Saturday, July 27, 2013

Undefeatable (1994): I’ll Take My Steak Rare and With A Side of Ass

*Disclaimer!* I wrote a handful of articles for a now defunct e-zine called BthroughZ some years back, and when that site went belly up, so didn’t the reviews I wrote for it. I didn’t want to lose the articles I worked so hard to write, so over the next few months I will be reposting them here for your enjoyment.

Undefeatable 1994 poster"Out of the ring, into the a fight to the finish!" is the battle cry tagline for the 1994 Martial Arts epic, Undefeatable. Funny thing about that tag line though, is there’s only one scene with an actual boxing ring in it. But I suppose that doesn’t matter seeing as the man fighting within this ring is the almighty Stingray, a man so badass that his actual job is to kick ass and kick a lot of it.

With intense baby blues and a full bodied, shoulder length mullet, Stingray (Don Niam) is one of the most intense characters you'll ever see in a direct to DVD karate movie from 1994 starting Cynthia Rothrock. Though, being a super badass is simply not as easy as one would think. I mean, even Stingray’s own wife, Anna (Emille Davazac), is deathly afraid of him. I suppose you really can’t blame her, though. When a normal man comes home from work, a nice hot dinner waiting at the dinner table is pretty friggin awesome. Well, awesome if you're a pussy. When you're Stingray, however, you expect a nice hot piece of Anna ass when you get home from a hard day of busting heads, THEN dinner would come next. Regardless, Anna doesn't quite understand this ‘theory’ and decides that leaving her husband is a better idea than getting raped everyday at 5:22 PM.

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Unfortunately for Anna, Stingray has major mama trauma issues, and leaving him just adds fuel to his unstable fire. You simply do not leave Stingray; Stingray leaves you... Dead! Now completely out of his gourd, Stingray sets out to find Anna, but his rage seems to cloud his senses, causing him to mistake any woman who shares Anna's red hair color, and floral dress fashion sense, for being his wife. Apparently, there were numerous red heads rockin' floral dresses back in the mid-90s, because Stingray finds plenty of them. And naturally, he proceeds to rape, torture, and then murder each and every one of them. What’s funny though, is that most of the women who Stingray runs into seem to be - or be with, someone who is trained in the Martial Arts. The chances are low, but in the mid-90s anything can happen. Fanny Pack popularity is my proof of that.

One of the unfortunate Anna look-alikes who happens to cross Stingray's path also happens to have a sister named Kristi, who just so happens to be played by Cynthia Rothrock, who also happens to be the toughest person to ever be in a movie called Fast Getaway. Kristi is not all too thrilled that her sister was murdered, so she goes on a quest to find and kill the man behind her death: Stingray! But before we get into all that, I’d like to take a moment to talk a little bit about Kristi's backstory. Kristi is a straight up street thug, and when she isn't waiting tables and serving lunch at her restaurant job, she's making cash busting heads and serving knuckle sandwiches in underground street fights. Furthermore, Kristi is also the only white chick in an all Asian gang called the Dragon Claws or Paws or some shit. Either way, this is one of the toughest street gangs around with all three members basically being a ‘90s version of the vicious ‘30s street gang known as the Three Stooges.

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How does a good-looking white chick get into an all Asian gang? Because she got the skills to pay the bills when it comes to whopping dat ass, and much like a female version of Lionheart (Lionessheart?), Kristi makes a living by fighting in an underground fight club. Through this criminal act, Kristi meets Detective Nick DiMarco (John Miller), who hauls her to jail for her illegal underground fighting activities. Nick is a good cop and a good guy; he is also a pretty sick Martial Artist himself, which is just so crazy considering how many people are so competent at ancient fighting styles in this film. Anyway, Nick sees something in Kristi (*cough* tits *cough*); he sees that she's a good kid who is just a little lost and needs some guidance down the right path... to his pants.  

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Nick's spot on thoughts about Kristi are confirmed when he learns that the living she earns by fighting is not necessarily for herself. Instead, she uses the money to pay Anna’s medical school tuition. You see, Kristi wants to see her good-natured sister do well in life and is willing to risk her life by fighting to make that happen. However, in case you might have forgotten, Stingray stung Kristi's sister and Nick happens to be the man on the case, so naturally both Nick and Kristi must come together as a team to find and destroy the menace known as Stingray! Who will end this film as the one who is most Undefeatable? That's up to the one with the most desire to be the best, or the one who can conjure up the most sweat perhaps.

