Thursday, June 25, 2020

Junesploitation 2020 Day 25: Albert Pyun!

Kiss reality goodbye!



    DOWN TWISTED (1987, A.Prime)

    Except for cinematographer George Mooradian nobody has worked with Albert Pyun more often than character actor Norbert Weisser. This guy's bounced around Hollywood, from Spielberg prestige films ("Schindler's List") to Vince Gilligan's "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul." Norbert is part of a group of colorful thieves trying to steal a priceless artifact from the made-up South American nation of San Lucas. Carey Lowell ("Licence to Kill," "Law & Order") is an innocent waitress dragged into this mess alongside a stranger (Charles Rocket's Reno) who eventually has to split his loyalties between his newfound love for Maxine and his job. Think "Hudson Hawk" with dumber criminals.

    Unlike everything else reviewed tonight this is a solid beginning-to-end movie. From the opening fonts during credits to the shifting tone of the picture (sweet romantic one second, crazy violent the next), "Down Twisted" is Cannon's version of Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild" (released a year prior). It largely succeeds, with some excellent performances and surprising double/triple crosses to go with the passable chemistry between Lowell and Rocket. We've reached maximum Pyun early, folks. It's all downhill from here. 3 AIRPORT BATHROOM CLIMACTIC FINALES (out of 5)

    BLAST (1997, TUBI)
    What if (a) terrorists had attacked the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, (b) Richard Jewel was a disgraced athlete-turned-janitor with a limping leg and (c) Pyun couldn't show a single Olympic logo or second of footage from the actual '96 Olympics? You'd get "Blast," aka "Die Hard" at the... "Atlanta Aquatic Center" (as the giant banner says). I can't tell if Linden Ashby ("Mortal Kombat") looks in pain because he's acting or doesn't want to be in this movie. Andrew Divoff ("Air Force One") is a passable Hans Gruber-ish baddie and Rutger Hauer is hamming it up big time for his paycheck. Unlike "Sudden Death," though, there's no heart/soul anywhere near this empty (visually and thematically) picture. 2 DRIVE-BY EXPLODING WHEELCHAIRS (out of 5)

    CRAZY SIX (1997, PLEX)
    The most hilarious, nonsensical opening text (all pink) lets us know that crime syndicates rule most of Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism. Into the turf war between Dirty Mao (Mario Van Peebles affecting a silly French accent) and Raul (Ice-T) walks druggie Billie, aka Crazy Six (a miscast and trying-too-hard Rob Lowe). An attempt to steal plutonium (!) that Raul is selling to the highest bidder backfires, and the hunt is on for Billie and his druggie friends. Pyun tries hard to ape Tarantino tropes, but nothing adds up to much of anything. I liked Burt Reynolds as a cowboy-wearing American cop (in freaking Slovakia?), Ivana Milicevic ("Casino Royale") is pretty but we hear way too much of her singing/playing keyboard, and Thom Mathews livens things for a scene or two. Good-looking corpse of a movie, but still a corpse. 1.5 SICK LIL' PUPPIES (out of 5)

    ALIEN FROM L.A. (1988, Pluto)
    I remember skipping the "MST3K" episode where they watched this flick because early on Mike and the bots piled on Kathy Ireland. In the FTM vernacular, Kathy is bad but she's not the main problem with this movie. From the garish look of Atlantis as a world-beneath subterranean society ("Supergirl's" Phantom Zone meets "Max Headroom's sloppy seconds) to the inconsistent tone, from the broad acting to the non-threatening lack of stakes for our "heroes", nothing in this movie works at all. There are exactly three cool scenes in the entirety of "Alien from L.A.," and they all feature Thom Mathews in his 80's prime looking... charmin' :-P 1 'ALBERT PYUN IS A TALENTLESS HACK' T-SHIRT (out of 5)

    1. BTW, I had reviews from past Junesploitations! for Albert Pyun movies that I could have used

      --The Sword and the Sorcery, Olli1966: 6/10/2015

      --Mean Guns, TOMBARTMAN454@GMAIL.COM: 6/23/2016

      --Vicious Lips, Patrick Bromley: 6/24/13

      --a TON of "Cyborg" reviews like this one.

