Cyber-Tracker 2 (1995)

This may come as a shock to some of you, but the producers of this movie appear to have thought about their intellectual property for more than ten seconds and decided they’d probably ought to have a half-decent reason for making a sequel. Rather than just replace all the actors, keep the robot “trackers” and tell largely the same story again, they kept the characters, built on their stories and made a sequel which extends things in an interesting way.

I know, right? Now, none of this is to say it’s very good, but they deserve credit where it’s due. Returning are Don “The Dragon” Wilson as undercover Secret Service agent Eric Phillips, Stacie Foster as investigative journalist / former terrorist / Eric’s wife Connie, Steve Burton as good guy Jared, and Jim Maniaci as the Cyber-Tracker. Only by this point, Trackers are used as good guys, helping the cops out – Eric tries to get “No. 9” to refer to him by his first name, but No.9 is programmed for formality.

So, the plot. A lot of the plot is based around (I presume) the producer owning both a second-hand car lot and an explosives factory; because so many cars get blown up or wrecked, and so many gigantic explosions happen, that I began to wonder if this wasn’t a very specialised fetish video. A group of villains, led by Paris Morgan (the great Anthony DeLonghis, “Highlander: The Series”), is getting hold of government-issue cybernetic technology, lots of weapons, and is…well, it’s one of your generic world domination things, I think. They’re well aware that no-one came for the plot, so that’s dispensed with as quickly as possible.

A large portion of the movie is based on Morgan making perfect cyber-copies of Eric and Connie, and setting them loose to cause destruction, kill off their enemies in the police department, and so on. Herein lies a problem, one of the sorts of problems that movies like this come across from time to time. If the plan was to take over local government, start building a power base and spread from there, why bother antagonising the guy who whupped a load of Tracker ass in the last movie? Why not just try and not mess with him or his wife, who has the ear of the world’s media, at all? But, even though their plan is dumb and hinges on normal Eric and cyber-Eric never being seen at the same time by anyone who cyber-Eric doesn’t immediately kill, the plan works for the entire second act of the movie.

Stop thinking about it. “But, he’s a huge hero. Why would he wipe out a whole police station?” Sshhhh. Leave it.

I like how they try to give us a little taste of the future, still, which indicates someone thought about the world they were inhabiting. Eric appears to have upgraded his sexy home security system to one with a hologram of the top half of a beautiful woman – she still flirts with him, and gives them an “I know what you’re doing” look when they ask for privacy mode to be enabled so they can have sex. I’m not sure I’d be thrilled with my own home becoming jealous of me, but so be it! And the police chief’s daughter pops over to train in martial arts, which involves her plugging in a VR headset and fighting the cheesiest computer simulation. I wonder if it’d have looked impressive in 1995? Maybe not.

But the plot and the world building, much like in the last movie, takes second place to fights, car chases and explosions. So many explosions! There are a couple of gun-battles which go on for what feels like forever, and they follow the path of the first one – indestructible robot stands in the middle of a bunch of people who can’t shoot or find cover, several hundred bullets fly about, eventually the non-robots fall over. Then there’s a ton of car chases as well, one in the huge LA storm “drains”, the other in “that” motorway tunnel; both locations have been in hundreds of movies.

There’s a character called Kessel, played by Athena Massey, and she’s great. The villain’s main assistant, I was really looking forward to her chewing some scenery and having a cool death scene, but she’s relegated to feuding with the heroes’ third banana Jared, who I honestly didn’t even remember was also in the first movie (and I watched them two days apart). Way too much time is given to the robotic Eric and Connie.

And, while we’re being honest, there’s way too much borrowing of scenes from other, better movies – for instance, there’s the police station scene which is a direct lift from “The Terminator” (but in this, no-one wonders how one apparently normal man can slaughter an entire police station, get shot dozens of times but be completely fine). The whole experience leaves you, honestly, feeling slightly numb. There’s so much gunplay, and so many explosions, fights, and car chases, that no one bit stands out. I never thought I’d say this, but I kept wishing for a quiet conversation or something, just to break it up.

