Youtube Film Club: Tough And Deadly (1995)

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If you saw one half of “Tough and Deadly” and one of “Back In Action”, you could be forgiven for not realising you were watching two different movies. I mean, you’d have to not be paying very close attention, but when stars Billy Blanks and Roddy Piper, just after meeting in odd circumstances, start fighting each other, a fight which counts as character development (a virtually identical scene in both movies), it’s enough to make you wonder.

But the good thing is, they’re both loads of fun and definitely come recommended. Piper is a private eye by the name of Elmo Freech (ah, the 90s and their wackily named characters) and Billy Blanks is…well, for most of the movie he’s known as John Portland, a CIA agent who suffers amnesia after getting involved in a gun battle, being kidnapped then injected with some weird cocktail of drugs. Freech is ambulance chasing down at the hospital and sees Portland brought in, covered in blood – even though he was tied up and drugged, he was still badass enough to kick the ass of everyone in the car with him and crawl away from the wreckage.

 

ASIDE: The main difference between the two movies is the treatment of cars. You only had to look askew at a car in “Back In Action” and it would explode in comically over-the-top fashion, but in the intervening two years someone evidently learned cars don’t really do that. Thank you!

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Anyway, Freech rescues Portland from an assassination attempt at the hospital and the two of them start working together. We even get a training montage as Portland learns to use his muscles again, although way later in the movie he says angrily “I spent two years learning to use my body again!” Two years? There’s no way! If that’s not enough for you, let’s discuss the monstrous coincidence that powers this tale – Freech was a cop who was kicked off the force for trying to bust a drug dealer called Milan. Milan is working with the CIA to run drugs, including Trekkler (the great Phil Morris, “Seinfeld”, voice actor extraordinaire), who also worked with Portland and wants him dead! Really? You couldn’t have thought of a better way to weave these two tales together?

 

If you ignore all that nonsense, then “Tough And Deadly” delivers in spades. Fight after fight after fight…Freech does his good old fashioned bar-brawling style, and Portland does more spin-kicks than anyone in any movie ever. They even bust some front businesses of Milan’s, a similarity so close with “Back In Action” that I really hope they were made by the same company or someone should be suing.

vlcsnap-2015-05-23-20h14m11s421_grandeThird-billed is Richard Norton, the awesome Australian martial artist who we’ve enjoyed in “American Ninja”, “The Salute Of The Jugger”, both “China O’Brien” movies and “Mad Max: Fury Road”. He’s Milan’s main goon, and is sadly underused here, but he and Piper do have a similar haircut and shirt, so it’s only Piper’s stubble that tells them apart in long shots. James Karen, who you might remember from “Return Of The Living Dead”, is good guy CIA agent Winston Briggers. It’s a very male movie, with the only woman with more than a cameo being Lisa Stahl as Freech’s secretary (she’s 9th billed, indicating just how much of a sausage-fest it is). Talking of Stahl, when our heroes have to hide out at her place, she lives in a mansion, full of huge rooms and tasteful furnishings. All I can say is Freech must pay a little too well. Saying that…when we see Freech’s home, he’s got a tiny apartment with the only decoration being a poster on the wall that simply says “pasta sauce”. Huh?

 

I think this a slightly better movie than “Back In Action”, though. The two stars come together earlier, and seem much more comfortable with each other. Blanks even…dare I say it…acts a few times! Piper is really good, and I wish he’d lucked into something like a Shane Black movie back in the 90s and become the star he deserved to be. There’s not quite as much fighting, which is a good thing (you can only stand so much before your eyes start to glaze over), the acting is overall better and while the plot isn’t exactly taxing, it’s not like any of us would approach a movie with Billy chuffing Blanks in it called “Tough And Deadly” and expect more than what was given.

Is this necessary? Really?

Is this necessary? Really?

After complimenting the treatment of cars, we do get one of the biggest explosions in the history of B-movies, near the end, as a helicopter armed with a rail-gun blows the crap out of a drug-warehouse. No effect, either, they really blew up a massive warehouse. On that crescendo, I highly recommend this, it’s available for free and is plenty of fun.

