Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Inferno (1997)

Inferno's biggest claim to fame is that it was the very first American movie to be shot in India-I prefer to think though that Inferno's biggest claim to fame is uniting notorious exploitation director Fred Olen Ray with superstar kickboxer Don 'The Dragon' Wilson.

The movie is about Interpol agent Kyle Connors (Wilson), who, after losing his partner Trevor (Rick Hill from Deathstalker) in a botched operation, goes on forced leave to India, where villainous occurrences are afoot that just happen to involve Connors. I won't insult your intelligence by saying that the main bad guy is anyone other than Trevor and the movie doesn't either, simply saying stuff it and showing us his real identity about twenty minutes into the film.

After befriending a local cop Ravi (R. Madhavan), Connors secretly searches for drug dealer Johan Davaad (Evan Lurie), the man responsible for Trevor's 'death' and comes across a crime-boss name Victor Grayson under the information of supposed MI6 agent Callista (Tane McClure).

All the while laying low, with Ravi finding information on Davaad's whereabouts, he frequently bumps into a mysterious lady, Shalimar (Deepti Bhatnagar), who is constantly being chased by a group of equally mysterious men.


After Ravi is murdered by Davaad, Connors seeks out Grayson with renewed vengeance, seeking him out a a party at his mansion. It's here that he finds out that Grayson isn't really the bad guy (although he is still a crime lord. I'm guessing that he's a crime lord with a heart of gold), and that he was fooled into throwing his pursuit onto Grayson, when the real threat is a shady, unseen crime boss known only as 'The Hydra'!


Connors is betrayed by Callista, who was in tandem with The Hydra and Davaad the whole time, and he is brought to 'The Hydra', Trevor himself. Trevor faked his own death in order so he could steal the 'Aquarius Disc' (and leaving a useless copy behind to fool Interpol into thinking that they have the disc). The 'Aquarius Disc' is capable of hacking into any computer network in America (or the world, it's a bit sketchy), which Trevor will use to commit the biggest bank heist in history. Connors escapes, and after stopping the bank transaction, goes after Trevor and his goons with the help of Grayson and his goons!


Inferno-or Operation Cobra as it's also known-is one fun flick, if there's one thing that Roger Corman protege Fred Olen Ray can do damn well other than skinemax, it's action! Famous kickboxer and B-Movie star Don 'The Dragon' Wilson (who was in movies like the epic Bloodfist series that had nine installments. Naturally the epic tapestry this series planned to weave was so amazing, they couldn't help but have each and every one of them have exactly nothing to do with each other) stars in Inferno, and he does a fine job, showing some good screen presence and acting as rogue agent Kyle Connors.


The rest of the acting is fine throughout. Rick Hill overacts gloriously as the film's main villain, in stark contrast to his stoic performance as Deathstalker, he's really fun to watch in this film. Evan Lurie is also fun as Davaad, the film's secondary main villain. Secondary or not, Lurie has a lot more screen time than Rick Hill, so he has to carry the movie's villain department on his shoulders through most of the film. He does this successfully, playing a fun villain with a penchant for breaking necks (at one point he uses the power of the camera to jump-edit a man to death). Despite looking like plastic, Tane McClure is good as femme fatale Callista, making a fun, yet very stupid villain (more on that later).


Something else that makes the film notable is the presence of famed Indian actor R. Madhavan, in his first film role. This guy is big stuff in India, making several lauded films, ranging from films in Hindi, to Tamil and several other languages, making him known as an actor with a 'pan-Indian appeal'. It's not hard to see why he's so famous, because even in his first film role he's a fine actor, a lot of fun and one of the best parts of the movie (isn't it funny to think that even a famous Indian actor, probably unheard of outside of Asia, still got his start via Roger Corman! And by way of Fred Olen Ray! It's almost unbelievable!). The only bad thing about him in Inferno is that his character dies.


R.I.P. Detective Ravi: Killed by having his neck broken in the most undignified way possible!


Moving onto the character of Kyle Connors, he's fine, he's the kind character you usually expect to find in movies like these. Connors also painfully reminds us of the joys of film-world, which, sadly don't extend to real life (either that, or India should be the No. 1 holiday destination on the planet), given how much of a chick-magnet he is. When he first checks into his hotel, his reservation has mistakenly been taken by someone else, so naturally the receptionist upgrades him to a better suite at no extra charge, and later in the film, he finds said receptionist naked in his bed, waiting to give him a good time. He refuses that offer, but not the ones later in the film. After a dinner-date and conversation with Callista, they go back to his hotel room, where she immediately pulls her dress off and forces herself on him. Naturally being a guy, he gives in immediately and screws her. And later in the film, a conversation with Shalimar can be basically summed up like this: Shalimar-"Thanks for saving me from those thugs for the third time, mystery man I've only been actually talking to and getting to know for a few minutes": Connors-"Wanna bang"?: Shalimar-"Sure"!
Kyle Connors: Secret Agent: Avenger: Man Whore!


