Body Count (1995)

We’re in the home stretch of our Prior-thon, dear reader. The mission I set myself, the one I’ve long since forgotten why, was to watch all the movies of David A Prior, who made “Deadly Prey” and numerous other wonders of trash cinema. Around 1992 or so, his budgets and casts took a sudden and dramatic upturn, until he stopped making them in 1999, only returning 8 years later for…I have no idea, but the story probably isn’t a happy one.

But we’re up to 1995 now, with only three movies left before the hiatus. I hope you’ve enjoyed this, and maybe even found a movie or two to watch yourselves. Anyway, as you can tell by my lack of desire to get to the point, this wasn’t really one of the fun ones. But onwards!

After a classic “cool guy walking away from explosion” scene, we lumber into the plot, which is, to put it mildly, confusing. The great Sonny Chiba is in it though! After last seeing him as a party-loving cop in “Immortal Combat”, he’s Makato, an assassin, here, who’s been paid $100,000 to kill a couple of mafioso, the Gianelli brothers. This he does with special bullets that look like ice and are completely undetectable, but after asking for and receiving an extra $100,000 from the middle-man who arranged it all, he’s double-crossed by persons unknown, arrested and sent down for life.

Now, if I was a hitman, I’d take arrest as something of an occupational hazard. Like, I kill people for a living, right? But Makato is furious and has all sorts of revenge on his mind – luckily, when he’s on a chain gang digging a ditch, Brigitte Nielsen pitches up, kills all the guards and rescues him.

It might have been interesting if Makato had been sort of a good guy, like so many movie assassins who kill only evil people. But when he murders one of the guards in cold blood, you get the inkling he’s not, and you’ll also know that the people who betrayed him are some of the good guys who are supposed to be tracking him down (given we don’t get introduced to any other characters, and it has to be someone we’ve already met). It’s just unnecessarily complicated, and kind of boring, at the same time.

The good guys are two cops, Cook and Rizzo (Robert Davi and Steven Bauer) and they gave decent on-screen chemistry, although the only thing I’m comparing them to is other Prior movies – I’ve watched basically nothing else for months. They’re joined by an FBI agent who takes over the investigation for basically no reason, Special Agent Janet Hood (Cindy Ambuehl, mostly known as a TV actor). To say her behaviour is inappropriate is putting it mildly; she strolls around her two new underlings in lingerie or a towel and exposes her ass to Cook while they’re, for some reason, sharing a sauna.

I’m just recapping the movie, badly, so I’ll move on. Makato kills everyone remotely related to his old case, trying to find whoever set him up, but you get the impression he’s no nearer to finding out who did it at the end than he is at the beginning. He kills a surprisingly sober-looking Jan Michael Vincent, who’s one of the other cops, but gets nothing from him, and it’s really more a process of elimination than it is anything else. It’s not that he’s particularly good, the cops are just incompetent. There’s a subplot about Rizzo’s daughter being abducted in the past, then returned to her family, but she never talks again and barely moves from her deckchair – this takes on a much darker tone later, but it’s weird tonally.

Much like all the later AIP movies, it’s shot well and all the actors are fine. Money has been spent! There’s a few car-based stunt scenes too, which is standard for these things. People scouring the shelves of their local Blockbuster would not have been terribly disappointed, I imagine. I mean, if you’re in the mood to pick something you’ve never heard of with Robert Davi on the cover, your standards should be pitched appropriately low.

It’s a puzzler, dear reader. None of the characters behave sensibly, and when you find out what’s really going on, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. It’s another Idiot Plot – if a couple of characters had behaved sensibly at the beginning, all this could have been resolved in no time at all.

Perhaps we went too deep. This just gives a “story by” credit to our man Prior, with the script credited to a guy called Henry Madden (who I presume is not the same guy who also directed many Dora The Explorer episodes?); the director is Talun Hsu, who we met before directing “Witchcraft 5”. Man, the Witchcraft movies were terrible and we’ve got three new ones to watch soon!

Rating: thumbs down

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