 

Rating: thumbs up

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Youtube Film Club: Back In Action (1993)

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Welcome, dear reader, to a mini-season of Rowdy Roddy Piper / Billy Blanks reviews. Okay, they only made two movies together, but the trailers looked so awesome I decided they deserved a bit of an introduction. Piper was a beloved former pro wrestler who moved into acting and made a pretty decent job of it, going back and forth between wrestling and acting for the rest of his life (he died in 2015). Blanks is a martial artist who got his break when, hired as a bodyguard for one of the actors in a movie shot in the Philippines in 1988, he impressed the producers so much they wrote him in. Despite being a shockingly bad actor, like malfunctioning robot bad, he had a pretty decent B-movie career until inventing the Tae-Bo fitness system turned him into a pop-culture phenomenon of sorts – we’ve already covered his performances in “TC-2000”, “No Retreat, No Surrender 4”, “Bloodfist” and “China O’Brien 2”. But what are they like…together?

Things kick off nicely, with a drug deal in a cemetery interrupted on multiple fronts – one, by Piper, as tough cop Frank Rossi, along with a van full of cops with shotguns; and the other, by Blanks, as the imaginatively named Billy, who’s the brother of the drug dealer’s lieutenant’s girlfriend Tara. That make sense? Blanks is, of course, a beast, but he’s also stealthy, managing to remove his sister from the crime scene without anyone realising he or she were there. Well, no-one on the good guys’ side, anyway. Piper witnesses the main drug dealer (or who we think is the main guy) gut his partner with a knife, just for good measure. Blanks takes Tara home and they have a big row cos she loves Gantry (the dealer’s lieutenant, played by Damon D’Olivera, who’s told to kill her but refuses) and their discussion on his background leads us to an aside…

 

…Special Forces soldiers in the movies! Low-budget cinema is lousy with guys who went through the super-tough Special Forces training and then quit the Armed Forces ten minutes later to become security guards or cab drivers or just drifters. I can’t help but think Special Forces needs better screening for its potential trainees, as they must lose so many guys who don’t seem like they’ve retired or even soldiered for that many years. Plus, they all suck at taking orders and playing by the rules, two things that’d be pretty important for a soldier. Anyway, Billy is one, which is the thing that explains how amazing he is at martial arts.

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Clearly, former SyFy Channel director Paul Ziller (“Metal Shifters”, “The Philadelphia Experiment”) and co-director Steve DiMarco (best known for TV) had seen “They Live” a few times, and wanted the kudos that classic got from its never-ending fight scene between the two stars. Frank and Billy go at it in a bar – Frank is there to see if he can get intel on the drug gang, Billy to retrieve his sister again – and it’s both not as long and nowhere near as good as its inspiration. Clash of styles, you see, even if it’s amazing to see Frank bust out some straight pro wrestling moves! But anyway, after holding guns on each other a few times and a bit more fighting, Piper comes round to Billy’s way of thinking, that way is murdering people rather than arresting them. When Tara disappears, Billy becomes a straight-up Punisher, slaughtering his way through the dealer’s front businesses.

 

Bobbie Phillips (“Murder One”, the “Chameleon” series of movies, and far too good for this trash) is the TV reporter who edits footage to help Frank out, and eventually becomes his love interest. She both causes and solves most of the problems – including doing an interview with Tara and Gantry, causing her to get kidnapped and tortured to give up their location. The dealers think they tipped off the cops, for some reason? If you’re wondering “why, in the middle of a gang war, would a TV station interview those two people?” then you’re on the same page as me.

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The crime-boss is an ISCFC favourite, Nigel Bennett (“Earth: Final Conflict”, “Forever Knight”) as Kasagian. He’s just your generic bad guy in this, no real character or interests, and he’s actually pretty divorced from the main plot as there’s a top drug dealer who does all the fighting. And boy oh boy, is there a lot of fighting! Every now and again, it looks like some plot is going to break out, but then they realise Blanks is definitely not an actor but he can kick ass so they just have him doing a load more of that. My notes just have “so, fighting, eh?” about ten times. One of the scenes, where Kasajian sends some badass dudes round to kill Billy, is almost perfect, as they appear to be twins with the same cheesy perm, moustache and Zubaz pants. Let’s see if I can find a screenshot of those fine gentlemen.

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Ultimately, it’s a solid B-movie, in the tradition of “Lethal Weapon” and “They Live” – if you’re going to borrow, might as well do it from the best. Piper is great, of course, Philips is excellent, Blanks is there, and while it’d have been cool to see Philips do more fighting (she’s an accomplished martial artist in her own right, not that you’d ever guess from watching this)  there’s not tons of complaining to do here. You know what you’re going to get, and you get plenty of it.