The character of Trevor is a great one as well, not just thanks to Rick Hill's performance, but due to the evil speeches he's given, which are a lot of fun (especially when he channels his inner Harry Callahan).
"You know, only you would assume that something went wrong. You know, I used to think that way Kyle, what went wrong, what went wrong in Bosnia, in Baghdad. And then I wised up, because nothing went wrong, because war’s not about right and wrong, it’s not about honour or integrity, it’s about winning! Money and power! And with that disc I’m going to have all I ever dreamed of!"


"But I’ve got one thing you don’t got, and that’s THIS GUN! WHERE’S ALL THAT HONOUR AND INTEGRITY GOTTEN YOU NOW? HUH! LOOK AT YOU, GROVELLING AT MY FEET, THAT’S WHERE YOU ARE NOW KYLE CONNORS! I know what you’re thinkin’, ‘can I get to that gun before he pulls the trigger’! Well, go for it!"


The supporting characters are fun as well, from run-away mystery girl Shalimar, to her father Grayson, who likes to take target practice on ancient Asian statues (and has hired the worst private security army in the world!).

There are faults with some of the minor characters though. The actor playing the main scientist (the scientists who are adapting the Aquarius disc to the villain's technology, or something) Dr. Guru is wooden and sounds like he's reciting his dialogue phonetically. The police commissioner character is also distracting, as he's dubbed with a very out-of-place British voice.


One of the film's funniest moments comes when Callista is fighting with Shalimar and Callista makes the bright idea to to a flying Mortal Kombat kick at Shalimar, who's standing in front of a balcony...


...yeah...

...it goes about as well as you'd expect.


 So, in closing, Inferno is an insanely fun action/martial arts movie and a great introduction to anyone interested in the films of the great Don 'The Dragon' Wilson.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Godfrey Ho-Pierre Kirby-Crackdown Mission (1988)

Godfrey Ho

There are plenty of people who pride themselves on knowing all there is to obscure cinema. However if you are wizened enough in this subject to recognize this man…


…then you,
1) Have no life
2) Are completely demented
3) Are enjoying every second of your crazy, crazy preferences!

Said man is Godfrey Ho of IFD Films and Arts Ltd. who, along with his partner in crime Joseph Lai, produced movies in what is known as ‘the cut and paste method’. Ho and Lai would take unfinished or unreleased Asian films, film their own movie footage and, redubbing the Asian footage to coincide with the newly filmed plot, stitched the two films together. The newly filmed footage would star mainly Caucasian actors, as to appeal to a wider audience, and when not crime or goofy Phillipines-shot action, they mainly focused on ninjas. Very Colourful ninjas. (As hard as it may be to believe, one thing that these movies prove is that a ninja can still be badass even if he's wearing bright pink!)

Pierre Kirby

Pierre Kirby is THE obscure action hero of the 80's. He starred in nine, possible more films for IFD, all in the space of 1988 before sadly passing away. He arose to prominence on the Internet thanks to Brad Jones aka The Cinema Snob, a comedic 'reviewer' of exploitation films (and great fun by the way). Jones had an episode focusing on one of Kirby's films about four years ago, then specially spotlighted his other five movies, having not discovered the nearly completely undocumented other three yet, and has since spotlighted two out of the three.

As for why Pierre Kirby is held in such high regard by Brad Jones and others, me included, it's because the man had such a great screen presence, fun line delivery, he knew martial arts and he could actually act! In short, he is a LOT of fun! If there are any doubters, just watch this.




When it comes to the films of Director Godfrey Ho (or in most cases, 'Charles Lee', Godfrey's favourite pseudonym), they are sometimes very hard to find, especially when they're pretty much undocumented on the internet, so naturally I was surprised to find that Crackdown Mission-one of the undocumented Pierre Kirby offerings-was a lot easier to find than I'd expected. I guess it just goes to show that certain things are easier to find when you know what you're looking for.


What you're looking for isn't necessarily what you're going to find though. I found this film on a DVD from Germany and I was expecting the film to be in english, with burned in foreign subtitles, like other Ho movies, but no, it's dubbed into German...with no subtitles. *sigh*


Opening with the most cheery theme you'll ever hear for a horror film, Crackdown Mission follows Detective Neal Brown and his odyssey through a very out of order movie. An evil satanic cult is hypnotically manipulating people into becoming killers...I think, and Pierre Kirby suspects two Doctors...I think, and is helped by his gangly looking partner (who may or may not be played by Paul John Stanners, IFD regular who was in films like American Force 4: Soldier Terminators and Cannibal Mercenary).


