Cult Classics Innocent Blood & The Hidden Coming to Blu Ray via Warner Archives

Warner Archives has just announced 2 upcoming titles that I've been waiting years for: the John Landis classic Innocent Blood and Jack Sholder's insanely fun and killer sci-fi/action classic The Hidden. 

Yes, you read that correctly. I know, I'm kind of in shock too. I never thought we'd actually ever get Innocent Blood, a criminally forgotten and vastly underrated gem, in it's proper widescreen aspect ratio. Because as you may (or may not) know, this John Landis early 90's horror/drama/gangster/comedy/romance classic has only ever gotten a single DVD release, and much like with Fright Night 2 (1988), it's in full frame. The only time it was ever released in widescreen was on Laserdisc, which I own and cherish. So this is a big deal, and not only because of it's aspect ratio, but also because it's in dire need of a significant digital upgrade and improvement over it's Laserdisc and DVD release, which were both  bordering on "poor" to "standard" in quality. So yea, as you can imagine, I'm all kinds of crazy about this news.

Here are the specs for both releases via DVD News Flash:

- New 2017 1080p HD Transfer
- 115 minute International Version (Unrated)
- English Subtitles
- Original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 Widescreen
- DTS HD master audio 2.0 stereo
- Theatrical Trailer 

Next is the 1987 cult classic The Hidden. This was Kyle MacLachlan's third film after Dune and Blue Velvet, and easily one of the most suitable for him. Here he plays an alien who comes to Earth to track an alien killer, so he takes on the form of a human FBI agent and with the help of an L.A. cop (Michael Nouri) track down this alien killer.

It really is one of the best examples of this kind of film. Directed with pizzazz by Nightmare on Elm St. Part 2 director Jack Sholder, and starring a plethora of killer character actors like Danny Trejo and Claudia Christian (she never looked better), this literally has everything you could want in a low-budget sci-fi action film. It's top notch entertainment done with such a professional's touch that I'm shocked it never made it into theaters. While we've surprisingly gotten some pretty sweet releases of this on VHS & Laserdisc (both in widescreen), and a single DVD release, a blu ray is a damn welcome surprise and I'm stoked to see a vastly superior cleaned-up version in the near future. No word on a street date yet, but hopefully it's not too far away. Stay tuned for more details.

- New 1080p HD Remaster
- Run Time: 97 minutes
- Subtitles: English
- Original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 widescreen
- DTS HD master audio
- Commentary by Jack Sholder and Tim Hunter
- SFX footage with commentary by Jack Sholder
- Theatrical Trailer


Documentary Dynamite!: Batman & Bill

Let me start off by saying that this intensely engaging documentary just blew us away. Not knowing any of the backstory going in, I can honestly say that by the end of it, we were just simply floored by the revelation that this documentary presents.

Guess what? Bob Kane was not the sole creator/artist of the original Batman. No sir. In fact, he freely admitted that little fact during numerous interviews throughout his life. What's even more mind-blowing is that this isn't something that's openly discussed, yet you will find out exactly why in this thought-provoking film.

This documentary tells the story of Thomas Andrae, an author who's mission is to set the record straight about who really created the character of Batman, as well as many important pieces of the Batman universe. While the world has only ever known that person to be Bob Kane, there were in fact 2 people who did it, and just how much each contributed is the focus of this exhaustive and highly entertaining documentary. The other persons name is Bill Finger, an artist for hire who went completely uncredited and unnoticed as a co-creator of Batman his entire life, while Bob Kane achieved legendary status and became rich beyond his wildest dreams. Bill Finger lived a very meager life and died broke and penniless. Thomas Andrae is on a crusade to right that wrong, even though Finger has since long passed, he can at least ensure that Finger's name and legacy will always be associated with that creation.

This is a MUST WATCH for any comic book fan, even if you're not necessarily a Batman fan. The details, truths and revelations will leave you floored and stunned. On the flipside, Andrae's quest to right a wrong decades later also shows you that there are still good people in the world, and for someone who doesn't want anything in return, other than for the world to know, and for WB to acknowledge this fact, is admirable.

How to watch it:
It's a Hulu original documentary, so unfortunately you have to have Hulu to watch it. But hey, for $8 a month, it's a steal. I use Hulu more now than I do Netflix as I find their content more to my liking and tastes.


