Commando (1988)

Bollywood, had never really been a genre that is explored before…let alone the world of weird and unusual bollywood films. Luckily thanks to a regular viewer Waz I landed with this particular film…and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I think the only thing that genuinely put me off this film was the length and the total whiplash of tonal changes that happened throughout it’s over 2 hour run time…I still stand by the idea that realistically you could cut this down to a more than reasonable 40-60 minute short feature and have all the weird and wonderfulness crystallized rather than spread out in the way it’s presented here.

Based on what was here I think I’d like to explore bollywood a bit further, though I’d absolutely have to see some shorter films if I was going to commit!

(COMMANDO! COMMANDO!!!)

Balance of Power (Hidden Tiger) (1996)

Balance of power was a bit of an unexpected hit for me in all honesty. I really wasnt expecting much in the way of this being any good (In fact I was quite frankly dragging my heels about reviewing this one because I really wasnt in the mood to review a generic martial arts movie) and yet Billy Blanks surpassed my expectations with this very overly macho but somehow slightly self aware martial arts action movie.

There was a turning point for me with this one. At first I thought my fears were all but confirmed as the film opened with a slouch into a generic “Bad guy” style affair, however by the time of the 2nd act training montage it was like a switch had been hit on this film and it very quickly upped the pace and quality of the production with a sweeping 2nd and 3rd act that were really quite enjoyable to sit through.

I’d struggle to say that this one was an out and out classic. Its still quite a generic affair. But I distinctly remember at the time coming away surprised that it wasnt absolutely awful (Not that thats a glowing endorsement exactly, saying somethings “Not awful” is completely different from saying “Is bloody amazing”

It does what it does rather well. Since this review I’ve managed to get my hands on quite a few of Billy Blanks films (Which will slowly be covered as I *Hopefully* go on) but the immediate thought thats struck me with his works is that it would be really helpful and general beneficial to everyone if they assembled some kind of “Best of Blanks” thin boxset…maybe 2-3 discs with 2 movies per disc on them. nothing fancy just something that collects some of his movies in a thin set so that people dont have to try and find them in dribs and drabs. I think he’d probably build up quite a cult following internationally if they were to do something like that.

In the US Im told both Blanks and his son are quite well known and run a line of fitness programmes. In the UK I dont think they’re quite that well known but im sure if your into your martial arts films that you’ll probably be aware of him…as for me? Well I’ve seen a few of his films but im always open to seeing more…

 

(I should also probably add that this film is off the scale in terms of being ludicrously cheesy)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (1990)

I “Ummed” and “Ahh’d” about doing this one for months. Im really not kidding. This review was originally going to be in my second season but I put it off when I realised the kind of scale I was dealing with in terms of just how broad the “Turtles” fandom actually is. there are comic books, many many cartoon series that are both directly and indirectly linked, TV specials, live action TV series, music videos, reams and reams of merchendise and even obscure stuff like the Ninja turtles anime series.

Because researching for this film basically led me down a massive rabbit hole I decided to put it off till my third season, and with the help of a very dear friend of mine (Who’s also a massive Ninja turtles fan) I slowly but surely pieced together the backstory for how this movie came to be.

As a kid I was into the Ninja turtles, while I did watch the later UK broadcasts on CBBC in the 90’s my strongest memory of watching the turtles came in the form of the VHS series:

(This one specifically)

I watched this tape quite literally to death, while I never quite wore the reels down to nothing I watched it enough that the picture deteriorated to a blurry mess that my machine eventually ate. I loved the animated kids series from this time, from the unbelieveably ultra cool intro sequence (With the “Hero” in tact becase the BBFC were terrified even the mention of the word “Ninja” in a kids show would turn us all into corrupted Rambo-esq murderers) to there affinity with pizza (An affinity I completely understand) through to the surreal and wonderful images of the technodrome and Kang. There was just something so tonally unusual about the series that kept me always coming back for more.

The confession I have here is that I never actually saw the live action movies at the time. I watched the original cartoon series, “The Next mutation” and the 2000’s cartoon series (I have very faded memories of pawing through one of the comic books as well at some point) but until this review I’d never seen the live action movie series. here’s a mild spoiler though for this year; literally yesterday I started editing together my review for TMNT 2: Secret of the Ooze and I was quite stunned by just how tonally different these two films are, and just how much darker the first film is when compared to its sequels.

The first ninja turtles movie is  amazingly bleak by comparison to the rest of the turtles franchise…and while it isnt quite as dark as the comic books, I’d feel quite confident in saying it’s probably the darkest iteration of the turtles that I’ve seen to date. I dont think I’d have appreciated this movie as a kid, but as an adult I can absolutely appreciate it. it’s a well written, well produced movie in its own right. hell I almost feel bad calling it a kids film.

 

(Ending aside I really did enjoy this one. now Im craving pizza…)

Terror in Beverly Hills (1989)

I cannot begin to explain my frustration with this film. both in sourcing it and in reviewing it the entire thing just left me on the border of wanting to tear my hair out. Theres still no easy way to get a hold of this movie. It took me the best part of 2 days of backroom skullduggery to find a copy that wasnt utterly destroyed by youtubes compression systems.

