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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Executioner, Part II certainly marches to the beat of its own whacked-out drummer., 27 July 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A vigilante the press have dubbed "The Executioner" is running around L.A. dealing with punks in his own inimitable way. When Police Commissioner (Ray) (that's all he's billed as) demands answers, Lt. Roger O'Malley (Mitchum) is on the case. Meanwhile, O'Malley's daughter Laura becomes addicted to drugs, and, needing money, turns to her loud-voiced, giggly friend for help. She naturally suggests she go into prostitution, but to watch out for a sadist named "The Tattoo Man", who may abuse her in the process. Some sort of gangsters are involved and putting pressure on the local pimp, and only a delusional Vietnam vet (is there any other kind, according to low-budget actioners?) holds the key to it all. Will O'Malley stop the O'madness? Or will he let it continue as long as The Executioner is cleaning up the streets? Find out today! The Executioner, Part II is a gem. Essentially a 78-minute, incoherent, incomprehensible mess, it's easy to love a movie that's this disjointed and sloppy. In the grand tradition of Surf II (1984) and Leonard Part 6 (1987), there is no Executioner, Part I (just the fact that there's a comma, a space, and a "part" after the title is a major clue to the insanity/inanity going on). Clearly the structure (?) of the movie was modeled after The Exterminator (1980), complete with a Vietnam-set battle intro, which segues into a modern urban environment. It seems so obvious that 21st Century Film Corporation was trying to trick distracted theater patrons/video renters, but, hey, it was the golden age of exploitation, and if this is the end result, it can't be all bad.

Try to imagine a cross between Rescue Force (1990)and Death Promise (1977)- complete with straitlaced, unnecessary narration, poor lighting, non-editing, and the star of the show - the dubbing. The dubbing this time around is laugh out loud funny. TE, PII (as all the cool people call it) is one of those "another planet" movies - the filmmakers seem so out of touch with the way human beings actually talk and behave, it seems like it was made in some far-away world. This was director James Bryan's first in a trilogy of films he did with the great Renee Harmon - the follow-ups being Hell Riders (1984) and Lady Street Fighter (1985). Brilliantly, the movie was released on a big-box double feature VHS with Harmon's Frozen Scream (1975). Apparently Continental Video was really gunning for that rich mine of Renee Harmon fans. Well, we still remember it fondly. Only in the 80's, we tell you. Only in the 80's.

Fan favorite Chris Mitchum is in full effect here as well. Sporting dark hair and a dark mustache, he fights Middle-Aged Punks (MAP's) with the best of 'em, featuring some of the best (?) fight choreography in recent memory. He even has what has to be the first beeper of all time. But while the Executioner has an ace up his sleeve in the way he deals with the epidemic of punks, the punks have their own means of intimidation - pouring milk on people's heads. No wonder Aldo Ray wants answers.

Featuring one of those classic, funky soundtracks (much like the aforementioned Death Promise), The Executioner, Part II certainly marches to the beat of its own whacked-out drummer. There comes a point when cinematic ineptness becomes a treasure. This is that point.

"Namsploitation" fans will surely get a kick out of it., 23 July 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

During the height of the Vietnam War, Real American Hero Captain Rosenblatt (Sperry), who is the ultimate badass hardass, corrals the best men he can find to become tunnel rats. If Captain Rosenblatt wants you to do something, you sit up and take notice. For this amazingly dangerous mission, his top choice is Sgt. Bruce Burns (Gilbert), a young and talented soldier. While Rosenblatt has specifically warned his men not to get involved with the women of Vietnam, Burns and translator Kama (Nocon) end up falling in love. This shouldn't distract from the main mission - find and kill the baddie of baddies, Commander Van Dram (Katana), who has been capturing, torturing, and killing Americans. He even has a special torture technique that will make your eyes bug out...on top of all this, Rosenblatt has to defend himself against charges of being involved in something called the "Ling Nam Massacre". Prepare to enter the tunnels of hell...who will get out alive? Find out today! To quote the name of the great website When the Vietnam War Raged In the Philippines, here the Vietnam War is raging...in the Philippines! Anyone who just can't get enough gun-shooting, hut-exploding jungle action where countless Asians in those triangular rice paddy hats get shot in the head, this is the movie for you. But this one concentrates on what was going on underground while huts exploded above them on the surface, so that sets it apart. Another thing that sets it apart is the majesty of our new favorite human being, Corwyn Paul Sperry (AKA simply Corwin Sperry, with no "Y"). A constantly yelling, cursing, emotionless, mustachioed war leader, he makes Sgt. Slaughter look like Art Garfunkel. If we had more men like him in our military, we might've actually won the war.

