Posts Tagged ‘Brion James’

The_New_Barbarians_I_Nuovi_Barbari_1982https_www.facebook.com_exploitationmovie_ref_hl[(004065)02-07-54]

To celebrate the release of the new Black and Chrome edition of the fantastic Mad Max: Fury Road we take a look at the seemingly endless number of films it inspired: the good, the bad and the ugly!

05.  1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982)

Directed by “Italian George Miller” Enzo Castellari this movie takes a peek into distant future (8 years later) where  war is raging between street gangs in post-apocalyptic New York. Amidst all of that is the gayest anti-hero Mark Gregory (who mysteriously disappeared from the face of the Earth) who manages to reunite street gangs and win against evil government agent Hammer (played by Vic Morrow). Fred Williamson also takes roll in this battle.

04. The New Barbarians (1983)

Another feature from mastermind of The Bronx Warriors Enzo Castellari only one year later. This time two mercenaries Scorpion (played by Giancarlo Prete) and Nadir (played by Fred Williamson) help wandering caravans fight off an evil band of white-clad bikers after the nuclear holocaust. In order to achieve this they had to go through a living hell, including Scorpion’s ass being penetrated by gang of gay Templars in this hilarious scene:

 

03. Made by a Pinoy c- movie maestro Cirio H. Santiago and staring our favorite Aussie bad-ass Richard Norton and eponymous. Equalizer 2000 (1987) the movie doesn’t offer much in the way of story but makes it all up with a whole lotta bullets and bombs (one babe too). Also Norton swears that the damned thing could actually work and I’m not going to question him for sure.

 

02. Steel Dawn (1987)

Swayze is most popular when dancing (), or fighting people in bars but in the late 80’s Swayze decided to take a post-apocalyptic vacation of sorts. In this career left turn Road Warrior meets Martial Arts as Swayze plays. Also it’s worth noting that new regions like China are just discovering the Mad Max franchise as evident recent rip- off , the Chinese Mad Shiella. So, I guess post- apocalyptic wasteland won’t stop being a popular destination any time soon.

01. Steel Frontier (1995) places Joe Lara (Legends of Tarzan) in a post- apocalyptic Western wasteland and surprisingly- it works! Actually it’s a good candidate for my favorite Lara film. The plot is your basic Yojimbo/ Fistfull of Dollars thing but if it works why fix it. General is played by always super entertaining Brion James (…) and Lara even goes mano- a- mano with Kane Hodder aka Jason Varhees himself!

We are all well aware of the existence of plenty Karate Kid rip-offs. Some are awful and some are just plain bad. As for Showdown you choose to which group this movie belongs, especially when you keep in mind that Billy Blanks headlines in this hilariously cheesy Karate Kid rip off, together with Brion James and ’80s synthesizer music.

cover

Ken Marks (played by Kenn Scott) is the new student at his new school in Phoenix. There he meets the girl of his dreams named Julie (played by Christine Taylor). Unfortunately, she has a boyfriend, Tom (played by Ken McLeod), who is not only possessive of her but is also a brutal karate expert. Sounds familiar? Not yet? How about now? Tom beats up Ken for talking to his bitch. Ken decides to drop his career of school boxing bag and, logically, takes self-defense course at school janitor Billy (played by Billy Blanks). Now here is the twist: Tom is learning karate at Lee (played by Patrick Kilpatrick), a sensei whose brother was killed by a rookie cop named Billy. Since then, as a punishment for himself, Billy has taken the most degrading job known to human – a school janitor. Ha! Now we get personal motive for rumble rather than fighting over some high school bimbo. Both Billy and Lee have their owns ways treating their students. While Blanks exploits Ken to do his own job (like scrubbing a toilet and taking out the trash) instead of himself, Lee is a complete maniac who yells at Tom and beats him up for the tiniest mistakes.

But Billy didn’t quite quit his police career (once a cop-always a cop). Using his old partner who’s still on the force, the two work together to bring down a full-contact fighting circuit organized by Lee that pits teenagers against each other for money. In the meantime, Billy doesn’t know that Ken has accepted a challenge to face Tom in this same arena. Bah today’s teenagers don’t have any respect or trust.

treningInsert some inspiring words here

Since the biggest part of the movie displays training consisted of scrubbing, blocking and spinning back kick, occasionally interrupted with Billy’s fighting scenes, we’ll skip to the end. Big fight in a pit takes place where Ken with a lot of luck manages to beat Tom. Revolted by defeat of his student Lee bust into the ring and starts beating the crap out of both Ken and Tom. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, Billy appears and sensei vs sensei mega-fight can begin. The fight is rather hilarious with a racist touch when Lee starts whipping Billy’s back with his belt. At that moment even an opposite team started rooting for their janitor. With such wind to his back, Billy easily makes the sudden twist, wins the fight and arrest Lee. Delighted with such development of the situation students offer to Billy to become their new sensei. He gladly accepts it, gets crowned in the utility room and Ken finally gets someone to polish his spear.

usro seIt’s coming out!