      Problem was either I'd already seen the movie and didn't want to see it again, or it wasn't available for streaming. So I gambled that at least one of four new-to-me Pyun movies would hit the mark, and came up aces with "Down Twisted." But man, Albert Pyun overall is a one-man Troma machine. And Patrick banned Troma! Day from Junesploitation! a few years back. Just sayin' ;-)

    2. I caught part of Alien in L.A. on Comet earlier this year. Twenty minutes of it was enough.

  2. THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER (1982) on Youtube

    I recently acquired Cyborg on DVD, but this was the film I most wanted to get to today. Definitely not the most adventurous option when exploring Pyun's career, but I wanted a film that there was a bigger chance of liking than hating. And I did like it.

    Summary: An ambitious king named Cromwell desires to become the supreme ruler of his world. In his quest for power, he makes many enemies, among them a demon he resurrected and betrayed. As rebellion against his rule grows, Cromwell’s position gets increasingly unsteady. A mercenary joins the fight for a very peculiar reward.

    While there are plenty of flaws in the film, it is a fun experience overall. There is a strong swashbuckling feel to the fight scenes, and the pacing is fast, sometimes too fast for narrative coherence. The story is stupid in a good way, though. For a production made with what must have been a small budget, The Sword and the Sorcerer looks terrific. Although some of the sets are on the cheap side, they are always well lit and photographed with care. The performance of Richard Lynch as Cromwell is surprisingly intense. He is fully committed to the part, and you cannot wait for his comeuppance to happen.

  3. Blast (1997, Albert Pyun)

    For some reason I find the fact that the terrorists never change out of their blue polos and khakis very funny.

    Blast is a wildly uneven movie. But there are bursts of personality that kept me going, and a fun Andrew Divoff performance.

    1. Not enough budget for a terrorist wardrobe change. šŸ¤‘šŸ¤¤

  4. Blast (1997)

    An exercise in “what if Die Hard, but bad?” that has badass former-martial-arts-champion-turned-janitor Linden Ashby facing off with terrorists at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The terrorists are led by professional creep Andrew Divoff, sadly using an unplaceable accent instead of his Wishmaster voice (sorry Adam). Can the janitor defeat the terrorists? Is the whole thing in extremely poor taste because a bombing at the actual Atlanta Olympics killed a person and injured over 100 others? Do a bunch of people hold their handguns sideways because 1997? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes.

    Albert Pyun is of course no stranger to schlock, but this is a particularly unpleasant response to real-life tragedy. It might be forgivable if it felt like he had anything to say, but this movie can’t be bothered to even go for Delta Force-style jingoism. Rutger Hauer appears briefly in a role that seems to have been beamed in from another movie, possibly from another planet entirely, but even that does little to give the movie any kind of spark. Every Junesploitation has its low point, sadly I believe this is it. Sorry, Albert.

  5. Knights (1993, dir. Albert Pyun)

    A kickboxer (Kathy Long) and an android (Kris Kristofferson) fight against and army of cyborgs in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It's like Albert Pyun Mad Libs. Kance Henriksen is the big bad, Gary Daniels is a henchman, Chad Stahelski does stunts, Pyun regulars Vincent Klyn and Nicholas Guest also show up. This would make a great double feature with Turbo Kid for reasons that become obvious once you've seen it.

    1. I love so much how Pyun had his stable of actors. Thomerson, Weisser, Guest, Mathews. I think he single-handedly kept some of those folks employed. It's one of my favorite things about him

    2. I forgot that Thomerson makes an appearance too!

    3. They all show up in Heatseeker to. It's glorious

    4. Thomerson popped up in Blast, too, doing a southern accent that was positively Foghorn Leghorn-ian in its authenticity.

    5. Pyun also gave Thom Mathews regular work past the actor's 80's heyday, and from what i've seen Mathews delivered. šŸ˜Ž

  6. Nemesis (1992)

    I know I'm late to the party on this one but I was absolutely blown away. This was my favorite movie of the month so far. Albert Pyun never would have been on my radar if it wasn't for F This Movie and he is now one of my favorite directors. I'm starting to think he is legit one of the top 5 action directors of all time. Loved this movie!

