At least the cover is cool. I like that Mad Max/ Road Warrior pose.

Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research. A prototype robot intended for crime combat escapes from the development lab and goes on a killing rampage.

Brilliant scientist of this movie Barrett Coldyron turns out to be a farmer. He also feeds his horse his morning coffee (not sure that’s good for him) and eats the carrot himself.  This seems to be the theme of this whole movie, by trying to subvert our expectations director Cullen Blaine manages only to spoil everything in this middle-to-low budget production and make it have no sense whatsoever.

Sometimes, it’s much better to just play the cards that you’ve been dealt (instead of trying to change the whole game).

Coldyron lead a fun presentation of Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research aka R.O.T.O.R. including a horrible stop- motion dancing? Or was that Karate?

One thing is for sure, that thing is EVIL.

Now, according to him it will take anything from 4 to 25 years(!!!) for R.O.T.O.R. to be functional but his boss’s career depends on it and he want’s it now! Even worse than those video- game crunch times we have right now. It seems the programmers will never get a break, it will only gets worse in the future. So, Coldyron tells him to show it and goes back to being a private citizen, or a Cop? I’m not really sure- he seems to contain multitudes.

And did we mention the retarded robot side-kick they have in the police station.

 

On the other hand his mustached subordinate doesn’t have the guts to quit and ends up being a project leader. Predictably he manages to fuck things up with the R.O.T.O.R.‘s program. Then a bizarre gay- looking Native American scientist starts boasting like mad and manages to activate the damn robot!

 

Now that the R.O.T.O.R is on, he starts cruising in his police- motorcycle. First car he stops is one with the young couple arguing like idiots. We’ll things escalate with yelling at a (robo)cop and you would think that machine wouldn’t get his feelings hurt/ get too emotional but R.O.T.O.R is activated. And as we all know, it takes time to iron out the kinks in the program. First car he stops is one with the young couple arguing like idiots.

We’ll things escalate with yelling at a (Robo)Cop and you would think that machine wouldn’t get his feelings hurt but R.O.T.O.R. is special. Driver tries to come him down and even pulls out a 20 dollars bill (39 dollars in today’s money). R.O.T.O.R. just shoots him point blank.  Also trajectory of the bullet seems a bit strange, bullet seemingly ricochets of a dollar bill and hits the dude straight in the forehead! His girlfriends goes into a panic- mode and tries to get away.

R.O.T.O.R. keeps pursuing her like she’s freakin’ Sarah Connor and not just a girlfriend of the random lousy driver. He follows her all the way to some Trucker Bar but where R.O.T.O.R. ends up in honest-to-God bar brawl with rednecks who know Martial Arts with one of them seemingly being a Bodybuilder too! You couldn’t make this shit up.

Coldyron then finally catches up to them a saves a girl and it’s all far from over. Coldyron prepares for a final showdown by picking up Dr. Steel, an engeneer who designed  the robot’s chassis and she’s for some reason a super- muscular woman with a skank haircut? Yeah, you heard that right. Hell, she’s the biggest Alpha “Male” of the whole movie! And she does Martial Arts too.

When they lay the trap for R.O.T.O.R. shes the one kickboxing and wrestling with the machine. I guess she made him so she knows all of his weak spots.  And she did have some sucess before being pummeled to the ground. They finally trap him by forcing him to step on lasso (does Cowboy skills of Coldyron finaly came in handy) and then tearing him apart with cars! He then of course explodes, ’cause everything explodes.

 

Police interogates Coldyron with him being the only survivor and he’s just about to drive into the sunset when his old boss shows up and shoots him in a head with a riffle!!! That’s lesson for you all, don’t disrespect your boss at work or else!

We’re still waiting for this one!

 

Verdict: Combining different franchise elements ala Philip J. Roth ( A.P.E.X, Total Reality (1997)) with R.O.T.O.R.  we end up with a redneck version of RoboCop gone bad crossed with a healthy dose of The Terminator and a dash of Judge Dredd.  That doesn’t automatically make it bad,  but on the other hand- bad voicover, idiotic humor and nonsensical plot really don’t help it’ cause.

Director Cullen Blaine of the movie worked almost exclusively in animation and I can’t help but think that with over the top quality of this movie, it would work much better in the animated form. Even the name reminds me of the Saturday Mourning Cartoons (like the M.A.S.K etc). Maybe if we start a petition it’s still not too late to get that done, why do you think?