Conclusion: Apart of this movie being an obvious ripoff of Karate Kid, it also looks to me like Karate Kid meets the Airbud (both got janitor as a guru). For a high-school martial arts flick this movie doesn’t have a lot of fighting. Instead there are several training montages, with third training montage that was just too much. Billy Blanks steals the movie together with always insane Patrick Kilpatrick. Christine Taylor’s character, despite her weak efforts, just remains to look like typical lightheaded high-school Bimbo.”Showdown” plays out more than just a repeat of “The Karate Kid.” Gibbs’s script combines elements from several completely separate genres and places them in one movie, the two most noticeable being the cop movie and the bullied-teen movie. It also aims to poke fun at the high school movie genre, but doesn’t quite succeed at this either. There are plenty of lame sight gags, the usual bullies, cliches, and even Brion James drops in as the stereotypical hard-nosed principal.

 steel-frontier-affiche_396242_2059

One of the uncommon combos of genre fiction is a Western/ SF combination. Probably because it’s still to be shown profitable for the big companies (see Outland, Firefly or BraveStarr cartoon)
Yet that doesn’t stop the occasional filmmaker from trying and in this case use it as a twist on the tried and true Road Warrior post- apocalyptic genre.

esfrsocyqrabbigHowdy, people!

Long haired lone gunman Joe Lara (Tarzan: The Epic Adventures) finds a dying man in the desert. Inquiring him about his predicament he finds out that he was shot by “Death Riders” (good name for a metal band). He finishes the man off (so he doesn’t have to suffer any more) and sets on his way. On a cool steam-punkish bike of course.

In the meantime we have Death Riders led by General Quantrill ( played by legendary B actor Brion James) pillaging a New Hope settlement (something horrible has to happen when you name it that way). After a massacre General claims New Hope as a United Regime post. No one complains.

Steel  General gets a bit emotional!

Yuma eventually crosses paths with some of the United Regime and it results in some awesome Mad Max racing. They eventually do catch him but he impresses them with his gun-slinging skills enough to get himself hired. He then goes through a grueling initiation process in which he is branded like a cattle and beaten to a bloody pulp.

 

 

 

 

That same night he saves a young and beautiful blonde widow from a dirty redneck with his fantastic poker skills (almost good as his shooting). That doesn’t stop the redneck for trying to rape her the next day but that’s where things get a little crazy. Her kid shoots redneck’s friend disturbed John Lennon looking-dude and he completely loses it. Thankfully Yuma appears and engages in a fistfight that lasts long enough for a widow to grab a gun a shoot the man herself. Yuma doesn’t seem to happy about it but he prepares for the inevitable.

 

 

Death riders figure out that Yuma is responsible for their dead compatriots and after a short staring contest all hell brakes lose. Some of the townspeople embrace this as an opportunity to rebel  against the Union and join up. Giant Death rider played by Kane Hodder (best known as Jason Vorhees) even snaps a random woman’s neck. Using his robot bike (also equiped with Gatling gun) and his uncanny prowess with a revolver Yuma menages to turn the tide in his favor but he still ends up in a fist fight with Hodder and that’s not an easy task for any man.

 

Beaten and bruised Yuma is dragged to the airplane(!?) where the widow lives and there he heals himself with a screwdriver-looking thing.  General Quantrill completely loses his shit when he hears what happened organizes an all out attack on New Hope. In normal case they would burn the town to the ground but Yuma organizes the townspeople and menages to surprise them.It all ends with a drag out chase featuring a school bus!!! After a nasty crash both of them reach of their guns and it ends something like this…

STEEL_FRONTIER_1995.mp4_005725986We’ll all miss you Brion James!

Yuma finally reveals that he is a bounty hunter, he takes Quantrill’s corpse on his bike and rides off leaving his love interest and her son all alone and confused. I guess loner’s got to be alone, right?

Verdict: Like the many movies before it Steel Frontier fallows the blueprint of A Fistful of Dollars/ Yojimbo to a T and this does get boring at times. Still the cool characteristics of Spaghetti Western are all there- wide shots, dramatic close ups and atmospheric soundtrack too (with a distinct mile-eastern flavor for good measure) and for a B movie it’s tight, fast moving and filled with  action and in truth that’s all you can expect.

So if you’re a fan of Mad Max and/ or Clint Eastwood flicks you should give it a shot.

Trivia: Beside being a model and an actor Joe Lara is also a singer/ songwriter and he published his first album album in 2009. You can see the video right here.