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, May 15, 2013
Maximum Force (1992)
Our friend Johnny Sullivan, screenwriter of the great Recoil (Twitter @johnnyblackout), left a comment on my Facebook asking if I'd seen/reviewed Maximum Force, starring Sam Jones. It had been on my radar, but his mention, combined with a few other people suggesting it-- and the fact that I wanted to get more Sam Jones on the DTVC anyway-- jumped this near the top of my list. Luckily I knew someone who had it, and was able to check it out. Also, our friends Ty at Comeuppance Reviews and Explosive Action looked at this one as well (can you imagine either of them missing something like this?), so you can check that out to see their takes.
Maximum Force is a PM Entertainment actioner about a crime boss named Tanabe, played, of course, by the late Richard Lynch. He's rich, and owns a lot of LA's police force. Enter Sam Jones, Sherrie Rose, and a young electronics and gun expert played by Jason Lively. Each has his or her own reasons for taking down Lynch, but it's police captain John Saxon who has the biggest reason, and he decides he can bring these folks together to join forces and get the job done. Problem is: Lynch won't go down that easily, and hopefully for him police chief Mickey Rooney will help him remain in power.
This is pretty sweet. It has that PM Entertainment everything but the kitchen sink approach to action, starting in the first five minutes with a chopper explosion. That's right, they knew they needed to have a helicopter explosion in there somewhere, so they figured they'd just get it out of the way at the beginning. Also, they expertly navigate Lynch's opening background speech to his underlings, by mixing in action scenes with Sam Jones and Sherrie Rose, then punctuating Lynch's speech with a death by Saran Wrap of one of his goons. For people out there making action movies, this is how you do it. PM Entertainment had this right more often than not, and as far as I can tell, you guys are getting it wrong more often than not 20 years later. Stop getting it wrong, or we'll turn our backs on you and go exclusively back to when these movies were good.
One of the problems Johnny and others have had in looking for Sam Jones films on the DTVC is the lack of a tag. That was a mistake on my part, and it's now been rectified, and right out of the gate this is his eleventh on here. The key with Sam Jones as a hero is to cultivate that Tank Concrete/Lump Beefbroth aesthetic, without falling into 300-pound Pork Roast territory. It's a bit of a tough line to straddle, but this film does it well. When I think of the perfect Sam Jones role, the one we'd all like, it'd be something like a reality show where he confronts RATers or guys who proposition 12-year-old girls on the Internet, kind of in a Chris Hanson Dateline kind of way, only with a real strongman aspect. Like he gets them in a headlock, and he's like "Oh, you think it's okay to spy on women through their webcams and mess with people's computers?" or "Oh, you think it's okay to talk to 12-year-old girls about sex in chat rooms?", and they're like whimpering and breathing hard and their faces are turning purple, and we're loving to see these shitheads get their comeuppance, before they're shipped off to jail. That's the kind of Sam Jones we want, and any movie that casts him in the lead, needs to cultivate that, otherwise he's just a beefy guy in a flat top.
How often do we ever get to see John Saxon as a good guy? It's few and far between. I've realized that he's one that, while he seems like he should be on here a bunch, isn't really. The only other two to this point are Enter the Dragon, which we did for our 300th post, and Final Payback, a Richard Greico flick. He's so much fun to see though, so I need to look out for more of his stuff. In this one, I couldn't help seeing him in Mitchell, and listening to his lines riffed by Joel and the 'Bots on MST3K. There was one scene where he was telling us the background of Jones, Rose, and Lively, and he sounded like his character in Mitchell, talking to Joe Don Baker about some payoff while his Christmas presents are in the background and he's holding a Slim Jim in his hand. I just wanted to bark out Mitchell lines.
Above we mentioned Sherrie Rose teamed up with Jones to take Lynch down. We see her a lot on here, but not always in big roles, but this was a big one. She had some fight scenes, and she shot Sonny Landham, who had a very small scene as a pimp, while Rose was acting as a prostitute undercover. Michael Delano played a snitch that Sam Jones pushed around for info-- though in true PM style, that involved Jones handcuffing him to a side-view mirror, then Jones driving around as a stuntman hung to it. Delano was yelling "This isn't right!", then he said "I want a phone call!", so Jones drove his van through a phone booth. So great. There were also a few quickies: Ken McLeod was a bouncer in two scenes and got punched in the face by Jones; Ron Yuan had one scene where he fought in Lynch's underground fight club; then we had Asbjørn "Bear" Riiis as Jones's friend "Bear", who shows up at the end, takes a bunch of guys out, then is shot; and then we had Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter listed as Rastaman, as one of Lynch's underlings. Finally, we had Mickey Rooney as the police chief. How do you not love him? He has one scene with Saxon where he tries to buy him off, then another where he gives a monologue about corruption and how money rules everything. It's the kind of thing we love at the DTVC, small parts by guys like this who have four Oscar nominations and are known for much better stuff.
Finally, last June Richard Lynch passed away, leaving behind a prodigious filmography of 160 credits, of which we've barely cracked the surface of the films he did that belong on here. My personal favorite role of his was as the baddie in Invasion USA. The travesty is that we've been planning to put him into the DTVC Hall of Fame for a few years, and just haven't made it happen. Right now he's in the "In Memoriam" section, but we'll move him to the Hall of Fame soon. I can't think of anyone who embodies that title more. Here's to you Richard Lynch, you were one of the greatest.
As far as I can tell, this is out of print, but available used on Amazon both as DVD and VHS. For PM Entertainment, it's not the best, but it's still really good. If you're a collector, the Amazon prices aren't bad; if not, I'd keep an eye out for it in a bargain or used bin. Also, you can stream it on Amazon too.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104831/