Reviews written by registered user
|60 reviews in total|
C.H.O.M.P.S. is very much like any number of cheesy late 70s Disney family comedys-The Cat from Outer Space or Unidentified Flying Oddball, for instance. Utterly devoid of anything creative, beating the same cliches to death, yet vaguely entertaining in a mindless sort of way. The actors won't win any awards, nor will the director, writer, or FX crew, but in its inoffensive ness and bland predicatability there is some vague entertainment to be had. The idea of the robot dog as security system is so full of holes you could use it as a colander. The incredibly repetative disco soundtrack will stick in your head, so beware.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film has a typical early-80's "crisis" TV-movie feel-the sort of TV-movie that ordinarily would deal with toxic waste dumping and a conspiracy to cover it up. Here its cattle mutilations and secret para-military biological weapons programs. Yep, that's right, a splinter group of right wing mercenaries is developing biological weapons and testing them on cows (only slight reasons are given as to why they don't just buy cows and use them on their own land). Robert Urich is the big city cop with domestic problems and a "cute" alcohol habit whom is the only one who can solve these mutilations-don't expect Jo-Beth Williams relatively competent country cop to pull it off. Its pretty by the numbers, and you can guess 90% of the plot from the opening on screen blurb about the Congress mandated end of biological and chemical weapons tests in 1969. The film has a good supporting cast-Hoyt Axton, Harrey Carrey Jr., Paul Dooley, and hey, even the leads do a good job of acting-too bad this is just a glorified tv-movie. Look for the evil trucks that have a soundtrack cue that sounds like it was stolen from Jon Carpenter.
Why remake "The Spiral Staircase", which is no classic but a good little
thriller for TV? Why change around the story in ways which only hurt the
production? I'm refering to the move of the events of the story to an
island, the subtraction of one pivotal character and the addition of a
second, the move of time period from the Victorian era to the modern day (as
the original was a period piece you could have just left it there). Having
Helen arrive during the story, rather than having her be a well established
and beloved member of the household really hurts the story. Taking out her
love interest, the doctor, from the original story also muddles up things
considerably. Adding on the ridiculous "secret passage through the house"
only hurts the film, as does changing the killer's motive from psychosis to
money. The original film also had a much better cast, all around. Finally,
why is it that so many writers feel that to update a movie, you need to make
all of the characters more vulgar and unlikable? Sure, we might swear a bit
more now, but I wouldn't say that the porportion of jerks is quite as high
as it is in this film.
My advice to anyone contemplating seeing this film is to skip it and seek out the original. You'll get a better acted, directed, lit, scored, and written film.
This film is a solid (decent pacing, some action, okay acting) Hammer entry.
Lee plays a slightly toned down version of his Fu Manchu character-being in
charge of a tong rather than a world threatening organization. His chief
opponent, a rather clueless and lucky ship captain calls to mind many third
rate serial heroes who are constantly being bailed out by others. A couple
of amusing cast notes-we've got the Jon Pertwee "Master" villain from Doctor
Who in here as Lee's right hand man, and the french lead from "Brides of
Dracula" gives another lousy performance, here as a doomed half-chinese
Which brings me to the chief value of this movie-it really gives one a good insight into English attitudes towards the Chinese and their colonial possesion, Hong Kong. First is the fact that there are no major chinese characters *played* by chinese actors-not an uncommon occurance in this era, to be sure (John Wayne, for example, as Ghengis Khan!). Second, the chinese rarely take any direct action in this film, and they need a western "man of action" to get the people to topple the tongs. Third, Lee and many other characters are extremely fatalist. I do not believe the film was *meant* to come off as racist as it now feels-but that is a function of the times. This film is basically a rather dull adventure film, with a huge imperialist subtext, if anyone cares to notice.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film was not made in 1998-it was probably made in the late 70's or early 80's. It was released by everyone's favorite bargain basement martial arts video rip off artists "Arena Home Video". The copy I had included an "exclusive" John Woo interview that was cleary just taken off of TV. That interview, while providing no insights into Woo's work other than an early love of film, some creative use of a flashlight and glass slides, and his belonging to a high school newspaper's film club, is the best part of the tape. "Hong Kong Face-Off", whatever the real title is, might as well be called "Hong Kong Rip-Off". Any price higher than the 99 cents I paid for it out of a bargain bin would be too dear. The film is basically just a mish mash of kung fu and western cliches. The main character is sent from a police academy to clean up a small town ruled by a criminal who killed the cadet's father. He fights the criminal's men and falls in love with a blind girl. The blind girl's family is slaughtered in the course of the film, and our hero, eventually, defeats his enemies and promises to return to the town after he brings his criminal to jail. That's it. There's some truly awful comic relief, *very* uninspired direction (Woo, to his credit, does *try* some new techniques-unfortuantely, they all come off badly) but mostly there is some of the worst acting I have yet seen in a kung fu film. I mean, this film's acting and kung fu was so bad, it had me pining for the less straightforward and more amusing (in a so-bad-its-good way) "Sun Dragon" or "Soul Brothers of Kung Fu". The only redeeming thing about this garbage was that it gives us a chance to see John Woo, ever-so-fitfully developing his (overrated) style. The oh-so-honorable hero is there (Woo did not have the wisdom to inject any sort of ambiguity into his hero as he would do later, so the guy comes off as a cowboy mantinee idol), there's a disabled heroine, poorly developed romanctic sub plot, loyal and honorable but overpowered older sidekick (see the Killer for more of this). Whew. Avoid unless you simply *have* to see all of John Woo's films.
