November 22nd, 2012

LEGENDS OF THE SILVER SCREEN: LORENZO LAMAS

Lorenzo Lamas. From Body Rock to Renegade, the man has delivered his fair share of cinematic awesomeness. And what’s more, he almost always sports a head of hair worth dying for. Today, we look at three of his films and give thanks to the Legendary Lorenzo Lamas.

First up is…

AIR AMERICA: OPERATION: JAGUAR (1998) *

I thought this was going to be some sort of unofficial rip-off of the Mel Gibson flick, Air America. As it turns out, it’s just two episodes of a short-lived TV show I never heard of. I’m not even sure how this thing even lasted a whole season. I barely got through two episodes. The only reason I watched it was because Lorenzo Lamas was in it. I guess since he flies a plane in this series, that makes every show a PILOT episode.

The Legendary Lorenzo Lamas stars as Rio, a hotshot pilot who gets called in on a top secret mission to save some scientists from a jungle prison. His father is the leader of the platoon and he gets killed under mysterious circumstances during the mission. Since Lorenzo has some unresolved daddy issues, he decides to find out who killed his father and why.

The patented Lamas swagger is in high gear here. It’s not up to say the standards of Snake Eater 3, but Lamas gets by on sheer charisma alone. He also does about 90% of his acting with his hair. And that’s perfectly acceptable if you ask me.

Unfortunately, Lamas is saddled with tons of lame narration. Seriously, half of this movie is either Lamas relating useless information to the audience or having flashbacks and dreams. That would be okay if the other half of the film was non-stop action, but it’s not.

The only other real “name” star in this flick is the ultra-hot Fabiana Undenio. You remember her? She was the sexy foreign exchange student from Summer School. Sadly, she doesn’t show off her Fabulous Undenios.

Lamas gets the best line of the flick when he says, “I was about to learn what human treachery could hide beneath the façade of paradise on Earth!”

Note: I think it’s hilarious that Lorenzo Lamas’ name in this show is “Rio”, which is one syllable away from “Reno”, his character’s name in Renegade.

Our next Lamas flick is…

13 DEAD MEN (2003) * ½

Someone named “Mystikal” gets top billing over Lorenzo Lamas in this movie. According to the DVD box he’s a “multi-platinum rapper”, but I’ve never heard of him. I was under the impression Mystikal was a low calorie lemon-lime soda. I was apparently mistaken.

So anyway, this one guy gets thrown in jail. He knows where some diamonds are stashed and the warden wants to get his hands on them. So the jailbird tells his partner (Lorenzo Lamas) to break him out of prison so they can go and get the diamonds.

13 Dead Men starts off with a lot of long fight scenes. Approximately 15 minutes of screen time is devoted to scenes of prisoners hitting on each other (with their fists, not with pick-up lines). It would be one thing if the fights were actually any good, but most of them suffer from terrible choreography (there’s a couple instances where fists clearly miss their intended target) or too much slow motion. There are also a bunch of useless subplots (the warden’s kinky love life for example) that go nowhere.

Although the prison scenes are interminable and more than a little dull, the scenes of Lorenzo gathering his crew together aren’t much better. If you’re a Lamas fan, you’ll be disappointed by the lack of L.L. in this one. He doesn’t give a bad performance, yet he isn’t really given a whole to do either (he does get an okay fight scene though). Lorenzo did have some terrific hair in this one, hence the extra half star.

Direct to Video Connoisseur’s review of the flick: http://www.mattmovieguy.com/2008/12/13-dead-men-2003.html

And our final Lamas movie is…

LATIN DRAGON (2004) ** ½

Fabian Carrillo co-wrote, co-produced, and stars as a Special Forces soldier nicknamed Latin Dragon who returns home to find his neighborhood plagued with crime. Turns out a wealthy land developer (Gary Busey) is using gang members to scare people out of town so he can buy the place cheap. Latin Dragon won’t stand for it and he sets out to clean up the streets.

Latin Dragon lacks polish, but Carrillo’s heart was in the right place. The film has an earnest message, yet it never feels preachy, so I give it points for that. Since the flick gets draggy in places and runs on way too long (101 minutes), it never quite achieves its maximum entertainment potential. The fight scenes are decent at least. There’s a pretty good bit with a coffee table and a solid fight in an empty swimming pool.

It’s fun seeing Gary Busey play off fellow Legend of the Silver Screen, Lorenzo Lamas. He plays Busey’s henchman and they have a couple of good scenes together. However, if you came to the party on the sole basis to see Lamas kick some ass, you’ll no doubt be disappointed. Lamas doesn’t show up until about a half hour into the film and isn’t given much to do until the end. He does have some pretty sweet hair in this one and sports an Albino eye and a scar on his cheek (but you can’t tell because he doesn’t get a close-up until the movie’s halfway over.)

Lamas gets the best line of the movie when he says, “Reach out and shoot someone!”

Comeuppance Reviews’ review of the film: http://www.comeuppancereviews.com/2006/08/latin-dragon.html

Next week’s Legend: Jack Palance.

FUTURESPORT (1998) ***

Futuresport is kinda like Rollerball, except instead of players riding around on roller skates beating the crap out of each other, they ride on Back to the Future 2 style hoverboards. (Hey, it is FUTUREsport after all). In the future, it is the biggest game in America. (What, were you expecting Presentball or Pastsport?) Hawaii is in a state of revolution and a terrorist cell launches an attack against Futuresport’s hottest player, Tre Ramzey (even in the future nobody knows how to spell their name). He survives the assault and challenges the terrorists to a game of Futuresport as an alternative to war.

Futuresport sounds pretty bad on paper, but the execution behind and in front of the camera saves it. I should’ve known this flick was going to be pretty good because it was directed by my man Ernest Dickerson, the esteemed filmmaker that gave the world Tales from the Crypt Presents Demon Knight. He does a good job on the Futuresport sequences and keeps the dialogue scenes popping along at a steady clip. While some of the film’s attempts to be “futuristic” are kinda hokey (like the people with Hellraiser 3-inspired cameras stuck in their faces), for the most part, it’s nothing too incredibly cheesy.

You might remember this premiering on regular TV. But just because it was a Made for TV movie doesn’t mean it doesn’t know how to kick some ass. And besides, the DVD version inserts some F-Bombs and even a bit of T & A in there, so it’s all good.

Futuresport is a bit better than you’d expect it to be at just about every turn. That’s mostly because the cast is top notch. Dean Cain gives a believable performance as a self-centered jerk who learns the error of his ways and starts playing the game for all the right reasons. Sure, you’ve seen this character arc dozens of times before, but Cain sells it for all it’s worth. Cain is especially good in his scenes with Vanessa L. Williams (looking positively yummy), as his romantic scenes with her actually don’t interfere with the main plot.

The movie really belongs to Wesley Snipes. It’s a testament to Snipes’ acting ability that he plays the role while sporting cheesy looking dreadlocks AND a lame Jamaican accent and STILL manages to kick ass. And don’t let that “Special Guest Appearance” bullshit fool you. Usually when you see that shit in a TV movie, it means the Special Guest Star will only appear in the movie for five… ten minutes tops. But Wesley has a major supporting role, and even his character is rather well-developed.

Seriously, how can you go wrong when Blade and Superman get together?

Special Note: I was linking my review to IMDB when I learned that Futuresport producer (and Death Wish 3 co-star) Deborah Raffin passed away today. My thoughts go out to her family.