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LEGENDS OF THE SILVER SCREEN: LORENZO LAMAS

With this column, Lorenzo Lamas now has the second most Legends of the Silver Screen posts. That means that only Dolph Lundgren has more. That’s pretty good company if you ask me.

Our first Lamas flick is…

NIGHT OF THE WARRIOR (1991) **

They really called out the cinematic titans for this one. Night of the Warrior was directed by Rafal Zielinski of Screwballs fame and written and produced by none other than Terry Silver himself, Thomas Ian Griffith. Plus, you’ve got Dawn of the Dead’s Ken Foree in there and of course, Legend of the Silver Screen Lorenzo Lamas (who also co-produced) in the driver’s seat. So what’s holding Night of the Warrior back from being one of the all-time greats? Read on!

Lamas competes in an underground fighting circuit to pay his debts to slimeball Anthony Geary. Once he’s paid in full, Lorenzo wants out. Naturally, Geary doesn’t want his gravy train to stop, so he beats up Lorenzo’s mom (played by Lorenzo’s mom in real life, Arlene Dahl) and kidnaps his girlfriend (played by Lorenzo’s then-wife, Kathleen Kinmont) and forces him to fight.

The first couple of reels of Night of the Warrior is just peachy. The final couple of minutes aren’t too shabby either. So what’s the damn movie’s problem, you ask? It’s all the shit in the middle where Lorenzo tries to be a trendy photographer that grinds things to a screeching halt. I’m sorry, I’ll buy Lamas as a lot of things, but a sad sack photographer is not one of them. A breakdancer, sure. A Renegade, yeah. A Snake Eater? No problem-o. But a STARVING ARTIST? No way!

I mean he spends most of the movie taking pictures. It would be one thing if he was taking photos of nude models or Playboy bunnies or something, but Lorenzo wants to be taken seriously as an artist, so he takes pictures of bums with a grainy black and white camera. We, as Lorenzo Lamas fans and moviegoers in general, didn’t need these photo sessions. I know all of this shit is supposed to act as “character development” (no pun intended) and all, but all it does is slow the film down.

Look, the film is already bogged down as it is. There are plenty of long scenes of Lamas wandering around town on his motorcycle. In a good Lamas movie, THIS would be the character development. I’m surprised the guy that directed Screwballs didn’t understand this.

In fact, the middle hour of the movie is all padding. There are long scenes of strippers in kabuki face paint doing Kung Fu moves on stage. Since they don’t get naked, then what’s the point? There are also gratuitous scenes of Lorenzo salsa dancing and scenes of operatic winos performing arias in alleyways. We’re talking Padding City here, population: Lorenzo and Co.

On the plus side, Lorenzo Lamas rides a motorcycle and beats people up, so it’s not a total loss. I’m sure there will be some of you that will not heed my warning and see it anyway just on the basis of the Lorenzo Lamas/Ken Foree fight, and I really can’t say I blame you.

But I do have to make mention of one particularly weird scene. It’s the scene where Lorenzo is getting it on with his wife while shots of his mom getting tortured are intercut into the action. I wonder what was THAT family therapy session was like.

Second Opinions on Night of the Warrior:

Comeuppance Reviews: http://www.comeuppancereviews.com/2010/06/night-of-warrior-1991.html

Direct to Video Connoisseur: http://www.mattmovieguy.com/2011/02/night-of-warrior-1991.html

Next up is…

MASK OF DEATH (1996) **

Lorenzo Lamas is a cop who gets plastic surgery to look like a notorious criminal (also Lamas). Billy Dee Williams is a Fed who gets Lorenzo to bring down some slimy bad guys. Rae Dawn Chong is Lamas’ former partner who is unaware of his top secret assignment and is hot on his trail.

Like Night of the Warrior, Mask of Death gets off to a great start, but it goes downhill awful fast. However, the first couple reels of this flick are filled with some rather awesome stuff. I’m sure in time; much of Night of the Warrior will disappear from my memory. But the opening moments of Mask of Death will stay with me to my dying day. Seriously, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Lorenzo Lamas wearing a hilarious blond mullet wig and a Jeff Foxworthy moustache. As Billy Crudup would say on those American Express commercials: “Priceless.”

Rae Dawn Chong is really good as Lamas’ tough partner. Billy Dee Williams on the other hand, looks bored and is pretty much wasted. And the villains are forgettable too.

Thankfully, Lorenzo gives a really good performance in this flick. In fact, he gives two of them. I just wish the film played up the concept of Dueling Lamases more. Think Face/Off, but instead of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, we had Lorenzo Lamas and Lorenzo Lamas. That could’ve been a recipe for awesome. As it is, Mask of Death is pretty much just your standard issue Undercover Cop That’s In Too Deep flick, albeit one with Lorenzo Lamas sporting a hilarious moustache.

Second Opinions on Mask of Death:

Comeuppance Reviews: http://www.comeuppancereviews.com/2013/01/mask-of-death-1996.html

Direct to Video Connoisseur: http://www.mattmovieguy.com/2007/12/mask-of-death-1996.html

And our final Lorenzo film is…

RAPTOR ISLAND (2004) **

Lorenzo Lamas leads a Special Forces unit to capture bad guy Steven Bauer. After a gun battle, Bauer flees to the titular island with a hostage in tow and Lorenzo and his team follows in hot pursuit. Of course, they don’t realize they’re on RAPTOR Island. And they also don’t realize that in addition to a bunch of raptors on the island, there’s a giant mutant raptor (it’s bigger than a T. Rex) also lurking about. Naturally, it’s up to Lamas to blow the place up.

Lorenzo gives one of his late-era preposterously bad performances in Raptor Island, and it’s easily the most entertaining thing about the flick. At times, Lamas has a southern drawl that makes him sound like a Baptist preacher. And sometimes it’s so thick that he sounds like he’s doing a bad Elvis impression. Most times though, he just sounds like… well… Lorenzo Lamas. Bauer of course is most famous for Scarface and he sounds like he’s trying out-accent his co-star. Sometimes he’s using his Cuban accent from Scarface again. Sometimes though, he sounds like Count Dracula.

That’s pretty much the most notable thing about the movie. Other than that, it’s your standard issue SYFY Channel Original Movie. (Although it was made in 2004, back when it was still called “The Sci-Fi Channel”… AKA: The Good Ol’ Days). And like most of these things, it has all the bad CGI monsters and annoying black and white monster POV shots you’d expect.

I will say this for Raptor Island: They get down to business fairly quickly. Lamas arrives on the island about ten minutes in, and the bodies start dropping soon after. It’s still not very good, but there’s something to be said for that.

Look. You’re either the kind of person who loves seeing Lorenzo Lamas narrowly outrun cheesy looking CGI lava or you’re not. I guess I’m sorta on the fence in this particular department.

Second Opinions on Raptor Island:

Direct to Video Connoisseur: http://www.mattmovieguy.com/2007/05/raptor-island-2004.html

Tars Tarkas.NET: http://tarstarkas.net/2005/12/raptor-island/

Next week, we’ll spice things up a bit. Legends of the Silver Screen will become Legends of the Squared Circle. It will be a celebration of professional wrestlers in film. Next week we’ll be spotlighting films starring such Legends as Hulk Hogan, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

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