Trivia: Richard Gesswein plays Coldyron buth he’s dubbed with the voice of Loren Bivens that makes everything a bit surreal. And super- muscular Dr. Steel is played by Jayne Smith who’s only other credit is sequel of the erotic- parody of Flash Gordon, Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders (1990). How ’bout that?

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Earlier this week we saw Fox’s The Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space (in 3D) as one of the number of projects (including The Sims movie?) that Disney has canceled after the acquisition. But now it seems that things are actually looking up for the Chiodo Brothers.

In a Hollywood Reporter interview Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Jungle Book) casually mentioned an animated project with Chiodo Brothers, and it seems it’s a done deal.  He said “…even talking to [an outlet] like Quibi about doing short-form stop motion, working with Netflix on a stop-motion Christmas special. I’ve been trying to work with these guys the Chiodo brothers, who did the stop-motion on Elf, it took over 15 years, only because the business model changed.”

Then the brothers let it slip that the special is actually based on their ’15 Christmas picture book ALIEN XMAS.

Nothing says Christmas like marauding aliens who mistake Santa’s workshop fora weapon-building facility.

 

Color me interested! We don’t know how far along it is, but hopefully we’ll get it this Christmas on Netflix.

As a part of Midnight Madness selection from Toronto International Film Festival (5- 15 September ’19) there will be a premiere of Color Out of Space, a rare non-Brian Yuzna produced HP Lovecraft adaptation.

In fact it’s directed by the Hardware (1990) director Richard Stanley, his first non- documentary feature since ’90! He was famously let go from the The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) with Brando and Val Kilmer and has since concentrated primarily on script writing and documentary film-making. So, this could be a bit of a much needed comeback for Stanley + this seem like a perfect Nic Cage vehicle after already cult- Mandy (2018) last year. We definitely have our hopes up for this one (and let’s just be honest- as far as Lovecraft adaptations go, the bar isn’t set too high at all).

Visuals are actually quite striking here and I do hope they can keep it up and have this level of attention to details throughout the whole movie, they are doing it all with a smaller budget but we’ve seen some impressive horror films make the most of it time and time again.

Cage, Richardson and Stanley on set

Other interesting members of the cast beside Cage (Nathan Gardner) are Joely Richardson (Nip/ Tuck, Event Horizon) as Theresa Gardner, a one time Pocahontas Q’orianka Kilcher as Mayor Tooma and Tommy Chong (of Cheech & Chong fame) as Ezra.

 

You can check out more Midnight Madness stuff on their official facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MidnightMadnessTIFF/

 

 

Recently we talked about the upcoming Bolo Yeung documentary but we’d be remiss if we didn’t touch on another legendary movie villain who’s documentary is just about to come out.

After an indiegogo campaign and  almost three years of production Henchmen: The Al Leong Story is finally done. It had it’s premiere mere days ago on June 7th on Days of the Dead convention in Las Vegas and it’s coming out on DVD on July 16th. Being a long time fan on the Fu Manchu-ed villain I’m pretty sure it was worth the wait.

Synopsis: This documentary explores the life of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces from 80’s action films. In addition to being the greatest cinematic henchman, Al Leong is also a martial arts champion, stuntman, biker, cancer survivor, and much more. From Die Hard and Lethal Weapon to Big Trouble in Little China and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, follow the career of Al Leong with vintage footage, film clips and candid interviews from the likes of John Carpenter, Jeff Imada, Craig Baxley and more.

And for those who missed it the first time around my favorite Al Leong fight scene with non other than Brandon Lee in his ’92’s film Rapid Fire:

 

Probably the most imposing bad guy in the history of Martial Arts cinema Yang Sze aka Bolo Yeung is finally getting his own documentary and we must say- it’s long overdue. From learning Kung Fu with different masters as a child to his competitive Bodybuilding years (he would go on hold a Mr. Hong Kong title for a whole decade) his story fits the “stranger than fiction” category easily. Not to mention the fact that he freakin’ swam from China to Hong Kong to escape Communism!!! Or the fact that he met Bruce Lee while filming Winston Cigarettes commercial (you just got to love the ’70s).