90's Action Attack!: The Hard Corpse

Directed by: Sheldon Lettich
Category: Action

I have to admit that around Maximum Risk and Knockoff (late 90's era JCVD), Jean-Claude lost me. I found no enjoyment in either of those films, and while I absolutely loved Double Team (1997), anything after went straight to home video, which usually means low-quality films, and that's just never a good sign. I did try a few of his films here and there, but I could never sit through one completely. They just weren't any good. So I pretty much strayed from him films until 2008's JCVD. But even then, with his career seemingly at a resurgence, nothing that came after that was any good either. In fact, the only thing I actually liked from him in the last 20 years is easily the Amazon show pilot for Van Johnson, where he was just absolutely brilliant. I haven't heard anything new about it yet, but I do hope it gets picked up for a series.

Philippe Savauge (JCVD), an army vet, suffering from PTSD, is hired as a bodyguard for local boxing champ Wayne Barclay (Razaaq Adoti). When a local drug kingpin, Terrell Singletery (Viv Leacock) is released from a prison stint, he sets his sights on exacting revenge on Barclay from a long-running feud. Savauge soon realizes he has his work cut out for him and things get even more complicated when it seems like Barclay's sister and manager Tamara (Vivica A. Fox) might have a thing for Savauge. 

The Hard Corpse reunites Van Damme with  his Lionheart and Double Impact writer/director Sheldon Lettich, and honestly, that was the only selling point for me to actually make the effort to watch this. Sure it had been many, many years since either of them had a hit, but I went in hopeful. And you know, it wasn't bad. Not at all the kind of film I was expecting, but it wasn't terrible either. It was shockingly able to keep my attention even though it ultimately ended up being the kind of film that I don't necessarily seek out. And after having seen it, it's not a film I will probably ever watch again and won't go down as one of Jean-Claude's better films.

There's really not much motivation for you to actually check this out, unless you're a die hard completest of JCVD films. There's really not a lot of action, and you only ever see him use his martial arts skills during one scene in the film. Even then, it comes across so half-assed, You'd never know these two (Lettich and Van Damme) were the same team behind some of his earlier classics like Bloodsport, Lionheart and Double Impact (a personal favorite). But still, it's not a bad film. Just not a good or enjoyable one. Sheldon Lettich, while one of the few who spearheaded the whole martial arts/action movement in the late 80's to early 90's has clearly lost his mojo by this film. While he would only ever direct 8 films in his career, this would be his last. What makes the experience more trying is that Van Damme just looks so tired and uninterested here. He literally looks like he couldn't give a shit anymore than he already does and comes across as completely bored and unmotivated. Sad day indeed. Not one of his worst, but you can certainly find a better way to spend an hour and a half of your time.


80's Action Attack!: Commando Squad

VHS scan courtesy of SerialKillerCalendar.com
Up until this past year, I'd never actually seen a Fred Olen Ray film before. I'd certainly heard of him, as he's often referred to as a schlock director, along the same lines as Roger Corman and Jim Wynorski, which is awesome to me. What's even more bizarre is that I just love that kind of stuff. So the fact that it's taken me this long to get to his films kinda blows my mind. That's not to say all, or even half, of his films are good. They're not. I've dug into them randomly and for a guy who dips his toes into everything from softcore porn to family films, his quality varies significantly from one film to the next. I'm discovering that my favorite's from him so far are his early films that he did in the 80's, which is where we are right now with Commando Squad.

Released in 1987, the same year he directed the insanely badass and legendary Cyclone, and a year before his most famous film Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Commando Squad stars Playboy Playmate and actress Kathy Shower along with the one and only B-Movie badass Brian Thompson (Cobra, Hired to Kill). Shower plays an undercover drug enforcement officer who must go to Mexico to rescue a former flame and partner (Thompson) after he's been kidnapped by former narcotics officer turned drug kingpin Morgan Denny (William Smith).