While Sperry has also appeared in the classic Phantom Soldiers (1987) and The Expendables (1988), sadly, Battle Rats is the only film role to date for Jack Gilbert. A shame, he could've been the next Richard Norton. Also worth noting is the presence of one David Giberson, who plays the immortal role of Kerbie. His line readings are worth their weight in gold. He also was in Savage Justice (1988) and Saigon Commandos (1988). The 80's were truly an amazing time, and if you were lucky enough to be in the Philippines then, you might have ended up in one of the many, many war movies that were being made there. It was a golden era never to be duplicated.

Clearly whoever wrote the movie, if indeed any of this was written down on paper, was not American, and, we presume, had a limited grasp of English. Hence, they - and the actors - stumble accidentally into some killer dialogue. It's hilarious to think that this is what anyone believes Americans sound like. Most of the "Americans" on the tunnel rat team have some kind of thick accent or another. We know we had some international cooperation in 'Nam, but this is ridiculous - ridiculously entertaining, that is. However, and this may seem like nitpicking, the movie probably doesn't need to be 93 minutes - 85 to 88 would have sufficed. There's only so much skulking around in poorly-lit tunnels and machine-gun shooting anyone can reasonably stand. That said, overall this movie is a winner, thanks to the personalities involved, mainly the great Sperry.

Also featuring the time-honored barfight (this time, interestingly, with no music - especially when the soundtrack is pounding away most of the rest of the time), some highly-informative tunnel training, and the ever-evil hair of Van Dram, chalk up another winner for Davian International, the company primarily known for the vast majority of Dale "Apollo" Cook's career. They also made a clutch of non-Apollo movies, and this is one of them. Copyrighted in the golden year of 1989 but released in '90, Battle Rats is another for our case file of why the 80's ruled - and "Namsploitation" fans will surely get a kick out of it.

There are plenty of unintentional 'laffs', 19 July 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In a post-apocalyptic desert landscape, a fighter named Amp (Cook) has to fight and, well...fight some more. Teaming up with a woman named Wild (Khan), Amp realizes he can put his pugilistic skills to use in Punchfighting tournaments in order to win some water (which is as good as currency in our coming future). The diabolical arch-baddie of the future is a man named Mainframe (Douglas). Once Amp fights his way through all the contenders, Mainframe is the final nemesis, and Amp has special reasons for wanting to defeat him - he was imprisoned, beaten and even crucified by him and his goons. The miniboss is played by Don Nakaya Neilsen. Will Amp and Wild reign supreme? Much like Blood Ring (1991), Fist of Steel is a Davian International production, released by AIP, directed by Teddy Page, and starring Dale "Apollo" Cook. They had quite a thing going for a while. Unlike Blood Ring, this is set in a sparse desert environment, and perhaps could have been titled Desert Kickboxer. It even has enough "sand-fighting" to compete with The Ultimate Game (2001). Of course, Fist of Steel is filled with 'facepalm' dialogue, brain-cell-depleting pretexts for fights, and very silly costumes. As we all recognize, whoever survives after the bomb drops will be wearing hubcaps and broken smoke detectors on their chests. But isn't that why we watch these movies in the first place? Would we expect anything less? Sure, what we're watching, technically speaking, is "dumb", but we all knew that going in, and it all contributed to making the video store era great.

Speaking of dumb, Dale "Apollo" Cook may not be a master thespian, but he does a great "dumb face". If something dumb is going on, you can count on an authentic reaction from Cook. We kid because we love. We've seen every available Cook movie and we remain fans. His Martial Arts abilities are why we're here, after all. It was a genius move to pair him with Cynthia Khan, who fans of Hong Kong action will know. Her presence is vital to the movie and keeps things rolling along. The same could be said for fan favorite Nick Nicholson, who plays a druggie fight promoter. He wears a silver shower cap and matching shorts. He got a respectable amount of screen time, which is a good thing, and we're guessing the film was shot in the Philippines, because his fellow stock company - Cris Aguilar, Ned Hourani, and Mike Monty also make brief appearances.

