Saturday, June 4, 2022

Junesploitation 2022 Day 4: '90s Action!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. The browser's acting out, not letting me post anything! :-(

    2. That's a shame :( Hopefully it works in the coming days.

    3. I know. Trying multiple and/new accounts, different browsers. Nope, not letting me post reviews, just random posts. :'( Oh well, that's what future 'Free Space' days will be for. :-D

  2. Ricochet (1991)
    The best damn movie ever made.
    I hadn't seen any Russell Mulcahy movies until this year, but now I've seen a bunch of them and between this, Razorback, Highlander and Resurrection, Mulcahy he might be my guy. Maybe not to the level that Tobe Hooper is Patrick's guy, but to the level that Dwight H. Little is Patrick's guy. Mulcahy oozes style and pulp and his movies are so utterly ridiculous but so utterly well made that I struggle to think of any other director who entertains me as much.
    Best scene - hard to choose but it's got to be John Lithgow fighting a neo nazi in prison with swords.

    1. Oh my, he's got several 90's movies available on prime that would suit today. But only one with Dolph Lundgren!

  3. Taking of Beverly Hills, dir Sidney J. Furie, 1991,

    Any time Branscombe Richmond shows up like he's Wiley Coyote I giggled with glee. Richmond riding a tank is my new favourite thing. So yes, Taking of Beverly Hills is amazing, I am not sure why it took me so long to watch it. Robert Davi feels particular deranged as an asthmatic cattle prod weilding - I mean his ultimate plan is insane but actually well thought out, even if it is dumb. But Ken Wahl and Matt Frewer of all people do kick a lot of ass.

  4. Stone Cold, dir Craig R. Baxley, 1991

    Ahhh finally the helicopter scene makes sense. I have not seen a movie go this big and this insane for a while. When you see it in context the helicopter moment almost feels casual. Brian Bosworth might not be the center of charisma, but that is why you have Lance Henriksen and William Forsythe. Though Henriksen is genuinely terrifying in this.

  5. Shootfighter: Fight to the Death (1993, dir. Patrick Alan)

    Two American fighters trained by Master Shingo are invited to enter an illegal fighting tournament in Tijuana. What they're not aware of is that the fights are a little more brutal than they're used to and the guy running the whole thing holds an old grudge to Shingo.

    It's a little confusing seeing Bolo Yeung play a good guy. Same goes for William Zabka, but at least there's a plotline about his character possibly being corrupted and turned to the dark side. And Martin Kove is the villain who's corrupting him, so that at least checks out. Maryam d'Abo is reduced to playing the worried girlfriend. Familiar faces George Cheung and Gerald Okamura also briefly appear.

    The first hour is pretty boring, but once all the bad dialogue and uncomfortable acting (except for Bolo and Kove, who know what they're doing) is out of the way, the last half hour is more action-packed. The fights aren't exceptionally choreographed or anything, but they still entertain.

    Shootfighter II (1996, dir. Paul Ziller)

    This time, a cop recruits the boys to infiltrate a fighting tournament in Miami, and Master Shingo gets kidnapped. But it's basically the same formula, an hour of dull drama followed by 30 minutes of bland fights.

    Maryam d'Abo isn't around anymore (good for her!) and Joe Son is no Martin Kove. Zabka gets a new love interest in Kristy Eisenberg and they share one of the most awkward sex scenes I've ever seen, followed by her getting fridged immediately after. Some of the editing is atrocious, one fight goes from one guy having the upper hand to him suddenly getting his ass kicked in a jumpcut.

    But the most interesting thing about the movie is the sound. In the final tournament in the end, I think there's supposed to be music playing in the background, but it's just a weird wall of low noise. Almost sounds like they played music on the set and recorded it with a cheap mic. It's really distracting and I don't understand how this happens in a movie made by professional(?) filmmakers. (Could just be the DVD I guess, but the dialogue is fine, just the music is screwed up, which suggests it's the source and not the DVD.)

  6. F/X 2 (1991) dir. Richard Franklin
    I feel like the first F/X was a real USA network Sunday afternoon staple when I was growing up- but I couldn't remember if I had ever caught the second one or not- which is insane because this is a movie with a clown puppet led martial arts sequence, so I don't know how I forgot I've seen it. It's mostly a retread of the first basic structure with less intense violence but more Brian Dennehy team up- your mileage might vary whether thats an improvement or a downgrade, but I enjoyed their chemistry. This weirdly seems like prime material for a remake now in terms of kid pleasing action, if you could get around the whole practical effects expert not really being a thing in 2022 hiccup.

