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.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Caged Fury (1990)

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For the second of two films I'm doing for Seth at The Lost Video Archive's Week of Hong, I'm taking a look at Caged Fury, a women in prison film with James Hong, Erik Estrada, Michael Parks, and Richie Barathy, among others. It looked like it could be intriguing. Let's see how it did.

Caged Fury is about a girl named Kat who goes out to Hollywood from Utah. Along the way, she picks up a girl who was hitchhiking and didn't like her driver after he tried to get payment out of her in a carnal way. In LA, this hitchhiker hooks her up with her boyfriend, who just so happens to know a talent agent. If a thing sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and she and her hitchhiker friend end up in a faux jail, filled with white slaves. Luckily for her, she made friends with Erik Estrada the night before, and he and his buddy, Richie Barathy, are looking for her. Plus, her sister, who looks nothing like her, is also on the case. Then there's police detective James Hong. All three of these forces must be able to put something together to stop this.

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But can they make this movie any good in a very limited capacity? I'm going to have to say no. It's probably one of the things that truly derails this film, the fact that Hong, Estrada, and Michael Parks aren't in this that much. I liked Barathy, and when he goes ape shit on the faux prison, taking fools out-- including Ron Jeremy-- it's pretty fun. Best part for me was when he kicks through a wall. There were some other moments that were funny in an 80s/90s B-movie kind of way, plus some familiar faces like Melissa Moore and Gregory Scott Cummins, and all of that together might-- might-- make it a fun choice on a bad movie night. On the other hand, there isn't enough T-n'-A to make it a good exploitation flick, but there's also too much of a dark aspect to make it a really fun movie too, and that makes this kind of hard to fully recommend.

We'll start with Hong again, though there isn't much to work with here. He has like two scenes. That's it. Our heroine's sister goes to the police station to find out what happened to her sister, and talks to him; then later, his dumbass partner takes the emergency call from our heroine, and it's Hong who puzzles out that she's the girl her sister was looking for, and they manage to trace where the call comes from, though not in time to save a bunch of women from being shot to death by the guards. He still has that trademark tongue-in-cheek humor that makes having him in this, if only for two scenes, a lot of fun. Still, I just wish there were more of him.

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I believe this is our first women in prison film at the DTVC. I don't know, it's always been a genre that sounds like fun at the time, but, when done wrong, can be very disquieting. There isn't so much a chauvinistic quality to them, as opposed to a seeming desire to see women put through a lot of violent, sexual abuse, which doesn't work for me. Just women in jail with shower scenes and lesbian scenes and a butch guard and warden who get their comeuppance later, that sounds good, but that's not always what we get, and that's not what we got here, which was too bad.

Erik Estrada looked like he was primed to be this film's star, only to see him drop off the map like Hong and Parks. How did this happen? He and Barathy beat up a bunch of bikers early in the film to save our heroine, then he's gone, then he comes back with Barathy to investigate the girl's disappearance, is shot in the arm, and then proceeds to let Barathy save the day, while he swoops in at the very end and gets the girl. Not one of Estrada's finest moments.

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Michael Parks plays our heroine's father, and he has some really good scenes, including a couple with some genuine emotion. How did Michael Parks find himself in these kinds of movies? But this was the kind of thing he did, and has done for a long time. It's been good to see him used in some more mainstream films lately. He's a guy who definitely deserves his due, and even I need to showcase him more on here.

But this week is about showcasing James Hong, and, unfortunately, this film doesn't feature him much, and suffers for that. Thought it had its moments, it needed more from its stars to carry a plot that wasn't sexy and exploitation enough, but too dark to have fun with. Ultimately, this is a pass for me, but with its availability on Watch Instantly, you may want to take your chances.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097004/

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with your take on this. I was expecting something much more "exploitation" just simply based on that cover art alone, and that's not what we got. I wouldn't have even cared if the story was tired, as long as there was a healthy dose of T & A, which again, we didn't get. And I have to agree with you on Hong and Estrada just simply being severely underused. What was the director thinking?

    Great review!

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