Since I recorded this review I also attempted a further 2 more times to get a copy of this film once more on DVD (And guess what I ended up with…) and a final time on VHS tape, which I was feeling pretty confident about until the deal fell through at the last minute and the seller pulled out and dissapeared.

I think I’ve pretty much decided that i’ll never actually get my hands on this movie in a legitimate form…well barring a Bluray release…like that’ll ever happen!!. Though in all fairness the movie just isnt that good to begin with. its a 50/50 split of unbelieveably amazing campy bad movie action cheese and just really dull and boring non plot…

Only damaging it further is the sound fault throughout which is only using one channel of a stereo recording…it means quite often sound effects, room tone and peoples voices will just dissapear from the movie all together…again; I have no idea whether this is how its always been or whether the limited resources that this film has means that the only version available online is a broken version.

This is probably the closest i’ve come so far to having a journey while reviewing a movie…it shouldnt be this difficult to get a hold of a film thats been available at least twice on DVD and has been released in multiple countries on VHS…it just shouldnt. and yet here I am in a situation where seemingly the film might as well not exist for how easy it is to get a hold of it.

Its not an irrideamable movie. it has some really good moments and some very strange film work…it’s just not worth the effort to go and seek it out…you could either watch my review or “Red letter medias” coverage of this film and you’ll have pretty much seen everything worth seeing in this film.

(I dont know one person who doesnt immediately fall in love with Cameron mitchell and the police woman who cant type in this film. they’re mesmorizing)

Cyborg 3: The Recycler (1994)

I kind of find it hard to justify movie sequels like “Cyborg 3” (Or “Cyborg3” or “Cyborg Cubed” if your feeling fanciful) and I say that not because I dont like film franchises that run on pretty much endlessly, but rather because the connection that this film has to any of the other Cyborg films is thin to the point of almost being see through…

“Cyborg 3” has two connections to the other Cyborg films and thats about it…our pregnant protagonist is apparently a character from “Cyborg 2” albeit recast and tonally different from her previous portrayal and I believe theres a recurring bad guy as well. That being said if your looking at the Cyborg franchise I dont think theres very many series out there quite as disjointed as this one. The original Cyborg being a moderately well recieved sci-fi action thriller starring Jean Claud Van Damme, its sequel being more of a science fiction driven “Blade runner” esq affair. and this movie basically being Poundland Mad max. realistically you could watch the first film and have absolute no interest in the other two they’re that different from each other.

As it stands for me, this movies one of those “So bad its good” type affairs. Malcolm mcdowell is heavily touted as being in this film but realistically he only appears in about 5 minutes of it before dissapearing never to be seen again. The cast are week and the effects are ropey. But it really has its own charm about it that I think edered me to it honestly.

To me, I think this film would be best taken as part of a triple screening. maybe the first or final film in a triple screening if I was being specific. Its not good enough to be the “Main feature” of a bad movie triple feature, yet at the same time I could very easily see it being the warm up act to a genuinely entertaining  “Good/bad” film…or the warm down from a “Good/bad” film.

I suppose what im trying to say is that it’s entertaining. But not enough to warrent watching it all by itself. It’s certainly not worth seeking out all by itself. There are significantly more entertaining “Mad max” style knock off films out there. Though I think my review of this sums up why quite nicely.

(90’s CGI rainbow space baby will occasionally crop up in my thoughts…So I guess in that sense it’s given me a long lasting memory…*Shudders*)

Crazy Guy with Super Kung-fu (1979)

Well, I can honestly say It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film quite like “Crazy Guy with Super Kung-fu” (Also known as “Yu tou dai lao ben tu di” in its original language) The closest film I can compare this to would be “The Dragon lives again” and I first watched that film in 2009. So it was a very welcome change to watch a martial arts film that didnt take itself seriously, played more for comedy than it did the action pieces, and didnt fall flat on its face in the way “Descendants of wing chun” did…

But this film isnt all prat-falls and bad jokes. Theres actually some really well choreographed fight scenes thrown into the mix and it appears that the same company who dubbed “Wing chun” also dubbed this film as several voices and styles of delivery are painfully present here…in particular theres one voice actor in many of these films who sounds to me like a spot on “Carry on” era Kenneth Williams…

This voice acting cant be serious. I know it cant be serious. because if they genuinely thought that giving these films the voice styles they did would make the movie look and sound cool then they’re viewing a different version of reality to my own.

There are moments in this film that are just downright surreal. See the scene in my review with the homless person dancing around the restraunt singing about how the buildings condemned. its not completely out of place with the rest of the film tonally, but I do have to wonder what on earth was going on in the film makers minds when they stitched this one together.