  7. U.S. Marshals (1998) on Netflix

    The Fugitive (1993) is all about titular fugitive Harrison Ford (who does a lot of his signature pointer finger acting), but Tommy Lee Jones really steals the show as Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard. It's nowhere near his best performance, but he won his only Oscar for his work and was so beloved that he spawned this sequel - where the title signifies the difference in following the man on the run, instead following the man chasing him.

    Jones gets a lot of screen time here and chews it up well with his wise-cracking persona, but i really dig all of the moments with Wesley Snipes, the man he's chasing. Snipes is always best when he's a little silly, a little brash, and a lot of personality - and he gets to have some fun here mean muggin', wearing silly disguises, and doing some good ol' fashioned yelling. He doesn't get quite as silly as Tommy Lee in a chicken costume, but it is Jones' movie after all.

  8. MONEY TRAIN (1995)
    Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson play down-on-their-luck transit cops who end up in a heist to get back at their corrupt boss and some gangsters. This is an overstuffed movie, trying to be a lot of things at once. It's high-octane action, then it's a hangout comedy, then it's a gritty crime thriller, then it's a romcom love triangle with the two guys and Jennifer Lopez. There's even an extended subplot about a serial killer where the movie tries to be Se7en for a bit. The mishmash of tones is jarring, but I must admit the movie makes dudes chasing each other around the subway look sleek and exciting.

    Bonus Lloyd Kaufman-sploitation, day 4: SQUEEZE PLAY (1979)
    A bunch of women challenge the men in their lives to a battle-of-the-sexes softball game. After meandering in and out of the movie biz throughout the '70s, Kaufman returned to producing-directing his own films, this time insistent for something guaranteed to earn profit. So it's a lowbrow sex comedy, and you can tell the mandate was to fill every scene with as many bawdy gags as possible. As a narrative film, it's plodding. As a joke delivery machine, it's barely a C-minus.

  9. Stone Cold (1991)

    Had a lot of fun with this one. As I've seen others on this site note, The Boz is a little wooden as the titular John Stone, but he looks the part, and the villainous biker gangsters bring more than enough energy to allow for more of a "straight man" performance from the hero. The plot is silly and sloppy, but the action is a ton of fun. Motorcycles and men fly through the air with great frequency, and explosions abound.

    1. This is either gonna be the biggest pork chop I ever ate or my bulldozer.

    2. Who knew Chains was such a poet!

  10. Sidekicks (1992, dir. Aaron Norris)

    Last Action Hero meets The Karate Kid. Jonathan Brandis repeatedly daydreams about being Chuck Norris' sidekick in various action/adventure scenarios which always feature a hammy Joe Piscopo as the villain. In real life he is trained in martial arts by Mako, and ultimately faces off against his bully in the obligatory tournament. I enjoyed this movie as a kid as a VHS rental, and I still found it highly entertaining. Bonus points for Chuck's mullet at perhaps its most glorious. Recommended.

  11. Soldier (1998, dir. Paul W.S. Anderson)

    In 2036, Kurt Russell's Todd 3465 is a member of an elite squad of soldiers, trained and conditioned since birth to fight. When new, better fighters are bred, the old squad's usefulness runs out, and when Todd is knocked unconscious, he's presumed dead and dumped on a waste disposal planet. There he meets a small colony of people, gets in touch with his humanity for the first time, and has to defend the colony when the new and improved soldiers just happen to pick the planet as their training ground.

    Kurt Russell's great at intensely gazing into the middle distance and Jason Isaacs clearly enjoys playing the soldiers' amoral commander. There's some decent action toward the end (though not enough of it) and nice-looking locations done on a hefty budget. I always hate it when there's a scene shot in normal speed and converted to slow-mo in post, that jerky movement always takes me out of a movie. I counted four such scenes in this. All in all, it's not good enough to be really good, and it's not nearly bad enough to be funny.

    Apparently, the movie's writer David Webb Peoples thought of it as a Blade Runner spinoff (he also co-wrote BR's script). Not that there's much connection outside a few easter eggs: Todd's military file refers to battles in the Shoulder of Orion and Tannhäuser Gate, and there's a wrecked spinner on the trash planet. Probably plenty more that I missed.