On the surface, Commando Squad should have been a slamdunk. It has everything you'd want for a film like this, and all the right ingredients are right here. And it works for the most part, but it never quite reaches the level of awesome it could have. After 2 back to back knockouts with Armed Response and Cyclone, it's hard not to go into this without some rather high expectations. And I did, only to be somewhat let down because this, while not bad, wasn't nearly as good, fun or entertaining as either of those. And you know, I realize they can't all be, especially from a guy who typically directs a good 5 films every single year. You have to expect that they're not all going to be awesome. But it's frustrating, especially with this film, because it could be, so easily. It's all there, yet missing only 1 single thing that really could have made it great, and that one thing being action. Yes. For an action film, it's pretty devoid of it for the most part. Not to say that there isn't any, because there is. In fact, the film begins with a solid action sequence, and ends with an even bigger one that kinda sorta makes up for the lack of it throughout the middle, but it's just not enough and for a film that boasts one of the best B-Movie lineups around, with one of the best covers, from a director who knocked it out of the park with his 2 previous efforts, there just needed to be more. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't badass either.

If you're going to walk away with anything, it will probably be it's excellent B-Movie cast. Seriously, it was just missing David Carradine. Brian Thompson is always a badass, so the guy needs no introduction here. The other lead however, is Kathy Shower, a former Playboy Playmate. She wasn't bad at all, but there's just something bothering me about her in this. In real life, and on this most excellent cover, she has huge blonde hair, yet in the film she wears a short black wig. It's even explained that it's because she's undercover, and there's even a single scene where she actually takes it off for less than a minute, before she puts it back on for the remainder of the film. And it's frustratingly obvious it's a wig, and considering she has this gorgeous big blonde hair on the cover art, it's a bit confusing that she never sports it at all in the entire film, even when she's not being undercover. It was just an odd decision.

This won't become a low-budget favorite the way other recent's like Cyclone, Hired to Kill and Bulletproof, but it was an entertaining watch from a director who's more miss than hit. I was really hoping for B-Movie gold, and sadly it's far from it. Still, there's enough here to give it a watch. Just don't expect it to blow you away.

How to watch it:
As far as I can tell, this has only ever been released on VHS, in a big clamshell edition from Trans World Entertainment, which isn't hard to come across for under $10. Other than that, I've never seen this on any DVD set or as a cheap standalone edition. I've also never seen this on Laserdisc, but I could be wrong.


Revisiting Die Hard With A Vengeance

Of the original trilogy, I'd always liked this one the least in the 22 years since it's release. Sure I revisit it often for one reason or another, but never near as many times as the first two. My main beef that I'd always had, and still do, is that I just did not like how McTiernan shot this. I didn't like the grittiness to it, and I sure as hell didn't like the over-indulgent and totally unnecessary handheld shaky-cam approach. Yes I know it's a petty complain and criticism, but the visual aspect of every single film I watch plays a huge and significant role in how I will enjoy it. For me, the visuals play just as big, if not bigger, role in how I will enjoy any film. That's why as someone who grew up on films from directors like Russell Mulcahy, Peter Hyams, John McTiernan, Craig R. Baxley and John Carpenter, it's extremely hard to find any solid enjoyment from films directed by newcomers like Pierre Morel, Louis Leterrier and Michael Bay, who's frenetic shaky-cam approach makes me sick both physically and mentally. But anyway, let's dig in.

I remember when this was coming out, how excited I was that the legendary John McTiernan was returning to the series after bowing out and letting Renny Harlin direct the sequel. It was a big deal, because McTiernan has never directed a sequel before. And though I felt he was beginning this new transition to grittier more freestyle camerawork after having seen Last Action Hero, I was still optimistic, hoping he would go back to his roots. But my initial reaction to this was when I realized my worst fears became realized. But as they say, time heals all wounds, so I went into DHwaV with an open mind and I can honestly say that having revisited this again, I absolutely loved it. While I do still feel that McTiernan did a bit too much of the freestyle approach, it actually wasn't as often as I recall. In fact, some of the shots in here are absolutely gorgeous, done in a way that only John McTiernan could do. I've since seen a number of interviews with McTiernan where he says he never wanted to do the same thing he did with the first Die Hard, because that would be boring. So in that sense, I guess I can understand, but I just don't think the handheld approach, and the extent he took it, were all that necessary. There are many moments where the film still looks gritty and dirty, yet with his gorgeous compositions, New York and the action sequences also looked stunning. And its here where I struggle with trying to understand if he could do this, why couldn't he just keep it up for the entire film?? Because for all those slick camera shots, there are just as many nauseating and frustrating ones where it's as if the camera shakes were intentional and not a result of something else. A prime example is a moment when McClane and Zeus are in a car crash, and their car has flipped upside down in the rain. As McClane is running towards the other car that caused the crash, you can't even tell what the fuck is going on because of the overzealous shaky-cam bullshit. It's just frustrating.