Most people know of Undefeatable from the infamous “Worst and/or best fight scene ever” YouTube clips, but it's so much more than that. It's a Godfrey Ho film, who for some strange reason used his secret name of Godfrey Hall on this Hong Kong produced American action film. Godfrey Ho is infamous for making trillions of Ninja movies in the ‘80s (well, one ninja film used a trillion times). These were the kind of Ninja movies where the Ninjas were proven to be Ninjas because they would have the word Ninja embroidered on their headbands. Undefeatable is not a Ninja film, but it is a Martial Arts film, and one that many might consider to be pretty much trash.

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Personally, I could not disagree more. Sure, the film is awful, the dialogue is ridiculous, the acting poor, and all the sets consist of warehouses and factories, complete with steel drums and empty cardboard boxes. With that said, it's entertaining as all hell and for so many reasons, too. Stingray drives a '84 Plymouth Voyager, just like the one my mom had! But unfortunately, my mom never wore a sleeveless jean jacket like Stingray. To go with his jacket of jean, Stingray even spray paints purple stripes down the sides of his hair, because, well, I actually have no idea why he does this but he does, and it's awesome.

While there may be a handful of awkward and, quite frankly, odd moments strewn throughout, the fight scenes are more than competent and, at times, somewhat impressively done. However, a great deal of that credit goes to the cast of well-trained Martial Artists displaying a multitude of fighting styles and techniques. Bad and cheesy Undefeatable may be, but some of these actors are very impressive, and even the sight of John Miller's huge hairy tits cannot distract me from this fact. In all seriousness, Cynthia Rothrock is no joke and is easily one of the highest-ranking female Martial Artists to grace the screen, so it’s always a joy to watch her do what she does best. I must say, however, that I have never been so jealous of the ground than when Rothrock does the splits.

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Undefeatable is a mess, but unlike the kind of mess your grandma makes after too much applesauce, it’s a fun mess to spend time with. When the male leads in a film rip off their shirts just to show off their extremely oiled and firm male breasts, or a character is proven to be tough by wearing chains OVER his Champion sweatshirt, it’s a pretty good indication that you should simply let all of your inhibitions go. It's just one of those movies that is a waste of time to hate for being bad, and doing so will do nothing but make you sad inside. If you can embrace the insanity of what you are witnessing on screen, then you too may become... Undefeatable. See ya!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Salute Your Shorts Double Feature: Dollface(2011)/Girl At the Door (2013)

I got me a tasty double dose of horror shorts courtesy of director Colin Campbell to share with all you lovely ladies and gallant gents, so take yourself a moment to settle in for a quick night of pure terror starting with...

Dollface (2011)

Dollface 2011 short film horror Colin Campbell

It’s Halloween night, and Nick and Emily (Nick Holmes and Jen Dede) are spending their evening playing a game of chess as they wait for trick or treaters to knock on their door. It isn’t long before they get their first trick or treater of the night: a strange woman whose face is painted like a doll (Shelley Wenk). What ensues is something that neither Nick nor Emily would or could have ever expected, as their lovely evening quickly becomes a nightmare of madness and murder.

No reason for me to dwell upon plot details when you can watch the short for yourself below, but I will say that Dollface is a solid horror short filled with some fun twists and turns that should satisfy your horror hungry appetite. It’s quick, to the point, and the setting for the shorts’ second half is very appealing, so take 7 minutes out of your day to give Dollface a watch:

Girl at the Door (2013)

Girl at the door 2013 short horror film colin campbell

Taking a slightly more psychological approach to its horror, Girl at the Door focuses on a one-night stand that grows more and more sexually aggressive as their evening of passion passes. The next morning, the man (Jeffrey Vincent Parise) wakes up alone, as the woman (Kristen Renton) has seemingly left during the night. He doesn’t think much of the situation, that is, however, until a few nights later when the woman shows back up at his door and seems to be reliving the evening exactly as they had already spent it.

Though slightly predictable, Girl at the Door is a nicely crafted short film with touches of impressive camerawork and a high production value, all of which plays for a nice backdrop to the great performances. While I slightly prefer Dollface, Girl at the Door is a very good short film that should please those who have a taste for a quick tale of terror, so take a looksie for yourself, and please feel free to share your thoughts on both shorts in the ol’ comments section below!


Monday, July 15, 2013

A Gentlemanly Kickboxing Match

Kickboxer 1989 movie review jean claude van dammeGuys, I have some terrible news... my brother, Eric, was injured in a kickboxing match against a vicious, braided ponytail wearing jerk face named Tong Po. Why he would do something as vile as crippling such a handsome young man is beyond me, but I have vowed to avenge my brother’s crippled state by staying in Thailand and training in the fine art of Muay Thai so I can take out Tong Po! And I don’t mean to dinner, either.

