Friday, February 24, 2012

Worth Mentioning - Eating Raw Fish Off Naked Chicks

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.

Cody revisits a childhood cable favorite, roots for an early Corman heroine, and sees monsters in the dark.


Chris Kenner and Johnny Murata are both LAPD cops who can't keep a partner, so they've been assigned to work together. One's all about Japanese culture, he's even built a Japanese-style house on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The other's a Californian wisecracker who'd rather be working in Malibu. In a twist on expectations, the hulking blonde is actually the one who was born in Japan and loves the culture, the only thing the half-Japanese partner he's been paired with has gotten from his ancestry are the martial arts he's been practicing since he was four.

A misunderstanding causes Kenner and Murata to fight when they first meet, but they soon bond over the goal of bringing down criminal mastermind Funekei Yoshida.

Yoshida's not a pleasant person. He's distributing a new methamphetamine called Ice, which "makes rock look like decaf." He kills screw-up henchmen, video tapes himself decapitating a girl and shows the video to her friend to ensure her subservience, takes over a club by handcuffing the owner to the steering wheel of a car that's in a junkyard crusher. As the crushing begins, we get a clear view of the dummy standing in for the actor, the character's pleading continuing over the image of the motionless plastic stuntman. This may not have been visible when the movie was in its proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

If nothing else is enough to convince the audience that Yoshida has to go, he also killed Kenner's parents in front of him when he was a child in Japan. Kenner and Murata are going to take him down, and when that's done, they'll reward themselves by visiting the local club that serves "Sushi in the Raw" - which is sushi served on the body of a nude woman.

Along the way, Kenner picks up a love interest in the form of Tia Carrere as club singer Minako Okeya, who Yoshida has a twisted infatuation with.

The standard odd couple buddy cop formula and sparse window dressing of a plot are really just an excuse for Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee to kick all sorts of ass to a synth score. The action rarely stops in the 73 minutes between the title sequence and the end credits.

The movie is ridiculous, but an entertaining watch. It's like the action stories that I would write as a kid, where average heroes can do amazing things and it doesn't matter if it's impractical or impossible, just as long as it looks neat. Kenner swings into a situation on a rope for no apparent reason, he can can jump over speeding cars and even lift a car to tip it on its side and use as a bullet shield. The reality of the film stacks the odds heavily in favor of the heroes. While Kenner can perform superhuman feats, bullets fired by the villains don't hit their marks and move in slow motion. For example, when henchmen open fire on Kenner and Murata in a restaurant, the heroes are able to react to the gunfire and watch decorations in front of them get blown apart before ducking for cover, the bullets not getting close to them until they're safe.

Movies like this are part of the reason why I wrote the stories I did when I was kid. This is one that was shown a lot on HBO/Cinemax around 1992, so I ended up watching it with my father and older brother several times. I haven't seen it since the early '90s, but rewatching it this week I was surprised to find how much of it had stuck in my mind. I remembered more moments from this movie from twenty years ago than I do from some movies I've watched in the last two months.

Mark L. Lester directed, making this the third Lester movie I watched repeatedly as a child, the other two being the Schwarzenegger action flick Commando and the John Candy comedy Armed and Dangerous.


Directed by Roger Corman just a couple years into his career and shot on a one week schedule, this  starts off looking to be one of the best female badass movies ever. The Marshal of Oracle, Texas is in his office, talking with his wife Rose about the killer he's been after, when he's shot in the back. Without a word, Rose immediately grabs a rifle, turns and shoots her husband's assassin down. As the shooter's cohort rides away, Rose runs outside and fires a shot after him.

At her husband's funeral the next day, Rose kicks dirt into a mourner's face and shoots him dead. He was the man who rode away. These men were working with Nate Signo, the killer who her husband had been pursuing, so Rose asks to become the new Marshal long enough to catch Signo. The badge is pinned to Rose's black dress as she stands at her husband's graveside.