He stared (mostly as a villain) in over 100 movies raging from Shaw Brothers (The Heroic Ones, The Deadly Duo) to Golden Harvest (Enter The Dragon) to Bruceploitation (Clones of Bruce Lee, Dragon Lee Fights Again) to Van Damme films (Bloodsport, Double Impact) and even Jalal Merhi films (Tiger Claws 1 and 2, TC 2000). He even showed that he could be an awesome good guy/ wise mentor character in films such as Shootfighter 1 and 2 (featuring Karate Kid/ Cobra Kai’s Billy Zabka).

Movie is being directed by Aziz Cem and Pavel Nyziak (who Bolo actually collaborated with on his final movie, the Kazakhstani produced The Whole World at Our Feet aka Diamond Cartel) and features exclusive interviews with the likes of Bob Wall, Richard Norton, Cynthia Rothrock, Matthias Hues, Coreena Everson, Cung Le and many, many others.

 

I remember one reviewer noticing that in the 90’s Roger Corman would seemingly blindly hand out  a contract to any Pro- Kickboxer who came knocking at his door. Now, honestly Corman was far from being the only one guilty of this. 80’s and 90’s had a surging VHS market and Action/ Martial Arts film were way more mainstream then these days so lots of Pro- fighters did have their 15 minutes of fame (or a 5- movie deal) and here’s some interesting examples for you:

05.  Curtis Bush (42- 10- 02 KB)

We purposely decided to lead with  the most obscure name off the list and that’s Curtis Bush. Bush was a lanky southpaw fighter with a background in Tang Soo Do (also Chuck Norris‘s first art). He amassed the pro record of 42 wins, 10 loses and 2 draws and also competed in Pro Boxing in parallel.

Beside being a four division champion he also had a burning desire to be in the movies. But, it seems that tall, mustachioed dudes just weren’t the flavor of the day.
He had a small part of a deranged poacher (killed by the star Michael McNamara) in Canadian action movie Dragon Hunt (1990). He also played parts of Foot Soldiers in the first two TMNT movies: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1991) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret of the Ooze (1991). He then tried his hand on the small screen with a TV adaptation of Patrick Swayze’s Roadhouse– that was canceled after only four episodes!

This has to be one of greatest covers to ever grace a VHS tape

But what really makes him worthy of this list is his passion project: The Dark Angel: Psycho Kickboxer! Made for just 10 000 dollars over the course of 5 years Psycho Kickboxer is a real treat for B-movie lovers like us. I mean who can say no to a seemingly deranged man in a Ninja costume running all over town and preventing random acts of violence (with even more violence). It’s painfully low budget and nonsensical but man- it’s a it’s so fun to watch.

Look at him go!

Now, you could say that his acting career went nowhere but he did have background roles as military personnel in couple of big movies in recent times (Battleship, Godzilla) and IMDB does show him as an Admiral in Godzilla vs. Kong (2020), so it seems Psycho finally got the last laugh.

04. Kathy Long (18-1 KB, 2-0 MMA)

Kung Fu San Soo and Aikido practitioner and a pioneer of female Kickboxing in America with an 18-1 record holding WKA, WMAC, ISKA and KICK titles.
She was even a commentator in the first ever UFC event (1993) – even thou she smartly decided not to comment too much– leaving the other absolute Martial Arts legend Bill “Superfoot” Wallace to keep embarrassing himself (famously mispronouncing UFC as Ultimate Fighting Challenge).

Her most significant contribution to the world of film was actually being a stunt/ fight double for Michelle Pfeiffer‘s Catwoman in ‘92‘s Batman Returns by Tim Burton.

Also in ’92 she also appeared as a villain in Rage and Honor featuring Cynthia Rothrock and (our personal favorite) Richard Norton and continued with couple of leads in movies such as post- apocalyptic Knights (1993) and The Stranger (1995). In ’97 she again showed up with Richard Norton in a fun Australian action movie called Under The Gun aka Iron Fist.

She even dabbled back into the competition pool (having come full circle) by having two MMA fights in 2009 and again in 2015. Second one was particularly impressive, wining a fight at 50 years old against an opponent roughly half her age! Definitely an accomplishment.

Even thou her dramatic acting chops where never even remotely sharp as her fighting chops I’m definitely not changing the channel when I see her on a TV.

