Night and day, my friends. In between 1989’s “Future Force” and this, David Carradine either stopped drinking or found some better drugs, because he actually appears to be enjoying himself, not walking zombie-like through proceedings. In fact, more energy is on display from everyone here, making it moderately enjoyable to watch!
For those of you not present yesterday, “Future Force” is a cop thriller set in a future which looks remarkably like our present, and has two differences with our time – one, the police force has been privatised, and two, David Carradine has a super-glove which can fly through the air and choke people, as well as attaching to Carradine’s arm and firing lasers.
“Future Zone” is quite different. Although Carradine still has the glove, he uses it even less than he did in the first movie (and both my wife and I were shouting at him to save himself the effort by using it more, then); and while there’s still privatised police, it looks much more like a normal police force. Also quite importantly, despite both movies sharing a main character who does the same job, with the same ludicrous prop, this definitely isn’t a sequel. The sets are different, the outfits are different, the whole feel of it is different.
Absolutely no attempt whatsoever is made to set this movie in any sort of future, but the name is approached from a different angle. Early on in proceedings, there’s a beam of light from the sky, and from it emerges…Ted Prior!
Yes, Ted, star of most of his brother David A’s movies, is the co-star here, and he’s Billy, a cop from the future who’s come back to help Tucker (Carradine) solve a dangerous crime, or something. I was trying to hide the big reveal, although it’s painfully obvious from the first time you see them both together; then I noticed that IMDB spoils it in their synopsis so I don’t feel bad now. Billy is Tucker’s son from the future, although both Tucker and his wife look a little too old to be having children, given they’ve not had any yet (Carradine was 54 at the time of filming, Gail Jensen – who played his wife – was 41). You can tell Billy is from the future due to his incredibly sweet mesh shirt, which is never referred to by anyone but is magnificent.
The plot of this is so inconsequential as to barely be worth bothering with – a huge shipment of cocaine is brought into town, the bad guys kill the dealers…
ASIDE: This is classic Bad Guy Economics. Who will ever trust you enough to sell you drugs after you kill your previous dealer?
…and then blow up the ship it came in on. They really blow it up as well, despite it looking like a huge old rusted hulk and not a ship that anyone has used in decades. Kudos to them for finding a city that was going to do some demolition and getting permission to film it, I guess. Anyway! Tucker stops the shipment and confiscates it, then the bad guys want it back, Tucker and his son have a big “They Live” style fight in an alleyway and at the end of it are friends, you know the routine.
David A Prior was not, I suppose, a stupid man. So when he slips certain little lines in, one must assume he knew exactly how odd they were and was doing it for a laugh. When asked about how he came to be from 30 years in the future, Billy just casually says “some friends of mine built a time portal”. Wait, what? Your friends built a time portal but didn’t use it for anything fun like going to the first ever Beatles gig, or sharing a bottle of whisky with Ernest Hemingway? Nothing serious like killing Hitler? Nope, they decided to send their friend back so he could save his Dad’s life! They must really have liked Billy (or really wanted to get rid of him).
As well as a much brighter performance from Carradine, Prior is on good form too, and there’s some decent supporting turns, such as Charles Napier as the corrupt police chief. Well, as they sort of ignore the privatised thing, it’s difficult to say exactly what his job is. Prior’s budgets means he never had to scrimp on his casting, and it’s a plus here as it is in most of his movies of the AIP era.
What I’d like to think is that Carradine went to Prior after the first movie, and a stint of sobriety, and apologised for the cruddy performance in the first one and offered to make another, and this time he’d really try. But there must have been some argument about the glove – imagine Star Wars where, in the final fight, Obi-Wan just decides to fist-fight against Darth because the lightsabre would be too easy? Why even have it as a thing in the movie if you’re not going to use it? Or comment on it? Argh
So, much better than the previous Future movie, and a fitting end to our mini-series of reviews. If you have any other equally silly ideas for sorts of movies for us to cover, please leave a comment!
Rating: thumbs up