Though weird and suffering from the effects of combining two genres that shouldnt go together (Super serious kung fu action and Campy “Carry on” comedy) I actually quite enjoyed this one. So much so that it actually earned a place on my “Do not chuck” shelf. Which is home to my blu-rays, DVD’s and tapes and contains all the classics and rarities that I simply will never even consider throwing away. I think this would be a good b-picture to “The Dragon lives again” in many ways…something to warm the audience up and give them a good kicking into the kind of mindset that would get on with the likes of “Dracula vs Popeye” It’s dirt cheap on amazon and I’d say go and check it out if you can. I dont recall it being groundbreaking, but its still an enjoyable picture.

As a final note. This is another review I wasnt 100% happy with. I had to record it in a different place to where I normally record my audio, it was the middle of the night, and I had to be quiet; So I dont really  feel like I got the best out of the recording that I could have…equally there are a few structuring issues with this one that I feel had I given it a bit more time I’d probably have been able to rectify…Still, you live and learn! I still pretty much say everything about the film that I wanted to in this, but I may come back to it some day just to tidy it up a bit…

(“LOOK AT THIS OLD CHICKEN!, YOU COULD SEE IT’S A GRANDFATHER!” – Crazy homeless man with clackers – 2017)

Alien Intruder (1993)

When I think of  “Direct to DVD” tat “Alien Intruder” is normally one of the films that springs to mind. I have a tremendously vague recollection of my grandparents buying a DVD player in the early 2000’s that came with 3-4 “Multi-film” DVD packs and Alien Intruder was one of the films included in that set…and while I didnt watch it then. watching it in 2017 for a review on this channel was certainly an experience…

Dont get me wrong I like my tat as much as the next man…but “Alien Intruder” was a bit of a different beast…it trancends bad movies and really becomes something all together a bit more special. The acting throughout is terrible, and the plots dire. but theres something about this film that’ll keep me coming back to it every few years. and no. its not the 2-3 nude scenes in the film (Though Billy Dee Williams having a moderate breakdown towards the end of this film is a defiante plus)

Honestly? this film has its moments but its hardly a cult classic in the making. My memories of this film extend as far as a few beach scenes, a guy being set on fire and a weird punch up set in the 1950’s. Scoggins is literally the best part of this film but her characterisation seems a bit all over the place truthfully…not the best bad movie I’ve ever spoken about but it may be one for you.

(“In space…noone can here you have a VR experience with boobies.” – This movie (2017) )

The Descendents of Wing Chun (Fo Shan Zan xian sheng) (1978)

This was one of the biggest fake out’s I think i’ve had on my channel to date. I picked this movie up expecting basically a very straight laced Kung-fu movie. And in many ways I think in its original dub this film probably was a lot more straight played than the english dubbed version is. Popping the disc in however I felt like the floor had dropped out from under me. It became very clear very quickly that all the mysticism, philosphy and general profoundness found in the original dub had been completely binned in favour of funny voice acting and playing the film down. Im not saying that this film was intended to be completely without humour; there are moments here that defiantely have that vibe both physically and in the dub. But here it makes “On the Busses” look like “The Kings Speech” rediculously over the top but one I can ultimately reccommend in terms of just how weird tonally it is.

(My only regret is that the character “Fatty the Kung-fu Yorkshireman” never made it into another movie #Sadtimes)

American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987)

American Ninja 2 (Often released with the subtitle “The Confrontation”) was a sequal to the original American ninja movie which came out in 1985. This is one of the few times I’ve spoken about a films sequel before I’ve delt with the original and there are a few reasons for that that were fairly tedious but basically boiled down to “When I started this channel I was only going to talk about Janky B-movies and experimental/erotic films” and the first American ninja movie is actually pretty good. its a bit slow in places but its fun enough…this film was a bit more unusual and weird and I thought at the time it would fit my channels tone a bit better. It may have also been down to the fact that i’d watched the first one only a week or 2 before I decided to start my channel in the first place and I really didnt feel up to rewatching a film like this so soon after i’d watched it for the first time. This was also the first episode I recorded for the second ever group of episodes I made 🙂

(I’ll be honest; im a sucker for a ninja film that features genetically modified super ninjas)

EDIT [22/01/21]:

So At some point around 18 months ago, for reasons youtube cant fully explain to me, a glitch happened on my youtube channel scrubbing approximately 8 minutes of footage from the Above American Ninja review. I worked with them over a couple of days to try and retrieve it. But as far as they were concerned it has sadly been lost. So! I decided to try and put this right. In part because I plan to cover more American Ninja films on my channel in future, and in part because I actually kind of like this review. Im not massively fond of my early work (As most youtubers will atest after a certain period your ‘early works’ come with a healthy dose of cringe at what you could have done better/differently.

So I decided to rebuild the review! I luckily keep the original isolated vocals of every review I make and, while doing some frame matching for the review itself I sourced better quality copies of the footage, I worked on the layout, processed the audio and generally tidied the whole thing up to make it look and feel a lot more in line with my current reviews. I wouldnt say it was a ground up remake. more that this is a 2.5D reimagining of a 2D review. it’s just a bit more polished. AND it brings the review back from near obscurity! So I hope you enjoy this; it didnt take a particularly long time to put together, but I felt it needed doing! 🙂