  7. Radioactive Dreams (1985)

    AP's sophomore feature is a post-apocalyptic adventure mixed with a noir detective mystery. My strong dislike for dystopian movies was overcome in the end by the final scene's joyous dance sequence.

    Aside: I'm certain the creators of the original Fallout computer game watched this movie dozens of times.

  8. Vicious Lips (1986, dir. Albert Pyun)

    Sci-fi on a shoestring budget with 80's fashion and new wave music. What's not to love?

    How has no one released a soundtrack album of this?

  9. Vicious Lips (1986) I’m really enjoying 80s punk movies- The Lips are no Stains, but the music was definitely a highlight here. I guess in the future we’ll stop worrying about the effect hairspray has on the ozone layer. Kind of a CafĆ© Flesh spinoff show made for USA Up All Night. I had fun, even- especially- when it was falling apart. Oh, and respect where due-Total Recall did it better, but Pyun had a three boobed hooker first.

  10. ARCADE (1993)
    A hot new VR game has come to life and… it’s evil! I honestly liked this movie. The main character is a girl dealing with the death of her mother, so her being tormented by the evil game is a metaphor for her dealing with her grief. This shows that Pyun has more on his mind than roundhouse kicks and muzzle flashes. Sure, the CGI is wonky, but I say that adds to the weirdness of it all. And Megan Ward is a national treasure. Now that she’s older, I’d love to see her make a comeback with lots of cool Cate Blanchett-type roles.

    30 days of HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II, day 25
    I did one rewatch focusing on Vicki’s mom already, but what about her dad? He’s a lot more on Vicki’s side than her mom, only for the mom to always cut him down. Dad’s most interesting scene is his speech about his own senior prom, and how he was broke at the time. Then Mary Lou, while possessing Vicki, tries to seduce the dad, just to freak out the mom. What can we conclude? The dad is passive. He's content to stay in his place and be lost in the past, rather than take an active role in what’s happening.

    1. Evil Mary Lou seducing dad is a highlight. šŸ„µ When are you gonna talk about the killer squeeze at the girl's locker? šŸ˜Ž

    2. Hi! That character is Monica, who I wrote about in week 2 sometime (I think). That scene is the movie's most sensationalistic, but I'd trying to break down the movie's plot, character arcs, etc.

  11. The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

    I'm new to the Pyun experience, so as is my wont, I decided to start at the beginning. First thing I noticed: this movie is horny. Which is great, I like my high fantasy on the hornier side. Second thing: it's also quite stupid, BUT, and this is crucial, it never pretends otherwise and has a good sense of humor about itself (some choice dick jokes early on were particularly appreciated). Most of all, it includes a massive triple-bladed sword which is actually a sword cannon and has another secret sword hidden in the hilt - which is in fact only one of multiple hidden blades to be revealed and put to good use during a climactic battle. I can't sit here and act like it's not awesome. It's stupid, yes, but awesome.

    So I guess what I'm really trying to say is, I'm ready for more Pyun.

  12. Captain America (1990, dir. Albert Pyun)

    Not a great movie, and it's done no favors by the fact that I watched the impeccable Joe Johnston version earlier this month, but it's much better than it's reputation. I know a lot of mainstream youtubers make some serious fun of this movie (some of you know who I'm talking about), and it is NOT deserved. Pyun does a lot with the low budget, and lack of charisma in his lead. A few points:

    Scott Paulin, as the Red Skull, basically does a Bela Lugosi impression and it rules.

    Darren McGavin and Ned Beatty are in this!

    There's a sad boy Captain America montage to a cheesy song and I love it.

    The action is not great. This was surprising considering the high caliber of action in Pyun's other movies I've seen.

    Kim Gillingham, as Sharon, is so incredibly pretty that she could make the movie watchable regardless of everything else.

    On that note, pretty decent movie!

  13. Haven't posted much this month but given the day's theme I must stay on brand

    Radioactive Dreams-Watched on a barely watchable YouTube copy and it was still amazing. Awesome music, great Stockwell and Dudikoff perfromances. It really made me wish Pyun had gotten to make Road to Hell 20 years earlier with an actual budget.

    Heatseeker-I've been beating the drum for this movie for awhile. Keith H. Cooke should have been a much bigger star, and this movies is a big reason why Gary Daniels became such a thing. It's got a Hong Kong style abrupt ending but everything else is gold.

