JCVD

July 8, 2015

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – Cyborg

ANIME-ISH
With  a new “Terminator” movie in theaters, I thought it best to take a look at another film series that features cybernetic entities, “Cyborg”. Oh, why not the “Terminator” franchise you ask? Because punk! I just reviewed a bunch of Arnold flicks , and besides, I bet you don’t know nothin’ about “Cyborg”.
The year is 1989. The Exxon Valdez runs aground and spills 1,2000,000 gallons of oil, Nintendo releases the wildly successful Game Boy, and  “Batman” battled “Indiana Jones…” at the box office. All this and Jean-Claude Van Damme battles to save the world from futuristic pirates in “Cyborg“.
THE SKINNY
The film takes place in New York City , in “the future” and it’s explained to us in a voice over that over the past few decades there has been anarchy, genocide, famine and now a plague that has ravaged humanity. But there is hope, in the form of a cure.
These words are told to us by Fender, Vincent Klyn, the films antagonist and all around evil guy. He then explains that he enjoys the suffering, the death and he wants to get his hands on the cure so he can control it and live like a god – choosing who lives and who dies.

Early in the film, Fender and his gang of post-apocalyptic dressed Village People rape and pillage a seaside settlement and as this happens, we see a lady cyborg being shooed out the back. She has been given specific orders to escape Fender and his gang, locate and hire a “slinger” to help protect her on her journey and deliver the cure to the right people in Atlanta who will be able to develop it and restore humanity.
Somewhere there are internet nerds writing blog posts theorizing that “Cyborg” and “The Walking Dead” are somehow connected. There aren’t any zombie in “Cyborg“, but the plague could be the same disease that brought about the “walkers”. And just because you don’t see zombies, doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. In the second season of The Walking Dead, Rick’s crew make their way to the C.D.C. in Atlanta looking for salvation and answers. In “Cyborg” the lady cyborg, who’s name is Pearl, is also making her way to Atlanta to deliver the cure and reach salvation. Conspiracy alert! “Cyborg” is set in the future of “The Walking Dead“. You just read it on the internet, so it MUST be true!
Fender is one of those evil dudes who’s goals are so extreme that you wonder, “if he gets his way how would even he survive?”. He’s a bit of a comicbook super-villian in the way that they might concoct a scheme to destroy the world, never taking into account that if Earth explodes so will they.
I mean sure, he will have the cure, or at least the recipe for the cure, but he isn’t a scientist. How the hell would he know what to do with it if he catches the plague? Or if enough humans die, what is there to rule over? Does this guy know how to grow and cultivate his own food to survive in this post-apocalyptic wasteland?
We’re only ten minutes in and already Fender’s motives are suspect. But I digress.

Soon Pearl happens into the same ramshackle town and encounters Gibson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, who is a former “slinger” and survivor of this brutal world that they live in. Pearl explains her quest – even telling him that she is a cyborg as she pleads for him to escort her to Atlanta. But before he can make up his mind, they are ambushed by Fender and his gang. They take Pearl and leave Gibson for dead.
This isn’t the first time Gibson has encountered Fender. As we learn through an entire series of flashbacks, Gibson gave up the life of being hired mercenary, aka “slinger”, to settle down with the love of his wife and her two children. But not long after they settled in a nice country home, Fender shows up to rape, kill and kidnap Gibson’s newly adopted daughter to be used as a sex slave.
Now, only mildly interested in saving the cure, Gibson heads south from New York to Atlanta to track and hunt Fender.
Along the way Gibson meets another damsel in distress, Nady, Deborah Richter. He allows her to tag along while protecting her from Fender’s attacks and she in return acts as his moral compass. Before long, Gibson softens to the young woman and she becomes his love interest.