 

Rating: thumbs up

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Youtube Film Club: Expect No Mercy (1995)

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In the mind of any reasonable viewer, “Expect No Mercy” should inspire dread. Starring Billy Blanks and Jalal Merhi, two of the least charismatic, least able actors to ever headline multiple movies, and it’s based around the concept of virtual reality so you know it’s going to be packed with 90s CGI effects. But, and I was as surprised as you, it’s very enjoyable! Join me, let’s talk trashy martial arts movies and have some fun.

There’s a surprisingly fun opening scene when a group of black-clad guys wipe out the home of what looks like a drug dealer. Certainly some bad guys, so it’s quite surprising later on when we discover that these “heroes” are actually the villains. Okay, moderately surprising. One of the villains, watching a guy get into his sports car with a beautiful woman, admiringly notes “that is one smooth dude”, a line I wish I could use without irony in 2016. How else will people know they’re smooth dudes? But most credit must go to the leader of the assassination squad, Damian, played by Anthony DeLongis. He’s one of the great “That Guy” actors, and I know him best from two first-rate performances as different characters on “Highlander: The Series” (but he’s been in everything) – he shows here that he deserved a much better career, playing the evil villain part with just the right amount of over-the-top-ness.

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Anyway, the plot, such as it is, revolves around Federal agent Justin Vanier (Blanks), who’s sent undercover at the Virtual Arts Academy, an extraordinarily well-funded school for teaching people martial arts using virtual reality headsets. Apparently, you can compress decades of fight training into just two years with their technology! There’s a guy on the inside – Eric (Merhi), one of the instructors; and Eric sort of has a thing going with one of the other instructors, Vicki (Laurie Holden, aka Andrea from “The Walking Dead”). Remember this fact. She’s an instructor, at a martial arts academy.

 

The VR machine goes up to a maximum of level 5, where the virtual opponents do double the normal damage, and of course Justin defeats level 5 on his first try because this movie is in a hurry to get to the good stuff. Thanks to Eric’s tech skills, they discover all about the secret assassinations the school has been carrying out, and (weirdly quickly, when you think about it) the head of the school, Warbeck (Wolf Larson) discovers their discovery. So it’s them, first trying to escape from Warbeck, then trying to stop the next assassination his people are about to carry out.

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Simple, and very effective. From our lofty future vantage point, the graphics will give you many laughs in the first half – the “virtual lecture” given by Eric and Vicki, which could very easily have just been given in a normal classroom, is a particular highlight. And there’s even some relatively clever prediction of the future, as Warbeck loudly exclaims that the future is information, and if he controls that, he controls the world. He should have just set up a search engine and a social media site, he needn’t have worried about the crime stuff.

 

Towards the end, the VR rules are thrown out of the window because…er…well, I’m sure it’s important. The villain has a very long monologue about how the Government is bad, and Billy Blanks gets to say the second-greatest line immediately after killing someone with a steam-pipe ever (I’ll leave you to discover what that line is).

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It’s just action, action, action. Director Zale Dalen had lots of TV credits to his name and not many movies, but knew the strengths of his stars and steered into them (hint: it’s not acting). As well as fighting all the wacky bad guys in VR, there’s wave after wave of trainee assassins to contend with, and both Blanks and Merhi spend over half their time on screen kicking ass. You do begin to wonder why no-one in this enormous base has a gun, but that’s small potatoes. Writer J Stephen Maunder is a Merhi regular, and is sure to give his employer (Merhi produced this) plenty of good stuff to do.

 

A few casting bits of trivia make this movie a little more explicable. Oliver Gruner was supposed to be in the Billy Blanks role, but pulled out right before filming started, leaving Blanks the last minute substitute (to be fair, he could have had ten years to prepare, it wouldn’t have made him a better actor). And the Warbeck role was going to be Gary Daniels, a superb martial artist and decent actor; but the distributors wanted an American in the role I guess, so Wolf Larson got it. He’s cool as hell, by the way, and has a great time overacting his part to the max.

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If you have any love in your heart for B-movies, then you’ll love this. It’s simple, direct, cheesy, filled with one-liners delivered terribly by Billy Blanks, lots of fun, lots of action, and races along. You won’t regret it.

