Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Junesploitation 2021 Day 16: Cannon!


  1. Cannon! Day on the JUNESPLOITATION! calendar is like a mini-national holiday here at F THIS MOVIE. And this year I'm going big and Over the Top! (see what I did?) ;-)

    M̶e̶n̶a̶h̶e̶m̶ ̶G̶o̶l̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶Y̶o̶r̶a̶m̶ ̶G̶l̶o̶b̶u̶s̶ JIM HENSON'S [chronologically-backwards] CANNON BABIES!(*)
    [definition of the term "babies" subject to different interpretation by the writer and/or reader of each review]

    Patrick Hughes' THE HITMAN'S WIFE'S BODYGUARD (2021, IMAX) for the first time.

    Just returned from seeing the Tuesday night IMAX previews before today's official release. You guys, this is a fucking Cannon movie on 10,000 different drug cocktails! And I'm not just saying this because the executive talent groomed at Cannon's movie factory is now running the likes of Millennium and NuImage. Yes, Golan-Globus rarely dabbled in the James Bond-ian genre of crazy rich megalomaniac (Antonio Banderas playing Greek) trying to take over a huge part of the world out of personal spite (punishing the European Union for dissing Greece with crippling econimic sanctions). But they let their personal biases dictate their choices ("The Delta Force"), and every once in a while they pursued spectacle blockbusters ("Lifeforce," "Superman IV," "Masters of the Universe") and hired top-tier talent. I don't know about you, but having AAA talent like Deadpool and Nick Fury as the leads (with Salma Hayek and Morgan Freeman as pretend B listers) of the most violently hilarious 'R' rated cartoony action spectacle I've ever seen in ages (or until next summer's "___ Has Fallen" sequel) in an IMAX screen with a smallish crowd laughing our asses off made me realize... Cannon won! If it wasn't Cannon it would have been someone else later in the 80's or in the 90's. But like prophets or political figures who aren't appreciated in their time but are looked at with reverence after they're long gone, Golan-Globus (and the people that worked under them) set the stage for how many things are done in Hollywood today. It's so routine now we don't even think about it.

    And more than anything else about "TBWH," it has the feeling of guys who love action movies with cameras, pretend guns, fleets of boats/cars and an explosives-laden playground (mostly Croatia and Italy) having the time of their lives. Lots of the explosions and stunts feel digital as hell, but most of them are practical, hairy and look grand on IMAX. This might also be the hardest I've laughed in a movie theater in ages (pre and post pandemic) IF you appreciate well-written ironic, self-referential action genre humor. I was already enjoying myself at the halfway mark, but the entrance of Morgan Freeman (no spoilers) takes things to another level! :-D If Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were alive today they'd be certain "THWB" would be the biggest blockbuster of all time, and they'd be proud those under their tutelage improved on the "Invasion USA" formula (cut all the story and slow/boring crap, keep the action coming fast and furious) by making sure entertaining characters keep the audience on board. They would have been wrong about the former (this isn't going to set box office records) but so right about the latter (this isn't going to appeal to the "In the Heights"-loving, non-existent "crowds"... thank God! :-P). 4 VINTAGE RED JAGUARS SET ON FIRE (out of 5).

    1. i MUST see this movie immediately. THANKS!

    2. I liked the first one more than most, and I think my teenager son said it was his favourite movie ever at one point. I think he's watched it 5 times haha. Glad to hear this sequel lives up to it. Hopefully it's still in theatres when they eventually reopen.

    3. Paul, the last movie your teenage son saw is his favorite movie ever... until the next one he sees. It's the circle of life, Simba. :-)

    Sam Firstenberg's BREKIN' 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO (1984, Showtime) for the first time.

    Saw the first "Breakin'" during last Junesploitation!'s Cannon day and liked it fine enough. Most importantly, it made boatloads of money for Cannon which meant a sequel was greenlit, shot and put together in time to come out the same year as its prequel. Would Golan-Globus have spent as much as they did making "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" had they known it was going to make less than a quarter (around $15 million) of what "Breakin'" (almost $60 mil.) earned? Of course not, but they didn't know that at the time. Seen through the eyes of '84 movie executives thinking they had a sure thing on their hands, "Electric Boogaloo" could have gone "The Apple" route (bad all around) but instead achieves a so-bad-it's-insanely-good zeitgeist of musical (im)perfection. As a 12-year old in the mid-80's I could have seen this in theaters or HBO. You know why I didn't? Because to me the name "Electric Boogaloo" sounded corny-ass stupid as shit... and I didn't even speak English or knew U.S. pop culture back then! :-D