While there is a ton of Punchfighting on display, use of nunchuks is also prominent. It's likely that if this ever got a UK VHS or DVD release (we don't think it has, but correct us if we're wrong), it would be cut there, because they hate nunchuks. They even hate nunchuks if they're made out of sausage links, as the BBFC proved when they cut Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All that being said, there is some dialogue too, as previously alluded to, but why talk when you can grunt? That seems to be the overriding ethos. Hence, there are plenty of unintentional 'laffs'. Like if someone says something to Apollo, and his response is "UUUUuuurrrggghhhhh!!!", it's hard not to respond to that with some chuckles.

Fist of Steel is one of the more watchable post-apocalyptic movies we've reviewed, thanks mainly to the cast and the non-stop beat-em-ups. If that appeals to you, do seek it out.

Double Tap (1997)
As we always say, don't try to be "cool", try to be good., 17 July 2015
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

FBI Agents Hanson, Hamilton, Burke, and Rodriguez (Locklear, Williamson, Gage, and LaSardo, respectively) are a tight-knit force that tend to hole up in an abandoned warehouse (where else?) as they fight the baddies. Hanson is a fearless undercover agent who likes jigsaw puzzles. A new wrinkle comes into all their lives in the form of Cypher (Rea), a hit-man who has not one, but two signatures to his killings: he shoots them twice in the head (i.e., he "double taps" them), and he leaves a white rabbit's foot by the body. He's also heavily into lawn care. As the lives of Hanson and Cypher draw inexorably together, other complications arise in the forms of Nash (Greene), Ulysses (Howard), Escobar (Martinez) and Fischer (Edson). Will the team of agents bring down Cypher - and should they? Or will a bunch of people end up dead and stuff? Find out...? There were a lot of movies like this in the later 90's. It seems like practically every other movie on a video store shelf from approximately 1997-2000 was a about hit men, gangsters, or both. In the post-Tarantino landscape, DTV producers figured they could make movies like his on the cheap - and why not, all he was doing was recycling earlier ideas as well. Enter Underworld (1996), Suicide Kings (1997), A Better Way to Die (2000), Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane (1998), Truth or Consequences, N.M. (1997), Double Deception (2001), Killing Time (1998), Sworn Enemies (1996), and on and on, ad nauseam. You know the type of movie we're thinking of - leave a comment if you can think of some more. Well, Double Tap is one of those. Despite the presence of a practically ALL B-movie star cast, this boat is taking on water and sinking quickly. Lone Tiger syndrome strikes yet again.

And because it was the late 90's, clearly the movie had to be "edgy". It was a time of Mountain Dew commercials with radically awesome snowboarders jumping out of helicopters as they slammed their 'Dew. (For those who don't know, you slam a Dew, you do not drink a Mountain Dew). In this context, we now have Heather Locklear at a scuzzy porn theater, sitting in front of the screen and smoking crack. Hooray. Load it all up with a bunch of unnecessary and pretentious "stylistic choices" like crazy cuts, freeze frames, breaking up the movie into chapters with titles, etc. Though it was nice to see Locklear in an atypical role like this, she's a classic case of cognitive dissonance - while she certainly does not look like Hillary Clinton, her voice is a dead ringer for Clinton's. It's odd to hear that voice come out of the beautiful Locklear. You think at any moment she's going to flatly, loudly intone something about Bill or "what difference does it make?" But Locklear is just one of many in this ensemble cast, and we believe the show was stolen by someone else. ..

It was also nice to see LaSardo in a good-guy role, which is rare for him. He gets more screen time than usual, and he makes the most of it. This is truly top-notch LaSardo. One of the main draws of the movie is Stephen Rea, also in an unusual role. (does this movie only exist so the filmmakers can brag about some low-grade stunt casting?) Peter Greene plays essentially the same role as he did in the aforementioned Sworn Enemies, and Terrance Howard is a drug dealer or something. While there is no Locklear-Fu or Rea-Fu, there is plenty of shooting and a few blow-ups. The cast does what they can, but its vibe is off-kilter to the point of off-putting, and it has a junky feel to it, and on top of all that, it loses steam a lot. We would say it loses focus, but we're not sure there was ever any focus to lose. But further reinforcing the 90's vibe is the fact that the score is by Moby. Apparently Goldie or Tricky weren't available. They must have been making B.U.S.T.E.D. (1999) and City of Industry (1997), respectively.