But hey, I'm getting ahead of myself. as much as I'd like to talk about THAT movie, I have to talk about Movie A before Movie B.


Movie A centre's on some woman, who I think works at a clothing factory. She goes off shopping at a near-deserted supermarket, where she hears evil whispers in a scene like Terror in the Aisles (you know, the movie about an evil skeleton killing people who are trapped overnight in a supermarket. What's that? That film doesn't exist? Ugh, dreams are treacherous bastards!). Then Woman goes back to her apartment building, where she walks into a random apartment (or hers, it's sketchy) and she suddenly breaks down in tears for no reason. Then a thief lunges from the darkness and attacks her, sticking a gun in her mouth, before running off and turning into evil whispers.


Then the scene changes and we see Woman walking down the street, with the help of sinister musical backing. Then the film cuts back to Woman's apartment, where she sees a bloodied man in her mirror scored to heartbeating. Then we see Woman again walking the streets, holding a bag full of shopping, which she randomly throws in the bin. Then we suddenly see Woman being attacked in her dark apartment by slow-motion policemen and the mirror man.

Then we cut to Woman walking the streets...again, holding more shopping. She walks into an industrial area, where she is suddenly impulsed to throw all of her shopping into a flaming barrel. Truly the worst thing a ghost possibly do to a woman, destroying her shopping! Why go for loved ones when you can go for the credit card! She looks at a random guy, who glares an 80's synthesizer stinger at her. A while later, she sees the man again in a derelict metal barrel factory. He acts unhinged with her shopping, to which she pulls out the gun that the ghost burglar left and shoots the man.


Then we cut to a police station, where we are treated to the riveting action of a policeman silently reading a file for TWENTY WHOLE SECONDS! Then, after the police talk over the recent murders (I think), we cut back to Woman, who breaks down crying. Then her doorbell rings and the scene immediately cuts away, never showing us who was at the door. Then we cut to Woman watching a man on the street struggling with heavy bags, which he puts in a bin, where he finds a dead body. Then the scene cuts to a nightclub. Woman is talking with another woman when she is approached by a sleazy womanizer. She runs off, but he follows. Then she is suddenly possessed by another sinister 80's stinger and, smiling, lures the man into darkness, where she shoots him.


Then we're back in Woman's apartment. She goes to her fridge, which for no apparent reason takes her to the negaverse...


She goes prowling the streets and puts some stuff in a locker, the key to which she throws off in a harbour. She then finds a-presumably-pimp beating a-again presumably-hooker. Woman shoots the pimp. Then a random gang chase her though a subway. Then, after they corner Woman, the gang suddenly start attacking each other (either that or they're two separate gangs). Then, instead of walking home, Woman travels via a lightning edit.


On her way home she is approached by ANOTHER guy! This movie has more lechers and rapists than the Millennium Trilogy! Then she, surprise surprise, shoots him, as music that I'm pretty sure is lifted from The Equalizer plays. Then we cut to her back in her home, where she again goes to her negaverse-portal fridge, and a mysterious cat appears from nowhere, meowing to be fed (it's a cat alright!).

Then Woman goes to a party hosted by a male friend, who, despite being a nice guy, is still probably gonna get shot by this woman for the crime of having balls. She takes the guy hostage, then starts randomly shooting partygoers. Then the police arrive, bursting through the door with the power of slow motion. Then Movie A ends. Right there. It just stops.

Ookay, onto what really matters, Movie B with Pierre Kirby!


Movie B opens with a couple murdered in bed. Then Pierre Kirby as Inspector Neal Brown comes onto the scene. He investigates the scene, finding a strange symbol on the dead man's chest.


Then the movie cuts to a satanic cult led by IFD regular Edowan Bersmea. Naturally, since this is a Godfrey Ho film, the Evil Nefarious Satanic Cult is only made up of four people...seriously. It's just like in other Ho films, like with the Diabolical General Karpov and his army of six, or the drug dealer Lamarr and his drug empire of nine. So...anyway, the cult do ritualistic stuff while EVIL background music plays, namely stabbing a watermelon with a sword and holding it over a cup. Then the cult all take turns in drinking the Evil Broth of bloo...I'm sorry, watermelon juice, Evil Watermelon Juice). And there's some stuff with a snake...