    D/W: Christian Drew Sidaris / P: Brian Bennos,
    Wess Shannon Rahn / M: Ron Di Iulio
    Julie Strain sexes a French scientist to death. Penthouse & Playboy alum Julie K. Smith (ANGEL III: THE FINAL CHAPTER, SORCERESS II: THE TEMPTRESS) blows up a scientist in Capetown. Playboy alum Wendy Hamilton (SKI SCHOOL 2) blows up a Chinese scientist. Agent Samantha Phillips (Penthouse, PHANTASM II, DOLLMAN) is called in to protect Sidaris Company goon Rodrigo Obregón, who’s playing a South American scientist this time. Fortunately for the hunk-lovers in the audience, Mark Barriere & Sidaris Company good-guy Bruce Penhall are back to reprise their roles from Son Of Sidaris’ previous flick, ENEMY GOLD. You get everything you’ve come to expect from Sidaris & friends. Christian doesn’t let the actual action scenes get in the way of the sexy stuff & the plot-talk. On offer is Sidaris regular Gerald Okamura (NINJA BUSTERS, THE OCTAGON) as Strain’s karate goon, an exploding remote control car, an exploding remote control boat, hot tub sex, a dual shower scene, topless stripping at Cowboys, treachery, microchips, special radios, Andy Sidaris as a cop & Julie Strain’s audacious suggestion that a Frenchman can be told that a Whitman’s Sampler is a box of fine French chocolate. Papa Sidaris hopped back in the director’s chair for the last two in this universe, DAY OF THE WARRIOR & L.E.T.H.A.L. LADIES: RETURN TO SAVAGE BEACH, both featuring Julie Strain, Julie K. Smith, Gerald Okamura & Rodrigo Obregón. I recommend the food/film pairing I enjoyed: corn chips, spicy cheese dip & microwavable White Castle burgers.

  13. High Risk (1995)
    Kit Li (Jet Li) is a Hong Kong Bomb Squad police officer who responds to the latest threat of The Doctor’s (Kelvin Wong in his final role) terrorist group. They’ve taken a school bus hostage and his wife and son are on board. He sends one of his team to diffuse it, but the complicated bomb explodes and everyone dies, including Kit’s family. He leaves the force behind and finds a new life as a stunt double for Frankie Lone (“God of Song” Jacky Cheung), a man who claims to do all his own stunts.

    After Jacky’s latest movie wraps, Frankie’s father (Wu Ma) and his manager Charlie Tso (Charlie Tso, who acted in Hong Kong softcore films and Police Story) invite Kit to the Hotel Grandeur for a jewelry show. The Doctor is on his way there and they cross paths as Jacky hears his voice, but no one will believe him. He and his gang destroy the hotel and his partner Fai-fai (Valerie Chow) uses her beauty to lead Jacky to a gang member named Kong (Billy Chow, Fist of Legend and the WKA world Welterweight champion from 1984 to 1986) who has dreamed of fighting the movie star. Jacky barely escapes with his life.

    Meanwhile, a journalist named Helen (Chingmy Yau) out to expose Jacky’s secret discovers The Doctor’s identity. She and Kit fall in love over the course of this Die Hard scenario and if you don’t think that he won’t have to solve the same bomb that killed his family you haven’t been watching action movies.

    How much does this movie make fun of Bruce Willis’ action epic? Its Hong Kong title was High Risk, Rat’s Bravery and Dragon’s Might which is very close to the name that Die Hard was released as in Hong Kong, Tiger’s Bravery and Dragon’s Might.

    Director Wong Jing also made God of Gamblers, Naked Killer, the Street Fighter influenced Future Cops and City Hunter. That last movie is important as after it was released, star Jackie Chan not only disowned the film but also personally went after Wong in the press. Frankie Lone in this movie is supposedly Chan and the claim is that Jackie, like Jacky, is a drunken womanizer who doesn’t even do his own stuntwork. And while Jacky dresses like Bruce Lee, the fact that the Charlie Tso character is so similar to Jackie’s mentor Willie Chan hammers the point home.

    The director of this film’s action, Corey Yuen Kwai, really pushed for this to outdo what American action was in the 90s. While Jet Li is, as always, astounding, the final hand-to-hand combat is between Jacky and Kong, as the star who has lived the high life for so long redeems himself.

