Friday, March 25, 2016

Worth Mentioning - Nothing Is Serious Until It Is

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.

Lundgren battles an alien, The Dragon runs into trouble, and Haim makes another getaway.


Judging by how fancy his apartment is, Houston detective Jack Caine may be the highest paid police officer in history, but during the course of this film he certainly earns his pay. He's trying to bust the blue collar gang called The White Boys, who blew up a federal evidence warehouse after stealing a cache of drugs from the place. Just when he's about to make the bust, his undercover partner is murdered by White Boys leader Victor Manning while Caine is distracted by the armed robbery of a convenience store. Manning escapes to Rio de Janeiro, but Caine still has to deal with attempts on his life by the White Boys. He also has to deal with a rocky love life and the fact that he's stuck working with stuffy, suit-wearing FBI agent Larry Smith, who he's constantly butting heads with because Caine doesn't play by the rules.

As if that weren't enough, there's also a hulking alien making its way around the city, shooting people up with drugs it stole from the White Boys so it can then extract endorphins from their dying brains to synthesize a drug to be sold on his home planet. This alien is being tracked by an intergalactic cop, but when that cop is killed the duty of stopping this otherworldy criminal rests solely on the shoulders of Caine and Smith.

When you're on this evil alien's bad side, not only does it have the ability to pump drugs into you and then suck out the juices of your brains with a device worn on its wrist, it also carries a gun that fires high-powered explosive charges, and throws a razor sharp magnetized disc that can fly around a room, zeroing in on the electrical charge in the human body.

The alien has some major advantages over these humans out to thwart it... but it loses some ground due to the fact that Jack Caine is played by Dolph Lundgren.

Lundgren is hugely underrated as an action hero. Best known for being the 'roided out Russian villain in Rocky IV, which got a good many viewings in my household, he was also one of the biggest deals in my childhood because he was The Punisher and played He-Man in Masters of the Universe, both movies that I was all about, being a comic book reading, toy collecting child of the '80s/early '90s. Another reason he was a big deal to me is I Come in Peace, which is also known by the title Dark Angel in some territories.

I watched I Come in Peace repeatedly when I was a kid, both through VHS rentals and cable airings. I thought this movie was awesome back then, and I consider it to be awesome to this day. Jack Caine was a great role for Lundgren, who actually gets to do more acting here than he did in any of his previous films. Unlike The Punisher or He-Man, Caine isn't a one-note guy and the script by Jonathan Tydeo and David Koepp (under the name Leonard Maas Jr.) allows him to work in more types of scenes than just badass, heroic ones. Most notably comedic banter scenes, as he's paired with Brian Benben as Smith.

The presence of Benben has always been another huge plus for me, as I loved his performance as Martin Tupper on the HBO sitcom Dream On, which ran from 1990 to 1996. Maybe I shouldn't have been watching Dream On at such a young age (the show started when I was 6), since Tupper was on a constant quest to get laid, but whatever, I thought it was highly entertaining, and Benben brought those comedic skills demonstrated in Dream On to this film as well.

So add Lundgren and Benben together with an extremely cool alien villain and some explosive action sequences, and you have a movie that presses all the right buttons for me.

I Come in Peace was directed by former stuntman/stunt coordinator Craig R. Baxley (Sniper 2), who did a fine job bringing the action, humor, and suspense to the screen, and made sure that things blew up real good when pyrotechnics were required.

The film recently received a special edition release from Shout! Factory, and if you're into spending 92 minutes watching awesome movies, I highly recommend that you pick this one up.


Written and directed by Paul Ziller from a story by Rob Kerchner, Bloodfist IV: Die Trying has absolutely nothing to do with the previous films in the series, just like Bloodfist III (which came out earlier this same year) had no connection to the first two. But it is an action movie starring Don "The Dragon" Wilson and produced by Roger Corman, so the Bloodfist title was slapped onto it.

Actually, in addition to the eight Bloodfist movies, Wilson and Corman worked together on five other films that didn't end up being called Bloodfist, so I wonder how the choices were made. What was the determining factor in whether or not a Wilson action movie would be marketed as a Bloodfist sequel?

