other than Hopper asking a goat if he can drink its urine for the psychedelic properties, the bulk of this is a snooze fest.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0293509/
I found this little gem doing a search of Miles O'Keefe on Netflix. Some friends and I watched it while waiting for some other friends to get out of work so we could get dinner together. There aren't many better ways to pass the time than catching a Miles O'Keefe flick, that's what I always say.
Relentless II: Dead On picks up where part one left off-- at least I have to take part two's word for it, because I never saw part one, and all I know of it I saw in flashbacks they showed me in part two. Anyway, this detective played by an Italian That Guy is having a bad time at work and in his marriage. That's when serial killer Miles O'Keefe shows up and starts offing people. Now he's in it. Then this federal agent who looks like any number of other actors depending on the angle we see him at is getting in the Italian guy's way. There's more to this serial killer and his victims than meets the eye, and it's up to the Italian guy to do what he does... or else! (Don't know why the exclamation point.)
This was a pretty poor movie, as you can imagine from the plot synopsis above. Just the same, as a bad movie, there was plenty to make fun of in it. Right off the bat, Miles O'Keefe lures his first victim, the guy who played La Flors in Mallrats, into a garage, where he tries to strangle him with a large chain. The struggle that ensued was hilarious. Then there's the detectives boss, who for some reason is always working out when the detective goes to talk with him. He'll see him at the gym, at the track, in the pool. Not only that, but the boss is played by Capt. Dale Dye, senior military adviser on Saving Private Ryan et al. Maybe the best came when Miles disguised himself as a cleaning lady to escape the cops after killing some dudes who accosted him at his apartment.
Speaking of Miles, this was a pretty solid performance. He has some great scenes as a killer, and even better ones sitting in an ice cold bath having flashbacks about his killing. For a brief moment, he channels his inner Van Damme, showing off his bare buttcheeks. My friend's wife wasn't as enamored with that as we'd have thought. The biggest disappointment in his performance wasn't really his fault: he doesn't speak at all until the very end, and then he speaks with a horrible Russian accent. One of Miles' great charms is his great Tennessee spiced Southern drawl. Why not give us that? I know he's supposed to be Russian, but was the movie that good that another drop in continuity would've mattered that much? Someone dropped the ball there.
Leo Rossi is the Italian That Guy who plays the cop. His imdb picture is a bit deceptive, but like every other That Guy, the moment you see him in anything, you'll know who he is. Throughout the film I'd had this feeling he'd played Corey Haim's dad in something, and found out it was in Fast Getaway. Duh! Of course! Then the question came: how did that film not turn up on my Netflix searches of both Corey Haim and Cynthia Rothrock? It's not out on DVD! Can you believe that? They just put out a two-disc special edition of that Jessica Alba stinker The Eye, but they can't put a classic like Fast Getaway out? Why not package it with part two and sell the pair for $10? Maybe put it in a Corey Haim boxed set?
Ray Sharkey is the actor who looks like myriad other actors depending on the angle you see him at. We had Paul Riser, Robert Downey Jr., Jon Stewart, and Scott Baio, just to name four. People like this make watching bad movies even better, because we don't need to think as hard to come up with jokes: we can just reference various movies the people they look like have been in. Sadly, Sharkey died in 1993 from AIDS, which he probably contracted through a dirty needle, considering he had a bad heroin and coke addiction. His imdb bio lists a bunch of episodes of TV cop shows that I must've seen, but I don't remember him in any of them. I must've thought he was someone else.
Meg Foster plays the Italian That Guy's estranged wife. She's always struck me as the Poor Man's Kirstie Alley. In the Piper hit Immortal Combat she played the head of a corporation that made guys immortal. She was seducing them first, before someone else killed them. You probably remember her as the evil queen in Masters of the Universe, a Dolph Lundgren classic. She's also worked with Don "The Dragon" Wilson, Wings Hauser, Gary Busey, and Peter Weller (Future Kick, The Wind, Carny, and Leviathan, respectively). I haven't checked, but that might be a record for co-starring with DTVC Hall of Famers. That's probably a better thing to hang one's hat on than being the Poor Man's Kirstie Alley.