Then Pierre has managed to trace his investigation to two doctors, who are the cult members. They deny everything, but Pierre still has his gut feeling. Not that he ever gets to make any further investigation against them, seeing as how all of his following scenes are assassination attempts.


A highlight of Movie B is one of those said assassination attempts. Two assassins sneak up on Pierre while he's reading the paper and start attacking him with knives. Pierre makes one guy fall on his comrade and kill him, then the surviving thug runs over to a woman jogging by and holds her at knifepoint. Of course, since she's Asian, it's only natural that this random jogging woman just HAPPENS to know martial arts. A few punches and one kick to the face later, the assassin is down for the count...until he gets up again...and Pierre and the woman tag-team kick the guy flat on his ass!


Pierre also appears in what s a staple of IFD films-the scenes which 'prove' that he two stitched together movies are in fact just the one, when characters from both films communicate either via phone or by talking to each other but never sharing any screen time together...or even a similar background!


These two may not be in the same country, let alone the same film, but trust me, they're totally in the same room.


The remaining two cultists try to ambush Pierre, who's driving a van out in the middle of nowhere for for reason that I can see. Dewey Bosworth (another IFD actor) gets machine-gunned in the chest, leaving only Edowan Bersmea to again find himself in a final face-off with Pierre Kirby (after Lamarr's fight, which ended with a Mr. T-style one liner, followed by the worst way a guy can be stabbed-below the belt (Dressed To Fire), and Solomon's hilariously one-sided final showdown-a natural occurrence if your opponent's name is literally Ted Fast (Thunder of the Gigantic Serpent)).

After a brief struggle, Pierre has Bersmea at gunpoint, and I'm pretty sure he does a Dirty Harry six bullets or only five routine. Unfortunately the number was six, and the gun is knocked away when Edowan flips over and kicks the gun out of Pierre's hand.


There's another fistfight, ending with Bersmea thrown over a clif......... (END OF REVIEW)

...Yeepp, that's how abruptly all of the IFD movies ended-the hero kills the main villain and either looks triumphant or just walks off, leaving a 'The End' title card, the whole finale having made up about a minute's worth of screen time.


Sooo, that was Crackdown Mission, one of the rarer IFD titles (despite how sorta easy it was to find). How was it? Well, when I'll be able to answer THAT question is the day Toho finally decides to bring back Jet Jaguar into the movie world.

It's particularly hard to work out the storyline when scenes have been cut out of the movie. It mostly seems to be with scenes of violence, which makes no sense since as far as I know, Germany doesn't censor things (a quick glance at German TV will confirm that). At least the editing saves us from having to see more of the topless woman with hairy armpits *ugh*. *

*Just kidding.




(Also, I swear that Terror in the Aisles exists! I swear, it wasn't just a dream!)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What Could Have Been

*sigh* If only my (now deleted) post for Fantasy Mission Force and Fire Dragon hadn't been cut in half by blogger, I had so much to say about them, namely Fire Dragon.

Fire Dragon is a 'redubsploitation' of Fantasy Mission Force. It's a very weird movie that, other than having screechingly bad soundtrack, has deleted scenes from FMF. Throughout the rest of the film is such sights like the cancer bullets from Videodrome, a girl who dresses like Trash from 1990: The Bronx Warriors, a woodenly dubbed hero, the film trying to nail the point home that the guy the heroes are talking to is in fact Jackie Chan and not a fill-in by having the camera constantly zoom in on posters of the man himself, a scene where the camera rests and focuses on a large metal pipe that takes up the whole screen for thirty whole seconds, to an awesome-looking POV plane downing into the ocean followed by a motorboat decapitation, to the downer ending where EVERYBODY but the main hero dies (which immediately follows the tacked-on FMF ending, wherein everybody also dies) to THE scene, where a JAPANESE-CAVEMAN-NAZI MIDGET JUMPS OUT OF A BIRTHDAY CAKE!

Getting that out of the way, I will have several reviews posted soon-

Crackdown Mission: The first Pierre Kirby/Godfrey Ho film to be reviewed on this blog (as best as one could review a film that's dubbed into German with no English subtitles)!

Inferno: Don 'The Dragon' Wilson being awesome (and a man-whore), and the surprising appearance of a now-famous Indian actor.

Scanner Cop: A surprisingly good spin-off to David Cronenberg's Scanners (and yes, Scanner Cop has a cool headsplosion)

The Punisher: Fun and brutal Dolph Lundgren film.

And Street Fighter: The Movie: Which, to get notes for my review, I'll have to watch it a third time (which, to some is three times too many, but to people like me, it's three times not enough)!

Watch out for all of those reviews this month, then I'll follow them with something special (Graboid alert!).