As a film, DHwaV is about as great and solid as they come for these types of films. This one literally begins with a bang and does not let up for the entirety of it's running time, and that's really one of the things that makes this a standout among the many Die Hard films. And there's so much action, tension and frenetic energy because it never lets up for a single second. And that's another one of it's many qualities that makes this one a standout among the others. As much as I love the first 2, with Part 2 being my favorite, I can also appreciate and respect what they did with this one, and I think it's this constant frenzy and chaos that helps me look past the shaky-cam aspect. Shooting this film in what looks like the dead of summer heat, in New York City, gives the film an aura of intensity. It's so chaotic and just being in that city at that time gives the film a huge boost of authenticity. Today, I doubt they would ever attempt that as it would be such a monumental effort. It would just be too expensive and too hard, but when you see it here, and it's not another random city substituting for NYC, it's so visceral. Every element just adds to the experience, making it a nonstop barrage of chaos in every frame.

I feel a tad silly for not liking this as much as the others for all these years, when in fact it's quite an excellent entry in the Die Hard franchise, and just as good as the first 2, in a different way. Certainly leaps and bounds better than any Die Hard film that followed. And for me, it's also a special one in that it's the last time Bruce Willis actually looked, acted and dressed like John McClane. When I see him in any of the later films, I don't even recognize him. That's John McClane? It's certainly not the Willis from decades earlier, and it's not the same character either. He's somehow turned into a superhero and it's become a bit unsettling. I know there is talk of a new Die Hard film titled Die Hard: Year One, this time going back to his early years and serving as both a prequel and sequel in some capacity. I hope they can learn from all the backlash the last few films have received. But then again, maybe not, as the director is supposed to be Len Wiseman, who directed Live Free or Die Hard. Sigh.

What are your thoughts? Comment! Let's discuss!


I Finally Watched Hudson Hawk...

Now here is a film that often comes up in discussions with me. Why? Because as much as I love nearly everyone involved in this production, at the height of their creative popularity, I just can't stand it. I've never been able to get into this one......at all. And I've tried. So many times I've tried, and each time I walk away confused as to why people love this film so much. So when I saw it recently available on Crackle for free, I decided to give it another shot. It's been many, many years since my last visit, so maybe time has softened my feelings a bit and I can finally appreciate it. It's been known to happen.

Nope! Not at all. Again, I walk away confused. Why is this film so dearly loved by those that are passionate about it? I can see what they were trying to do, but it just didn't work. I feel they were trying to go for slapstick silly comedy, yet none of it lands. I sat in my chair cringing at the horrible unfunny bits that were supposed to be funny so often that you'd think I was in a dentist office getting my teeth pulled. I squirmed at every moment when you were supposed to laugh, yet I didn't hate it. There were things that I found amusing, yet not amusing enough that I actually wanted to finish it, because I didn't. I had to stop it a little over half way, but hey! That's the farthest I've ever gone with this one. I was just bored more than anything, and if the film had been this dull and unfunny up until this point, there was just not enough interest for me to keep going.

I will say though that I loved seeing Bruce Willis look like he was actually enjoying himself. He's clearly having a good time here, and I honestly can't remember the last time I thought that. When this was made and released (1991), Willis was the biggest stars on the planet, not just in the action genre, as he liked to mix it up greatly from film to film. At the time, he was turning out 3-4 films a year (that's a lot!), and continues to do so today, making him an incredibly busy working powerhouse. Yet, as I've mentioned before in other posts, I'm just not a fan of the guy Willis has become. He always looks like he's phoning it in, or just acts like he doesn't give a shit anymore. At least that's how I see him. Nothing he's released in the last 20 years has shown a hint of what Willis was doing before then, when he looked like he was having a good time and put in some solid effort. Now he just comes off as bored as he sleepwalks through his roles. I really hope he snaps out of it someday though. I mean, I know he's not the only one. Bronson made a huge career out of being exactly that in the 80's: the older action star who's unemotional portrayals in cop/action/thrillers was the norm. And it worked for him. He basically played the same exact character the same way in nearly every film he was in when he worked for Cannon Films, and it was acceptable. So maybe that's what Willis is trying to do?