I do want to mention one last thing, perhaps the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen in a reasonably budgeted b-movie. At around 1:21:00 (it’s on Youtube, you can watch it yourself if you like), there’s a shot of a guy standing in a corridor, only they forgot to put anything on the blue screen behind him! So, he’s stood in front of an effect which isn’t there, and then he gets shot and the crashmats he lands on are clearly visible, and not just for a tiny instant either. It’s one of the most egregious errors I can think of in a movie of this stature, and I love it a little bit more because of it.

I’ve spent a long time criticising this, and it’s definitely not perfect, but it’s so energetic that you can forgive it a lot. Apparently, PM Entertainment are a company that specialised in wild OTT movies like this, so expect more reviews of their stuff in the weeks to come.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

CyberTracker (1994)

Much like the “observer effect” in quantum physics, where the mere observation of an experiment causes a change to its state, so too it is with 1990s straight-to-video action movies. Just when you think you’ve reviewed all the half-decent ones, yet more emerge from the woodwork (okay, that’s nothing like the observer effect). But even though the ISCFC has featured over a thousand reviews, with mine personally coming in at a little over 900, I’d never even heard of this one until a few days ago.

The whole “never heard of it” thing is even more surprising when you factor in the two stars – Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Richard Norton. We covered the entirety of Wilson’s “Bloodfist” series a little while ago, and we’ve been fans of Norton’s ever since we saw him in a few Cynthia Rothrock movies. And here, we even get to hear Norton’s real accent!

Right from the beginning, we’re given a world which is something of a conundrum. Outside a club is a hologram person, imploring people to come in as they’ve got it all – “beer, whisky, heroin, cocaine”. So, this is a world where everything is legal, or where the forces of law & order have broken down completely, right? Well, not quite. In this heady far-off future of 2015, the US Government has merged with a corporation (I think? They’re sort of unclear on that point, the flags are different though) and we’ve now got the Computerised Judicial System. How crimes are investigated is a matter we’re never informed about, but people aren’t so much arrested as brutally murdered by a huge bald cyborg. Perhaps the cyborgs only go after the big crimes? Again, information we’re not given, although there is a sequel which may fill in all these holes, much like “Prometheus”.

Wilson is Eric Philips, low-level security guard for Senator Dilly (John Aprea, last seen by us in “Savage Beach” and “Dead Man On Campus”); Norton is Dilly’s right-hand man, Ross. Eric and Ross help to thwart an attempt on Dilly’s life by the UHR – “Union For Human Rights” – and because Eric is so awesome, he’s let into the inner circle. Although, the inner circle is basically Dilly going “watch me murder this unarmed protestor”, so Eric runs away, horrified at the person he’s working for.

Director Richard Pepin is no slouch – we’ve already covered his stuff in “T-Force” and “Hologram Man” – and he makes as much effort as his budget will allow to build a world. This is stuff like the bizarrely flirtatious relationship Eric has with the AI running his house; the scene where he turns her “perception” down so she won’t question his crap opens a whole can of philosophical worms. Then there’s the work of TV newsreader Connie (Stacie Foster), whose piece about the UHR is the most friendly-to-terrorism piece of news reporting perhaps ever. She’s as fine and obvious a love interest as b-movies have ever given us, even if I was worrying that she’d still not met Eric by the halfway point.

So, a fairly solid man-on-the-run plot; just one with cyborgs in it. When you’ve got Richard Norton and Don “The Dragon” Wilson as your stars, you can also expect plenty of fighting, and they’re both of course brilliant. One of the many plus points about low-budget cinema is you’ll get the main guys doing their own fighting, so you can keep the camera in close (no need to cut around faces or obviously incorrect haircuts). But the gun-play leaves a little to be desired. As the Cyber Trackers are made of some weird magic super-hard skin stuff, they don’t need to worry about dodging bullets or finding cover; and they’re also terrible shots, meaning there are a few more scenes than strictly necessary of a Tracker stood in the middle of a room, shots bouncing harmlessly off him, missing large numbers of people who aren’t making any attempt to cover themselves either.