    The more you are a present-day fan of Cannon Group's movies the more you'll get out of "Breakin' 2." Director Sam Firstenberg ("American Ninja," "Revenge of the Ninja") shoots and edits the many musical numbers (hospital dance with sexy nurses) with evil-ninja-trapped-in-aerobics-instructor-body crazy energy. Lucinda Dickey (star of Firstenberg's "Ninja III: Domination"), Adolfo 'Shabba-Doo' Quinones and Michael 'Boogaloo Shrimp' Chambers have slightly better chemistry than in "Breakin'," mostly because they're all playing cartoon characters now. The music-only battle with trash cans under the graffiti-covered bridge is worthy of "Warriors" comparison (as in 'Wow, this shit ain't anywhere as crazy cool as "The Warriors"'), and none of the new white supporting characters (Ken Olfson's manager, Peter MacLean's evil businessman, John Christy Ewing and Jo de Winter's Daddy Warbucks-y parents) can match Christopher McDonald as the manager from the first movie.

    The list of flaws making "Electric Boogaloo" a bad movie could be endless. But it's never boring (even its awfulness is entertaining), it's a time capsule of an entertaining fad made during the peak of said fad (as opposed to years later), looks good, features some great dancing (on the ceiling!) and, most importantly, shows that minority filmgoers can be condescended and sucked-up to as much as the white folks (ahem... "In the Heights"... cough). 4 BADLY-DUBBED-IN-SPANISH GIRLFRIENDS HIDING IN HOSPITAL ROOM CLOSETS (out of 5).

    1. BREAKIN'! BREAKIN' 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO! Shoot, I should really proof-read these reviews before posting them. :'(

    2. proof reading is for suckers. This is the defense I use. I'm not lazy. I'm a rebel

    3. My excuse: volume business. 🙃🙂

    Andrew V. McLaglen's SAHARA (1983, YouTube Free-with-Ads) for the first time.

    Made in 1983 but released theatrically in the States in '84, "Sahara" is one of the biggest flops Cannon ever produced. I've been meaning to watch it since the "Electric Boogaloo" documentary made a big deal out of how terrible Brooke Shields' performance is in it. Using F This Movie/Patrick Bromley language, Brooke's acting is not the biggest problem with "Sahara." The poor woman is out of her depth acting-wise (you'd be too if you had scenes opposite John fucking Mills!), but I feel the documentary filmmakers went out of their way to pick the worst Brooke scenes to underline their point. From start to finish Brooke Shields is passable-to-OK, a young woman driving her dead father's prototype racing car in the punishing Sahara World Rally in order to keep his family legacy alive (think "Tucker: A Man and His Dreams" as character motivation for the lead). Thank God the story ditches Dale's hiding-in-man's-clothing plot contrivance early on. Between the 1927 period setting, the Israeli-desert-as-Sahara-stand-in backdrops, the many extras riding horses/camels, practical stunts and constant action set-pieces, the $25 million spent on making "Sahara" is all on the screen. For the first 15-25 minutes I was starting to think this was a misunderstood and underrated 'B' movie gem.

    What ultimately dooms "Sahara" is its so-persistent-it's-distracting racism, cultural insensitivity and inability to find a consistent tone. There's a war between Muslim tribes (the Chambra versus the Hambara), but the principals that Brooke Shield's Dale interacts with (Lambert Wilson's Jaffar, John Rhys-Davies' Rasoul, the aforementioned John Mills) are white actors with make-up pretending to be Arab sand people. :-O Dale is almost raped three times (two by Salah!), endlessly beaten and her surrender to under-duress marriage is a walking poster child of a Bechdel test disaster area. For most of the running time the filmmakers forget about the importance of winning the race for Dale and her companions (not even worth mentioning as non-important sidekick companions to the non-heroic "hero") until near the end, when the racing stunts comes back strong. Every other nationality that's not American (German, French, Swedish, etc.) has slapstick acting and wacky music straight out of the "Cannonball Run" school. Of note is Ennio Morricone's score trying to be EVERY score from the early 80's depending on each scene: "Raiders"-like heroic during the tribe shoot-outs, "Tess"-style romantic when Jaffar and Dale kiss (EEEUUU!), etc.

