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Look, I have no idea what was going on in this movie, but that's partly
due to the fact that at one point, a midget cowboy, wearing sunglasses
in a bar, sitting by himself, and rocking to some random country band
had me so excited, that I basically had to sign up on IMDb so I could
tell everyone that this movie has a midget cowboy in it.
I thank the Netflix Gods for his sublime performance.
Oh, and apparently, all Asians know martial arts, and then they use the arts whenever they're least needed (I've heard this is true).
It certainly isn't Citizen Kane (that movie was in black in white), but it is the greatest movie ever made in color (named Steele Justice).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"You Don't Recruit John Steele. You Unleash Him." Lt. John Steele
(Kove) is a man who plays by his own rules. He survived the horrors of
the Vietnam war, including being trapped in a cave with "ratbombs", or
bombs strapped to rats. Now, in the "present day", both he and his 'Nam
buddy Lee (Robert Kim) are L.A. cops. Helping them in their quest to
take down the evil drug-dealing gang the Black Tigers is Reese (Casey).
When the Black Tigers do something really, really bad (I'm a master at
avoiding spoilers), Steele straps two bandoliers of bullets to his bare
chest and gets the only kind of justice he can...STEELE JUSTICE!
Released in the prime of the video-store action glut of the 80's,
despite its killer cast of favorites, it's fairly easy to see why
Steele Justice got overlooked at the time. If a video store patron
wanted this type of fare, are they going to spend their hard-earned
money on a Rambo film or a Schwarzenegger vehicle, or Steele Justice?
Thus it became a "die-hard action fan only" film. While it does have
plenty of "shirtless shooting" and classic barfights, there are some
things about the movie that are worth noting...
First off, John Steele (gotta love the name) has a gun that shoots knives. That's pretty memorable right there. But also he has a pet: Threestep the snake. He is named this because his poison is so deadly, you won't make it three steps before you die. Also, and this isn't said in the film, we can gather that Steele is a big fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd, especially the song "Gimme Three Steps". The bar he frequents also features the Desert Rose Band, featuring Chris Hillman of Byrds fame, so we know Steele likes country-rock. And speaking of his musical tastes, during a movie highlight, a car chase interrupts a video shoot for Astrid Plane (of Animotion fame), so we can also gather he hates 80's pop. Even though the video was choreographed (and perhaps stars) Jeff Kutash. And in true 80's fashion, there is a montage set to the song "fight fire with fire" by Hot Pursuit.
Sela Ward, as the love interest, appears heavily medicated. However, she does get to say the line to Steele, "The war isn't over for you. It just changed locations." Asher Brauner makes a brief appearance as "Mob Thug #1", and most of the names in the cast, including Shannon Tweed, Irene Tsu and Eric Lee make very short, almost walk-on roles.
Everybody knows/says the name "Steele" throughout the movie, and in true action movie fashion, it all ends in the typical abandoned warehouse. For generic 80's action that's so formulaic it can't miss, check out Steele Justice.
For more insanity, please visit: comeuppancereviews.com
Well i'm surprised there aren't more comments for this film, seems that most people on here are bothered by the fact that's not particularly original, so what? Being unoriginal does not automatically make a film bad, and for the person who was bothered by the racist undertones, no offense pal but you're taking the film WAAAYYYY too seriously, this is the type of film were you don't think about logic and you just lay back and enjoy the mindless action. Kove is pretty bad ass in his role and i'm disappointed he didn't get the chance to star in more of these types of films then he did, though he did eventually end up in one of the Project:Shadowchaser films which i'll try and check out in the future, as it stands this film is pretty mindless and forgettable, but for people like me who couldn't care less about intelligence in films, that's hardly a bad thing.
Martin Kove stars as John Steele an ex-vietnam vet who becomes a one man army when his partner (and fellow vietnam vet friend) is killed by an enemy of his in Vietnam. Silly actioner which has a huge bodycount, will no doubt satisfy those craving action, but will fail to keep anyone else from squirming, or laughing for that matter (Martin Kove's wound repair scene must be seen to be believed). Soon Tech Oh does make a good villian though.