Marshal Rose sets out to clean up Oracle, getting on the bad side of saloon owner Erica Page in the process. Page sends out for assistance, and soon killer-for-hire Cane Miro is riding in from Tombstone.

Rose fires on Miro the first time she sees him, a case of mistaken identity - she thought he was Nate Signo. Miro then helps Rose catch up with Signo. He asks her how she wants him, she replies as if any other option is unthinkable, "Alive!" Yet this is the only time in the film where Rose is out to take someone alive, the rest of the time she's telling criminals things like, "If you ever come back to Oracle again, I'll kill all three of you," and "I'm here to kill you." She even shoots a bank robber in the back from down the street, with no warning. She doesn't get Signo alive anyway, Miro shoots him when he goes for a gun.

Within the first 22 minutes, all of the killers have been dealt with. Things slow down from there, as the focus switches to a land scheme being perpetrated by Erica Page and the ill-advised romance that develops between Rose and Miro.

This appears to be a generally low-rated movie and it probably would've been better off to keep the Nate Signo story going until the end, but due to Beverly Garland as Rose, the first 22 minutes, the insult "You made a sick chicken out of her," and the lesson that you should never take a pitchfork to a gunfight, I enjoyed it.


The main selling point of this movie from director Albert Pyun is the fact that sixty minutes of its running time is comprised of one continuous shot.

The story is that the town of Lawton, California was shut down and locked off in May, 2006 when a Level Red Emergency caused the President and the CDC to deploy Counter Measure 5. These certainly don't sound like good things. The sixty minute take is video evidence shot by the dashboard camera of a police patrol car. And if anyone somehow wasn't aware of patrol car dashboard cams, the movie assures us that they exist.

The take begins with Officer Brick Bardo (a name Pyun often includes in his movies, the most popular character he named Brick Bardo being Full Moon's Dollman) switching on his cruiser's new HD camera and driving into Forest Service Parkland. This entire stretch of the film occurs on the small, winding roads that run through the park. It's a dark night, there's a serious meteor storm going on, and things soon get very strange. What the camera records in this park is the beginning of some kind of outbreak. The headlights shine on unlucky characters getting attacked and infected (the original title was Infection) by their attackers, becoming zombie-like creatures. Basically, it's a space slug zombie story like Night of the Creeps and Slither. Bardo is taken out early, the protagonist is actually a young girl named Cheryl, who jacks the patrol car after zombie Bardo attacks the prom date she was out parking with. Cheryl is trapped in the park by the infected and through the people she's able to make radio contact with we find out that things aren't going so well in the outside world, either.

This movie kind of reminded me of a haunted hayride or something similar, moving along the dark, tree-lined road with the lights shining on things in front of us as we come across different scenarios and witness creatures. It also seems like something I could put on TV to relax to at night; like some use a TV fireplace, this is a drive through the country. With monsters.

It's also worth noting that the end credits may be in the running for longest ever, they're padded out to sixteen minutes.

Six months of planning, testing, and rehearsing went into making sure that the movie could be successfully done in one take. You usually go into something like this expecting that there will be hidden cuts, like in Rope or Running Time, but Pyun says that the footage here is indeed without cuts. It looks like that's the case. It's a cool experiment, one I'd like to try myself someday.

1 comment:

  1. Showdown in Little Tokyo is nine kinds of awesome - this and Rapid Fire really had Brandon Lee poised for serious Movie Hero know...*sigh* Well, anyway - what a great movie - thrilled you like it too - and REALLY wishing there was something other than a full-frame DVD release out there!

    Gunslinger I haven't seen - but it's Corman, so it's on the To Watch pile automatically.

    Invasion sounds really interesting - I like single take movies - Rope and Running Time being my two favorites - and this could be cool. There's another movie I clocked with 16 minute end credits - think it might have been a Charles Band release from this century - I think the movie ran about 65 minutes, and the credits got him to the magic number of 80 and some seconds.

    Great stuff! Cheers all around!