    Brooke Shields was a stunning beauty back in her day, but "Sahara" is proof that dog won't hunt when you're following Indy's steps into the sand dunes of early 80's adventure epic-making. 2.35 OASIS WATERFALLS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SAHARA DESERTS (out of 5).

    Michael Winner's THE WICKED LADY (1983, TUBI) for the first time.

    You're director Michael Winner, and you've just handed Cannon a money-making hit (1982's "Death Wish II") that can spawn numerous sequels. Golan-Globus open their checkbooks for any passion project of Michael's choosing before returning him to forced labor at the "Death Wish" factory. Of course Winner's gonna jump at a chance to remake the prestige 1945 British Gainsborough drama he grew up adoring... but spice it up with an eye toward loosening early 80's morals. Like the unnecessary graphic rape scenes in "Death Wish II/III," "The Wicked Lady" has lots of gratuitous nudity. This is one production where the studio executives were more likely to shout loudly in an Israeli accent 'MORE TITS! MORE TITS!' than the writer/director (although let's face it, they were all shouting it as one). Ironically the one nude scene the film is known for (a duel of whips between two women where one --not Faye Dunaway... boo!-- loses her shirt) is actually an important plot point because it distracts a mob's attention away from somebody else. Yep, nobody notices that.

    As one of the talking heads in the "Electric Boogaloo" 2014 documentary says, this could have been Winner's and Cannon's entry into more arthouse prestige filmmaking if their inability to contain their prurient misogyny hadn't guided them the exploitation path. As an action/romance movies set in British Victorian period "The Wicked Lady" is... decent-ish? Great location shooting with period detail (a couple of Albert Whitlock matte paintings don't hurt), Faye Dunaway coming down from her "Mommie Dearest" histrionic heights (but still gloriously hammy), a murderers' row of recognizable British thespians (Denholm 'Marcus Brody' Elliott, John Gielgud, Joan Hickson, Alan Bates, Oliver Tobias, etc.), composer Tony Banks scoring his first movie, etc. Even the plot's hook of a female highwayman (highwaywoman?) robber could be considered proto-feminist if all the female characters didn't fail the Bechdel test so epically hard. Like "Sense and Sensibility" but with guns, tits and betrayals galore, this is one hell of a fun guilty pleasure. 3.25 BARS OF SHINY YELLOW GOLD (out of 5).

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    for the first time.

    Considering its reputation as smut peddlers that would pursue any trend in order to make a quick buck, Cannon rarely ventured into horror. Even its handful of slashers (like "X-Ray") tended to veer more toward star vehicles that happened to include horror elements (J. Lee Thompson's underrated "10 to Midnight"). Early in its entry to the U.S. market, Cannon even released an independently made slasher that already had shades of John Carpenter's "Halloween" and Sean S. Cunningham's "Friday the 13th" years before they'd hit theaters. 1979's "Savage Weekend" (made in 1976, as the scene where William Sanderson's weirdo Otis talking to a tombstone illustrates) follows a group of New York City friends during a trip Upstate. Interactions with the creepy-as-fuck locals kills about 50 minutes before the body count starts. Don't worry, there's plenty of sex and bare breasts to pass the time. A couple of slasher sequences where the eventual final girl (Marilyn Hamlin) imagines herself in the role of someone else's death unfold to very dated 70's instruments (banjo, flute, electronic sound effects, etc.). Eh... it's complicated to explain.

    Super slow-paced by today's standards but interesting as a late 70's example of a slasher not following the genre tropes solidified in the 1980's (the characters are all middle-aged and have middle-aged fantasies, aka making love with an ex), "Savage Weekend" should also be commended for featuring a proud gay character (Christopher Allport's Nicky) that doesn't take shit from the homophobic locals while kicking their asses. Spoiler alert, Nicky dies just like a regular slasher victim but he leaves an impression (did I mention it's Pride Month? :-P). Not a horror standout, but a rare Cannon example of the type of slasher movie it could have made dozens of if it had been a typical American studio. 3 PORNY 70's MANLY STACHES (out of 5).


