Friday, May 22, 2015

Worth Mentioning - I Promise Not to Tell

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

This week: Cody, Coreys, and ninjas.


Corey Haim and Corey Feldman worked together a lot in their day. They started off in horror (The Lost Boys), moved on to teen comedies (License to Drive, Dream a Little Dream), and in the era of Basic Instinct found themselves starring in this low budget erotic thriller.

Haim and Feldman play Rich and Wes, half-brothers with a dark, abusive past who now work at a ski resort during the day and spend their nights chasing girls in bars and at parties. Their lives get shaken up in a major way when Rich meets the daughter of the resort's owner, Megan - Nicole Eggert making her transition from Charles in Charge sitcom teenager to Baywatch sex symbol.

Rich is instantly smitten, despite the fact that Megan is no prize. She is subject to odd behavior and has an awful, conceited, bad girl attitude, but the sex is so epic that Rich is quickly ready to fully commit to her. She shies away from his commitment, and through his pursuit of her Rich finds himself in a whole lot of trouble.

The Megan situation causes conflict between Rich and Wes, hurts the feelings of Rich's ex Darla (Kathleen Robertson), and provokes the ire of Megan's intensely, creepily over-protective father Cy (Jean Leclerc)... As if the drama weren't enough, soon people around Rich and Megan start dying, and he catches the blame.

To keep himself out of prison and to stay alive, he has to navigate a series of twists, lies, and betrayals.

Blown Away certainly isn't the most well made erotic thriller out there, but it's probably the one that had the greatest effect on me as a viewer, more so than the other popular ones that have been released in the last thirty years.

I was a young and established fan of the three leads when this movie first hit video store shelves. It was likely my teenage older brother who picked it out for rental, and I wasn't quite prepared for what I was about to see these stars of the '80s get up to. The film's main selling point may have been "that girl from Charles in Charge gets naked!", but Blown Away has a darkness and an unexpected mean streak to it that deeply disturbed me upon first viewing. Because of this, it's a movie that has moments which have stuck with me for more than twenty years.

Revisiting it now, I can see that it's a bit low rent and silly, but it still holds up as an entertaining viewing experience. There are movies you see in your youth that you can never quite shake, and Blown Away is one of those for me. It will always be one of the top erotic thrillers in my book.


Although it's scripted by a returning Gary Conway, who co-wrote the screenplay for American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (and played the villain in it), things changed with American Ninja 3. There were two very major departures: not only did Sam Firstenberg, director of the first and second movies, not return to direct part 3, franchise star Michael Dudikoff, our titular American Ninja Joe Armstrong, also decided to sit this one out.

That didn't deter Cannon Films from continuing on with the series. Cedric Sundstrom took over at the helm and Conway's story introduced a new American Ninja, David Bradley as Sean Davidson.

The film begins in Los Angeles, 1979. Young Sean Davidson is attending a karate tournament his father is competing in, and it has to be noted that Sean and the friend sitting in the stands with him have been given one of the worst dub jobs I've ever heard, presumably because the child actors had accents that were wrong for the characters and were later dubbed by Americans.

A group of armed men working for a guy called The Cobra (The Food of the Gods' Marjoe Gortner) arrive to rob the venue. Sean crosses paths with the thieves and, in the process of trying to protect his son, Sean's dad is shot and killed.

Sean is taken to Japan to be raised by his father's trainer Izumo, who teaches him the way of the ninja. Ten years after his father's death, Sean completes the training and is officially made a ninja. Our new title character is established. He is then sent out into the world to find his destiny on his own.

That destiny just happens to involve thwarting The Cobra. Just like the villain in part 2, The Cobra operates out of a laboratory on a Caribbean island, and the science going on in that lab is being put to evil use. In this case, The Cobra is working with terrorists from around the world in an effort to make terrorism more effective and focused. He has created a super virus, and to prove to his clients that the germ can kill even the strongest human being, he has arranged for an international martial arts tournament to be held on the island. The athlete who stands out the most will be the one chosen to be infected.

Sean is such a clear frontrunner that the tournament has barely even begun when The Cobra starts trying to get him to his lab, sending his army of ninjas after him.

To help him fight off the horde of ninjas, infiltrate the lab, and put an end to The Cobra's terroristic schemes, Sean enlists the aid of two fellow tournament competitors; newbie Dexter (Ivan J. Klisser) and, returning from the previous films, Steve James as Curtis Jackson, who is highly annoyed to be going up against ninjas again. Along the way, the three Americans gain an unlikely ally in Michele Chan as Chan Lee, the leader of The Cobra's ninjas.

Despite the effort to carry on without Dudikoff, the franchise did take a decline in quality with American Ninja 3. The movie would seem to be exactly what you want it to be, because it's packed with ninja fights, and that's what you're watching it for, but unfortunately there's not much around the fights that really works. The film seems poorly made, the story feels like it was just slapped together, and there's not much interesting going on. My attention wandered between fight scenes.

David Bradley is convincing at beating people up real good, but the character of Sean Davidson doesn't make much of an impression. It's no surprise that the highlight of the film is Steve James as Curtis Jackson, who has been a lot of fun to watch in all of these movies. Seeing him in action and in such great shape here, it's insane to think of the fact that he would pass away due to cancer just four years later. It's a shame, he was a great screen presence and was taken way too soon.

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