November 18th, 2008

KILLPOINT (1984) **

Leo Fong is the “star” of this 80’s action flick, but the real reason to check it out is to see exploitation vets Richard Roundtree and Cameron Mitchell doing what they do best.


Mitchell plays a slimy crime kingpin that specializes in running guns who is fond of leaving no witnesses at the scene of a crime.  This means if he sends in his goons to kill a rival who is eating at a Chinese restaurant; they also have to wipe out every single customer in the joint.  He also gets his kicks by slapping around hookers, killing them and tossing their bodies into the river.  Fong is the cop whose trying to bring Mitchell to justice and Roundtree is the fed who helps out.


Mitchell hams it up like only he can.  Wearing an ascot and women’s sunglasses, Mitchell shoots TV’s that gives him bad press and bitches at his woman when her poodle shits on the floor.  There’s also a disturbing scene where he murders a waitress just because her baby was crying too loud.  (In his defense, the little brat DID shut up after his mama croaked.)  In short; classic Cameron Mitchell.  Stack Pierce is also excellent as Nighthawk, Mitchell’s cold-blooded right hand man.


The rest of the movie leaves something to be desired.  The action is sparse and Fong isn’t much of a leading man.  He kinda looks like an elderly basset hound with his droopy face and baggy eyes and doesn’t have much charisma.  His fight scenes are sloppily tossed together and indifferently filmed.  It also doesn’t help that his kung fu prowess is about the same as mine.  Roundtree is good, but it seems like he and Fong are starring is separate movies and they don’t have much screen time together.


Nighthawk gets the best line of the movie when he tells an underling:  “You mess this up, he’ll kill you, your mamma, your daddy, your sister AND your brother!”


Fong, Pierce and Mitchell all returned two years later for Low Blow.


I’ve always been a big Sho Kosugi fan and Nine Deaths of the Ninja was the first Kosugi movie I ever saw, so it has a special place in my heart.  That and because of the bat shit insane James Bond style opening credits sequence.  The filmmakers couldn’t afford any fancy Bond-ian optical effects of silhouetted women floating around, so they just had a bunch of broads wearing spandex doing ballerina moves in a smoky room while Sho swung around his samurai sword.  Brilliant! 


Sho stars as Spike Shinobi, a guy who failed his ninja final exam and went on to become a lollipop sucking commando.  Even though Spike is a soldier now, he still likes killing people using ninja weapons like throwing stars, sais, and katana swords.  Spike’s new mission is to head over to the Philippines to take out a terrorist sect led by Alby, the Cruel (Blackie Dammett) and rescue some hostages.  


A lot of Sho’s later movies had a more James Bond style feel to them and this one is the most overt Bond rip-off of them all.  (The opening credits and pre-title action scenes should’ve been a dead giveaway.)   Octopussy co-star Vijay Amritraj also appears (he also executive produced) and just like that film, Nine Deaths of the Ninja features an army of all female assassins.  There are also underwater action scenes and femme fatales with funny names (like Honey Hump) to again let you know how bad this flick wants to be a Bond movie.


Sure Nine Deaths of the Ninja has its fair share of lulls and goes on for far too long (not to mention the fact that there are ZERO Deaths of the Ninja), but at least there is no shortage of random goofiness and miscellaneous absurdity.  The film features such bizarre imagery as a lesbian terrorist who disguises herself in a wedding dress, a scene where Sho disguises himself as an old geezer and uses his walking cane to kung fu a gang of punks, and a literal “glue gun” as well.  The best scene though is when Sho fights off a quartet of midgets in a museum.  (And yes friends, he does get punched in the nuts by the diminutive dwarves.)


Sho once again kicks major ass and handles himself extremely well in the action scenes.  He also gets a lot of cool training montages, where he meditates under waterfalls and cuts watermelons in half while blindfolded.  Brent (Gwendoline) Huff makes for a bland partner and mostly just stands around and lets Sho do all the work.  As the villain, Blackie Dammett (father of Anthony Kiedis) goes way over the top and then some.  Imagine a New Wave version of Dr. Strangelove with a helium voice and you may have some idea of what a character this guy is.


A dragon lady madam gets the best line when she says, “My girls are sterilized, sanitized and lobotomized!”


Sho returned later in the year with Pray for Death.

TOP COP (1990) *

Backwoods cop Vic Malone (Non-actor Stephen P. Sides) and his wisecracking partner are sent to the big city of Washington, D.C. to testify before a grand jury.  When Malone’s partner is murdered by a slimy drug dealer, he goes out for revenge.


Shot primarily on location in Arkansas, Top Cop lacks everything you would need to make a good action movie, namely a decent script, a healthy budget, and a capable cast.  The script is nothing more than a pile of clichés cobbled together and the plot is wafer thin.  The budget is so low that most of the action scenes only last a few seconds or so, although there are a handful of passable stunts.  The thing that really sinks Top Cop though is the pathetic performance by Stephen P. Sides.  He resembles Hank Williams Jr. and has the screen presence of a cold dog turd.  With his tubby frame and redneck demeanor, the flick should’ve really been called Cracker Cop or Fat Cop.  Try to keep the vomit from rising up your gullet during his sex scene.  (At least his love interest was smart enough to keep her panties on during this scene.)


Seriously, there hasn’t been an idiotic, slovenly, overweight cop hero in a movie since Joe Don Baker starred in Mitchell.  If Sides’ craptacular performance is any indicator, then even I could be an action movie star.  Of course I’d have to gain about 80 more pounds, but that’s beside the point.


A small jerkwater Texas town is the setting for The Last Picture Show, Peter Bogdanovich’s drama (based on a Larry McMurtry novel) where best friends Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane (Jeff Bridges) fight over who’s gonna get into the pants of the sultry teenage virgin, Jacy (Cybil Sheperd). 


This Jacy girl’s cooze is the source of all the trouble in the movie. 


First she lets Duane pop her cherry just so she can shack up with some other dude who won’t fuck virgins, only he ends up getting married before she can hop in the sack with him.  Then she gets so mad that she lets the creepy Abilene (Clu Gulager from Return of the Living Dead) who is twice her age, fuck her on a pool table.  That pretty much breaks Duane’s heart so he moves out of town and then Jacy sets her sights on Sonny.  Poor Sonny has a good thing going because he’s balling his basketball coach’s wife (Cloris Leachman) but he drops that hag so he can marry Jacy.  He never does get to consummate the marriage though because she tells her annoying parents that they eloped and they call the cops on ‘em.


Man, this Jacy chick is a fucking skag. 


Although The Last Picture Show plays out more or less like a black and white soap opera, I still dug it.  It featured more scenes of people fucking than I expected and Sheperd got to show off her amazing rack more than once.  Too bad she played such a fucking skag.


The even though the drama isn’t really compelling, the performances are.  Far and away, Ben Johnson is the best of the bunch as Sam the Lion, the owner of the town movie theater and pool hall.  It was also fun spotting the young faces of soon to be famous stars like Bridges, Sheperd (fucking skag!), Ellen Burstyn and Randy Quaid too.  The cinematography by Robert Surtees is also excellent and perfectly captures the decaying town in all its glory. 


While The Last Picture Show is a nice little movie and all, it’s ultimately kind of pointless.  The flick pretty much exists to show me Cybil Sheperd’s glorious boobies (even though she was a fucking skag the whole movie), and to me, that alone is worth *** right there.


Bogdanovich never was able to quite duplicate the success of this picture, although that didn’t stop him from reuniting the cast for a sequel, Texasville, 19 years later.