  7. EXTERMINATOR 2 (1984)

    Cannon trash that does not reach the sublime heights of Death Wish 3 yet shows off the throw-it-all-in-a-blender ethos of the company in the mid-1980s. In some ways, Exterminator 2 feels like a warm-up for Death Wish 3. Cannon again took an established vigilante character and put it in a film that ramps up the action. John Eastland, the Exterminator from the 1980 film, is back on the streets of New York killing criminals. His preferred weapon this time around is a flamethrower. He has the uncanny ability to get to crimes in progress faster than the police, incinerating the unfortunate criminals close enough to be in range. There is also a romance with a dancer, his friendship with a garbage truck owner, and conflict with a gang awkwardly thrown together to keep the viewer guessing why things are happening. This lack of structure is Exterminator 2’s major weakness. I do wonder how much of the script was written; many of the scenes feel improvised. Mario Van Peebles, who portrays the gang leader, is way too dignified for his role. Overall, if you are looking for some Cannon craziness, the film does deliver.

  8. 10 to Midnight (1983, dir. J. Lee Thompson)

    A mix between slasher and police procedural, with Gene Davis as a weirdo who likes to get naked and murder young women, and Charles Bronson as a veteran cop who cares more about catching his man than doing things by the book. Wilford Brimley putters and murmurs as Bronson's boss and it's distracting seeing Lisa Eilbacher in any role other than in Beverly Hills Cop.

    The movie takes some unexpected turns and gets pretty intense at times. Roger Ebert called it a "scummy little sewer of a movie". I liked it a lot more than he did. No idea what the title's supposed to refer to though.

    1. I really liked this one. BTW, the Kill by Kill Podcast (that Patrick has guested on) did an episode on this movie that is pretty entertaining. Eric Szyszka from We Hate Movies guest on that episode.

  9. Delta Force (1986)
    Dir. Menahem Golan

    If you ever wondered what an episode of the A-Team would look like where people got killed then Delta Force has you covered. There is a lot of build and planning to the main action set piece that only gets going in the last 30 mins.

    At over 2 hours long it's definitely at least 20 mins too long and does very little with a supporting cast that includes George Kennedy, Shelly Winters, Martin Baslam, Joey Bishop, Lainie Kazan as well as Robert Forster as a very caucasian Middle Eastern terrorist and Lee Marvin in his last role. The high point is Chuck's (or should I say Chuck's clear stunt double's) rocket launcher motorcycle.

    It is fun once it gets going but really could have done with sticking the extended A-Team run time of around 90 mins.

    Dudikoff is out and newcomer David Bradley is in. This means the Army base setting is also out, which is too bad because that made this series stand out a little from other ninja flicks. Fortunately, this one makes up for it with an absurd plot about a villain genetically engineering a virus to unite all the world’s terrorists into one super-evil organization. And OF COURSE this happens under the auspices of an international martial arts tournament. Steve James continues to be the series MVP with cool fight moves and easygoing charm, and former child preacher Marjoe Gortner plays the villain with over-the-top relish (and that hair!). Yeah, another dumb-but-fun entry for this one.

    30 days of Chinese fantasy movies, day 16
    DOUBLE WORLD (2020)
    With war looming, a tournament is held to find the king’s new bodyguard. A penniless orphan with a mysterious past joins the tourney. This is a real big-budget blockbuster, with high-flying swordfights, giant monsters, and castles so huge they could they only exist in a movie. Allegedly, the filmmakers wanted to do a big marketing push in the US for a nationwide Imax release last summer, but then you-know-what happened. This would have really been something on the big screen. Big recommend, especially if you like high fantasy.

    1. Double World sounds great. I'd love to do a month of Chinese Fantasy movies, but just don't have the time to do it alongside Junesploitation. Maybe I'll set aside a month later in the year. Thanks for the recommendation and all the reviews this month!

  11. Assassination (1987, dir. Peter Hunt)

    Charles Bronson plays Killian, the best agent in the Secret Service, but now that Ronnie and Nancy are out of office he has to protect new First Lady… and boy, is she a royal pain! Except there’s a plot to kill the first lady, in the most Cannon bad guy ways (helicopters, grenades, speed boats loaded with explosives).

    Jill Ireland is the First Lady (this was, sadly, her last film with hubby Charles) who traipses through the movie seemingly indifferent to the increasingly escalating attempts to murder her. Despite multiple high profile attempts on the First Lady’s life, the FBI hasn’t stepped in and mobilized a legion of agents to help track down the perps… nope, it’s just Killian and like four other dudes takin’ out the trash.

    It’s implausible, idiotic and bombastic… just the way it should be.

    Bonus ‘sploitation points for Bronson riding a dirt bike with a machine gun on the handlebars gunning down rocket launcher wielding goons.