 

But there’s one thing which grates really badly, and that’s Merhi’s treatment of women. After watching the “Tiger Claws” series of movies, where he does all the work and legit world champion martial artist Cynthia Rothrock is mostly just along for the ride, this is pretty obvious, but it’s so painfully apparent here that it needs commenting on. When our heroes escape and go to stop the assassination, the first thing Eric says to Vicki is “stay here”, leaving her crouched with a worried expression on her face while the men do all the fighting. Yes, the same woman who’s an instructor at a martial arts academy! Then, she gets kidnapped and taken back to the base, where she’s hung off the side of a building by a rope; if you watch the movie, you can see the surface she’s up against is rough, with lots of areas to get purchase. What I’m saying is, a trained martial artist should be able to climb up the side of the building easily (heck, I’d give it a go, and I’m fat and middle-aged), but because Merhi cannot conceive of women being able to do anything, leaves her there to be rescued, roughly equivalent to silent movies where the damsel in distress was tied to train tracks.

Her revenge was having a decent career

Her revenge was having a decent career

So, appalling sexism aside…

 

Rating: thumbs up

 

PS – Looking up J Stephen Maunder, I noticed a movie which is due out this year, apparently, called “Beyond The Game”. Look at the cast list, like a B-movie “Expendables” – Armand Assante; Chamillionaire; Mark Dacascos; Olivier Gruner; Kelly Hu; Matthias Hues; Martin Kove; Lorenzo Lamas; Jason Scott Lee; Bai Ling; Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister; Kristanna Loken; Michael Madsen; Costas Mandylor; Eric Roberts; Cynthia Rothrock; Dan Severn; Kevin Sorbo; Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa; Oleg Taktarov; Brian Thompson; Tony Todd; Danny Trejo; Casper Van Dien; Michael Jai White; Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson; and Billy Zane. What a list! The trailer is available online and is every bit as amazing as you’d expect, but let’s say you’re a movie reviewer wanting to help promote it?

 

The company’s website is defunct, their Facebook page hasn’t been used in 3 years, they’ve got almost the same name as a Canadian documentary group, which is confusing, and none of the people involved in the movie appear to use social media. It’s the same company that made “Blizhniy Boy” in 2008, which is as yet unreleased in English (I think there’s a Russian version somewhere, even though it’s got an English-speaking cast), and has the weird feeling of being a money-laundering operation or other complicated scam. Why make 3 movies, promote them and never release them?

Youtube Film Club: China O’Brien 2 (1990)

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The denim-iest front cover ever

 

Competence in 80s and 90s martial arts cinema is by no means a given (witness the work of Ron Marchini if you’d like an example) so it’s nice to see one where everyone involved knows what they’re doing. Robert Clouse, director of “Enter The Dragon” and the first “China O’Brien”, has the good sense to keep the first movie’s stars – Cynthia Rothrock as Sheriff China; Richard Norton as teacher / former special forces guy Matt; and Keith Cooke as one-handed Native American badass Dakota – and let them do what they do best.

After the bombshell of finding out that China’s real name is Lori (thanks to a plaque she’s awarded at the beginning) we get cracking with the plot, which is only tangentially related to any of our heroes. One of the locals is in the FBI’s witness protection programme after ratting out criminal Charlie Baskin, but he also stole $5 million from him, unbeknownst to his family. Charlie busts out of jail and goes on a revenge spree against the people who put him behind bars, including, best of all, getting the judge as he’s on stage at a magic show. Was he just really confident or had no-one warned him a killer with a grudge against him was on the loose? Anyway, the baddies need the money to do a big drug deal and thanks to a mole inside the FBI, know where it is.

 

So China and her crew protect the family while hunting down Baskin and his seemingly limitless army of goons (seriously, that 5 million isn’t going to be much when you’ve divided it a hundred ways) and the story progresses as these stories do, with minor characters getting picked off and so on. Not a single one of the villains is any good at fighting, though, which means China and the boys go through them like a warm knife through butter.

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When this movie really picks up is in the last 20 minutes. Up to then has been okay, if a little slow, but it’s as if they all suddenly go “crap! We’ve got all these cool ideas for fights and stunts but we’ve already done the first hour! Let’s just cram it all in!” Basically, everything after the extremely odd one-camera scene – where all the main heroes are having a conversation in one shot, as if their second camera broke so they had to cram everyone into one corner of one room to film them – is a masterpiece of martial arts cinema.

 

You’ve got Richard Norton in an immaculate white t-shirt / double denim combo, not a bit of dirt or blood on him after all the fighting; China kicking someone clean through a wall (like they had a wire-fu special effects guy, but only for a day’s filming); someone getting a piano dropped on them; one goon hiding inside a toilet; China killing someone with a bow, after evidently forgetting she put down her gun for ever because she didn’t want to kill anyone else; and, perhaps best of all, KNIFE HAND GUY! He just shows up out of nowhere, has a cool fight with China and that’s it. He’s so awesome he makes it to the poster above, despite only being in the movie for maybe 45 seconds.