Beefcake actor Martin Kove joined the ranks of action genre stars with
this routinely plotted but fairly amusing vehicle. Kove plays genial
Vietnam veteran John Steele, who goes into action when his wartime
comrade Lee Van Minh (Robert Kim), now a police detective, is
assassinated along with most of his family. Helped and hindered by
former colleagues like Bennett (Ronny Cox) and Tom Reese (Bernie
Casey), John goes up against a wartime associate named Bon Soong Kwan
(Soon-Tek Oh), who's now a drug lord in America masquerading as a
I'm going to give the filmmakers (led by writer & director Robert Boris) the benefit of the doubt here, and say that the amount of laughs to be had from watching this are intentional. If one does see it as tongue in cheek, it may yield greater entertainment than if they take it seriously. "Steele Justice" does have its moments. For one thing, it stops cold for a rock video that is eventually interrupted by the ongoing battles between Steele and Kwans' minions. But the unqualified highlight occurs when Steele is shot with a poison dart, and almost nonchalantly, he removes the offending dart, sucks up and spits out the poison, and does a fine job of improvising when it comes to cauterizing the wound. The action sequences are all reasonably well done.
Kove is engaging as our sardonic hero, often to be seen with a smile on his face. Oh is an enjoyably hammy villain in the action movie tradition. Sela Ward is a lovely woman, but as the heros' ex-wife, she offers a pretty insipid performance. Ditto for Jan Gan Boyd (the young lady who was hot for Bronson in the movie "Assassination"), cast as Van Minhs' supposedly teen aged daughter. Watch this and you'll see why she never had much of a career. There's a pleasingly large amount of familiar faces in the supporting cast, although some of them have no more than cameos or walk ons: Joseph Campanella, Sarah Douglas, Peter Kwong, Al Leong, Shannon Tweed, Irene Tsu, David L. Lander, Asher Brauner, Phil Fondacaro, Kevin Gage.
Any completist of 1980s action movies should have a pretty good time with this.
Six out of 10.
This straight to drive in action pic, is just your typic action fare, with some well staged action set pieces, no more. What's fascinatingly strange here, it's it's lead, Kove, who I've never seen, take the lead before, while also playing a good guy. I'll be honest, I've never considered this guy to be much of an actor, my friend, even stating, during the 80's, he's a no talent, but I've seen him in a lot of stuff. I am glad to see him in this, and really, he doesn't do half a bad job (but don't push it) as a Vietnam vet turned cop, out to bust an Asian bad arse, (one of his team you'll recognize straight out of the first Die Hard) who has slain the closest thing to family, though his late vet/cop buddy was crooked. The surviving daughter, a little Asian girl, who overacts, especially one bit of dialogue, robot sounding, when she and Uncle John are on a stolen boat, about to flee from authorities, is taken under his wing. What Steele Justice suffers from, is tired formula, and you'll feel tired and exhausted by this at the end, when he's claimed victory, killing off the bad dudes, two who went on to star in certain B grade, Wings Hauser fare. There are some dumb moments in this slightly stupid actioner. Ronny Cox, as the police commissioner is so actor stereotyped, when you look at his surrounding roles of this mid 80's era. Shannon Tweed provides nice scenery and a sexual stimulant to the film as Soon Teck Oh's business partner, and she looks so fine in a bikini. Soon Teck Oh, in a kimono, not. A weird partnership. Sela Ward as John's ex, looks undernourished. The eye nabbing performance is that of Joseph Campanella as Steele's old vet buddy, now an untrusting one. He makes his scenes, worthwhile, while another highlight of the average 80's action, is it's rockin' finale soundtrack. Out of interest this was on at the drive in, with another film of even appeal, Slate, Wyn And Me.
