Young Rebels (1989)

The late great Amir Shervan made 5 movies in English – “Hollywood Cop”, “Killing American Style”, “Samurai Cop”, this, and “Gypsy” (which we’ve yet to cover). They’re a strange bunch, for sure, and while “Samurai Cop” is clearly the best of the bunch, being entertaining, deeply odd, and really funny (both accidentally and on purpose), they’ve all got something to recommend about them.

Although I’m still not entirely sure what that something is about “Young Rebels”. It’s a revenge story, sort of? But one where both main players, plot-wise, die long before the end of the movie so you’re left with people who you’ve not really been following to wrap things up. For large portions of its run time, it’s one group of anonymous white guys looking sternly at, then shooting, another group of anonymous white guys, with a subplot about migrant workers getting sacked for wanting the minimum wage (a plot line that is borrowed for “Gypsy”, apparently) that goes nowhere.

But I shall bring my (minor) film analysis skills to bear to try and piece together just what happens in “Young Rebels”. By the way, there are no particularly young people in this movie, nor could they be said to be rebelling against anything. Sidetracked again! The first scene is a b-movie classic, the “Drug Deal Gone Wrong” (as if drug deals ever go right in B-movies). Showing up briefly here as “goon no. 3” is Eric Freeman, whose name you won’t recognise but whose most famous scene you probably will:

The person buying the drugs is none other than Shervan regular and ISCFC favourite Robert Z’Dar, and he wants to keep both the drugs and the money, and also to ensure that no-one else will ever sell him drugs again. Of course, the double-cross turns into a bloodbath, and Z’Dar has to return to his father, Mr Vincenzo, with his head hung in shame. I feel like this exact plot was used in “Killing American Style”, but my brain is refusing to let me go back and check.

This brings in, not the hero of the story, but the idiot brother of the hero (or if not hero, then the person whose image adorns the video box) – aka Ben, who rather foolishly borrowed $25,000 from Vincenzo some time ago to gamble with, and lost it all. So, he’s kidnapped, and told that unless his brother Charlie, an expert helicopter pilot, flies down to probably Mexico, picks up a couple of guys and flies them back, he’s a dead man. Luckily, Charlie isn’t that busy so agrees sharpish.

It’s around here that things become confusing. When Ben goes to get Charlie, he’s in a house with the woman you assume is his wife, but it turns out to be Ben’s fiancee? Then, when he goes to Mexico to pick up the two guys, the criminals down there are all “you’ve flown so many missions for us before, Charlie, you’re the best at human trafficking”. Wait, what now? I thought he was doing his dodgy brother a one-time favour? What on earth is going on? But you’ve hardly got time to warm to this thoroughly confusing story before Ben and his fiancee are both murdered and it’s all about Charlie and the two guys who were at Ben’s stag night at a strip club, vs. Vincenzo and his goons. Endless, generic, ugly looking goons, about whom it’s almost impossible to form any sort of opinion.

Well, this isn’t quite all. There’s some of the worst acting I can remember, primarily from Ben (whose name is listed wrong on the IMDB and I can’t tell which non-photo, never-acted-again cast member he’s supposed to be) but also from Joselito Rescober, who you’ll remember as the ultra-camp waiter from “Samurai Cop” and from the fact he’s probably rich and bought his role in these movies as he’s listed as the producer. There’s a chainsaw torture scene which manages to produce very little blood. There’s the way that punches sound like a bomb going off and are so ludicrous that I can’t even imagine a late 80s no-budget action movie seriously going “yes, this is effect we’re going for”.

Or how about a Japanese poster for “Hollywood Cop” on the wall of Vincenzo’s office, which indicates he’s either a fan of fine cinema or they filmed it at Shervan’s house – the framed publicity photos of strippers and hideous indoor jacuzzi would sort of indicate it’s the latter. Talking of strippers, there’s a heck of a lot of nude female flesh on display, long past the point (reached at about 30 seconds) when you’re just begging Shervan to get on with it. How about the meal eaten by Charlie about two-thirds of the way through the movie, which consists of nothing but a raw courgette and some crackers? Or the sheer number of chase scenes which have people firing randomly out of car windows?

What about my favourite thing in the entire movie, the random “Free Puppies” sign that’s propped up in one of the houses they fight their way through? Where are those puppies? I want to see the cute dogs! Puppies >>>>> this movie.

I’ve perhaps made it sound more “so bad, it’s good” than it really is. It’s mostly boring and vaguely incomprehensible. The way that characters abruptly changed relationships didn’t make me laugh, it just made me annoyed. The way Charlie went through pretty much every villain without breaking a sweat, but Vincenzo turned into a super-fighter despite being old as the hills and out of shape, left me bored.

It’s ugly as hell, too. The three sets they could afford are just shabby houses, and the scenes that aren’t in one of them are in random scrubland that provides nothing for the eye to find interesting at all. None of the actors are fun to look at, either, neither beautiful or odd. Just sort of doughy and not remotely like they should be in front of a camera (which, with a very few exceptions, none were again). Z’Dar tries his best, and is a presence to be sure, but he’s not in it enough.

I’ll give it credit for some truly magical bizarre choices, though. The final scene is given to a cop who’s barely been in it, but I can see why Shervan did it – he delivers a line beautifully, and his last two are: “Go call the fucking coroner!” followed by a pause as the camera pans in slightly, then “I’d better watch my fucking language!” The end!

Rating: thumbs down

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