As far as the production goes, the film looks great. No expense was spared and you can see it all over the screen. Though I didn't care for the characters, the large ensemble of actors were impressive to me and I genuinely enjoy them in other films. But it's really the behind-the-camera group that kind of throws me for a loop with this one. For starters, it's produced by mega-producer Joel Silver, who at the time was as big as they come and produced nearly every big action classic under the same from Commando, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard, to Predator, Action Jackson and The Last Boy Scout. He also produced a similar film titled The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, which I fucking love to death and find much more successful as a film than this one. He would continue a winning streak, despite Hudson Hawk's box office failure, and would eventually produce the Matrix series.

The screenplay is credited to the legendary Steven E. de Souza (does he really need an introduction?) and Daniel Waters. Waters was responsible for the cult hit Heathers, and who also.......shockingly, wrote The Adventures of Ford Fairlane the previous year in 1990. He would then deliver Batman Returns in '92 and Demolition Man in '93 followed by a few forgettable films and hasn't really stayed all that busy since. Certainly not like he was in the early 90's. Director Michael Lehmann, who previously collaborated with Daniel Waters on Heathers, just doesn't seem the right choice for an action comedy. Nothing he'd done previously (only 2 comedies) would lead you to believe that he can handle the action sequences, and truthfully, while he's not terrible at it, they never deliver a solid punch the way they should. He's just not up to the task and it shows all over the screen. And maybe that's part of why this film just doesn't work for me. Maybe if a more experienced director, someone capable of handling the action, was behind the camera then maybe they could have made a better film. Not a great one, but with some proper editing and action sequences, it could have been passable instead of goofy. After a few comedies, drama's and dramedies, Lehmann would stick to television, where he continues to work today.

I feel that both Hudson Hawk and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane exist in the same universe, yet I'd much rather watch Ford Fairlane any day of the week before I ever give this one another chance. I was completely thrown by how goofy this was. And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone, as it was a huge box office misfire for everyone involved. I guess people going into the theater for an action caper felt misled when in fact, it's a slapstick comedy musical with sprinkles of action and everything is just so over-exaggerated. In the end, Hudson Hawk is a hugely frustrating experience because it fails so miserably, yet most of the right ingredients are all there. They're just not utilized well at all and the film suffers horribly. Too bad. Done right, it could have been something pretty great. Needless to say, most involved with this disaster didn't suffer too greatly as their career's continued to flourish. Though I did read somewhere that producer Joel Silver was the one who suffered the most to some capacity.

Please comment! Let's discuss!


Quick Shot Review: 80's Horror with Monkey Shines

Directed by: George A. Romero
Category: Horror

This has been sitting in my Hulu Plus list for a while now, but with the recent passing of George A. Romero, I figured now would be as good a time as any to finally revisit this one. I did see it when it was first released in 1988, but I haven't seen it since, so I remember virtually nothing about it. When I learned that this was the film he followed up Day of the Dead with, I was more stoked to see what he had to offer, because he had been on a killer winning streak up until this point. So I was curious to see if that streak could keep going with this. Let's find out.

The answer, sadly, is a big fat no. As excited as we were to revisit this, and how this really could have been something different in terms of horror, which this was clearly marketed as, this just didn't deliver at all in any capacity: visually, emotionally or structurally. First off, it's a drama/thriller more than anything. And even in that genre, there just wasn't any sort of proper tension, thrills or intensity to really generate any sort of reaction from you, the audience in a way that would make you care or feel something. And shockingly, despite it's interesting subject matter, Monkey Shines is surprisingly dull from beginning to end. While the actors do a fine job in their respective roles, there's just not enough to like about this as a whole to keep you invested. We had hoped that the ending would somehow make up for whatever was lacking leading up to that point, but just like the rest of the film, it ends without a bang. Too bad, because we were really looking forward to some solid 80's horror from one of the masters of horror. And that was another issue I had with this. While Romero has never really been the strongest visual director, except for Creepshow, even when he wasn't trying, his films always had a very Romero-esque look and vibe to them. You could just tell it was a Romero film, but with this one, it just comes off as very uninspired and straight-forward. Like anybody could have directed it. You would never know after watching it that you just saw a George Romero film. Interesting note: For the longest time, I could have sworn it came from a Stephen King story. Guess I was wrong.

How to see it:
Currently on Hulu Plus in a beautiful HD print. Be warned, it's pretty dull though. And if you don't like seeing the mistreatment of animals, even in the very slightest, then this movie is not for you.


