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.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back in Action (1993)

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I got this on VHS at the same time I picked up Tough and Deadly. I would've reviewed it sooner, but Mr. Kenner at Movies in the Attic insisted I fit in The King of the Kickboxers instead, so we did. Funny thing happened along the way: I think Back in Action might be the better movie...

Back in Action has DTVC Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper as a cop organizing a huge drug bust. Problem is, Billy Blanks' sister is dating one of the dealers, the dealer brings her along, and Blanks shows up to get her back. Well, he attacks one of the guards, the guy's gun goes off, and in the ensuing shootout Piper's partner is killed, and the main baddie thinks his dealer's girlfriend tipped off the cops. So the baddies want to kill the sister, Blanks wants to kill the baddies for wanting to kill her, and Piper doesn't know what to do with Blanks while he's trying to get revenge for his fallen partner.

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Now this is what I'm talking about. Pure awesomeness. Constant action, great fights, and two stars who more than live up to their billing. It just doesn't get any better. First off, Piper was good as always, but the material really let him be him, which is all we ever want. Forget the plot, just let him go for it. Then Blanks comes in just to let you know, kicking ass and taking names. He and Piper have a knock down drag 'em out fight that made me think of They Live. I wouldn't say it's that good, but it was close. And finally, there was no lull. At most there was maybe ten minutes of down time between scenes. I'm not sure what is so hard for other movie makers out there to understand about this: just fucking go for it! We don't watch these films for plot, character development, etc., we watch them for the kick ass factor, and Back in Action certainly had it.

This might be Piper's best ever. Okay, second best after Hell Comes to Frog Town, and if you're counting They Live, it falls down to three, but it's a very solid three. I've never had a complaint with Piper's performance in any movie he's done. No one brings it like he does, period. What I usually take issue with is how Piper is used, whether the part isn't big enough, the character isn't cool enough, or the plot hinders us from getting the Piper we all want when we load one of his films into our VCR or DVD player. Back in Action fulfilled the promise the front of the box made when it listed Roddy Piper as one of its stars, and for that alone it was amazing.

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This is three Billy Blanks films in row that ruled, and I'd say out of all of them, while this is the best movie, his best performance was in The King of the Kickboxers. That was one of the best baddies of all time. Here he flubbed some lines, sounded over rehearsed at moments, and his character was kind of weird the way he didn't respect his sister early in the film. Still, he kicked major ass, and he and Piper were great together again, even though they were more of a team in Tough and Deadly. We're going to definitely work on getting more of his films up, Talons of the Eagle next on the list.

Another thing that always makes a great film is a great baddie, and this one had it in Nigel Bennett. As far as I know, the only other film of his we've reviewed is Phase IV, which also had Dean Cain and Brian Bosworth. This guy works in the Julian Sands/Bruce Payne mold, which makes sense, because he's from England as well, Wolverhampton to be exact. He must be excited, because his Wolves look like they might stay up in the Premiership this season.

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I do have one complaint, and maybe it's not so much a complaint as much as it's an observation, or an overall issue with action films. The two female leads are kidnapped by the main baddie and used as bait for Piper and Blanks. Classic scenario we're all familiar with. Also classic is when the baddies don't restrain either captives, allowing them to pick up weapons, etc., and kill the baddies holding them hostage. This was even more egregious here, because at one point they caught Piper and taped his wrists to the arm of the chair they had him in. It's ridiculous. Do these bad guys not understand why the police handcuff them when they're arrested? It's not because of tradition, or because it's just something they've always done. They do it so it's harder for the people they're holding captive to attack them and escape. Somehow we're supposed to believe criminal masterminds are completely unfamiliar with this concept?

Anyway, that's just me poking fun at the film, a film that otherwise was simply... awesome. If you haven't seen it, get it anyway you can. As far as I know VHS is the only way to go, which is too bad, because a movie like this belongs on DVD; though I kind of like it on VHS for the nostalgia factor. This is what you want when you go for a Piper film, and Blanks is just as good. An all around great flick.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109195/

8 comments:

  1. This looks great! I'll be sure to check it out.

    Looks like there is a PAL DVD, and it's super cheap - GBP 2.59 with free worldwide shipping: http://tinyurl.com/2cqk3yx

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  2. Man, you Aussie's get to have all the fun... or can us Americans do PAL? I just got done watching Battlefield Earth for tomorrow's post, and I feel dirty. Thank you for reminding me I just reviewed a much better one only a couple hours ago.

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  3. It's a British auction but we are on the same TV format as them. You guys do NTSC but as far as I am aware, at least out here, all modern TVs and modern DVD players can handle both PAL and NTSC. If a DVD is region locked that is another matter, but a region-free PAL disc I would hope you can play on a regular DVD player in the USA!

    Keen to see what you think of the sequal 'Tough and Deadly' as well, though that appears to be in the same boat; VHS in the states and DVD everywhere else.

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  4. Yeah, why is that? No metric system, no soccer, and none of the cool movies on DVD. I'll make a deal with you, you guys take Disney World, and we'll take Tough and Deadly's sequel on DVD. I think that's fair.

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  5. I'll take King Of The Kickboxers in sheer martial arts but in terms of explosions and buddy/buddy action Back In Action is superior. Both films are highly recommended though.

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  6. I'm watching this on Saturday. I also bought this movie and Tough and Deadly at the same time. I can't wait, Tought & Deadly was awesome...and you (among others) say this one is better. Can. Not. Wait.

    Are there people getting run over with cars?

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  7. You really can't go wrong with Billy Blanks and Roddy Piper. I hope you enjoyed it. I don't remember if people get run over with cars, but I do remember it being totally awesome.

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