We were expecting more - a lot more - from director Yaitanes, who had previously directed Comeuppance favorite Hard Justice (1995). We thought teaming him with Stephen Rea and an all B-Movie star cast would equal gold. Not so much. We didn't think he'd have to trowel over the cracks in the script with a bunch of wacky editing and cinematic trickery. As we always say, don't try to be "cool", try to be good. Double Tap has, to date, never received a U.S. DVD release. We think we know why.

John Newton. He looks like a cross between Ken Wahl and John Stamos!, 12 July 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Joe "Hawk" Highhawk is a former kickboxer turned mulleted lawman in the dusty deserts of California. After a tragedy in the ring, Hawk now devotes most of his time to whittling. And also to his job as Deputy. He even has some form of PTSD, constantly flashing back to what happened in his earlier life. When diabolical drug runner Santos (Smith), and his lieutenant Bruno (Foley) start causing trouble in the dusty ol' town, and start going after his newfound friends Claudia (Aronson of American Ninja fame) and Anthony (DeFrancisco), it gives Hawk a reason to live again, and to dust off his old kickboxing skills to use them against the baddies. Will Hawk triumph in the war against drug runners and find redemption? Right from the beginning of his career, Isaac Florentine was turning out solid movies like this, and even his trademark sound effects are here. Lots of whooshing, crunching and "splat!" noises are heard on the soundtrack, for even the most mundane actions. If someone moves a muscle, it sounds like some guy has mic'd up a bunch of Nickelodeon products like Gak, Floam, and Zzand and are throwing them around with abandon. But where Florentine shines, of course, are the Martial Arts/fighting action scenes, and those are some of the highlights of Desert Kickboxer. It's easy to see why he followed this up with the similar Savate (1995).

This was our first exposure to one John Newton. He looks like a cross between Ken Wahl and John Stamos. Evidently Hawk is supposed to be some kind of Indian in the film, though Newton looks about as Native American as Regis Philbin. Even Mark Gregory in the Thunder trilogy was closer to Indian than this (and come to think of it, there are a lot of similarities to the Thunder movies in Desert Kickboxer). Newton's Martial Arts abilities are competent, however, and if nothing else, we can admire his mullet, which was clearly crafted as carefully as the sound effects and the Martial Arts. Naturally, before his final assault on the baddies, he does some form of shirtless Native American Tai Chi on some high desert rocks.

But as Hawk is going through his character arc from flat and none-too-likable to flat and sensitive, he has to deal with some pretty tough baddies. Sure, we all love Paul L. Smith, but his lackey Bruno is far more intimidating, not to mention agile. You know if a baddie is doing Martial Arts in a suit, the guy is going to be a hard opponent to beat. Bruno is so tough and evil, he uses actual Mexican migrant workers as human training dummies. But he didn't reckon on one thing: the awesome power of Newton.

Featuring some great early-90's computers, Desert Kickboxer is perfect for Florentine fans that may not have seen his early work. It's a testament to its entertainment value that, to anyone else, it would have been just another DTV item, but to fans of the genre it retains its staying power.

The movie gets off to a bang, features plenty of fighting, shooting, and blow-ups, 9 July 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ramon Ortega (Guerrero) is an Interpol agent living in the Philippines. His professional and personal relationships have never been better, including his marriage to his hot blonde American wife Ann (Kay) - until one day tragedy strikes. A gang of super-evil baddies kill Ann, destroy his life, and, to add insult to injury, cut off one of his arms. Naturally, Ramon then spirals into alcoholism and depression. After threatening to kill all his assailants, his boss Wo-Chen (who can only be described as an Asian Tommy Lee Jones) states "you're not ready" (and insensitively warning "hands off"), and puts him on a grueling training regimen. Now back in fighting shape, Ramon sets off to make good on his promise of revenge. But will he complete his mission what with his handicap of having, you know, only one arm? Find out today! In our world, at least, The One Armed Executioner is a video-store classic. Producer/co-writer/director Suarez had previously lit up drive-in screens with gems like Cleopatra Wong (1978), but now he's firmly in the VHS era. He would follow that up with American Commandos (1986) to further reinforce that. TOAE was originally released on VHS in the U.S. on the great Paragon label. As great as that was, it's nice to have the Dark Sky DVD which offers a cleaned-up, widescreen version, and it's paired up with the aforementioned Cleopatra Wong as a double-feature. The tone of TOAE is much darker than the sprightly Wong, as befits the revenge movie style. Seeing as how revenge movies are among our personal favorite genres, this can proudly sit with the others in our revenge collections.