While I am confident that my soul-searching absence is already difficult for you to deal with, I do have a special gift for you, and it comes in the form of the latest episode of The Gentlemen’s Guide to Midnite Cinema, where yours truly joined two masters of podcasting, Big Willy and the Samurai, in an epic review of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Kickboxer! In what is a reach around filled episode, we tackle Kickboxer, bad coffee creamer, menstruation, and Van Damme’s perfect ass, and that’s only the half of it!

If you don’t already listen to The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema, then believe you me, you are absolutely missing out on what is the finest film podcasts on the market. If you even remotely enjoy what you see here of CNAMB, you will LOVE what you get with this fantastic podcast. These guys are not only great people, they are great friends, and to finally be able to join them for some on-air film discussion is certainly an honor, so please take some time to check out the episode for yourself!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tenement (1985): Survival of the Cruelest

Tenement 1985 game of survival movie reviewAfter the landlord of a rundown apartment building has a nefarious street gang arrested for squatting in the basement and harassing the tenants, the gang returns to take back what they believe is theirs, and they won’t be going about it nicely. In fact, they utilize unspeakably violent tactics, including rape and murder, as they push the tenants to the point where they have no choice other than to fight back.  

Directed by prominent cult/porn filmmaker, Roberta Findlay, Tenement Is a true cinematic stain of a film that does exactly what a good exploitation film should do: it entertains as much as it offends. Tenement is dirty; it’s scuzzy; it’s grimy in a fashion that bleach backs away from it in frustration. The South Bronx setting gives a front row view of New York at its absolute trashiest, with areas that are so rundown, so broken down and so beat down that it makes the post apocalypse seem livable in comparison. Even the apartment complex is a complete and total shithole, barely being worthy of the rats and roaches that infest its crumbling, graffiti ridden walls.   

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The location is the perfect setting for a sleazy street gang, and the gang in Tenement is as sleazy and fun as it gets. Led by the imposingly silent leader Chaco (Enrique Sandino), the gang members are nothing short of crude to anyone unlucky enough to cross their leather-clad path. Amongst the group are a number of recognizable genre faces, including Dan Snow, who would be most familiar to people as ‘Cigar Face’ from the Toxic Avenger movies. B-Movie actress Karen Russell plays Chula, the gangs’ only female member, who isn’t even as much a member as she’s there to be constantly ridiculed, groped and abused at the whim of the other gang members.

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If there is any one actor who stands out in Tenement, however, it is Paul Calderon as Hector. While Chaco is the gang’s leader (and he’s certainly a better leader than he is a speaker), it is Hector who is easily the most vicious and frightening member of the group. He’s just a notch or two under Last House on the Left’s Krug in terms of the impact he makes when he’s on screen, and I will credit that to Calderon, who gives a fantastic performance. Hector has an absolutely terrifying look about him, spending much of the film with his skin stained with the glistening blood of his numerous victims, never once bothering to take a moment to wipe any of it away. Instead, he opts to let it dry on his flesh like it’s his uniform; a uniform made of plasma and death.

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Tenement is the type of film that’s not at all afraid to “go there.” It quickly becomes very apparent that no one person is safe. The elderly, the handicapped, children, animals, and even a pregnant woman are potential victims of their brutality. The interesting thing about Tenement to me, though, is the fact that these tenants are trapped in this hell hole as a result of the cards they've been dealt in life. Many of them are too poor or simply too old to escape this prison where the guards are made up of ferocious, mean spirited gang members. And really, that's about as raw a deal as one person can get. Being trapped in the rundown, unsanitary conditions of the tenement is bad enough, but having to deal with a bunch of punks who have taken what little they do have and destroyed it is simply too much for any one person to deal with. They aren't just fighting back because they have no choice; they're fighting back because it's the only thing they have left. It's the last stand for the tenants who have been plagued by an affliction that has nearly depleted them.

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Seeing as Tenement is a low-budget exploitation film, it does have a nice helping of unavoidable cheese layered throughout, which certainly adds to the flavor of this slice of ‘80s trash. However, cheese or not, I’m not at all surprised that Tenement received a very legitimate X rating when it was released. The film is nearly as offensive and brutal as some of the most well-known exploitation films, and I could argue that it deserves the notoriety and attention of those films, too. Tenement is much like wallowing in that small space behind a toilet in the restroom of a metal club, and as awful and grotesque as that all sounds, it certainly makes for a solid, true exploitation movie.

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