  14. Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)

    Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee are a buddy cop duo who take on a Yakuza gang running rampant in LA. In an odd twist, it's the white American cop who teaches his half-Japanese partner all about Japanese culture (and because early 90s Hollywod wasn't exactly a bastion of cultural sensitivity, both Lee and damsel in distress Tia Carrere are playing Japanese characters, because why not.)
    The action is fine but not particularly dynamic, there's some strange editing going on, some one-liners land better than others, and the decision to dress Dolph up in full samurai getup is definitely a choice. On the plus side, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa makes for a properly monstrous villain, the sub-80-minute runtime keeps things fast and efficient, and the two leads really have nice chemistry together, which ultimately makes all of it worthwile.

  15. Sudden Death (1995, dir. Peter Hyams)

    Ranks high amongst the prime JCVD movies. The Hyams family just knows how to use him

  16. Stone Cold (1990, dir. Craig R. Baxley)

    I know it has been said here before but Baxley should've gotten more swings!

  17. Drop Zone (1994)

    First time viewing. Between this and "Point Break," what is Gary Busey's deal with skydiving? This movie is kind of all over the place in terms of casting. I've always liked Yancy Butler in whatever she was in, and, honestly, anything with Michael Jeter is worth it. I like that the first act is just bonkers, and there's a good kill late in the movie involving a photo copier. This has my least favorite 1990's trope where the bad guys kill someone for no reason and with no remorse, but rather, because it's supposedly "cool." But, at least we get INXS and Toad the Wet Sprocket on the soundtrack!

  18. Universal Soldier (1992, Roland Emmerich)

    The movie that started Roland Emmerich's big '90's scifi action movie run. Dolph Lundgren proved here that he's really at his best when he's playing the bad guy.

  19. Legionnaire (1998, dir. Peter MacDonald)

    Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Alain, a disgraced boxer who enlists in the post-WWI French Foreign Legion to escape vengeful gangsters. His way back to redemption is, of course, learning loyalty and brotherhood with a cadre of misfits in rebellious colonial Morocco. He trains and marches, does laundry, showers with the boys and finally marches to defend a fort at the edge of the frontier. A heroic yet tragic battle for survival ensues… and then the movie kind of ends.

    It’s one of my JCVD blindspots, I’d seen the VHS cover of this movie back in the 90s but never pulled the trigger until now. Alas, this movie is like 85% historical drama and 15% action movie. It’s directed by the man who gave us Rambo 3, so soldiers on horses in the desert must have seemed perfect for him. The movie never gels, despite the great period costuming, the cinematic locations and top-notch set design.

    Also, JCVD’s performance is very emotive compared to the rest of his filmography; a couple of scenes where he has these tiny wells of tears in his eyes are surprisingly effective. But as this isn’t really a straight action movie, he never gets to be the one-man-killing-machine we show up for. The boxing scene in the first act doesn’t impress and for the two large battles in the third act are just JCVD as a grunt shooting rifles against guys on horses. Add all that to a disappointing, unfinished ending, leaves me wanting more. This was probably his very last outing as a big budget action lead, before he would retreat into DTV sequels, so it’s a fascinating watch as his 90s high-water mark.

  20. TALONS OF THE EAGLE (1992)
    D: Michael Kennedy / W: J. Stephen Maunder
    P: Jalal Merhi, Dale Hildebrand, Curtis Petersen, Kevin Ward
    M: Varouje
    "Hey Bubblehead. Wake up, man."
    A: It may be tempting to call Jalal Merhi a poor man's Van Damme, but he's too cool for that bunk. He's the real deal. And so are those bikini briefs he wears.
    2: I'm actually scared of Billy Blanks. Mostly in a good way...
    D: Matthias Hues IS a special effect. #EvilFabio
    5: James Hong is literally a living legend. He does waaay more than just eyes.
    E: End credits rock tune.
    6: The explosions were real.
    8: Priscilla Barnes?? Why not. (those eyes)
    "You can't bargain with a dead pig."
    Vinegar Syndrome BluRay

  21. Waterworld Ulysses Cut (1995)

    4 days into Junesploitation is the perfect time to watch almost 3 hours of Waterworld, although it doesn't feel nearly that long. For some reason, this viewing in particular left me with a massive Jeanne Tripplehorn crush.

  22. In the Line of Fire (1993)

    Maybe stretching the definition of action a little bit but there's a Morricone score so I went for it. Hadn't seen this since it came out in the theater, so I forgot about the fact that Rene Russo ends up with the quarter-century older Eastwood, which frankly felt beneath both her and her character. Malkovich feels like the blueprint Spacey used for Se7en. Overall not bad.

  23. The Rocketeer (1991)

    Earnest and fun. And I always love Timothy Dalton as a villain.