I mentioned the low budget, but if you were counting the number of cars that blow up, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s got a much larger amount of money spent on it. Explosion after explosion after explosion…they even blow up a fire-truck at one point, which can’t have been cheap. Stock footage or the fact the director is also the boss of the production company? Seriously though, if you miss the explosions, wait two minutes and another one will be along.

A couple of splendid tropes of low budget cinema pop up here too. One is the “Access File” screen. You’ll have seen it yourself dozens of times, the good guy trying to log on to the villain’s computer, and rather than using Windows or Linux, it’s just a screen where you type in “Access File X” and it pops straight up. Perhaps Hollywood has its own OS that it’s holding out on us about? And the second, my personal favourite, is the Overconfident Villain. You know the deal – villain has guns, hero is trapped, villain goes “I don’t need guns to beat you!”, puts the guns down and immediately gets his ass kicked by the hero. The ur-example of this is the great Vernon Wells in “Commando”, but this is a fine entry in that particular tradition.

If you like people always doing the dumbest thing in every circumstance, then “CyberTracker” could be the movie for you. Some silly sci-fi, lots of terrible wooden acting, the occasional whisper of a sense of humour, terrible gunfights and excellent hand-to-hand fights. The usual. Let’s see if part 2 is any better!

Rating: thumbs in the middle

Terminal Rush (1996)

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Long-term readers may remember our reviews of the “Bloodfist” series, 9 movies which mostly featured Don “The Dragon” Wilson, playing a variety of characters in a variety of environments. It could have been a “Bloodfist”, I suppose – released the same year as “Bloodfist 8”, it bears the same relation to the rest of the series as that one does (none whatsoever). “Terminal Rush” does bear a passing resemblance to one of the more enduring B-movie templates of all time, but more on that later.

 

“They’d have to be a real nutcase” to try and take over the Hoover dam, says a cop near the beginning. Luckily, the movies are lousy with erudite nutcases who want to blow things up and steal things and make a ton of money from doing so, and “Terminal Rush” is no different. Harrison Dekker (Michael Anderson Jr, “Logan’s Run”) leads a team of mercenaries into the Dam, killing some guards, taking others hostage and threatening to blow the dam up unless he gets $25 million. His sidekick is Bartel (the late, great “Rowdy” Roddy Piper) and if you’ve seen any promotional images for this movie, you’ll have noticed Bartel’s rather unusual make-up choices.

 

Wilson is local Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Harper (who spent 6 years in Special Forces, we are helpfully told at one point) and he seems to like the life in whatever small town it is that’s next to Hoover Dam. Unfortunately, his wife Katherine (Kate Greenhouse) doesn’t, I guess – it’s never really elaborated on – and as the movie begins, she’s packing her stuff to move out. She wants Jacob to go with her, but he won’t because his grandfather told him his destiny is to perform an act of great heroism in this town. We discover later that she’s pregnant, and her brother is one of the other Deputies, so her insistence on leaving town right at that moment feels a bit off; but literally no-one in the universe is watching this for accuracy in the depiction of marriage, so I won’t dwell on it too much.

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As you’ve probably guessed by now, it’s a “Die Hard” clone, with a bit of “Under Siege” thrown in for good measure. Don finds out that the Dam has been taken over so goes in through a secret maintenance tunnel and starts kicking ass. The FBI are brought in, and they try and stop him; then the Sheriff asks for the Army to be brought in too. In a moderately interesting twist, it seems some of the people on the outside are working for the people inside, and $25 million isn’t going to make much of a difference divided that many ways, so there’s a whole other reason for them being there and a whole lot more money to be made. Can Jacob stop them all? Can Dekker stop doing that thing where the villain shoots one of his own guys in cold blood to prove a point to the other guys?