If you'd like to see the most generic "buddy" cop movie possible, but with
very low production values and a style that screams "Made without Care in
Italy", then Black Cobra 2 is your film. Fred starts off with the same
delivery of lines he had in the first (and much worse) Cobra film, then
mysteriously puts a little feeling in in the second half. There's cliches
galore here, from the chief yelling at Fred's cop to a pick pocket who got
his scam from "Casablanca". Iranian terroist oil men are the villains,
there's one of the least convincing hostage rescue sequences ever, and the
disposable girlfriend comes in handy to drive Fred into "hero rage". The
single stand out, laugh out loud scene in the film is when Fred loses a
race game to a kid, great for humilation ala the argument scene in
The Hand is a very poor film. It is not, like some poor films, suffering from inept direction, low budget and untalented actors-instead, what we have here is a very Sidomak "is it supernatural or is it in the protaganist's head?". Unfortunately, this film's poor script, glacier pacing, unlikable characters make the whole Sidomak concept fail. Also, as a movie made in the early 80's, "The Hand" did not have to operate on the sort of restrictions that made Sidomak adopt his "is it or isn't" plots in the first place. Also, this idea was very tired, tv-movie material by the eighties (or by the end of the forties, for that matter). This film suffers, I feel, from similar problems that plague horror films made by "serious" filmmaker's-they just can't accept that they're making a simple genre picture, and instead try to elevate it with a bunch of "psychological" horror. I'm not saying one can't make a meaningful horror film (look no further than Night of the Living Dead for a horror film with a message)but that too often a "serious" filmmaker will f-up a horror flik with his condescending attitude towards the genre. "The Hand" is one example of this.
This film, while no film great (or even genre giant), is oddly entertaining. The acting and direction are pure mid-to-late-80's B-movie cheese, but somehow the ridiculously convoluted plot and hysterical performance by George Kennedy make this film a good time waster-especially if you've got a few friends who appreciate this sort of crap.
As a longtime fan of Godzilla movies, I'm at a loss to explain why this film in particular is so hated. I loved this film as a child (perhaps I was already moving towards my love of tragedy), partly due to the coolness of the original Mechagodzilla, partly due to the fact I thought Titanosaurus was cool. There was also the part where I dug the little story of the mad scientist bent on his revenge for being laughed out of academia, and the whole love story angle between the scientist and the mad scientist's daughter. As you can see, there's a lot going on in this film, probably too much, but I enjoyed the attempt to have a more serious subplot going on in a Godzilla flick. The line from the horribly cut American version "But I can't love you, I'm a cyborg", is highlarious. Anyways, I finally tracked down a subtitled, uncut copy, and I was amazed to discover that the american distributors cut the scenes that explain a major character's sacrifice of her life-in the american version it just seems a senseless act. Anyways, don't expect much except a goofy star crossed lovers plot combined with a mad scientist plot and kaiju beating on one another and enjoy.
One would think that a Fred Williamson star vehicle, with Fred having the director's chair and the Ohio Players on the soundtrack would be a highly entertaining film. One would be wrong. This film is cluttered, boring, incredibly poorly acted. The villain is one of the least menacing I've ever seen-he's basically a pudgy shmuck. The only redeeming scene in the whole film involes Fred's giant medallion saving his life.
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