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There’s a couple of smaller performances that according to IMDB were the result of them realising the film was too short and having to go back months later for reshoots. Billy Blanks, taebo master, star of such gems as “No Retreat, No Surrender 4” and “TC2000” and perhaps the worst actor I’ve ever seen in my life, shows up in an uncredited role as “Zebra Print Zubaz Pants Guy” and gets his ass kicked swiftly – I’d like to think he was just hanging out on the set, visiting his martial arts buddies, and the director paid him a few hundred dollars to get beat up on camera. The other oddity is Baskin has a girlfriend at the beginning who’s obviously a bodybuilder, and it seemed a no-brainer that she’d be fighting China at some point. Unfortunately, she just disappears from the movie after a few scenes, wasted opportunity and all that.

 

It’s not what you’d call a great film, or even a very good one. The first hour is too slow and while I love Rothrock and Norton, neither of them are great actors so it can be a bit of a slog to get through their scenes. But what it does have is that super-entertaining final act. Norton wears a Canadian tuxedo to a funeral, it doesn’t so much have an ending so much as “this line’ll do as a last one, cut”…it’s got it all.

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Rating: thumbs up

No Retreat, No Surrender 4 (aka King Of The Kickboxers) (1991)

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Despite this having no retreating or surrendering in it, finally, it’s better known as “King of the Kickboxers”. As if the filmmakers wanted to ensure the title was still nice and misleading, there’s no tournament to crown anyone, and if we’re being brutally honest, not a lot of actual kickboxing.

This was the last of Loren Avedon’s three-movie deal with the Yuen brothers; despite headlining movies as late as 2003, this was about as bright as his star got. Keeping the series tradition, he plays yet another different character, either Jack or Jake depending on who’s talking, and in a scene we’ve seen a heck of a lot of times before, his older brother – a kickboxing champion – is killed on his way back from his championship-winning bout in Bangkok by the super-evil Khan (Billy Blanks), setting off a revenge plot of sorts.

Blanks and the big brother (Michael Depasquale Jr) are such spectacularly bad actors that I wondered if it was on purpose, but it would appear not, and we sadly don’t get much time with the brother. Blanks, though, treats us to his alien-reading-English-for-the-first-time line readings on a regular basis throughout and is truly one of a kind.

He just watched himself act

He just watched himself act

Fast forward a bunch of years, and Jake is back in the USA, an undercover cop who lives on the edge and just can’t play by your rules! Avedon is naturally charismatic and can crack a good joke, so I liked this bit; his amazing martial arts abilities make him a natural for an undercover mission to Thailand to infiltrate a ring making snuff martial arts movies. Jake’s not into it, until he watches one of the tapes (most of which is the opening scene from the last No Retreat, No Surrender movie, which AVEDON WAS IN) and notices the guy doing the killing is his old enemy Khan. This is merely the first of many huge coincidences in this movie.

Ignoring the fact that if the murderer’s face is on camera, and he’s a moderately famous former kickboxer, and he’s a massive black fella in Thailand, he’d be fairly easy to track down and arrest, Jake is on his undercover way. He decides to make waves in Bangkok to get himself noticed by the snuff-makers, doing stuff like walking into the middle of a Thai kickboxing academy and beating the crap out of all their fighters. Huge coincidence 2 is when he rescues a woman from a group of assailants, and it’s Molly (Sherrie Rose), a sort-of prostitute who ran away from the snuff guys after Billy wanted her for his very own. She has an amazingly luxurious apartment, too, enough that it was close to being a “hey, why not be a Thai hooker?” promotional video.

If the word “Kickboxer” in the title wasn’t enough, this is almost a straight ripoff of the JCVD masterpiece of a few years previously – Jake has to go to a mysterious super-powerful hermit who’s the only person to nearly beat Khan, because he realises his skills aren’t enough. He gets trained in real thai kickboxing until he finally gets hired by the film company to be Khan’s next victim – they pick him kind of by accident, really, which is coincidence no.3. Molly just drives round Bangkok a bit, which seems a risky move when a psychotic murderer and his enormous gang of thugs are after you, but whatever.