This was plenty fun to make fun of, but I'm not sure that alone is worth spending money on it for. If you've got Netflix, and you're a big Miles O'Keefe fan like I am, throw it on your queue. If not, you may want to pass. I'd grab it if you see it in a $.99 bargain bin, but I wouldn't pay much more for it than that, unless, again, you dig Miles. We'll call it the Miles Exception.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101672/
I first saw this film way back, probably not long after it came out. I remembered it as good, but nothing really special. Recently, though, it was brought to my attention by a fellow bad movie fan (his site, Movies in the Attic, is listed on the links portion titled "Other Great Bad Movie Sites") that I needed to put a review for this gem on the blog as soon as possible. I decided to pop it on my Netflix queue and give it another whirl.
American Kickboxer 2 doesn't pick up where 1 left off-- in fact it has nothing to do with 1. It's about a woman who has her daughter kidnapped and her husband, played by the cop who wanted to eat instead of help Jerry cross the street when Crazy Joe Davola was outside, is not the kind of man to go out and get her back. For that she calls in the two men that might be the child's real father: a cop with a shitty disposition, and the all too awesome Evan Lurie. At first they don't get along, which makes sense because the cop's an asshole and Lurie shouldn't have to put up with that; but later they form a bond forged in all the fights they have in bringing their daughter home.
This movie's straight up awesome. Where the first one's a sports movie, this one's a total actioner. The plot's simple, and what twist there was, we not only knew it was coming, but were stoked it in no way hindered the great fight scenes. Another improvement over the original was in those fight scenes: the fight choreography far surpassed the silly bouts in the ring in part 1. There's very little substitution for quality martial arts. This is an all around solid film.
Evan Lurie is the man. He's one of my new favorite action stars, even though he's been in very little and it's all pretty obscure. He sports this power mane of a mullet that is so sweet Andre Agassi would have to give it a thumbs up. You can tell Lurie understands the power of his hair, because he only ties it back in a ponytail when he has to fight, knowing that in tying it back it's as if he's caging a beautiful White Bengal Tiger. As an actor he does a great job speaking in a monotone voice, tossing in the occasional sarcastic remark, and making sure to show off his too-sweet pectorals when the time calls for it. How this guy hasn't had more and bigger roles is beyond me.
On the other hand, his partner in this, played by Dale Cook, is an ass. For some reason he, instead of Lurie, is on the cover. I'm not saying Dale Cook himself is an asshole, I'm saying the character he was portraying was. He constantly made life difficult for Lurie by getting into fights at the wrong times and having no control over his temper. At the end he became somewhat redeemable, but only because Lurie gave him his stamp of approval, and for me if he's cool enough for Lurie, then begrudgingly, he's cool enough for me.
The head baddie is played by That Guy Ted Markland. I don't remember him in anything, but see that he's guest starred in tons of shows I've watched before, so I probably recognize him from those. Then, the mother of the daughter who's kidnapped's husband is played by the That Guy from the Seinfeld episode where Newman needs Kramer to go to court to get him out of a ticket. The guy plays the cop that Seinfeld asks at Monk's diner to help him cross the road so Crazy Joe Davola won't kill him. That guy's dead now, having suffered a heart attack in 2001.
The fight choreography is stellar in this, as I mentioned above. There isn't a lot of guys putting their arms up waiting for the other guys to hit into their blocks. The scenes between Lurie and Cook might be the best ones, which makes sense, considering they're the two most seasoned fighters starring in the film. I make a big deal about the choreography, because many films from this time period mail this aspect of the movie in, especially if the film's set for a DTV release.
I feel like if I go into too much depth about such an amazing piece of cinema, I may ruin some of the awesome factor for anyone who hasn't seen it before. Go out and rent this, or bump it to the top of your Netflix queue, and prepare to be wowed. You won't be disappointed.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0164336/
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
When I was younger, it never crossed my mind as silly that a movie would be called "Anything: Part 1". All movies are technically a part one. It takes a sequel to make that official, but usually it's up to said sequel to distinguish itself from its predecessor with a "part 2". Anyway, this movie actually is packaged as American Kickboxer 1, but since imdb listed it simply as American Kickboxer, I felt both titles would be apt to head the blog entry.