03. Gary Daniels (31-04 AKB04- 01 KB)

Gary Daniels started as a British Taekwondo practitioner who was famously too brutal for the sport so he eventually transitioned to Amateur and then Pro Kickboxing (even capturing PKA and WKBA titles).  His most famous lead role is in Hokuto No Ken aka Fist of the Northstar that despite it’s budget constraints turned out to be a surprisingly faithful manga adaptation. Unfortunately it wasn’t widely distributed in the US and is today relegated to a Cult Classic status.

He would go on to be the star in countless Kickboxing movies on VHS either as a Hero or as a Villain but beside a Hong Kong stint or two (see Jackie Chan’s City Hunter) his big break wouldn’t happen for years and years…. Not until Stallone chose him to be an Eric Roberts‘s henchman in the first The Expendables (2010). Even in a star- crowded movie like that he did get to shine especially in an excellent two against one fight scene with Jet Li and Jason Statham.

He went on to share the screen with Eric Roberts and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin again in Hunt To Kill and was perfectly cast as a video game character Bryan Fury in not so perfect Tekken (2010). All of that positioned him to the upper levels of action B-movie market in the ’10s and he even returned to his native England for a pair of movies ike Skin Traffik (2015)– again with Roberts (Rourke and Hannah too) and I Am Vengeance (2018) where he went against the WWE superstar Stu Bennet aka Wade Barrett.

But still, being a legit badass (he traveled all the way to Thailand to have a pro Muay Thai match when he was almost 50) with a cool British accent you’d think the sky is the limit, and because of that I feel that he never really fulfilled his true potential.

02. Jerry Trimble (29-2-2 KB)

Trimble started his film career in the 80’s armed with an annoying high- pitched voice, long blond hair and all the sidekicks, hook kicks and spin-kicks you can possibly imagine.

Now, differently then some of the other folks in this list over the years he eventually developed actual acting chops (but he can still pull out those spin kicks from his arsenal if need be) confirmed- by the fact that he is still successfully working today in both film and TV.

Recommended viewing: any of his collaborations with the Filipino Action Maestro Cirio H. Santiago like One Man Army (1994) or Stranglehold (1994). And if you’re really into our kind of craziness he can be seen in Corman produced StarQuest II.

It’s also worth noting that he is adversary in early Jet Li film The Master (1992) where he is at his mighty mulleted ass- kicking best, then his career altering appearance in famed thriller Heat (1995) and of course going toe for toe with Austin 3:16 himself in “Stone Cold” Steve Austin VS Dolph Lundgren feature The Package.

For an American Kickboxer with golden pants- he sure went far.

Trivia: The Package (2013) was actually directed by Jesse V. Johnson who’s slowly but surely becoming a real force to be reckoned with in the action movie industry with films such as British comicbook– adaptation Accident Man (2018) and the Asian Expendables awesomeness that is Triple Threat (2019).

 

01.  Don “The Dragon” Wilson  (72-5-2 KB)

To circle back to the start with Mr. Roger Corman, there’s one kickboxer in particular who made more movies with Corman than anyone else. His name is of course Don “The Dragon” Wilson. Coming from a Kung Fu Pai Lum Kung Fu and Goju-ryu Karate background he competed in Kickboxing on and off until 2002 (with his final exhibition match in 2011).  He amassed an incredible list of titles: IKF, WKA, KICK, ISKA, STAR and the PKO and with wins over such opponents like Dennis Alexio, Oaktree Edwards and Dick Kimbe he is considered one of the greatest American Kickboxers of all time.

His acting career on the other hand was let’s say- slightly less impressive. He started transitioning to movies with a villain role in 1982 Hong Kong movie New York Chinatown aka Xue xi Tang Ren Jie (1988) and made his debut as a lead with Bloodfist– of course a Roger Corman production directed by Terence H. Winkless. And Bloodfist would continue to be his bread and butter as he filmed 8 parts to date!!! Another stand outs are Ring of Fire movies, featuring other famous Martial Artist like Billy Blanks, Michael Jai White and already mentioned Gary Daniels.

Now for us, we prefer the more obscure and odd moments of his filmography like his forays into SF with Virtual Combat (1995) and let us not forget his horror movie Night Walker(1996) (utilizing shaky cam to the max way before it was a fashionable thing to do) with Wilson breaking freaking vampire spines!

After all this time he’s still working and seems to be doing alright for himself but in retrospect he just never had the charisma and elegance of someone like Van Damme that could have pushed him to the real super- stardom. But he did challenge Van Damme to a Kickboxing match, so you got to give him that.

