The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

LEGENDS OF THE SILVER SCREEN: JEFF SPEAKMAN

I’m a relative newcomer to Jeff Speakmanmania. Once I saw The Perfect Weapon last year, I knew the man was something special. Sadly, Speakman never was able to capitalize on the success of The Perfect Weapon. That’s okay though because he definitely earned his Legendary status with that one. Today we’ll be looking at three decidedly non-Legendary films from a truly Legendary man.

First up is…

HOT BOYZ (2002) **

Silkk the Shocker is a straight-laced inner city youth whose girlfriend is unfortunate enough to try to save an undercover cop’s life. She gets put away by crooked cop Gary Busey who uses Silkk to get the goods on a new competing drug dealer. He sets Silkk up for murder and threatens to put him away for life if he doesn’t go through with it. After his gal (and unborn baby) winds up dying behind bars, Silkk says, “fuck it” and starts up a life of crime.

The best thing about the thoroughly ordinary Hot Boyz (sic) is the presence of Jeff Speakman. He’s pretty great as Silkk’s Kung Fu teacher. Speakman’s a little pudgier than he was in The Perfect Weapon, but that’s okay. With his exceptionally thick head of hair and impeccable sideburns he kinda reminded me a bit of Elvis in his Kung Fu days. Memo to Don Coscarelli: If Bruce Campbell doesn’t do Bubba Ho-Tep 2, Jeff Speakman would be perfect for the role of Elvis.

Sadly, Speakman isn’t in the movie a whole lot and only fleetingly gets to show off his karate prowess. In fact, the whole movie is a criminal misuse of talent. I mean Snoop Dogg is in the flick, but he only has a small role as a member of Silkk the Shocker’s crew. He livens up the movie considerably and things would’ve been much better had he been cast in the lead. Sillk isn’t exactly bad or anything, yet the role really needed someone with a little bit more piss and vinegar. Gary Busey is good as well, although his role is kinda minor, despite his top billing. And C. Thomas Howell essays his scuzzy cop role nicely too, but like Busey; he’s not given much to do.

Hot Boyz was written and directed by Master P. He does an adequate job at both for the most part, yet it’s nothing exceptional. P’s work is a bit more impressive than say, Bret Michaels. Still, this movie would be completely forgettable if it wasn’t for the cast.

Although the flick starts with a tad bit of promise, it quickly turns into another generic gangsta movie in the third act. I also thought it was kinda lame how Silkk goes from being a meek dude to badass in the span of one montage. Then of course you have to deal with a lot of awful rap music on the soundtrack, although I guess that was to be expected. I could’ve also done without all the gratuitous plugs for Master P’s clothing line, record label, and movie studio too.

Overall, Hot Boyz is lukewarm at best.

Our next Speakman flick is…

SCORPIO ONE (1998) **

Terrorists trigger an explosion at a state-of-the-art space station and steal a top secret formula. Special Ops guy Jeff Speakman is sent up there along with a team of astronauts (headed by Robert Carradine) to find out what happened. While on their mission; the crew gets picked off one by one and soon learn that there is a terrorist in their midst.

A lot of the early going of this movie is filled with long scenes of astronauts in clumsy spacesuits plodding around a derelict ship. This works sometimes; especially if you’re name is Ridley Scott. Unfortunately director Worth (Illicit Behavior) Keeter is no Ridley Scott.

Scorpio One really squanders its potential. I mean the concept of Speakman in Space had “AWESOME” written all over it. Sadly, most of Speakman’s Kung Fu scenes are reserved for the third act. Although you have to wait over an hour to see Jeff do his thing, I will admit that when he finally starts kicking butt, it’s pretty sweet. We also get a decent scene in the Iraqi desert where Jeff rescues a POW as well as an OK Event Horizon-ish part where a guy gets stuck inside an airlock and explodes.

Mostly though, Scorpio One is a dull affair. In addition, it features some pretty crummy special effects and it goes on way too long to boot. The solid supporting cast (Carradine, Robin Curtis, Lance LeGault) do what they can, but they ultimately can’t save the flick.

AKA: Operation Scorpio One.

Our final foray into Speakman cinema is…

PLATO’S RUN (1998) **

Gary Busey stars as an ex-mercenary named Plato who gets hired by a former flame to rescue some political prisoner down in Cuba. Busey delivers on his promise, but he is double crossed and framed for a political assassination. He then must clear his name and take down the greedy bastard (in this case, Roy Scheider) responsible.

Plato’s Run is yet another top-billed Gary Busey movie featuring Jeff Speakman in a co-starring role. It’s better made than Hot Boyz (or Scorpio One for that matter), yet it manages to waste Speakman’s considerable talents even more than those films did. On top of that, his screen time is severely limited and they never make the best use of his talents. In fact (Spoiler Warning), Speakman stupidly gets killed off in the end with very little fanfare or consequence, which is especially disappointing.

Busey is good here though. You kinda forget how good he can be at playing a hero after so many crazed bad guy and psycho roles. But as Busey as the Hero Movies go, Plato’s Run is definitely no Bulletproof. Thankfully, the supporting cast is strong enough to keep you interested. Scheider makes for a credible villain and Scarface’s Steven Bauer is solid as Busey’s right hand man.

Despite never once kicking into gear, Plato’s Run does have a handful of good scenes. There’s a funny bit where Busey has to pretend to be a gay to avoid Scheider’s henchmen. We also get a good scene where Busey and Bauer have to crawl their way through a minefield, but these moments of legitimate goodness are few and far between. On the unintentional hilarity side of things though, I have to say I got a laugh out of the scene where Busey uses Kung Fu in slow motion, but they only used slow motion in this scene to disguise the fact that Busey isn’t very good at Kung Fu.

Next Week’s Legend: Gary Daniels.

Tags: .legends of the silver screen, action, h, kung fu, p, s, sci-fi
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