The movie gets off to a bang, features plenty of fighting, shooting, and blow-ups, and, of course, a classic, extended training sequence (in the woods, naturally). The music by Gene Kauer is killer and keeps you engaged. Even some guard towers get blown up, and this isn't even an Exploding Hut movie. As the baddies are attempting to flee in their speedboat towards the end of the movie, we see there's a swastika emblazoned on it. Apropos of nothing, as if the baddies weren't bad enough, we're now clearly shown they have a Nazi Boat. What follows is a helicopter-boat chase (Nazi Boat, specifically) - did you expect to chase it with another boat? But this isn't your average heli. It also has a large logo emblazoned on it, but it's not a swastika. Oh no, these are the good guys. Naturally, their logo reads "The Small Fry". It looks like the sign for a restaurant. Presumably all restaurants in the Philippines have their own attack helicopters. At least that's what we believe based on what we've seen of their country.

It truly was a different time, so do check out the Dark Sky DVD. You get two sides of Suarez: the fun side and the dark side. And you can hark back to the days of hunting down revenge movies on VHS, so it's a win-win.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Anyone who dislikes Superfights truly has a heart of stone!, 6 July 2015
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

John Jacob "Jack" Cody (Gaines) is a 20-year-old "box boy", i.e., he works in a factory. He's obsessed with Martial Arts, and even has a Rapid Fire (1992) poster on the wall at his job. He's particularly enamored of a televised event known as Superfights. Following a childhood encounter with a Superfighter, it's Jack's dream to follow in his footsteps. One night, he saves Sally Wong (Yu) from a gang of thugs assaulting her at an ATM. When the head of Superfights, Robert Sawyer (Vitali) sees Jack on the news, he recruits him. Sure, Jack has to sign a contract so thick, it looks like the printed-out version of the Apple terms and conditions, but he signs anyway, because it all seems like a dream come true. He meets the fighters Dark Cloud (Jeffreys) and Budokai (Lenderman), and begins training under Angel (Gallant). When a "surprise ninja" confronts Jack, he realizes something shady and wrong is going on behind the scenes at Superfights. Could it be the enforced drug use? Or the fact that Sawyer stages underground Punchfights to the death in his spare time? Could it be a protection racket - or something else? Meanwhile, Jack also begins training with Sally's wise old Grandfather (Lung-Kong). Will Jack live his dream - or will he find out it's a nightmare? If it's one thing that Superfighters - and Brandon Gaines - has, it's energy. He's so enthusiastic, he makes Tom Cruise look like Steven Wright. He also has some killer moves. Superfights is what the world needs now - it's cool, happy, exciting, fun, wildly upbeat, and the enthusiasm is downright infectious. So many movies today are dour, depressing, cynical, and negative. Superfights is the antidote to all that. There's seemingly a very well-choreographed fight scene every 30 seconds, and you grow to love Jack, Sally, and Grandfather. Brandon Gaines should, at the very least, have had the career that Loren Avedon had. Criminally - Criminally! - this is his only movie role. The world needs his earnest eagerness more than ever before. Where are you, Brandon? Please come back! Before Jack becomes his Superfights character "The All-American Hero", his old co-worker calls him "Jean-Claude Van Dunce". Would that Van Damme display Gaines's level of intensity! Chuck Jeffreys is his normal charismatic self, but it's hard to compete with Gaines as the plucky hero and Vitali as the super-evil, Vince McMahon-like baddie. He insists all the fighters in his stable take Superfights "vitamins". Gallant as Angel was an interesting casting choice - she looks like a buffer Arianna Huffington. Or, if you will, Arianna Buffington.

There's a great title song (with hilariously literal lyrics) that plays THREE times, there are TWO freeze frames, multiple montages, Jack never is, or becomes, a jerk, and there is a truly awesome final warehouse fight. Superfights thoroughly delivers the goods and is impeccably entertaining the entire time. We're impressed.

Anyone who dislikes Superfights truly has a heart of stone, and has given up on life, and we feel sorry for you. Superfights is superfun.