 

There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be decent – I’ve liked a lot of those cheap ripoff movies, think Don Wilson is a decent enough actor and a great martial artist, and love Roddy Piper. It just feels like a cover version with no soul, though. Take the gunfire scenes (please) and watch how many people appear to be just firing randomly into the air. Or, even with a complete amateur’s limited knowledge of tactics, how stupid they all seem (set yourself in position before you start firing, don’t run and gun from the hip, you’ll never hit the bloke). It’s mostly in one of those disused factories that we B-movie fans know and love, but there’s no sense of where people are in relation to other people…

Terminal Rush - Die Herausforderung / Terminal Rush CDN 1995 Regie: Damian Lee Darsteller: Roddy Piper, Don 'The Dragon' Wilson Rollen: Bartel, Jacob Harper

It’s just poorly directed. Full of Dutch angles, and that thing where people are shot from a camera which appears to be sat on the floor, meaning we see up a lot of noses. Lord knows why, it becomes irritating really quickly. Director Damian Lee is in regular work (and made ISCFC non-favourite “Ski School”, among others), making those thrillers you’d see on the video shop shelves starring former big stars who still have some name recognition (Dominic Purcell, Andy Garcia, Forrest Whittaker, Cuba Gooding Jr, Christian Slater), and maybe he got better, but this is just bland. Even Piper is sort of bland in this, like he got the weird face-paint but wasn’t allowed to go over the top at all.

 

A word about screenwriter Mark Sevi, who seems to have written more sequels than any other writer ever. To list his first seven credits: Excessive Force II: Force on Force; Dream a Little Dream 2; Scanner Cop II; Relentless IV: Ashes to Ashes; Ghoulies IV; Fast Getaway II; Class of 1999 II: The Substitute; Dead On: Relentless II. “Terminal Rush” was only his second original screenplay – well, okay, “original” is pushing the definition a bit much.

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I expected the ending to be “well, husband, you’re good at your job, therefore I love you again” but they did a surprising (and quite welcome) twist on that sad sexist old trope. It is, unfortunately, the only remotely surprising thing about the movie, and while it’s certainly tolerable, it’s just a bit too amateurish. When you have a movie where Roddy Piper gets to blow up helicopters with a rocket launcher and you’re not grinning from ear to ear at the end, you’ve done something wrong.

 

Rating: thumbs down

Bloodfist 2050 (2005)

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The most randomly selected of all the martial arts franchises comes to an end, sadly. Don Wilson had bowed out of the series after part 8, and the internet seems quiet on explanations as to why they decided to resurrect the name, 9 years after the last movie, to make this. I can say with some confidence that there were no fans, anywhere, that were clamouring for more Bloodfists, but someone realised they had a bunch of stock footage left over so they could knock another one out cheaply, and here we are!

In the future, Los Angeles looks like some sort of apocalypse has hit it. All the big buildings are half-demolished (unless they use an actual shot of the city, of course, in which case all the buildings are fine) and society seems to be crumbling. Kind of. It’s all rather confusing, like they said “hey, let’s make this post-apocalyptic” but couldn’t decide exactly what that meant.

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Anyway, Johnny Danko is a fighter in “The Pit”, an underground fight league where death is legal and…no, you’ve not read this summary before, but it certainly feels like it. Anyway, he’s killed in an alleyway after winning the big championship, so his brother Alex has to come to town and become a fighter himself in order to get information. In case you were wondering, this is exactly the same as the plot of the first Bloodfist movie – just substitute the future for the Philippines (where this movie was filmed, non-coincidentally enough) and you’d have the same movie, down to the cast of characters that surround our star. The wacky friend who’s also a fighter, the wacky friend’s hot sister (who was the dead brother’s girlfriend), the trainer, the mysteriously evil top fighter. The sister is a stripper in both movies too, if you’re really demanding. And, in a deep continuity cut, Joe Mari Avellana, the guy who was the trainer in part 1 and the villain in part 2 comes back for a small role as the Pit’s ring announcer / referee. Nice one!