In this one, Wilson plays Danny Holt, a repo man who often gets into scuffles with the owners of the cars he has been sent to repossess. Unfortunately, the fight he has over a car with a guy called Scarface (played by Gary Daniels, a low budget action star in his own right, sporting some Fabio hair) is just the beginning of the problems that particular repossession is going to cause, because inside that car is a box of Easter chocolates, and hidden among that candy are items that are very important to the criminal empire of Scarface's boss Weiss (Kale Browne). In an effort to retrieve that box, Weiss and his goons have soon murdered everyone who works at the repo business... except Danny. Being played by "The Dragon", he's harder to kill than the rest of them. So Weiss kidnaps the single father's young daughter to force him to cooperate.

Not only does Danny have to deal with Weiss's endless stream of dangerous employees, he also has to duck the police because he's the top suspect in the murder of his boss and co-workers. This is no surprise to Danny, as he has a history of cops painting him as a villain; the police blamed the car accident that killed his wife on him, when it was actually the fault of a fellow officer who had been driving drunk.

Danny has just one person to back him up in this situation, a newfound friend played by A Nightmare on Elm Street's Amanda Wyss.

The cast is the main thing that Bloodfist IV has going for it. In addition to the actors already mentioned, there's Liz Torres, very fun in the role of a police lieutenant who is always having her meals delivered to crime scenes; the always welcome and entertaining James Tolkan as an FBI agent; and Catya Sassoon, daughter of famed hair stylist Vidal Sassoon, as one of Weiss's lackeys.

The story here is fine, but the execution was not very interesting to me. Despite the frequent action and the presence of actors I enjoy watching, I found myself struggling to keep my focus on the movie. I wasn't engaged, I wanted more out of it, more intensity, more determination from the character of Danny. His daughter is in the hands of trigger happy killers and he's taking the time to sit around and make goo goo eyes at Wyss's character. The fights are good, you can always count on that in a Don "The Dragon" Wilson movie, but the scenes in between can be rough.


The sequel to 1991's Fast Getaway was written by Mark Sevi, a guy whose career I have always been fascinated by because he got his start with a streak of writing eight sequels in a row in the early-to-mid '90s. Fast Getaway II was the third of the eight, following Dead On: Relentless II and Class of 1999 II: The Substitute.

Directed by Oley Sassone (Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight), who would also direct the Sevi-scripted Relentless IV: Ashes to Ashes this same year, this particular sequel picks up with Nelson Potter (Corey Haim) putting the tricks he learned from his bank robbing days with his father Sam (Leo Rossi), who is still serving time, to use by running a security company with a woman named Patrice (Sarah G. Buxton). Nelson and Patrice are hired by banks to attempt to pull off a robbery so they can assess how good the place's security system is. This is presented in a completely over-the-top manner, as we see Nelson barge into a bank during business hours, waving a gun around, scaring the hell out of the patrons, and then leading the police on a high speed chase through a city... Somehow I don't think antics like this would be tolerated for very long.

A couple people who don't tolerate Nelson's behavior are Patrice, who wants to get out of business with him because he's so childish, and unscrupulous, sleazy detective Rankin (Peter Liapis, who would also star in the Sevi-scripted Ghoulies IV this same year), who still believes Nelson to be a criminal, and gets an excuse to go after him when Nelson starts getting framed for illegal activities. The person framing him is his father's former girlfriend/bank robbing partner Lilly, a role reprised by action star Cynthia Rothrock, who here gets to play up her sexuality and comedic skills in addition to the martial arts moves she's known for.

Although he has turned his life around and only has five months left in his jail sentence, Sam has to break out to try to keep Nelson safe from Lilly and Rankin.

Fast Getaway II is a major step down from its predecessor, not nearly as fun, amusing, or enjoyable. It has charms of its own, but it has taken me twenty years to see those charms - when I caught the movie on cable in the '90s, I was very disappointed that the highly entertaining Fast Getaway had received such a subpar sequel. I still don't find it to be very good in comparison to what came before, but I can get more entertainment from watching it now than I could back in the day.

Part of why this one is so lacking is because it clearly has a much lower budget than the first. The earlier film was full of action and cool stunts, and those things are barely present at all here. Instead, it has to be carried by the character interactions, and there's nothing here that's as fun as what part 1 had to offer, and a lot of the stuff with Patrice and Rankin is actually a drag. It's no coincidence that things pick up once Sam gets into the action, 55 minutes into the film, he's still not able to save the movie completely.

If you've made it twenty-two years without seeing Fast Getaway II, you're not missing much, even if you're a fan of Fast Getaway. And yet, I'm likely to watch it again someday, because Sam and Nelson Potter are in it.

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