  12. Murphy’s Law (1986)

    Charles Bronson is 65 here but doesn’t look a day over 73 as he goes on the lam with petty thief Kathleen Wilhoite after being framed for murder. Wilhoite (credited as “introducing” despite having had a major role in Private School three years prior) is fun and manages to deliver approximately 30,000 different snarky insults as Bronson drags her around L.A. against her will.

    Props to this one for having a female antagonist, a rarity of the era particularly in movies like this that are so focused on machismo. Carrie Snodgress is great as the killer (not a spoiler, her character is introduced murdering someone) and feels like a credible threat for Bronson. Also: bonus Junesploitation points for an awesome moment where a helicopter crashes through the roof of the barn from Friday the 13th part 3.

  13. Enter the Ninja

    Cannon Films need to be on our site more often, but that’s because I want to make sure that I have the time and energy to properly focus on this astounding company. But hey — let’s get things started by talking about Enter the Ninja, a movie written by the man who stole Priscilla from Elvis, Mike Stone, and nearly starred in it before his acting ability supposedly wasn’t good enough for a ninja movie Luckily, Franco Nero was in the Philippines and Stone was nice enough to remain on set as the fight double for Nero and the fight/stunt coordinator.

    That’s right — Django as a ninja. Make that a ninja that cucks his best friend and arrdvarking his wife Susan George and then fighting Sho Kosugi.

    If you were wonding why I loved Cannon Films so much, just read that last sentence again.

    Cole (Nero) is a soldier who has become a ninja — much like Snake-Eyes in the Marvel comics — before he visits his war buddy Frank Landers and his new wife Mary Ann (Ms. George) who own a giant farm in the Philippines that is threatened by Charles Venarius (Christopher George), whose Venarius Industries wants the oil that’s on their land.

    After said cuckolding — Frank had already drunkenly confessed to our hero that he couldn’t life his own katana, so to speak — Venarius’ henchmen kill Frank and kidnap Mary Ann. That means that Cole has to battle his way through all of the many soldiers in his way before battling his old sword brother Hasegawa (Sho Kosugi).

    Directed by Menahem Golan, who also gave us The Apple, this is actually the exact kind of movie that I want it to be. Golan said, “It started when Chinese karate films became popular. I looked for something new in Asian martial arts and found information about the ninja culture in an encyclopedia. The ninja were middle-class people in Japan — lawyers, government clerks, etc. It was a secret organization that helped the feudal government. It actually preceded the Chinese karate battles. They used very special methods, developing their sixth sense. That fascinated me and I said I could write story ideas out of it, so we made Enter the Ninja and American Warrior later on. Many imitations followed.”

    Actually, Emmett Alston was supposed to be the film’s original director. Supposedly Charles Bronson refused to allow Golan to direct Death Wish II. Alston directed Force of the Ninja and Nine Deaths of the Ninja, which is somehow even better than this.

    Also, I know that we got a whole bunch of Kosugi ninja movies, which I love, but man, why did we not get another Franco Nero in karate PJs movie?

  14. Hellbound (1994, dir. Aaron Norris)

    This is it! The final Cannon movie. And it sucks!

    Chuck Norris vs. a demon from hell should be way less boring than this. This movie is all shoe-leather, it's insane! It is 10% demon hijinx, 90% Norris and his partner walking to locations, getting into cars, getting out of cars, talking about how they're going to get to the next location, it's laughable! I swear they are shown getting in and out of cars at different locations at least 30 times in this movie.

    That being said, Chuck Norris does jump-kick a demon in this movie, so I can't complain too much. Recommended only to Chuck Norris completionists.

  15. Making the Grade(1984)Dir: Dorian Walker

    This is a retelling of the Prince and the Pauper. Substitute Royalty with preppie and the castle with a prep school and we are off. Watching this I kept thinking "Judd is just playing Jon Bender in this". Then I found out this was filmed and came out before 'The Breakfast Club'. And then it dawned on me. Judd is playing Eddie in Breakfast Club. Why would he do that you ask?

    Well principal photography on Breakfast Club was started March 28, 1984 before 'Making the Grade' premiered. Cannon thought ;Making the Grade' was going to be big for them. Originally titled 'The Last American Preppie' they had high hopes for this one even planning a sequel before the release of the film and even had the bravado to announce the sequel at the start of the credits. Which always works out. Right Buckaroo and Dr. Detroit? Agents hear this and of course they start pumping up Judd Nelson's ego. Telling him how great a character he is playing. That he is a star! So Judd Nelson only in his second film is being fed how great he is by everyone around him. Judd, being a young actor stars to look at the character of Eddie and tries to decide what mannerisms exactly make Eddie so lovable. Then it hits him. Its the walk. Its the snapping. Its doing the turtle neck thing he does where he sticks his chin out slow. So he thinks ok Ill use these in my next movie. Thus Jon Bender was born.