The Bounty Hunter is not as silly like a lot of other AIP movies., 2 July 2015
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Duke Evans (Ginty) is a Vietnam vet and ex-police officer who is now a tough-as-nails bounty hunter. He's in a small Oklahoma town doing what he does best, which ends up putting him at odds with Sheriff Bennett (Hopkins). Evans' 'Nam buddy was murdered, and he suspects it is all part of a sinister plot to take land away from the local Indian population and sell it to an oil company for big profits. But he has to prove it first, and with the help of the slain man's sister and brother (Waterdown and Holt, respectively), Evans attempts to get to the truth. But with the stubborn Sheriff and his army of sycophantic goons ever at the ready to take Evans down, will he be successful? Find out today...

We're huge Robert Ginty fans, and The Bounty Hunter is a prime example of what Ginty can do when unleashed. This movie only increases his already-large status in our eyes - as star, director, and co-writer, he really gets a chance to shine here, and he indeed seizes the opportunity. Looking a lot like Renegades-era Kiefer Sutherland, Duke Evans (great name) is angry, surly, and the awesome level rises by the minute. This guy truly doesn't take any guff - would you want it any other way? While his hair and 'stache are in fine form in front of the camera, Ginty also displays talent behind it as well. There are some really interesting directorial touches; perhaps he felt he needed to prove himself in that department. We think he was successful.

While this is the Ginty you want - he pretty much took his character John Dee from the previous year's Out On Bail (1989) and ran with it - the great Bo Hopkins gives him a run for his money as the baddie. This is classic, quality Hopkins. Yes, he's playing yet another small-town sheriff (he even makes a Walking Tall reference at one point), but we've never seen Hopkins so animated. What he does in this movie is always interesting and worth watching. Maybe it was the fact that a fellow actor was directing him, but Hopkins seems to have been given free rein, with great results.

The whole Indian angle will put you in mind of the Thunder trilogy (let's remember Bo Svenson was in the first two, not Bo Hopkins, however), as well as films like Johnny Firecloud (1975). The latter also reinforces the strong, pleasantly-70's vibe of the whole outing. That being said, it's funny how little has changed since '89-90: Characters talk about evil oil companies, "racist bullies" (not just bullies but RACIST bullies!), corruption that goes all the way to the top, among other hot-button issues. Interestingly, the term "Native American" is scarcely used, and the Indians refer to themselves as Indians. That probably wouldn't happen today. Also, people in the small town play what can only be described as "confederate bingo". (It's pretty much regular bingo, but the ol' Stars and Bars are prominently placed on flags and hats everywhere.) The Bounty Hunter is not silly like a lot of other AIP movies. It has its own feel, and is well worth checking out. The Steve McClintock songs only reinforce the solid merits and virtues of the film. However, marring the otherwise-fine experience is an unsatisfying ending. That's really the only blot on this effort, but it's a pretty big blot. But that aside, it's Ginty and Hopkins at their finest.

Craig Alan is our new hero!, 29 June 2015
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow! Now here's a hidden gem if there ever was one. Commander (AKA Last American Soldier), we can safely say, is one of the best - if not the best - Exploding Hut movie of all time. Probably more huts explode (along with just about everything else within a 100-mile radius) in this movie than in any other Exploding-Hutter...COMBINED. The plot, if there even is one, is nothing more than a simple excuse to perhaps win a Guinness World Record for the most jam-packed kaleidoscopic cornucopia of blow-ups, explosions, detonations, fireballs, firebursts, fireblasts, combustions, ignitions, flare-ups, and, yes, cannonades ever committed to film. And if you think there isn't a difference between all these things, Commander will show you the subtle nuances, and the whole outing gives new meaning to the band name "Porno for Pyros"! Sure, you may have seen some Italian-made, jungle-set "Rambo knockoffs" before such as Tornado (1983), Rolf (1984), Strike Commando (1987), Strike Commando 2 (1988), etc. (or non-Italian outings such as Mannigan's Force (1988) or anything on the Mercs box set), but here we have something special. For starters, we have true American hero Craig Alan in the lead as Commander. He's a one-man army of epic proportions, an unshaven, beer-swilling killing machine who's so macho he makes Arnold Schwarzenegger look like Richard Simmons. His voice sounds like a narcoleptic Elvis. At the end of every line he utters, you're just waiting for a "thank yuh, thankyuhverymuch." But he cares very much about freedom, and if he has to slaughter entire regions to make his dream of freedom happen, then, so be it. Evil Russians and commies have to get what's coming to them. And speaking of Arnie, don't get confused - the title Commander isn't meant to recall any other movie titles, surely. Actually, if this movie brings anything similar to mind, it's high body count-classics like No Dead Heroes (1986).