American Kickboxer 1 is about the middleweight kickboxing champ, BJ Quinn. He's a mess, and wins a title fight under dubious circumstances. At the same time this young dandy of a Frenchman is climbing the ranks and wants a title shot. They both attend a party, and fisticuffs ensue. A drunk Quinn decks an innocent bystander trying to break up the fight, killing him. He luckily only gets twelve months in jail, cut to ten with good behavior, and he leaves prison to enter a world dominated by the French dandy. His life spirals out of control, until he gets it together after getting his ass kicked by the Frenchman at another party. With the help of a former rival, he gets back on his feet and bests the Frenchman in the ring.
I must stress before I go further that this is not an action film. It's a sports film, closer to Rocky, than it is to Kickboxer. Our hero never ends up fighting his way out of an alley, or escaping baddies in a car chase. This is about a gifted athlete who loses his confidence and tries to regain it. There were some cool allusions to Raging Bull, which I think is the best sports movie (after Pentathlon, of course!), but for the most part this was a poor Rocky retread of a plot.
The protagonist, BJ Quinn, was not at all likable. I'm not the only one who's said that, as a dude on imdb echoed that sentiment. He killed a man with his fists, which, considering he's a trained kickboxer, make that assault with a deadly weapon. He may not have intended to kill him, but involuntary manslaughter doesn't sound like too far fetched a charge. He should've done a few years at least, and he was upset he got twelve years. I think the writers wanted it to be like the French dandy had a hand in his conviction, because he lied in court, but it didn't come across that way. Quinn was guilty whether the Frenchman lied or not. They should've devised a way to have Quinn attacking the dandy and accidentally killing the guy: something that would've actually been the dandy's fault.
The dandy was awesome. I've talked about the Destro Effect in earlier posts, which stems from my childhood when I always thought COBRA was way cooler than GI JOE, and I wanted them to win, even though they never would. A scriptwriter needs to develop baddies in such a way that we never root for them. Because he failed, the director tried things like putting him in weird outfits, which worked somewhat, but not enough. My favorite scene with the dandy came when he entered the room and headbutted a gym locker shut. Awesome. I call him a dandy based on his fighting attire of spandex, a Speedo over that, and a tassel skirt over that. He was a dandy, but he was cool.
There was a guy in this named Ted le Plat, who played a bad sportswriter, and this guy looked almost identical to Owen Wilson. It was so uncanny I had to look him up on imdb. Strangely enough, he stopped making movies right around the time Bottle Rocket came out, which was Owen Wilson's first film role. Coincidence? Probably...
One of the greatest joys of being alive is The Mullet. It is a thing of pure beauty. And this film is chock full of them. You've got the I Just Got a Job as a Roadie for Styx This Summer Poodle Cut with matching mustache. Then there's the Southeast Asian Spiked Ape Drape (though honestly, it was a kind of weak representation: I'd give it a 5.9 in Mulletude). And most prevalent is the Total Business in Front Party in Back Beaver Pelt, again, in most cases, with matching mustache. I'd recommend this film on Mullet Watching alone.
The music in this great too. I think I mentioned in the Rage and Honor post that I love the synthesizer, and this film gives me that. Also, it has two great songs: there's a Monster Ballad that plays in the background of a flashback montage; then there's an original hit from some Journey cover band. With all the crap movies in theaters today giving me tons of overdone pretentious string orchestra stuff, it's nice to know I can go to the well with something like American Kickboxer 1. There's a Sam Adams commercial where a guy says "Drink that and know that's what beer's supposed to taste like." Well I say watch American Kickboxer 1 and know that's what movies are supposed to sound like.
If you haven't seen this, you need to. This is the kind of film that got us bad movie honks into pouring through bargain bins at local video stores and looking up names like Joe Estevez on imdb. Again, I must reiterate that this is not an action film. Just the same, it's tons of fun, and well worth a night in with a bunch of friends.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101325/