David Carradine stars as a Nam vet who owns a bar with his crusty ex-cop father (Lee Van Cleef). Carradine’s detective brother (Brent Huff) gets double crossed and killed by his partner (Ross Hagen) over a jade statue belonging to a yakuza boss (Mako). When Mako kidnaps Carradine’s wife and child and kills his OTHER brother, David and Lee decide to dust off their machine guns and take out the trash.
Despite the spotty pacing, convoluted plot, and slow motion Nam flashbacks that only exist to pad the running time, I liked Armed Response a lot more than I thought I would. The reason is because the cast is incredibly fun to watch. I mean the flick is almost worth watching solely to see Van Cleef and Carradine playing father and son. At first, it may seem a little goofy since they’re both older than Jesus’ gym teacher. It actually makes a lot of sense though because Van Cleef was the Master Ninja on TV, so it’s completely possible that he fathered Caine from Kung Fu.
The supporting cast of villains is equally memorable. Mako makes for a great yakuza boss, Hagen is appropriately greasy, and Dick Miller and Laurene Landon are pretty funny as Mako’s underlings who get ripped off. We also get Michelle Bauer (who shows her tits) and Bobbie Bresee (who doesn’t) as strippers. And B movie favorite Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa has an early role as one of Mako’s henchmen too.
Far and away the best performance comes from Michael Berryman as Mako’s right hand man. He has a funny gimmick where he gives out fortune cookies to people right before he kills them. The best part comes when one guy’s cookie says, “You can look forward to a bright future” right before his car blows up.
Perhaps the funniest thing about the flick is the video box. It says “Explosive Action Thriller” in quotations on the bottom of the box, but the quote isn’t attributed to a particular critic or newspaper or anything. It just says “Explosive Action Thriller”. I’m sure the quote belongs to director Fred Olen Ray who said to the studio, “I want to make an ‘Explosive Action Thriller’ with David Carradine and Lee Van Cleef!” I guess when no critics praised the film; they decided to put Ray’s quote on the box instead.
I wouldn’t necessarily call Armed Response an “Explosive Action Thriller”, because there are only a handful of explosions, the action is sparse, and it’s kinda low on thrills. I would say it’s a heck of a lot of fun watching Carradine, Van Cleef, and Berryman though. So maybe if there’s a DVD or Blu Ray re-release of the film, the studio can put, “A heck of a lot of fun”—The Video Vacuum on the box and it will be a little bit more accurate.
AKA: Jade Jungle.
The next It Came from the Thrift Store flick is our third and final Carradine movie; Dune Warriors, directed by the great Cirio H. Santiago.