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There’s a lot to like about this movie, which is really quite surprising. The relationship between Jake and trainer Prang is more bickering brothers than master and student, which is a funny way to play things; there’s still lots of little montages showing him knuckling under and becoming even more badass than before, though. It’s one of those films where there’s enough weird stuff to push it over the edge into so-bad-its-good territory – Blanks first and foremost, a uniquely terrible actor in a field of terrible actors; the complete ripping off of a plot from a film from 2 years ago, including the “mystical” scenes filmed at what may be the same Buddhist temple; the series of coincidences that stands for a plot; and the idea that producing snuff films is a sustainable business model.

On the other hand, almost despite itself this movie has actually good bits in it. The final fight between Jake and Khan is a masterpiece of editing and choreography, performed at breakneck speed, and they built a hell of a set for it. There’s real humour, and very unusually for a martial arts movie of this sort, they reference other martial arts movies and stars a lot (including JCVD, whose big break was the first film in this franchise). Avedon knows when to take it seriously and when to relax, and it’s a shame he never really went on to too much (although judging by the “trivia” section of IMDB, he was a pretty tough guy to work with).

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This movie has a small but vocal fanbase who believe it’s up there with the classics of the genre. Not sure I’d go that far, but it’s super-entertaining and has a lot to like. Pop this on and have a good time.

Rating: thumbs up

Youtube Film Club – TC 2000 (1993)

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The birthday haul, top middle

By gum, there’s a lot of fighting in this film. Just when you think some plot is going to break out, someone runs into someone else and there’s a flurry of punches and kicks. This film has more fighting than the previous record holder, “Hey, Everyone, Let’s Fight For A Really Long Time” (1973, USA).

I’d give you the plot, but it seems sort of pointless. Oh, go on then. There’s been an environmental apocalypse, and most of the survivors have been forced underground. There are a few people still living on the surface, and most of the people we see are baddies, the street gang “The Picassos”. Underground, we’ve got two good cops, Jason Storm and Zoey Kinsella (Billy “Tae Bo” Blanks and 90s queen Bobbie Phillips), and a bunch of evil cops who want to…god knows. Kill everyone on the surface, I think. Zoey dies and gets transformed into a robotic evil super-cop, Jason quits the force and goes topside, and there meets good guy Bolo Yeung who trains him and finds a bunch of guys to help him stop the evil cops and the Picassos at the same time.

That’s pretty much it in terms of plot. You won’t watch this film and go “dammit Mark! Why didn’t you tell me about the weird tower that they can turn on and it’ll heal the world’s atmosphere?” You will watch this film and enjoy an absolute ton of fighting, though. Everyone in this film can fight. The random hoboes that approach Jason can kick ass, and with virtually no guns in this world, all the cops are amazing martial artists too.

Zoey is turned into a TC2000X, which is an upgrade from the normal stuff the cops get, which is TC2000. She’s part-robot, and in no way does this feel like “Robocop” at all. Fortunately, while kicking ass and being an awesome robot cop she gets to keep wearing her high heels…apart from the stuff her stunt-double does, which being shown in slow motion gives you ample opportunity to see her wearing flats. Considering the incredible high-pitch of sexism that runs through so many movies, this barely registers, which is sad. What isn’t sad is Bolo Yeung as the surprise good guy. He’s so evil-looking that I think after he beats you up, he finds out where you live and then goes and beats your family up, just because – but in this film he’s the mentor, trainer and friend to Jason, and he seems to relish being a good guy for once.

I don’t think Billy Blanks relished anything, or hated anything. In fact, it’s extremely difficult to tell from his face BECAUSE HE’S A TERRIBLE ACTOR DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE He clearly wasn’t hired because he’s a regular when it comes to Oscar nominations. He does get one sweet comeback though, when one of the baddies goes “Time to die” and he replies “time to get a new watch” before knocking him out.

All these guys pale into insignificance, though, next to my favourite guy in the film. Bolo and Jason are getting their gang together, and most of them look like pretty badass guys, except for one man, who I’m going to give a superhero name, Middle-Aged Man Man. MAMM for short is just a guy who looks like he wandered into the training area on his office job’s lunch hour and decided to join in, and sadly he’s one of the first to die. But Middle-Aged Man Man, we salute you.

GREAT POWER

GREAT POWER

So, in conclusion, if you really liked “Project Shadowchaser 3” and see the DVD with this film on it too, then it might be worth a watch – or, if you’re on some weird monomaniacal mission to watch every sci-fi kung-fu film ever made (which, thinking about it, probably wouldn’t take you that long). Anyway, might as well give it a miss.

Rating: thumbs down