Even though it’s screamingly obvious who the villain is from minute 1, we go through it all anyway, with fights in the pit alternating with fights with random groups of thugs. The thing is, Matt Mullins (Alex) is both a much better actor and a much more exciting screen fighter than Wilson ever was. He does wild flips and big moves and looks great doing them all – that this was his first movie is even more surprising. He’s done some kids shows (and was in the great Mortal Kombat web-series from a few years ago), but he’s not made tons of movies since.

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The future setting of this movie is almost entirely irrelevant – they could have set it in the present-day Philippines and no-one would have batted an eyelid. No future technology, no gangs of feral kids, nothing. This might win the award for least future-stuff in a future-set movie, I think.

What’s not irrelevant is boobs. Even the most dedicated lover of female nudity among you will probably be getting tired of it by the end of the movie – as well as female lead Nadia (Beverly Lynne, for whom this is a very rare non-softcore porn role) there’s lots and lots of strippers, some appearing to be stock footage from an earlier “Bloodfist”. The rather confusing editing of the stripping scenes also guarantees they won’t be titilating, though.

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It’s yet another fun entry in the series, not too long and enjoyable to watch. But there’s lots of oddities, like it was written by someone who didn’t fully understand earth customs. The brother goes to watch his sister “work” at the local strip club – I mean, he didn’t go with that exact purpose in mind, but he never appears fazed by it. There’s the way the Pit is absolutely covered in adverts for soap and hand sanitizer, and only those things. There’s the relationship that starts between Alex and Nadia, maybe a week after the death of her boyfriend / his brother. Everyone apart from the main cast is Filipino, yet they still pretend it’s set in LA.

Rating: thumbs up

In rather exciting news (for us), Matt Mullins, Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock are going to be appearing in a movie together – “White Tiger”. See the trailer here – http://www.gorillapictures.net/movies.html#/0/4 and keep an eye out for release dates!

Bloodfist 8: Hard Way Out (1996)

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Don “The Dragon” Wilson seemed to age all at once. From part 1 to 7, he looked sort of 30 the entire time, and now in part 8 he looks every year old enough to have a kid in his teens and appears a little dried-out, like he was on some diet which eliminated water. And that’s the end of our “how was Don Wilson looking in the late 90s?” piece, hope you enjoyed it!

So let’s move on to the movie, Wilson’s last in the “Bloodfist” series. They finally dropped the “WKA World Kickboxing Association champion” from the opening credits, seeing as he vacated the title 5 years earlier; and in this movie he’s Rick Cowan, a single father / maths teacher living in the suburbs. He and his kid both get dates for that weekend, but before they can go on them, some masked assassins break into their house and start spraying bullets everywhere.

Turns out ol’ Don was a CIA agent, and the people coming after him are upset with a job he did in Italy many years ago. So, he goes on the run, getting help from old friends (including his female co-star from part 7) before finally going to Ireland.

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Yes, the majority of this movie is set in Ireland, which is one of the odder detours for a film series to take. They really filmed there, too – seeing Wilson run down a street that was not closed off for filming, past charity shops, is pretty funny; and there’s lots of pretty beautiful local footage. As Corman released another film made in Ireland at around the same time (“My Brother’s War”), I’d lay good money on this having been a joint trip, as he never wasted a penny!

There’s a couple of good guy Irish cops, and lots of local flavour too – plus the Major, Wilson’s old boss. If you think it’d be odd for a CIA commander to be a long-retired Irish guy, then you’d be right where I was, and this was the guy’s first ever acting role, at maybe 70 years old, so I’m getting more confused. Talking of odd ages, John Patrick White plays son Chris, and he’s supposed to be 15, although White was 26 at the time of filming. For an extra, completely pointless, layer, a lot of the characters are named after famous filmmakers or actors – the two CIA guys are Powell and Pressburger, most notably. Huh?