This is something that Fender uses to his advantage once he is tipped off that Gibson is tracking him. He sets a trap, luring Gibson and Nady into an abandoned factory building where Gibson manages to fight off wave after wave of attacks before he is outnumbered and forced to flee with a wounded Nady. Fender and his gang follow Gibson and Nady, and they are overtaken .
But first, Gibson’s kidnapped daughter makes her presence known. Now, all grown up and brainwashed, she appears, to show her adopted father that she is now in love with her captor. Whoa, what a mind fuck!
Gibson is tied to the mast of an old sailboat and left to die…again. Flashbacks of Fender attacking his family bring on a rage educed “hulk-up” that allows Gibson to shatter the mast – freeing himself – and he and Nady continue on to Atlanta in pursuit Fender and Pearl.

Along the way Gibson gets a clue and this time decides to not play by Fender’s rules and instead plan a trap for him. Like a scene out of “300” or “Lord of the Rings”, Gibson forces Fender and his gang through a narrow passage in some junkyard town – The Battle of Helm’s Garbage Heap.
Here Gibson picks off Fender’s remaining crew before he and Fender battle it out themselves – just as  a storm rolls in. Because you can’t have a kick-ass final boss fight with out thunder and lightning.
The slug-fest ends when Fender introduces a knife. Gibson breaks his arm, takes the knife and stabs him in the chest with it. Ya think that would be enough, but it isn’t. Fender re-animates and the fight continues. Gibson then impales him on a giant hook.

In the end, Gibson gets reacquainted with his kidnapped daughter, Haley. They, with Pearl, mourn the loss of Nady, who was killed protecting Pearl from Fender’s gang leading up to the final fight.
Before the credits roll, we see Pearl reaching her Atlanta contact and I can only assume that the cure fixes the world…Who am I kidding? I know that’s not true because there are two more “Cyborg” movies.
 
THE VERDICT
Gibson becomes locked in heated battle with Fender to a fight to the death… So these guys are named after guitars…*facepalm. Wait a minute, the name Pearl is a company that manufactures top of the line drums. I would bet money that they tried to name Nady “Zildjian”.
The story isn’t the most original, but it isn’t bad. It’s really a collection of futuristic things thrown in the same pot together and often feels like an anime in the way the fights are choreographed and filmed, and even “The Seven Samurai” somehow. Some scenes have minimal dialogue and this might be what lends itself to feel a bit like an anime – sorta foreign.
The cyborg effects don’t look as good as say, “Terminator”, but for a low budget Cannon film, I think they turned out pretty good. Believe me, I’ve seen some crap effects in my time and these here aren’t half bad.
The fights are creative in the way Gibson and his enemies use their surroundings, and in JCVD’s case, his splits. What makes the fights look less good is the editing and certain camera angles. This is true for the entire film, mostly where editing is concerned. It just isn’t edited very smoothly. And as for the camera angles, sometimes the camera is in a creative place/angle while other times it feels like it’s in the way of the action.
The acting is the weakest element to this film. JCVD isn’t the best actor, but he certainly isn’t awful. With that said, this is one of his earlier works and isn’t his best. The rest of the cast is on par with the special effects – not the greatest but by Cannon standards it’s top notch. Vincent Klyn however…is something. He’s odd to look at and odd to listen to and some of his dialogue seems like it was written with “A Clockwork Orange” in mind or something and…he’s just an odd dude.

So in conclusion, “Cyborg” is an interesting addition to the post-apocalyptic sci-fi films of the ’80s not as good as the immortal “Terminator” and certainly not as bad as some of the other post-apocalyptic VHS flicks that I’ve reviewed in months past. It hovers somewhere between entertaining and watchable.
I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip in The Action Movie Time Machine. Until next time, SEMPER FI PUNK!
For more from Cory, check out slaughterfilm.com. The home of weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!
March 16, 2015