Revisiting Brandon Lee's Rapid Fire

Directed by: Dwight H. Little
Category: Action

I'll be honest. I've never thought much about this film. And now that I revisit it, I'm completely thrown as to why that was for so many years. Initially, I just didn't feel that it had much of a badass action vibe to it. I felt that it was too freestyle in terms of style, and I felt that Lee deserved so much better for his first breakout solo film. Because it was directed by Dwight H. Little, who did such a fantastic and highly stylized job with Seagal's Marked for Death just a few years before, naturally I was excited, only to be letdown (at the time), which caused me to ignore this for all these years.

But you know, I'm always willing to give films another chance, which is what I did the other day with this one, only to discover that I absolutely loved it this time around. And I made sure to pay attention to all the things I didn't like about it before, yet somehow this time around I didn't feel the same way. I thought it was a slick looking film (better than my memory dictated), with plenty of action and a highly charming and charismatic lead that we lost in his prime. Furthermore, it's the supporting cast of who's who 90's staples that really makes this work to a much higher level than you'd expect. If nothing else, Rapid Fire is a perfect example of the 90's martial arts action genre, of which there are many great examples such as The Perfect Weapon, Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Sudden Death and so on, before the genre slowly began to fade away into the DTV market exclusively. But man, what an epic run we had in the 90's.

I think the main thing that really works in this film, even if, for arguments sake, everything else didn't (and it did!!!), was how charming and and natural Brandon Lee was. Even when he's being whinny or a jerk, you still like the guy when he turns on the charm. He's a natural in front of the camera, and more so when he's kicking ass and taking names. Who knows how far he could have gone, or big he could have gotten? At least we have the last 3 films he did, the most important.

Director Dwight H. Little was thick in the middle of his prime when he directed this. Having just begun his career just a few years earlier, he scored big time with the absurd, yet highly entertaining low-budget action film Getting Even (I love this movie!!) in 1986, where he would then segway into the horror genre with Halloween 4 (1988) and the Robert Englund starring Phantom of the Opera (1989), 2 films that I just don't like very much at all, no matter how many times I revisit them. And maybe that's why he decided to go back to his action roots the following year with Steven Seagal's Marked for Death (1990), one of my personal favorites of Seagal's large filmography. So he would seem like a natural fit to deliver another solid action film 2 years later, this time to really shine a spotlight on Brandon Lee, who was finally getting to make a name for himself after a string of low-budget films, the best being the insanely awesome Showdown in Little Tokyo with Dolph Lundgren. It worked, because while not a box office smash, it did gain some cult status and Lee emerged a new rising action star. Of course, we all know his biggest hit would come with his following film, The Crow, and that would be his last.

As much of a fan as I am with how slick Marked for Death looked, I never felt that way about this one, and it's because of this that I always felt it could have been better, which is surprising since Little used the same Director of Photography, Ric Waite, for both films. While I still agree with that sentiment, it's not nearly as bad as I remember. While a bit more gritty than MfD, there are still moments of camera badassery sprinkled throughout and though there is a lot more use of handheld in here than I like, he does a good job of mixing it with really good camera setups here and there. Sadly, Little's next film would be Free Willy 2 (???), followed by the Wesley Snipes thriller Murder at 1600, before heading straight to television work in a variety of genre's, where he's stayed ever since. Hey, at least we have Getting Even, Marked for Death and Rapid Fire that we can revisit whenever we like.

The action is fast and fierce, with enough balance of both gun fights and fist fights to satisfy any fan of either style. And that's really one of the things I liked most about this. There are just as many car chases, explosions, crashes and gun fights as there are martial arts battles, which gloriously comes to a head in the end when Brandon Lee battles legendary badass Al Leong, here having a more significant role than we're used to. While he's not the main villain of the film, he's the big guy Lee has to throw down with at the end and it's fucking brutal and awesome. I don't know for sure, but it looked and felt like Lee either did the choreography himself, or at least helped in designing all of the hand to hand combat scenes, because they're so different from what you would normally see in these types of films. A bit rough, with some interesting techniques all around, yet highly brutal, it showcases Lee's immense physical talents as a martial artist in a different way than you'd expect.