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So, American CIA agent, tracked by Italian assassins, goes to discover the truth in Ireland. Okay? Wilson inches along as an actor, although he’s decided an almost constant grimace is the way to go, to stop himself looking vacant; but everyone else does a pretty decent B-movie job. There’s some fun fighting, although nowhere near enough, and the final set-piece on board the boat is well-handled. It’s fine, one of those solidly C+ movies that I wish had been either an A or an F.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

Bloodfist 7: Manhunt (1996)

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As this series goes on, it sort of becomes more difficult to find anything fun or new to say about it. Don Wilson remains a solid-ish actor, the fight scenes remain at a pretty high standard, the plots remain fairly labyrinthine, and the budgets remain low. We can, of course, discuss the movies they “get inspiration” from – part 6 was a stew of different action movies, and part 7 is “The Fugitive”; but I think you’re all unlikely to be joining the series this deep in anyway, so you’re on board no matter what.

As a short preamble, this was never intended to be part of the Bloodfist franchise, and was indeed originally released on DVD as “Manhunt”, but was renamed later. No idea why, there’s zero continuity to this series, and looking at Don Wilson’s filmography, you could just pick 8 random movies, call them “Butt-Kicker” 1-8 and boom, you’ve got another franchise (seriously though, don’t do that, I don’t think I could review another 8).

Don is Jim Trudell, a guy who’s just driving round, it would seem. Helping out a woman in a redneck bar, he gives her a lift, puts her up in his hotel room and how does he get repaid? She steals his car, that’s how! Then, in a chain of events I’m still a little unclear on, he finds her car nearby and decides to try and track her down, despite his car being battered and hers being a top-end BMW. This gets him arrested for murder – a shady cop is searching her house at the same time he arrives, and Don kills him in self-defence – then he escapes and tries to stay alive, out of sight and try and solve the mystery of who the woman is and why everyone wants to kill him.

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Steven Williams is Captain Doyle, the new cop in town who is tough but fair (Williams must have played this sort of role a thousand times) – so we’ve got him gradually coming to understand there’s something fishy in his own department at the same time as tracking down that evil cop-killer. Oh, and it turns out that Jim Trudell is a Special Forces badass who, identically to part 6 where he played a different character, was booted out of the Army for being too awesome. I wonder if they just made this script on a computer but forgot to change the “character origin” parameter?

Honestly, it’s another in a series which has turned out to be pretty fun. I mean, you’d probably be better off watching the films they take inspiration from, but if you’re looking for something new, there’s a lot worse you could do. There’s fun things to notice in this movie, anyway – the incredibly ugly shirt villain DT is wearing at around the 49:00 mark (it’s beyond hideous, really); the immensely unlikely set of circumstances that draw Don into the events of this movie; the way that for the second Bloodfist in a row, no-one can shoot worth a damn; the stunt double with really long hair, doubling for a guy with a close crop.

I do kind of want a shirt like that

I do kind of want a shirt like that

Just over 80 minutes (including a bizarrely abrupt cut to black right at the end), no muss no fuss. Just good old low budget action fun.

Rating: thumbs up

Bloodfist 6: Ground Zero (1995)

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I imagine the conversation about this movie went something like this:

 

CORMAN: Do you want the next Bloodfist to rip off either “Under Siege”, “The Rock” or “Die Hard”?

DON “The Dragon” WILSON: Yes!

 

It’s a cheap Roger Corman-produced cover version of those three action classics! I could really abandon the review here and you’d have a fairly good idea of what this film would be like, but I don’t get paid the big bucks (earnings so far: £0) to just write five lines!