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – Double Team

Well it’s March, and with it comes March Madness. To honor the basketball gods, we will be loading up the “Action Movie Time Machine” with the dial set to the decedent year of 1997 to visit Dennis Rodman, before he became the American ambassador to North Korea.
The year is 1997. Howard Stern showed everyone his “Private Parts”, police investigate the murder of the Notorious B.I.G., and the Bundy family say goodbye as “Married With Children” comes to an end. All this, and someone thought it was a good idea to put NBA star Dennis Rodman in “Double Team”.
THE SKINNY
Jack Quinn, Jean-Claude Van Damme, is a special forces spy type who has recently retired so he can be with his wife when she gives birth to their first child. His retirement plans get cut short as he is sent out on one last mission to apprehend an international terrorist for hire who goes by the name Stavros, Mickey Rourke. Quinn has spent years trying to capture Stavros, so naturally, when Stavros comes out of hiding, Quinn is just the man for the job.
Quinn is sent to lead a Delta team in the capture of Stavros, but first we have to introduce the elephant in the room. Quinn visits the gay-bar district of town to meet up with his contact, Yaz, Dennis Rodman. Yaz, is interesting. He…well, is dressed like Dennis Rodman. Dennis Rodman is more or less playing himself in this movie. In fact, Dennis Rodman is playing Dennis Rodman pretending to be an underground arms dealer who has recently decided to work exclusively with the “good guys”. This scene isn’t so important. It simply introduces his character so we’re familiar with him later.
So, Quinn buys some weapons, that apparently the Delta Team can’t get their hands on, and he and the Deltas head after Stavros.
Their intelligence says that Stavros will be visiting a Dutch amusement park. The Delta team show up early and set up a sting operation complete with a tranquilizing sniper who will take Stavros alive. When he arrives, Quinn wonders why he would bother with an amusement park? Is he planning a terrorist attack? Well it turns out that he was visiting his son.
Soon the Deltas are discovered, a shoot out begins and Stavros’ son is shot in the cross fire. Quinn chases Stavros on foot and is lead to a nearby hospital where they fight it out in the nursery. Stavros manages to escape when he  throws a grenade at Quinn. Quinn opts for saving the children and this allows Stavros to go free.
When Quinn wakes up from the explosion he finds himself on a remote island as the newest member of “The Colony”. The Colony is where special agents go when why are no longer effective. They are too dangerous to be set free and too valuable to kill. Instead they are gathered together to analyze data and help world governments capture terrorists and fight rogue nations. This idea is a 100% rip-off of a ’60s British television series called The Prisoner.
After a few days and two training montages, Quinn fights his way off the island and swims through laser infested waters before being picked up by a cargo plane that Quinn climbs into in mid-air. Once on the ground, he recruits the help of Yaz who offers to take him to see his wife – who thought Quinn was dead. I don’t know why they didn’t just drive, but Quinn and Yaz parachute into Quinn’s backyard inside an invention Yaz came up with himself. It’s a giant air filled globe the encases the person wearing it, allowing them to safely float down to the surface of the Earth…It’s a fuckin’ basketball!
Anyhow, once Quinn arrives at his house, he discovers that it’s a trap set by Stavros. Stavros has kidnapped Quinn’s pregnant wife and is planning to take the child for himself to replace the one killed in the shoot out. Yeah, that’ll teach Quinn!
Quinn and Yaz follow the Stavros trail to Italy where Yaz uses his monk connections to zero in on him. “Monk connections”, you ask? Yep, apparently a while back Yaz built the monk’s some “main frame processor” complete with a dial-up connection to the world wide web. The “cyber-monks” are grateful and most eager to repay Yaz.
The monks help Quinn locate his wife, who is at a hospital giving birth. By the time Quinn arrives, the baby has been hatched and Stavros is gone. Fortunately one of the nurses knows his plans.
Quinn follows Stavros to the Coliseum where he and Yaz must fight through Stavros’ goons before Quinn and Stavros fight it out surrounded by land mines. If that wasn’t enough, Stavros brought along a bangle tiger. Stavros sure knows how to party.
Yaz saves the baby while Quinn and  Stavros battle – which is a pretty decent fight sequence. Everything ends when Stavros steps on one of his own land mines – blowing up both himself, the tiger and the entire arena…for some reason. When all is said and done, Quinn rides off into the night with his newborn son. The End.
THE VERDICT
I feel like “Double Team” was the precursor to “Rush Hour”. I might be giving “Double Team” more credit than it deserves but each film shares quite a bit with the other. They each team-up a martial marts master with a wisecracking black man… Okay, that the only similarity. But “Double Team” did come out over a year before “Rush Hour”. And if movies like “Deep Impact” & “Armageddon”, “Dante’s Peak” & “Volcano”, and “White House Down” & “Olympus Has Fallen” are any indication that studios are totally willing to rip of each others idea while are still being developed, I’m sure the same could be said about “Double Team” & “Rush Hour”.
“Double Team” is kind of…bad. But there is good to be found within it. Like Van Damme’s fighting…and splits. There are many of the action sequences that are well filmed and turn out to be pretty entertaining. My problems with the film is also the action sequences. While they are entertaining, they are designed to be so over the top that I can’t take them seriously. They are so overly complicated that they stop making sense. These problems really show the films age, as everything in the ’90s had to be the most extreme at all costs. Example; The final showdown that results in a hand to hand fight to the death…in the Coliseum…surrounded by land mines…and there’s a tiger. Are you fucking kidding me?!
Rodman is another problem. So naturally, to help sell the film the studio wanted an interesting celebrity. He dressed outlandish and fooled around with Pamela Anderson and this made him famous.  And now we have a sub-par action flick that’s full of his strange outfits and colorful hair-dos. His popularity was a bit of a passing fad, and again, this movie shows it’s age. Oh, and everything Rodman says becomes a cheesy basketball related one-liner.
My REAL problem with this movie is it’s story telling. There is no attention to detail and no effort to develop the characters. Van Damme’s character is a special forces spy type, but who does he work for? Why does Rodman’s character so chummy with Italian monks and why do the monks have the internet? I could go on asking these dumb questions but I won’t bother. It seemed like the writers had a hand full of “awesome” ideas and had to find a way to get them all to fit together without wasting too much time on explaining anything.
In the end, the core of this movie is interesting; how the spies have a lose network they belong to and when the “retire” they go to The Colony – but everything else is gimmicky crap.
I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi Punk!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

