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.

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--Matt

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Silent Assassins (1988)

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In the quest to get more Sam Jones on the site, we're here with Silent Assassins.  The other names I liked in this were Linda Blair, Mako, and Phillip Rhee.  It just looked like a great low-budget 80s actioner.  Also, our buddy Ty at Comeuppance Reviews has done this one, so you can go there to see what he thought (this is definitely a Ty kind of flick).

Silent Assassins has Jones as Sam Kettle, an LA detective who goes to take down this horrible criminal, only to have all his partners killed as the bust goes bad.  He and his wife Linda Blair plan to move away to Colorado to start a new life, when this criminal kidnaps veteran old guy character actor Bill Erwin, who is a bio chemist, in order to get some heavy duty formula he has.  Now Jones is back on the case, along with Jun Chong, whose niece was kidnapped along with Erwin, and Rhee, whose dad, Mako, wants him to help.  Will they be enough to take down this criminal and his gang?

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Yeah this is what you want here.  All kinds of good 80s, between the music, the clothes, and the cars; Sam Jones is all kinds of good Sam Jones; and then Rhee and Chong as the fight choreographers took this thing to another level.  It had its slow moments, but I think the 80s awesomeness allows it to transcend that; plus some of the scenes of Erwin and the girl in captivity were a little dark-- though there's the fascination aspect of Erwin, off-screen, having bamboo shoots shoved under his fingernails-- I mean, it's like the violent deconstruction of America's favorite grandpa.  Beyond that, the action is stellar and tons of fun.  Near the end, there's a scene where a baddie with a rocket launcher is on a rooftop, and Jones shoots him down and retrieves it.  Then we're teased for five minutes, and I'm like "come on, shoot it already!", but when he does it's so fantastic, like Tiger Woods fist pump worthy.  This is well worth checking out if you get the chance.

How do you not love Sam Jones?  Flat tops, five o'clock shadow, profile glances over up-turned collars, it's all great.  He was 34 when he did this, which is crazy, because I'm 34, and I still look like I'm 24, where he looked like a total dude.  In fact, I don't know anyone my age that's as much of a dude as he is in this.  I think Maximum Force might be the better movie, but this Jones is as good as it gets, and a definite watch for any fans of his.

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Ty mentioned, and I concur, that Linda Blair's representation on the cover is very misleading.  She is not teaming up with Jones and taking out baddies.  She's his wife, and wants him to leave his life as a police officer.  At no point does she don a leather outfit, and only once does she use a gun.  Take that for what you want: a disappointment, a silly thing that happens in these 80s DTV actioners, or a bait-and-switch.  I liked her in this though, and she and Jones had great chemistry, which made them fun to watch.

Bill Erwin as the scientist was a trip.  First, he was in the film for more than I'm used to seeing him in a film; and second, he was tortured.  I don't know how many serious roles I've seen him in, but this was very serious here.  Again, he's America's favorite grandpa!  Looking at his imdb bio, before he died in 2010, he had over 200 film credits, and many of which came when he was much younger, so I wonder what he was as an actor before he was America's favorite grandpa.  Another late great talent in this is Mako, who played a former Yakuza member working as a businessman in LA.  He has a great samurai sword fight near the end that was great to see.  Gotta love Mako, and both he and Erwin have been, and will continue to be, missed.

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Finally, Phillip Rhee and Jun Chong did the fight choreography in this, and it added another level to what would still have been a great 80s DTV actioner without their work.  They also did a great job of saving their best stuff for the end, almost like a fireworks display, and the finale was great.  We don't see a lot of Rhee throughout much of the film, but man, what we get near the end is plenty good; and I haven't seen much Chong before, and according to imdb he didn't do much, but like Rhee, he was great here too.  This is definitely a Sam Jones picture, but these guys played key roles, both on screen and behind the scenes.

This is out of print in the States, so used DVD or VHS is the way to go.  I think it's a must for collectors, but also one to keep your eye out for in bargain bins and whatnot.  For fans of late 80s/early 90s action, this is the kind of thing you want.  Great too for people like me that are still getting into Sam Jones led films.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096109/

3 comments:

  1. Sweet, I'm tracking this one down. Sounds like a fun movie. I don't think I've seen Sam J Jones in anything apart from Flash... ahha.

    Did you know he runs his own private bodyguard business nowadays? I'd like to think all his employees wear Flash t-shirts.

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  2. Nice write-up! This is classic VHS Sam Jones. Can he look any cooler? Haha.

    Thanks for the plug too.

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  3. Great to see that you enjoyed this one. It has one of those secretly awesome b-movie casts; in addition to the actors you mentioned, there's Rebecca Ferratti from Gor as a sexy assassin, Alexis Rhee, Ken Nagayama of L.A. Streetfighters and Best of the Best fame, and Bill "Superfoot" Wallace. That all of those calendars agreed to shoot this was a miracle of science. I remember watching this on my tiny-ass iPod on a bus ride from NYC to Boston and it was also dark as hell. That said, I do remember Erwin's character getting a little too handsy with the young niece. Captivity is stressful, but there are no excuses for that. I really need to give it another look on a bigger screen and re-evaluate the creepiness of that component. I've said it before, but it's great to have you back and churning out the reviews again, man.

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