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.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Terminator Woman (1993)

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I first saw this during the movie block after WCW's Monday Night Nitro on TNT. That would've been about 12 years ago, and over time, I remembered the story, but who was in it was all jumbled up in my mind. I believe there was a Rowdy Roddy Piper film on that same night-- probably Immortal Combat-- and I ended up confusing the two, and after I tracked down that latter film, realized it wasn't this. Anyway, fast forward to now, when I find this great action movie site, Fist of the B-List, run by Karl Brezdin, and he's reviewing it. It was so great. I couldn't believe it had Jerry Trimble and Karen Sheperd in it and I'd forgotten that, but it didn't matter, it was mine now.

Terminator Woman has Trimble and Sheperd as two cops escorting a prisoner to Africa for extradition. He knows where $100 million in gold is stashed and his old boss, Michel Qissi (who also co-wrote and directed) wants it. What he does is kidnaps Sheperd, using a woman who does some white slavery work for him, thinking Trimble'll trade Sheperd for the guy. What he doesn't know is Sheperd is no damsel in distress, and his goons get more than they bargained for.

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This is pretty sweet. Even the awkward dialog between Trimble and Sheperd about some mixed-gender karate competition kind of worked. Then you had the excellent martial arts scenes, which really delivered on all the talent, some various explosions and jump kicks to guys on dirt bikes, and Qissi as a fun baddie. My one qualm was a very out-of-place scene where Qissi kills the kid who's helping Trimnble's sister-- after he had already taken out her eye some time in the past. Though nothing is shown, it was an element of brutality in an otherwise very fun and offbeat movie. Had the rest of it not been so enjoyable, I would've had more of a problem, but in the end it was only a small issue.

This is pretty sweet Jerry Trimble. I'd go with Live by the Fist over this one, but maybe not anything else after. This just plays to a lot of Trimble's strengths: a frenetic fighting pace with little let up, clean-cut Southern looks, and a slick-talking sense of humor. According to imdb, most of his recent work, including the upcoming Green Hornet, is in bit parts as members of gangs-- essentially James Lew in most 1990s DTV actioners. I wonder if he looks at starring in lower-budget features today and thinks "been there, done that." Too bad, because it might be nice to see him in something new.

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Terminator Woman is the second Karen Sheperd film we've done here, the first being Cyborg 2. This was a much bigger role, and a much better role. She doesn't have any where near as extensive the filmography that Cynthia Rothrock does, which is a shame, because she's about as good. What I really liked about this part was how she was using the classic damsel in distress device that pigeonholes women in action films to a limited participation in the film's outcome, and she bursts out of it. She's not playing a man's part though, not by any stretch, she's using this part to redefine what a woman is capable of contributing. She's kidnapped, and her captors think she's their damsel in distress, but she breaks out and lets them know that they picked up the wrong chick. The movie made a point of her getting away on her own, not being rescued by Trimble, which I thought was great. I have no problem with the damsel in distress device, I'm just saying for women like Rothrock and Sheperd, they're above it, they should be doing the rescuing.

Michel Qissi, as a first time director, did a pretty solid job. His fight choreography was on point as well. I didn't know this-- I don't know why I never bothered to look-- but he's not Tong Po in Kickboxer 4, except for in some of his archival footage. What could he have been doing in 1994 to have been too busy to reprise his role as Tong Po? Or did Albert Pyun not want him? Maybe Qissi was like "I want to direct it" and Pyun was like "um, no, that's what I do." Also, Terminator Woman reunites Qissi with his To the Death co-star Ted Le Plat.

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By far, one of the best DTV action blocks on television was after WCW Monday Night Nitro on TNT, especially after the Mortal Kombat series with Daniel Bernhardt was canceled. I was in college then, and I remember us getting some beers in us and laughing at Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Diamond Dallas Page, and then that seamless transition into a great early 90s Dudikoff or Piper classic. I'm not surprised that TNT got rid of that kind of programming, because they found more money in "New Classics", but I am surprised that the proliferation of "men's channels" like Spike and G4 hasn't provided a late-night market for movies like this. I mean, I've never seen Attack of the Show, but is a rerun of it at 1AM better than American Ninja 4? (I do like Ninja Warrior though. Go Brian Orosco!)

This is a cheaper find on VHS than it is on DVD, but both are out there. I don't know if it's a must have, but it's a lot of fun, and if it ever were to be shown on TV again, it would be plenty worth your viewing. I'd say keep an eye out for it cheap, and then pull the trigger. Also, if you haven't checked out Fist of the B-List, you definitely should.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108313/

8 comments:

  1. Great Review. This looks like a fun movie! Will have to seek out a copy. Gotta love Trimble and Shepard.

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  2. Thanks. yeah, I think you'll really enjoy it.

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  3. I've had this one for awhile though never got around to watching it, but now I will! Also cool to know that Trimble's in Green Hornet, i'll see if I can spot him when I go see it.

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  4. Awesome, I saw this in a charity shop today for £1, better go back and buy it! :)

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  5. Excellent review here, man; you've hit on everything I dug about the film, up to and including Sheperd's character as the anti-damsel-in-distress. Whatever feminist positivity was earned with this narrative element was sorta undermined by having her run around in a push-up bra, but alas. It's still a non-conventional storyline in a genre filled with misogynist conventions, so good on Qissi for doing something a bit different.

    Have you seen the Sheperd vs. Rothrock fight in Above the Law (aka Righting Wrongs)? Great HK-style brawl between these two, and Yuen Biao ain't too shabby either.

    And many thanks for plugging FoBL! Very much appreciated. I'm planning on doing some spotlight features as well. Not sure what they will look like yet, but keep your eye out b/c I'd definitely like to include you.

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  6. Definitely worth watching Michael, and definitely worth 1 pound (I don't have a pound key on my keyboard) Dave if it's still available.

    No problem spotlighting your blog Karl, it was my pleasure. Also glad you saw the same way Sheperd's character was used, which was really good for her as a female DTV action star. I will definitely have to check out Righting Wrongs. Kenner has been telling me about it too.

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  7. 'Righting Wrongs' AKA 'Above the Law' is so off the chain it's just not true! Good to see a review of this, I've been trying to get a copy for some time, but it's just too expensive- I think last time I checked it was close to 100 dollars. But I must see it if Tong Po directed it. And didn't Qissi and Van Damme have some falling out because he did Kickboxer 2? Might be the reason he didn't do part 4.

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  8. You know, that makes plenty of sense about Qissi. Still, is being loyal to Van Damme worth missing another potential acting gig? I mean, it's not like Qissi is rolling in work. Hopefully the price will come down on this for you.

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