I didn't realize Martin Kove, the leader of the Cobra Kai dojo in the Karate Kid movies played John Steele in this movie until I read somebody else's review.Steele Justice was an awesome movie that is way overlooked & should be more well known then what it is.The whole time I watched it, I couldn't believe nobody turned it into a TV show back then or at least spun off a couple sequels.That would've been genius I think.I'm not going to spoil the movie for anybody else but there are a lot of things that will make you either laugh (even though it's probably not meant to) go WOW or WTF.You'll just have to watch for yourself.Watch for the music video though.It seemed like right in the middle of an action flick, they stopped to make a music video.After reading a few other Steele Justice reviews I seemed to have missed out on a few things the 1st time I watched it so now I feel the need to go back & watch it all over again.If you're an action movie fan, go watch Steele Justice.If you're not an action movie fan, go watch Steele Justice
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There's plenty of laugh out loud fun to be had in this over the top action flick. The completely talentless Martin Kove stars as the Rambo-style John Steele--not to be confused with John Steed--who likes to paint his face with camouflage and goes into action with his pet snake wrapped around his neck. When his Vietnam War-era nemesis relocates to Southern California and murders Steele's old sidekick Lee(Robert Kim) in order to protect his narcotics business, our hero leaps into action, daubs himself with war paint, and finds himself the biggest gun possible. There's an absolutely awful performance by Jan Gan Boyd as the deceased Lee's daughter, who brings new meaning to the words 'perky' and 'cloyingly annoying'. Also on hand are familiar faces such as Joseph Campanella as a fellow vet harboring a terrible secret, Bernie Casey as a weary cop who somehow survives getting shot in the stomach, and reliable Al Leong as (big surprise here) a villain. This awful film is compulsively watchable and comes highly recommended to fans of the sublimely dreadful.
There are stupid action films like Beverly Hills Cop III, which are awful and hard to watch, posses no entertainment value at all, just bad. But then there is that special film that is so incredibly awful, so painfully bad, it starts to become, well, wildly entertaining! You revel in amazement at how the movie is able to steadily lower the bar from start to finish. I mean, if you are looking for clichés, well, this film is 100% cliché. You will not see one scene that you have not already seen in any episode of TJ Hooker, Walker: Texas Ranger, or any Chuck Norris movie from the 1980s. There are several points during the film when you ask yourself, "the director knows this is terrible, doesn't he?" He has to! What boggles my mind is that there are people in here that are actually saying this movie was not really that bad. Uhh, I am guessing these people rode the short bus to school when they were younger. OK, you want a synopsis? Steele fought in Vietnam, he was a hero. Steele comes home to LA, corrupt Vietnamese everywhere, Steele deals with it, HIS OWN WAY! Steele gets beat up a lot, even gets shot with a blowgun, his reaction of which, was to grimace like he was shot with a laser beam. Then for some reason, he very slowly removes the toothpick sized dart from his arm (I guess so there was more time for the poison to inject?), which probably went a millimeter deep, and cauterizes the wound with a frying pan. Why am I explaining this is not a plot driven movie! Just watch the idiocy and enjoy it. Mystery Science Theater could have dedicated a season to this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I wouldn't pay a cent to see this movie, but if it's available free On
Demand, there are worse ways to kill 90 minutes. Every 80s action
cliché is on display, although there are a few fresh spins here and
there; a car crashes through a trailer, and it's the trailer that
inexplicably explodes into a huge fireball, not the car. Similarly,
it's the police chief's recklessness (instead of his stupidity) that
constantly undermines the hero. And there's a bit at the end where the
bad guy is using the hero's ex-wife as a shield whose resolution was a
For a low-budget piece of crap, the cast is halfway decent, although understandably they're not doing their best work here. Martin Kove seemed to have a sense of humor about the whole thing, and he's fun to watch. Ronny Cox does a neat riff on the aforementioned clichéd chief, and Bernie Casey is always welcome; he's one of the few guys I truly believe would be back at work two hours after taking a bullet to the abdomen. Sela Ward (aka the former Mrs. Gregory House) shows up to whine and try to stop Steele from doing what a man's gotta do, etc. And the mighty Al Leong manages to get blown away twice, and even has a few lines of dialogue this time around.
Soon-Tek Oh is a decent bad guy, but like every other reviewer pointed out, once you see him in that blue muumuu, it's kind of hard to take him seriously. Hannibal Lecter in that muumuu? Not scary. Darth Vader in that muumuu? Not scary.
As for Steele himself, it's worth noting that for most of the movie, he's falling-down drunk and is always on the losing end of every fight. Then when it's time for vengeance, cue up a sub-Rocky montage complete with a hilariously bad 80s rock song, and suddenly he's the Terminator. He even manages to infiltrate a secret Army testing center (which seems to be located right in the same neighborhood where everything else takes place) and steals a top secret Army tank-like thingamajig, driving right past a bunch of guards who don't even try to stop him.
All in all, a classic piece of 80s b-grade nonsense.
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