One of the brightest spots about this was it's supporting cast. Powers Boothe is always a pleasure to watch, but interestingly enough, he's not the villain here, but rather a cop who uses Lee's character to his advantage to bring a drug kingpin down. And you'll definitely notice a few other faces like Tony Longo, Basil Wallace (villain from Marked for Death), Kate Hodge, (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3Nick Mancuso (Under Seige), Raymond J. Barry and more, but the real standouts are the random Asian actors that were constantly used in nearly every one of these films. With this one, I counted 4 Big Trouble in Little China alums (Al Leong, Donald Li, Gerald Okamura and James Lew) in various small roles, but there cold have been more. And you'll know them when you see them, because they were in every action film back then in some capacity.

I really couldn't find anything major to complain about. Nearly every aspect of this production knocked it out of the park. Sure it looks and feels very 90's, but that's also one of it's biggest strengths. Films like this that are made today are highly forgettable. Nothing about them ever stand out, yet here is a prime example of why. Solid score courtesy of Christopher Young, tight fight choreography, a ton of action, a totally unnecessary love-making scene, an eclectic kickass supporting cast, and Brandon Lee delivering the goods as an action star lead. Really, you can't get any better than this.

How to see it:
Plenty of releases in all formats except Blu Ray, which would really be nice. But I'm sure it's only a matter of time. The DVD is surprisingly not common, but not that hard or expensive to get either.


Bad Movie Night Presents: Turkish Rambo aka Rampage

Category: Bad Movie Night

Soooo you may have noticed that it's been quite a while since I've posted a Bad Movie Night review. It just seems like they're becoming harder and harder to find these days, as I've pretty much tapped out that little niche sub-genre as much as I could. But I know there are still more out there, I just need to find them. Sometimes it's through sheer chance, like with this one. Someone posted an amazing clip from this movie some time back on Facebook, and I immediately set out to track this down, which unfortunately would have to be a bootleg rip since it's never gotten any form of release here in the states. But let me tell you. I was not at all prepared for the insanity that was to follow once I finally sat down to watch this. So let's dig in.

What a weird fucked up movie this was, but in the best possible way. And you'll know what I mean by that right in the beginning, because unlike the U.S. films, Rambo starts the film off by being a murderer, in one of this film's first WTF?! moments, setting the tone for what's to follow. And it also begins with a weird inexplicable barrage of clips and scenes that make absolutely no sense. It's only until halfway through the film do you realize that what you saw in the beginning were random clips of the film strung together in no order whatsoever. A totally random and odd way to begin a film for sure, and done in such a way that you don't even realize that that was the intention until much later on in the film when you begin seeing those very same clips. I'm telling you, Turkish Rambo is spectacularly odd and fucked up.

What really makes this stand out from all the other Rambo ripoff's is that it doesn't follow the story of either First Blood or the sequel. In fact it doesn't even follow the same origin story of the character at all. It's it's own beast, and quite wonderful in a hilariously awful and WTF? way, with it's severe low-budget DYI quality only adding to the experience. Seriously, it looks like it took them a week to make this, and maybe it did? Most of the acting is laughably terrible, with many of the actors (or non-actors I should say) looking directly into the camera at any given moment. Hell, bodybuilder turned actor Serdar, who portrays Rambo, barely utters a word in the entire film, which might be a good thing to hide the fact that he can't act. And guess what? He's actually not bad once he does begin talking. But the one in here who takes the cake is main bad guy Ziya, portrayed by Turkish actor Huseyin Peyda, who looks like an old Hispanic version of Vincent Price. He's hands-down the standout in the film and he's just so angry and over-the-top raging in every single scene he's in for no reason at all that he absolutely steals the show.

If you enjoy entertaining bad movies, or love Rambo ripoffs, you will absolutely love this one. While not as great as the legendary The Intruder, or even the equally great Strike Commando, it's worthy of being in the same league of legendary Badass Rambo Ripoff's and certainly worth tracking down. Invite you're friends, it will surely be a hilariously good time.

How to see it:
This one will take some detective work. Never officially released anywhere in the states, there are plenty of bootlegs you can purchase from a number of online sites like ioffer and sometimes eBay. It might even pop up in it's entirely on YouTube from time to time too. You're just going to have to hunt for it. But trust me, it's worth the effort. I should warn you though, I've never come across a decent print or copy. Each one has been beat to shit, including the one I used to review this film. So good luck. I know Neon Harbor and Dark Maze worked together to release a limited edition DVD run of this some time back, but it's since become Out of Print. So who knows? Maybe someday someone else will take up the cause.