    Of course none of this can be proven but this is stuff I thought about while the movie was on instead of watching the film itself. And yeah there is a good chance that, thats just Judd. I tried to figure out why they would cast Nelson. Then a dance scene came on. And I thought to myself, maybe he's a good dancer. Nope. He does do some terrible head dancing stuff but the heavy lifting is handled by a double. Yes its a Cannon film. Yes its 1984. Yes he breakdances. Then I read that the role of Eddie was initially offered to Jim Carey and it hit me. This is Cannon. You don't get the best you get the affordable (Sorry Judd, you were young).
    The movie does have a few bright spots though. Those being Walter Olkewicz as Coach Wordman, and Andrew Dice Clay as Diceman(Eddies Bookie). Dices scene where he breaks into the Staying Alive dance and a Travolta impersonation was probably my favorite in the movie.. Also good were Scott Mcginnis as the bully Biff and Carey Scott as Rand the sidekick.

    The rest of the cast is fine and includes Gordan Jump who played the Arthur Carlson on 'WKRP' featuring Howard Hesseman. He also played and the pedophile on the very special episode of 'Different Strokes' : The Bicycle Man. Also in the cast is Dan Schneider in his first role. Dan played Dennis Blunden on 'Head of the Class' featuring Howard Hesseman, produced a lot of shows for Nickelodeon and you can google the rest.

    I love 80s comedies and will watch and praise some stuff others consider bad. This movie just had to many misses in the joke department to recommend. And although Judd got better later he's really not good in this. Eddy just comes off as annoying. I really couldn't stay interested in this one at all. Its not bad it just is. Its on DVD.

    1. From the same director of 1989's "Teen Witch," which should have been a Cannon flick. 🤥😵

    2. This movie was a huge favorite in the early early days of cable. Thanks for your write up, i learned a bunch from it!

  16. The Last American Virgin (1982)

    Kimmy Robertson, you are way too good for Gary. In fact Rose is one of the only characters here who is not kind of a shitty person.

    I know the end of this movie (and obviously I won't spoil it here) is supposed to be a bit of a gut-punch, but Gary is such a selfish, manipulative, creep that honestly it was pretty much impossible for me to sympathize with him even at the end. Good soundtrack though (although a bit odd that a number of songs get played twice).

  17. Gas Pump Girls (1979)

    I first heard about it last June and knew right away I have to see this. It's a badly written, badly paced, badly acted, horribly dated and immensely enjoyable low-budget teen sex comedy - in short, perfect Junesploitation material. Features young women in skimpy clothes (which they frequently take off), cartoonish hijinks, multiple dance party scenes to fill up the runtime and all the car-talk-as-code-for-sex-talk humor you can handle. But the biggest WTF moment isn't even any of the crude and raunchy stuff - it's when the main girl suddenly bursts into a heartfelt song to process her feelings, like she's in a full-on musical! Every minute here is deliciously dumb and I wouldn't have it any other way.

  18. 52 Pick Up (1986; dir. John Frankenheimer)

    Cannon. Elmore Leonard. Frankenheimer. Scheider. Like all Leonard, it has a deep bench of side players who all share the screen (Vanity). Iconic 80s interior decorating all over the place. All sorts of directorial choices from Frankenheimer, including his great knack for combining action with thrillers flawlessly. The closet scare. The ending. The score. Love it.

  19. The Fourth War (1990; dir. John Frankenheimer)

    Awesome snow-set suspenseful actioner that sees, again, Roy Scheider having the ultimate one on one war games with a Russian counterpart who is stationed on the opposite side of the West German-Czech border. Frankenheimer really just nails the pacing and always knows how to film action and create character, but this was a real gem for me. Love it!

  20. Hercules (1983)

    My knowledge about Greek mythology isn't great. So it was fantastic to see the reenactments of Hercules fighting snakes as a baby, throwing a bear into outer space, shooting lightening out of his sword, having skin that knives can't pierce, throwing logs into space, pushing rocks, swimming through both stormy and calm waters, having blood that can transform a horrid witch into a smoking hot babe, not being surprised when robot dragons show up in ancient Greece, throwing himself into space, and most importantly, saving the day in the end.