    Vicious Lips-My other big Pyun blind spot (after Radioactive Dreams). Definitely a step down for me from Dreams but still really entertaining and with amazing music.

    Kickboxer 2- I love this movie, I always have, even with Sasha Mitchell. But I can't say anything better than Adam and Rob already did so I'll just say I agree wholeheartedly with them.

    1. I love Radioactive Dreams and I'm so sad there's no Blu-ray. There's not even a DVD.

    2. It's unconscionable there's not a release for it


    If you ever wanted Rob Lowe to explore his dirty biker outlaw character then this is the movie for you. His name is Crazy Six. As in the title. That’s right. The title is in reference to Rob Lowe’s character name. Rob Lowe is Crazy Six. Also, it seems Pyun has an affinity to incorporate a character with no less than 10 minutes of full screen time who is solely devoted to putting sultry words over his softcore score. I ain’t mind it.

  15. Omega Doom (1996) Amazon Prime

    Becomes clear from early on that Pyun is doing Yojimbo with two feuding groups of robots being played against each other by Rutger Hauer. Bonus points for Shannon Whirry being in there also along with a number of Pyun's regulars. Some good style to it, plus it's mostly coherent even if it maybe goes a little overboard on the lore behind the robot factions.

  16. Nemesis 2: Nebula (1995, Albert Pyun)

    Even if I can't tell you exactly what happened in Nemesis 2 or why. Except for the fact it riffed on Terminator and Predator. I still had a lot of fun with it teying to figure it out.

  17. Dollman

    1991, dir. Albert Pyun
    Streaming on TubiTV

    Having already seen what are generally accepted as Pyun’s masterworks, I wanted to find something truly idiosyncratic in nature rather than a director for hire nap. Chime in if I’m wrong, but this might be the epitome of WTF cinema. Tim Thomerson plays the most badass detective in the galaxy, Brick Bardo, who wields a future gun capable of turning criminals into salsa. He chases one of his perennial antagonists off-world and crashes on earth. Sounds great, sure. But now, he’s only a foot tall on earth.
    I’m convinced this movie started as two completely separate scripts that were mushed together and Thomerson was just hanging around because he owed Charlie another movie. I’m not gonna say much more because this movie deserves to be watched really late at night when you’re in that wet, liminal state of mind.

    1. There's a great behind the scenes book about Charles Band and Full Moon called IT CAME FROM THE VIDEO AISLE. In it one of the interviewees explains that Band routinely would come up with a title, get a poster designed and THEN start work on a script. I think that's the reason a lot of Full Moon movies seem to be a mixture of directions.

    2. That's how Corman would get most of his movies financed when he started in the 1950's: catchy titles + eye-opening poster + investors pre-buying the project + reusing an already-paid-for cast/sets for an entirely different feature = profits before the thing was even made. Band clearly followed the master at his own game.

    3. Oh yeah, totally. The Cannon guys did the same thing. Just.... the numerous directions that 'Dollman' could've gone in to have a twist and the one they ultimately chose was to make him tiny.... Sure, lol.

  18. Day 25

    Blast (1997)
    Pyun does Die Hard in the Olympics. A usually game supporting cast of Divoff, Hauer, and Thomerson can't help a movie that is so stock in it's cliches. This movie was painful.

    Nemesis 2: Nebula (1995)
    Pyun brings Predator and Terminator to the Mad Max desert. Sue Price runs a lot and looks beefcake but it is just more of the same.

  19. Cyborg (1989)

    Good fun B movie stuff here. More attention to direction and composition than I anticipated. A few sequences really killed me (surprise split attack). Dragged a little at times, but then accentuated by creative and over the top action. Vincent Klyn is really something else.

  20. Blast (1997) and Nemesis (1992):

    Not much more I can say about Nemesis (it's good!), but it's definitely the better of the pair. Linden Ashby will always be my Johnny Cage, though.

  21. Nemesis (1992)

    I missed this during Patrick's birthday party, but glad I could catch it now, as it's really entertaining. There were more rounds fired in the first 10 minutes than all the other movie I've seen during Junesploitation combined. My favourite bit was when someone threw a bomb through the window, and the one security guard jumped on it and smothered it with his dick/crotch.