 

A good indicator of what this film will be like is contained in its very first scene. A naked woman strolls across the shot (Catya Sassoon, who played a different villain in part 5), talking to Major Tillman, whose woodenness is understandable when you realise who he is. Steve Garvey was famous in the late 70s and 80s as first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers (baseball, in case you were wondering), then for many years hosted a series of “celebrity” golf and fishing shows on ESPN, while acting very sporadically. He appears to have never gotten that good at it.  Anyway, she’s an undercover villain, and a group of Islamic terrorists sneak and shoot their way into control of a nuclear weapon base.

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Luckily, stopping to bandage up the foot of a rabbit means military courier Nick Corrigan (Wilson) is late getting to the base and misses the slaughter; but Tillman manages to slip one of the keys to trigger the nuclear weapons to him so he becomes involved. After a couple of fairly complex (in terms of your average martial arts film) thrillers, it’s interesting to see the series take another swerve into more traditional action movie territory. It’s got the mysterious European villain (bearing a striking resemblance to Timothy Olyphant, who would have been great in this); the crazily OTT plot (a plan to launch nukes at every major city in the USA) and the lone hero with radio communication to the outside (in this case, the Major who has to suffer the sexist jibes and wrong analysis of her superiors).

 

The low budget shows most obviously in the way most of the movie takes place in the same two corridors, with no attempt made to make them look different; and the way they hired a baseball player in a major dramatic role. But they do as decent a job as possible, and Wilson is great as usual. I loved the “but he’s the most badass Special Forces guy ever who was busted down for being too awesome!” reveal when they wondered how a simple courier could take on a base full of terrorists too.

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If you can put this film’s more famous cinematic parents far from your mind, you’ll have fun with this one. It’s fast, it’s fun, it gets the job done with a minimum of fuss. If you’ve got a fetish for films where millions of rounds of ammunition are fired off and maybe three guys actually get hit with a bullet, then this is definitely the film for you! Seriously, you terrorists, learn to shoot!

 

Rating: thumbs up

Bloodfist 5: Human Target (1994)

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“Bloodfist 4” was a pretty complicated thriller, with all sorts of different groups with different agendas fighting over Don “The Dragon” Wilson and that mysterious box of chocolates he found. Well, it seems that writer Rob Kerchner (parts 4-7 are credited to him) was interested in exploring similar themes, but how well did he do?

Don “The Dragon” Wilson is shot running away from persons unknown, and wakes up from a coma with no memories at all. As he’s sat in his room, “Candy” comes in claiming to be his wife, but then reveals she’s just a prostitute hired by a friend of his to “bust him out”. Or is she? Her pimp “Marcus” seems a little upset she’s got herself involved in this, but is he really a pimp? And what about Corey, the NSA boss who claims to be friends with him, and that he’s an NSA agent too?

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It’s a film where identities are fairly fluid with multiple layers of deception, and while Don may never be a great actor, he’s surrounded by decent B-movie talent. “Candy” is Denice Duff, who did time with Full Moon Films in the “Subspecies” series; Don Stark (“That 70s Show”) is Corey; and “Marcus” is Steve James, who we loved in the “American Ninja” series. This was sadly his last movie – he was almost always a better fighter and actor than the people he was forced by a racist system to play sidekick to, and it’s a damn shame he died so young.

Much as part 3 felt like “The Shawshank Redemption” but was made 2 years before it, this has strong similarities with “The Long Kiss Goodnight”, and predates it by the same amount – well, it bears an even stronger resemblance to “The Bourne Identity” although the book and original movie has this beat by decades. Although those movies are better than this one, Don is a top-level fighter and handles the villains really well – his close-fighting style looks great on camera.

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I think this is the best of the series so far. Plot, fighting, action scenes, all are very strong for a B-movie such as this. Okay, I got a bit lost by the two suitcases, but they’re really just MacGuffins to get Wilson into contact with people he will almost inevitably need to fight. From a very ropey beginning, this series is turning into something rather decent.

Rating: thumbs up