 

 
 

 
 

September 30, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – Double Impact

DOUBLE BLAND
All aboard! Keep all hands and feet inside the time machine at all times. This week we embark on a journey thru time to pay visit to several films that will leave you questioning your very eyeballs. In a series I’m calling “Double Vision”, we will be covering action films featuring twins. Or actors playing twins anyhow.
The year is 1991. Jerry Springer began conducting paternity tests on midget clansmen. The Terminator got a sequel. Vanilla Ice writes an award winning “Ninja Rap” and Sonic the Hedgehog began running all over the damn place. All this and Jean Claude Van Damme played vengeful brothers in “Double Impact“.
THE SKINNY
Young Chad, Jean-Claude Van Damme, has grown up the ward of his uncle Frank, Geoffery Lewis, who owns and operates a fitness club in Los Angeles. One part for aerobics and another for karate. Working in the fitness club with his uncle, in both aerobics and karate, has afforded Chad all the benefits of each. Ass whoopin’ kicks and top notch split flexibility.
 
One day, after receiving some important info from a contact in China, Frank sits Chad down and informs him that Frank isn’t his uncle at all. Frank worked as a bodyguard for Chad’s father when he was just an infant. During this time Chad’s father designed and build a tunnel that connected Hong Kong with the mainland of China. His business partner Nigel Griffith and secret underworld financier Raymond Zhang put out a hit on Chad’s parents. With them out of the way Griffith and Zhang would inherit the tunnel. Why? Don’t ask me.
Frank shows up moments too late and narrowly escapes with Chad as the hitmen fire at him. The head hitman and underling of Zhang is a man named Moon, played by Bolo Yeung. This makes the second time JVCD and Bolo Yeung squared off against one another.
But that’s not all! It turns out that Chad has a twin brother names Alex who was raised in and still lives in Hong Kong. It’s now Frank’s idea to take Chad to Hong Kong, meet Alex, lead the brothers in a war against Griffith and Zhang and take control of their birthright — the tunnel.
 