    This movie was a ton of fun. I was elated when I saw Sybil Danning in the opening credits.

  21. Invaders From Mars(1986) Dir: Tobe Hooper

    This is my least favorite of Toby's 3 picture Cannon deal which says more about the quality of 'TCM 2' and 'Lifeforce' than IfM because I still love this flick. Not only did Toby direct the shit out of it but Stan Winston and his crew pulled off some amazing stuff in this one. The brain and the aliens look incredible. The production design on the whole movie is just great. Not everything is great though. Bud Cort's mustache needs to be put down before it goes rabid. James Karens General character did not seem like a "Mad Dog". Sgt. Major Rinaldis action scene in the office looks like it may have been the greatest moment of Eric Pierpoint's life. But those are minor quibbles. The movie rocks. Yes this is on of those times the remake is better than the original.

    Its on Tubi and You Tube with Ads

  22. A Man called Sarge(1990)Dir: Stuart Gillard

    "Kiss me Sarge. Kiss me hard"
    "I'm always hard when I kiss you Sadie."
    A not too terrible parody of WW2 movies. Some really funny stuff in this. Also some very unfunny stuff. Has a much better ratio of laughs than say something like one of the "movie" movies and less pop culture references. But overall not a terrible watch once you get past the cringe parts. And even a few laugh out loud moments.
    As Loaded Weapon is to Naked Gun, A Man Called Sarge is too Top secret.
    Its on Tubi

  23. Tough Guys Don’t Dance (1987)

    Woweee. Elric Kane said this was very Twins Peaksy recently on a podcast and that is 100% true. It is absolutely wild. It really kicks in about 20 minutes in when Frances Fisher comes into play and you can’t if the camp is intentional or not. Again, bonkers movie. Fun movie…Cannon movie. Got this on a 4 movie, single dvd with The Hot Spot on it too. Fitting.

  24. The Delta Force- I've said before, this may not be the best Cannon movie but it is the MOST Cannon movie. No movie is more emblematic of the Cannon dichotomy. G&G wanted nothing more than mainstream Hollywood cache but they also knew that schlock made them money. So we get DF a movie that is one part serious hostage drama and one part Chuck Norris riding a missile-firing motorcycle. It Megaforce but serious. In other words I love it with my entire being. Also it might be my favorite Alan Silvestri score and that's saying something. In fact I'm pretty sure the score is doing 90% of the work here. That and the missile-firing motorcycles

  25. The Apple (1980) - I watched, and listened to, every moment of this. And then the ending happened and I might hate movies now.

  26. DANGEROUSLY CLOSE (1986, dir. Albert Pyun)

    I think this is my discovery of the month so far. I like Albert Pyun as a weird, quirky director and at least enjoy most of his movies I've seen, but I had no idea he had something this slick and polished in him. This is a fantastic, intense teen drama that's very explicitly tackling toxic masculinity and rich, white male privilege. No not subtly, but it feels like it's aged really well. The movie also has moments of violence and action, but way less than you'd expect. And that's a good thing in this case. It's also beautiful to look at, and has a great soundtrack.

    This movie is so damn good.

    1. Love this writeup and your enthusiasm for the movie. This was my watch today too. It holds up. First-rate Pyun.

    2. Thank you sir! I'm glad you enjoyed it too.

  27. Over the Top (1987)

    A truck driver also does arm wrestling tournaments. Yes.

    The tournament at the end features "interviews" with the contestants who enter, and I now want a Best in Show style mockumentary about arm wrestling.

    Also, his special move, over the top (wink), seems super illegal.

  28. Bonus second Cannon Day: Keaton’s Cop (1990)

    The ’80s were the comeback decade, for both William Shatner and Lee Majors returned to our small screens with T.J Hooker (1982 – 1986) and The Fall Guy (1981 – 1986)*, respectively. And both were shows good ol’ dad and I could enjoy together. And we were both equally perturbed when they were simultaneously cancelled.

    Now you would think, with a second hit TV series, that Lee would have been back in mainstream Hollywood’s good graces and return to his stalled theatrical career from the early ’80s. But it seemed the contractual dust-up during the last year of The Six Million Dollar Man back in 1977 wasn’t forgotten. There’s two sides to the story: Majors either caught a case of the Tinseltown Flu to force Universal into accepting his Fawcett-Majors Productions as a series co-producer or he held out for a pay raise. Either way, the executive suites in la-la land don’t take kindly to their actors pulling a creative coup.