It should also be highlighted that his name is Commander, which leads to actual dialogue such as "Commander seems very efficient." Evidently his rank is Sergeant, which would mean his name is "Sgt. Commander". That alone makes this movie worth seeing. God bless losses in translation. Of course, the director, Ignazio Dolce, also directed Last Flight to Hell (1990), which, as we all know, had a great sceenplay.

Mike Monty has very minimal screen time as a Major, but that doesn't stop Commander from getting into a conflict with him. Apparently all this is happening some time after the Vietnam war, and Commander is helping the people of Southeast Asia to be free, before the commies can take over their villages. He has a girlfriend of sorts named Cho Lin (Gomez), but a lot more time is spent on the Prerequisite Torture than on any time with her. In between blow-ups, there's some shooting. Then some more shooting. And maybe a few knifings. For extra added spice, there's some neck snaps. But it's all about the explosions (helicopters certainly included), and this movie delivers, and then some. It makes Hollywood pap like Blown Away (1994) look like Larry Crowne (2011). And it's all set to a quality Simon Boswell score. How can you lose? Criminally, Commander was never released on VHS in the U.S. Evidently it only came out in Greece, Brazil, and, of course, Japan (they get everything). Based on that kind of poor decision-making, is this even a country Commander would want to serve? We didn't even release COMMANDER for God's sake. Well, what the world needs now - RIGHT now - is this movie. In our wimpy, wussy, overly-PC, "Gun Free Zone", wet-noodle, touchy-feely culture, Commander stands as a raging, double-middle-finger "F-you" to all the liberal sludge polluting our lives. Craig Alan is our new hero, and he will be yours too when you see this utter classic of the action genre. This movie just rules. See it ASAP.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Hong Kong action fans will no doubt be very interested in Satin Steel!, 25 June 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jade Leung (evidently as herself, as she is portrayed by...Jade Leung) is a female Hong Kong Cop On The Edge. As she is a fearless and take-charge officer, her higher-ups put her in charge of the case of a lifetime - stopping the illegal, international arms dealings of a Mr. Fowler, a classic super-evil white guy. To accomplish her mission, she must travel to Indonesia and Singapore, all the while teaming up with Ellen Cheng (Lee of Tiger Cage 2 fame), a fellow policewoman/beauty. Together, the two face all kinds of scrapes, from local, indigenous, bulletproof (?) shamans, to keeping control of the classic "disk", to a fighter with a bionic arm. But the men in their lives are causing complications as well, as they are wont to do, and our heroes also have to deal with Ken Chan (Wong), and a guy who calls himself Jean-Paul Belmondo (Chan). Will our heroes be more satin or more steel? Find out today...

We tracked down Satin Steel because it is directed by a man named Siu-Hung Leung, who directed fan favorite Superfights (1995), as well as Bloodmoon (1997), so we wanted to see more, especially from his earlier Hong Kong period. Satin Steel has been described by others as a female Lethal Weapon (1987), but Lethal Weapon didn't have the cartoonish, at times wacky vibe (note the muzzle flashes, which essentially are cartoons). Naturally, that fun, high-energy HK style is on display most of the time. Not that it doesn't flag at a couple of points, but that's only natural. Jade Leung and Anita Lee make a great team, and this was only the first movie Leung had been in after debuting with Black Cat (1991) and Black Cat 2 (1992).

Hon-Kam Lee delivers a rockin' theme tune and his music helps things along well. The fact that the movie overall is well-shot, with interesting locations, has plenty of Martial Arts action, blow-ups, and top-quality stuntwork, as well as silly humor, not to mention the beautiful and talented leads, mean Satin Steel is never anything less than entertaining. It even includes a classic workout montage. The film stands on its own as a HK action outing, produced during a time (the 90's) when it seemed Hong Kong was really cranking them out. Not that they didn't produce some of the greatest action of all time, but there were so many, some tended to get lost in the shuffle. At least today, we can shine a light on Satin Steel and give it some love.

Hong Kong action fans, especially those who love female protagonists, will no doubt be very interested in Satin Steel.


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