  24. BROKEN ARROW (1996)
    D: John Woo
    This is my first time rewatching BROKEN ARROW since I saw it in the theater. It's better than I remember thinking I thought I should think it was. Still no mindblower, but it's got planes, trains & automobiles & boats & helicopters. Everyone except for Travolta is in something like a Tom Clancy rip-off, leaving Johnny-boy to serve ham sandwiches at a corn-slaw competition. I'd forgotten about Samantha Mathis & I think she'll be on my mind for little while. Solid fun.
    20th Century Fox BluRay

  25. Terminal Velocity (1994, dir. Deran Sarafian)

    Wow, this movie is wild. I now know why Patrick loves it. Charlie Sheen has done serious as well as dead-pan comedy stuff, so he was perfect in this. It's right on the edge between comedy and serious. It's seriously very entertaining however you read it.

    1. I've been saving this one up since last year. Now if I could only remember which podcast Patrick and Adam were discussing this movie. Any ideas?

    2. Oh, I think it was the Judgment Night episode. Going to relisten to it tomorrow.

  26. Missed updating here for the past few days. Watched TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES 1990 with my son who acted like he was not into it but was excited to play the find the pizza un the sewer game when we finished it up. He and I couldn't fight the Turtle Power!

    I ended the 90s action with BLOWN AWAY 1994; a somewhat sus accented but bananas Tommy Lee Jones is always welcome! Also, I just dig any action thriller that Jeff Bridges appears in. Let's face anything he's in, really!

    1. My teenage kids act like they are above it, but they do enjoy getting dragged to participate in Junesploitation. Unfortunately it's also end of the year exam time so we haven't watched any together yet. But the month is young!

    2. Blown Away is awesome. The boat explosion imo is top 5 or 10 explosions ever, even among the fierce competition that was the 90's. Stephen Hopkins!

    3. Dragging in the kids is half the fun! And holy moley is Stephen Hopkins' filmography all over the place

  27. Breakdown (1997) Jonathan Mostow

    Love it. So happy to have a blu ray of it. Seen it maybe 10 times and on this viewing I'm struck by what a pure maniac Walsh's character is. Editing including sound is crazy great without showing off. 5 out of 5 Noseworthy Trans Am explosions.

    1. Breakdown is great! It's one of my sneaky favorites too.

    2. First Time Watch

      Pretty predictable but fun '90s Action Flick. Feels like a cross between a Cannon Film, Music Video, and occasionally slightly Tromaesque. If nothing else, watch it for an early Viggo Mortensen role.

  28. MAXIMUM RISK (1996, dir. Ringo Lam)

    With a convoluted plot that involves twins, the Russian mafia, and corrupt law enforcement, I eventually stopped worrying about the script and went along with action. I had a good time, too. Jean-Claude Van Damme goes on an international journey to discover what his twin was into that got him killed. That journey will lead to a lot of car chases (this would be good for Cars! day), fights, and shootouts as the truth is revealed. The late Ringo Lam, the director of the terrific Full Contact, brought a lot of style and energy to the action scenes. I would have liked Natasha Henstridge to more than a damsel in distress, but she is at least not a complete pushover here.

  29. Godzilla (1998)

    The subject of this week's Reserved Seating. Movie's still real bad.

    Terminal Velocity (1994)

    I prefer Drop Zone but TV is pretty great too. Ditch Brody!

    True Lies (1994)

    A lot of good things in an otherwise icky movie.

    1. I loved Terminal Velocity. Sounds like I should check out Drop Zone. Thanks!

  30. Did a double feature of 1994 action movies TERMINAL VELOCITY and TRUE LIES. I like the first one way more than the second, but James Cameron's skills as a filmmaker are so undeniable. Still my least favorite of his movies.

  31. Terminal Velocity (1994, dir. Deran Sarafian)

    Even better with a crowd.

  32. I've been to a music festival for the last couple of days, so I had to play catch-up today.

    Desperado (1995 – Robert Rodriguez)
    It has been the first time to watch this movie for me, since Rodriguez is kind of a blind spot for me. I had a good time. Banderas and Hayek look just stunning, sweaty and sexy in this movie. Almeida is an excellent villain all over. There are funny elements that I really enjoyed, while the action was crazy and fun to watch. A few elements and side plots I could go without, and I don’t understand why they are even in there (e.g. the fight scene where this dude got his leg broken, why is it in the movie?). A good action film, and surely a great one for this day in this month.