    So after saddling up in the late ’80s as Mountain Dan alongside Dolly Parton (with Henry “The Fonz” Winkler directing!) in A Smoky Mountain Christmas and two Six Million Dollar Man-Bionic Woman telefilms, Majors made it back to the big screen . . . well, it was only a matter of time until Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus wrangled Lee Majors into one of their deadbeat, direct-to-video productions.

    Granted, we love Cannon Films around the B&S About Movies offices, for their imprint was ’80s VHS-rental de rigueur, with all of the Death Wish sequels and Chuck Norris flicks, such as Invasion U.S.A. and The Delta Force series. And all of the Ninja-suffixed films. And all of our beloved Micheal Dudikoff flicks. In fact, by 1986, Cannon reached a production milestone of distributing 43 films in one year, as the studio broke away from their usual direct-to-videoesque potboilers to big-budgeted theatrical features such as (the less than stellar) Lifeforce and Masters of the Universe, (and the cheesily awesome) Cobra and Over the Top.

    Sadly, by the time the Israeli cousins of the celluloid frontiers roped the services of Lee Majors, Cannon was in financial and creative ruins . . . and four years away from its inevitable demise. So, instead of putting Majors in a halfway decent flick sidekickin’ with Chuck Norris in something like Firewalker or slipping him into Roy Scheider’s role in (a pretty decent Elmore Leonard film adaptation) 52 Pick Up, our ex-Bionic stunt man ended up in Keaton’s Cop.

    You know, the 48 Hours Lethal Weapon buddy-cop rip-off film that paired Lee Majors with Don Rickles. Yes. You heard me right. Mr. Warmth from all of those The Johnny Carson Show reruns on Antenna TV. The guy who did all of those goofy “beach party” movies with Frankie and Annette back in the ’60s. The guy who you’ve seen many a-cable-replay times as casino manager Billy Sherbet in Martin Scorsese’s Casino. But the younger kiddies ’round these wilds of Allegheny country probably remember Don Rickles best as the acidic Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story. Oh, and if you’re a horror hound like most of B&S’s readers: Don was Manny Bergman in the (pretty cool) mobster-vamp hybrid Innocent Blood by John Landis.

    Read way more in-depth commentary on this movie at

  29. Superman IV (1987)

    Was it as bad as we all remember?
    OH YES.

  30. Gas Pump Girls (1979)

    Thanks to Adam Oh for reminding me how much this had been recommended. It's just very jovial throughout. The bad dudes and good chicks almost immediately team up against capitalism. Fun watch.

    1. When the powers of boobs and leather jackets in summertime unite, capitalism stands no chance.

  31. 10 to Midnight (1985)
    Directed by J. Lee Thompson

    It’s weird (or is it?) that Gene Davis (the killer) has a resemblance to a young Charles Bronson.

    Wilford Brimley as a grizzled sheriff, and Geoffrey Lewis as a slimy lawyer, what more could you want
    The killer using his harassment of women at a movie theater to establish an alibi is pretty brilliant.

    Whenever there’s a cheesy van like this in real life, someone is usually fucking in it, so just like the killer, I always walk up to the van not wearing any clothes, with a knife and try the door. Boy, are they surprised, and they have a good story!

    Bronson spends the first half of the film complaining that the criminals have too many rights, and the system makes it too hard to get evidence to convict them. Bronson then plants evidence on the actual killer to jail him. It’s as if cops just do whatever the fuck they want in order to convict the criminal they think is guilty, even in 1985.

    The last 40 seconds of this movie is every right-wing whack-job’s nocturnal emission.

    1. Great review... of a 1983 movie, not '85. Sorry. :-P

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    1. Not my day with the postings...

      Kickboxer (1989 - Mark di Salle/David Worth).
      Since my appetite for JCVD was not satisfied by NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER, I unceremoniously opted for KICKBOXER on Cannon Day. While I can understand almost any criticism of the film, I have to admit at the same time that in direct comparison with NRNS, it entertained me much better - and is very pretty to look at to boot.

      3 out of 4 forced splits.

    2. JCVD is definitely a better dancer in "Kickboxer" than "NRNS". 😉🙉

    3. That dance scene is stupid, long... and funny. :D