 

 

 

 

I’m pretty sure the pitch for Warlock went basically like this: “Did you like “The Terminator”? Well, how about we whip up a dark fantasy-horror version of that, and add in dash of humor?” Fundamentally, this is The Terminator, it’s also really funny, has a cool 80s horror vibe and has some great actors (well, one at least). After all, doesn’t this tagline sound familiar to you: “He comes from the past to destroy the future.” You get the picture.

warlock

Opening in the year of our lord 1691 in the tiny new world hamlet of Boston an evil Warlock (the excellent and underappreciated Julian Sands from Gothic, Arachnophobia and The Great Elephant Escape) has been captured by witch hunter extraordinaire Giles Redferne (the equally amazing Richard E. Grant from Withnail and I, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Spice World). Sentenced to death the Warlock summons up all his powers and transports himself away 300 years into the future arriving in 1980’s L.A in the home of quirky, spirited waitress Kassandra (played by Lori Singer from Footloose). There, he sets about on a quest  to find the Grand Grimoire also known as the Devil’s bible, a book that has the power to destroy all of mankind. Kassandra and her gay roommate Chas (played by Kevin O’Brien) find him and leave him to spend the night and rest there. The next morning Kassandra departures for work and warlock took that opportunity to kill Chas by cutting off his finger (he liked Chas’ ring apparently) and bitting out his tongue.

 

While police questions Kassandra about numbers of Chas’ lovers, suspecting it could be homosexual crime of passion, warlock visits local spiritualist and hands her over something that looks like crystal dildo. Already horny as she is spiritualist accepts to channel energy and invoke spirit of Satan in herself. Satan explains to warlock that he needs him to collect 3 parts of his Grimoire, which can end the creation of world. In return, warlock will become one of Satan’s legit sons. Satisfied, warlock takes out channeler’s eyes leaving her to sit with exploded crystal dildo in front of her.

Crystal dildo

Crystal dildo for your personal seanse

It seems that Kassandra’s adventures were not over yet because now Giles teleports into her house. He explained to her that he’ll try to find warlock using a witch compass he brought with himself. Kassandra called the police this and they picked him up. She shouldn’t have done that because warlock came back there too. Apparently one part of the Satan’s Bible was hidden inside her wooden table. Also, warlock took her bracelet and placed a curse on her. Every day she’ll age for 20 years unless she reclaims her bracelet.

 

Kassandra and Giles are now hunting warlock together using the witch compass. It won’t be easy since now warlock brew himself a flying potion. All he needed for that was fat of unbaptised male child, which he got somewhere along the road. Anyway, compas led them to house of menonnites. There would be second set of Grimoire’s pages. menonnites knew what evil is lurking around them so they captured warlock at attic with the help of Giles. Warlock flies away with pages but Giles managed to hit him with a weather vane. I don’t want to spoil this for you so enjoy entire fight scene below. Warlock got wounded just enough for Kassandra to recover her bracelet and save herself from ravages of old.

 

They are now heading to the old church in Boston hoping to find a clue where final set of pages might be. They discover that it is at local graveyard. And they found it in Giles’ grave. Now how about that gloomy look at past. Of course, warlock was there too. And it all comes down to old-fashioned fistfight between warlock and Giles. As expected, warlock beats a living crap out of Giles and starts a ceremony of undoing God’s creation. But then Kassandra shows up from nowhere and injects insulin into warlock’s neck. As you know insulin is nothing but salt water and demons hate salt. Warlock starts vomiting fire before he implodes. Kassandra gets one last kiss from Giles before he returns to peace of his grave. Final scene shows us Kassandra burying pages in some salt flats.

 

Conclusion: “Warlock” is unexpectedly entertaining, having been concocted with comic imagination by D. T. Twohy, who wrote the screenplay, and Steve Miner, the director. The true joy and success of the film lies in the Grant and Sands performances, as both actors entirely commit to their ridiculous roles giving over to the plot and the dialogue and relishing the absurdity of it all. What this movie didn’t have is decent budget. Any time the Warlock used his magic the effects were bargain basement bad. From the warlock’s silly flying down the highway past a speed trap to his blasting poorly animated magic at our heroes in a graveyard that couldn’t be more obviously a set if it tried.  It’s never even remotely convincing. But thats what makes this movie so laughable.