Posts Tagged ‘TMNT’

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.

 

 

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Next up, a magical journey to the past to save the future! No wait, that actually makes sense.

Continuing our long ( possibly never-ending?) quest of watch all the Barbarian films we encountered an oddity- yes, a time traveling barbarian movie! Generally not a lot of those exist (possibly because Sword and Sorcery and the City doesn’t really go together all that well ) Beastmaster 2: Through The Portal of Time being one of the only notable exemptions from that rule. Also, the movie is directed by B- movie writer Joseph John Barmettler (of Skyscraper fame), and the lead is none other than Deron McBee aka Malibu of American Gladiators (1989).

Our Barbarian King Doran (McBee) likes spending his time strolling the woods, fighting an occasional masked savage(yes, there are different levels of savagery) and scaring his woman with a masked he stole from said savage. So generally good times. He is also the last in long line of Kings (we use this term very broadly ’cause his kingdom is like 10-15 men) entrusted with a mystical amulet with inamaginable powers (including but not limited to space/ time manipulation).  The sacred amulet was originally gifted to his ancestor by a powerful Sorceress for non- disclosed reason.

Ill-advisedly he decides to leave on a hunting trip with his pal while all the barbarian woman engage in some skinny dipping in the river along with some nude gossiping too. Just at that time the evil wizard Mandrak (yes, not really an original name, is it?) decides to strike. Now, Mandrak attacks with his three or four men – he really should have invested in more henchman,  instead of his (limited) magic arsenal. I mean I can find more henchman right now and I have no delusions of world domination or wish to raid any barbarian villages.

Now the protective powers of the amulet are nowhere to be found because Madrak crusifies Lystra between the two trees and then rapes her repeatedly. Probably because he lost a hand in his raid against nude women! Dorin arrives (predictably) too late with Mandrak and his mini- horde all gone along with the amylet. Then he vows vengeance and begins his quest to find the mystical sorceress and right the wrong. Unfortunately at the first step of his “epic” journey he and his friend end up ambushed and his friend pays with his life. I wouldn’t want to be Dorin‘s friend given his recent track record.

Dorin ends up being captured by the savages who sacrifice people to the Lovecraftian deity but eventually Sorcerers show up pretty pissed that he lost her amulet. Now ,Sorceress has a bit of that passive/ aggressive thing going on ’cause she frees him in the end and gifts him with the magic sword from the stone (where have I seen this before?) to help him on his quest of recapturing the sacred amylet?

I wonder what kind of magic is she using for that hair?

And as we all now the only place where a mystical artifact can take you is the Los Angeles in the 90’s Magic simply works that way. Now we see a reporter named Penny who’s just trying to report on rising street violence (kinda like April O’Neil in TMNT), but she becomes a victim of the said violence  in no time. She gets viciously attacked even loosing her shirt in the process (as is mandatory in B-Movies). But our hero shows up just in time, and starts throwing gang members left and right (it seems people have gone soft during the centuries). Reporters deduce that he is from some Nordic country because yeah, in those countries people walk around half naked with swords like it’s the middle ages.

Ok, this dude is the exception.

Now, having a bit of a head start in our brave new world you would expect the Evil Wizard to be ruling L.A. by now. Ok, maybe not the whole city but surely he had taken control of numerous street gangs and made them into his own private army of terror! Nope, not really, he and his only remaining henchman (now sporting a punk rock haircut) are robing random people of the street and spending their money in a seedy bar (with a single hooker). That bar also has probably the ugliest bartender in all the history of cinema

Man this dude is ugly, I still can’t get my head around it

Fascinated by his size the reporter Penny (bearing uncanny resemblance to his dead wife) takes him home and shows him the wonders of modern technology, and also the wonders of modern sex (ok, it hasn’t really progressed that much). Now,  Mandrak’s sees his nemesis on the TV (throwing people around like a crazed WWE wrestler) a spark lights inside him finally lights up. Will his genius finally shine again?  In mere moments he develops a devious plan to defeat the foul Barbarian– to attack him first! To attack him first? Man, he sure is rusty in this plotting evil schemes thing. Well, at least he decides to even the odds by using FIREARMS! Yeah, pure genius. No way he can block the bullets with his magic sword (only he can).

He threatens the goon as seeks the location of Mandrak’s and manages to kill him before he speaks. Thankfully cameraman dude shows up, and somehow they figure out Mandrak’s locations. That location is shockingly just a random warehouse (I guess that’s the only thing crew had available) and the otherwise pathetic finish out to be hell of a lot of a fun because of a simple thing- a hand! You see Dorin was wearing Mandrak’s severed hand on his belt for like a whole hour of the movie and now we know why- to pimp slap the Wizard with his own hand!!! He might act like an idiot in every other scene but here he is comical genius.

Now, after finally defeating the Wizard, reclaiming the amulet and finding the love of his life against all odds, across  the whole space and time what does our hero do? He activates the power of the amulet and strolls back home, walking down the railway too- he is just that stupid. Penny continues her best April O’Neil impersonation by narrating about Dorin’s heroic deeds on camera. And that is all.


Verdict I absolutely understand all the budget constraints (first part of the movie is mostly just forest + a smoke machine) and some thing you can chalk off to 80’s clichess but other things- not so much. For example in the case of Conan the Barbarian Arnold was never given too many lines and that coupled with his incredible physique sold him as formidable and even menacing. On the other hand when you have McBee with his California blonde hair and horse-like teeth (actually quite useful in another role *see Trivia) just blabbing along like a schoolgirl, all of that muscle can’t save him from looking ridiculous. Now, to his credit MbBee sticked to acting even to this day and he actually got a LOT better (see his guest spot on Veronica Mars, episode You Think You Know Somebody if you want proof.)

Trivia: Daron McBee (as if American Gladiators and Time Barbarians weren’t enough) went on to star  in another movie worthy of the WM Crew list. Yes,he appeared in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation as Montaro. Dont’ tell me you’ve forgoten all about this- I mean he is really hard to miss!

“Without your weapons, you are no match for Motaro.”