Once Frank and Chad reach Hong Kong they meet Alex who is less interested in what Frank has to say. He understand how difficult it will be to take out Zhang with all of his hired guns and crime resources.
While they are getting to know each other and forming a plan, days pass and the film turns into a combination of a “fish out of water” comedy with Chad in Hong Kong eating exotic food and what not, and an “odd couple” drama with Chad trying to win over his long lost brother. This is no easy task. Alex grew up on the streets and has resorted to less than legal business means to get by. He’s one tough cookie.
But forget all that. The brother make their presence known. First they stealthily break into one of Zhang’s cocaine manufacturing facilities and blow it sky high. Lol, it’s always cocaine isn’t it?! Then the brothers make an assassination attempt during a meeting between Griffith and Zhang at one of Zhang’s nightclubs. Alex and Chad, pretending to be the same person, bring several cased of “Cognac” to the party per Zhang’s request. But these aren’t your beverage bottles of the French tonic. They’re bombs!
Griffith and Zhang catch wind of what’s going on and escape the explosions, but not before they learn about the twins. Now knowing who was behind the drug bombing, Zhang’s forces track the twins and devise a plan to lure the brothers in so Zhang’s top enforcers can rub ‘em out. How will they do this? By kidnapping Frank and Alex’s love interest Danielle.
Alex and Chad follow to a docked cargo freighter. As Griffith gets his kicks by torturing Frank, the brothers slowly make their way to the engine room where their loved ones are being held. But before the final boss battle, each brother must defeat Zhang’s enforcers. Chad fights and electrocutes Moon, while Alex takes on Kara, Corinna “Cory” Everson, a She-Hulk muscle woman.
 
The end of the film parallels the fights with the enforcers, as the twins each separately hunt down the conspirators. Alex beats Zhang before dropping him to his death from the top of a crane. Chad manages to misdirect Griffith long enough to get the drop on him, and by that I mean Chad drops a cargo container onto him. The End.

 
THE VERDICT
Here is the part where I say whether or not “Double Impact” is a good movie or not. Well this won’t take long. It isn’t bad, but I can’t say that it’s good either. It’s a competently made film with decent special effects, fights and acting. However it isn’t the most original action movie I’ve ever seen. The same could be said about most late 80s and early 90s action movies, but bare with me.
“Double Impact” is about twin sons who grow up and avenge their parents death. Whether it’s avenging a murdered father, or mother, or brother or wife, that concept is in plenty of action movies. The question becomes “How does Double Impact take that idea and expand upon it?”. Well… there are twins…
Yeah that doesn’t do a lot for me either. More than anything it’s down right strange  watching two JCVDs walk around talking about wearing silk underwear. The film even has to stretch to explain why both brothers happen to have the same accent even though they grew up on opposite ends of the world. Alex was dropped off at a Chinese monastery run by French nuns, while Frank had sent Chad to a reform school in France. I guess if you are born in Belgium that means you’re French to the rest of the world. It amazes me how often films feel the need to explain why JVCD has an accent. Action movie fans don’t really care, and if JVCD disserves an explanation than why not Arnold? Why not Stallone?
There is one last thing I want to point out. The tunnel is the birthright of Alex and Chad. What a strange thing to fight over. I mean, I guess you could put up a toll and make yourself some money. But honestly, who gives a shit about a tunnel?
 
When all is said and done “Double Impact” isn’t bad, but it’s also rather forgettable. I would only recommend it to die-hard fans of Van Damme. Otherwise you can pass this one over.
I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Things are only going to get better… or strange from here, so until next time, Semper Fi!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!
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