Fantasy Mission Force (1984) *? pvlb

Review by James Holloway

Director: Yin-Ping Chu
Stars: Jackie Chan, Brigitte Lin, a ton of people you've never heard of

    A bunch of rag tag commando types try to rescue Allied generals (including Abraham Lincoln) from the Japanese during World War II. Maybe. Or something. Each member of the team is introduced in a little scene at the beginning of the film (well, almost all of them are, leaving you to wonder about one or two others). Along the way they encounter a haunted house full of vampires, a tribe of amazons (or "men in skirts," as I like to call them), and other hazards until they reach their final confrontation with the Nazi caveman samurai muscle-car enthusiasts, where they all die except Jackie Chan. I swear to god.

What's wrong with it

Senseless, senseless, senseless. Abraham Lincoln? African major-general whatsisface? Japanese outpost in Luxembourg? Chinese guys in SS uniforms? Chinese guy in a kilt with a spiked helmet and plate armour? Jackie Chan shows off his pipe smoking skillz? That one French vampire? Where did all the Japanese people go? What? I mean, what? The whole freaking movie literally doesn't make a damn bit of sense from beginning to end. Where is it taking place and when? Who are these people and how soon can they leave? The mood goes from goony comedy to horrific bloodbath at the drop of a hat, too. Do you have to be Chinese? Is that it?

What's right with it:

    Well, it's kind of funny. The high-speed Chinese-Scotsman drill number is amusing.

How bad is it really

    Oh, Jesus. It's bad bad bad. But it's fun to watch. In this day of Jackie Chan's international stardom, his back catalogue is getting released, often in misleading ways. This isn't really a Jackie Chan movie per se - he isn't really even in most of it. So you don't even have his trademark humorous kung-fu (or even that much kung-fu) to distract you. Make no mistake, this isn't one of your namby-pamby, rainy-afternoon bad films. This is advanced stuff.

Best bit

    Tough one. Might be the totally-unrelated-to-anything musical number in which one of the characters, menaced with a pistol, buys it from his attacker and then uses it to hold up the restaurant he's in.


Production values: Clearly cobbled together from whatever the studio had lying around the backlot. Vampire costumes, kilts, one million yards of leopard-print fabric, a dozen burned out old cars, 2 nazi uniforms, and away you go! 15

Dialogue and performances: Hmmm. Dubbed, so I can't really say. Dubbed performances are as weak as could be expected, except for the guy who gets to say "American Major General ... ABRAHAM LINCOLN!" 15

Plot: Basically none. At it's most abstract level, makes sense (a group of misfits are sent on a top secret mission), but loses any kind of coherence when details come into it. 17

Randomness: The single most random film ever produced by the hand of man. No brag, just fact. 20.

Waste of potential: I went into this one with my eyes open. 8.

Overall 75%


Jake Speed (1986)

Speed.jpg (53273 bytes)

Review by Simon Drake

Directed by Andrew Lane
Starring Wayne Crawford, Dennis Christopher and John Hurt.

BMM Keywords: So bad it hurts. Dull. Derivative. Pulp. Big nosed wooden Tim Allen/Indiana Jones wannabe. Can of tuna.

    When her Sister is kidnapped by White slavers, Margaret Wilson (played by Karen Kopins) is encouraged by her Granddad to hire an alleged fictional pulp novel character ‘Jake Speed’.
    He turns out to be real and she follows him on an adventure to reclaim her sister from South America from evil slaver ‘Sid’.

What’s wrong with it?

    The film being an ‘Homage’ (spelt R.I.P.O.F.F.) to Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone.
    The plot, cobbled together by lead actor (and producer) Wayne Crawford (Presumably how he got the acting gig) and director Andrew Lane (director of those other classics ‘A fate totally worse than death’ and ‘Mortal Passions’).
    Wayne Crawford attempting to do a ‘Cocky Han Solo’ type performance…Despite the fact he has as much charisma as a Kellogg’s Nutri-grain bar. And looks like the bastard love child of Tim Allen and Macguyver. Only not as cool.
    John Hurt (and yes it did).

What’s right with it?

    The film has a decent score from a pre X-Files Mark Snow…A groovy theme tune played on whistles. A couple of vaguely witty lines:

    "I didn’t know you had that…"
    "That’s why they call it ‘a concealed Weapon’"

    "We were gonna fight our way through enemy territory. Scale the highest mountain in this Goddamned place. Traverse a bridge that was about to collapse. And then if we were lucky, and I mean really lucky, we were going to fight our way through two thousand extremely poisonous snakes."
    "There are poisonous snakes around here?"
    "There’s gotta be if you look hard enough"

    But that is about it really.

How bad is it really?

    Pretty poor. Not terrible, but in the dull, risible ball park…Although I did really like it when I was 15.

    As an aside, I once managed to recognise the film from about three seconds of the dénouement. Scary, huh? - The Prophet

Best Bit (if such there is)?

What’s up with…?


Production Values – Not bad as it happens. Some varied locations, Paris, America and South America…And it does look as if the Director is at least trying. There’s also a modicum of decent stunts and a couple of dull fight scenes. 9

Dialogue and performance – Pretty poor acting. Mostly varying degrees of Ham and cheese. The Actresses have little to do other than slapstick ‘fish out of water’ comedy and standing around in bras being captured. There are a few good comedy lines. But nothing to give Woody Allen sleepless nights. 14

Plot – Fairly simple. Crowbarred in within thirty minutes. Standard ‘my sister has been kidnapped…Who are we gonna call?’ story. The last forty five minutes has a lot of ‘time packer’ scenes. 15

Randomness – Not much really…No explanation as too why the John Hurt character Sid seems to know Jake Speed. Or why the granddad knows all about Jake either. The rest of it plods along at a rather pedestrian rate. 9

Waste of potential – The movie was clearly thrown together to cash in on the Adventure film popularity of the early/mid 80’s…The fact that it wasn’t going to have an original idea in the whole thing isn’t exactly surprising. I don’t think anyone really had high hopes to start with. 7

Overall 54%


Tango & Cash (1989)

"Two of L.A.'s top rival cops are going to have to work together... Even if it kills them."

Review by Simon Drake

Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky.
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell and Jack Palance.

    L.A’s top cops, Armani wearing Ray Tango (Stallone) and blue-collar slob Gabriel Cash (Russell) are set up by evil drug tsar Perret (Hammed by Jack Palance). They are sent to a maximum-security prison where they are forced to work together to escape and clear their names. And blow things up.

What’s wrong with it?

    It is a fairly standard 80’s ‘Buddy’ action movie. Over contrived, over egged action scenes, overblown comedy. The kind of film where everyone cracks wise despite the fact they are going to be tortured or killed. The very idea of Stallone having Teri Hatcher as a sister is a little implausible.
    A terribly 80’s Harold (Axel-F) Faltermeyer score.
    And the Dick Van-Dyke award for the worst ever ‘cock-er-nee’ accent goes to Brion James’ head goon Requin (which doesn’t sound very ‘London’ to me…), who waves a razor blade around and shouts things like "You facking wanker. I’m gonna cut your Froat!"

What’s right with it?

    The film rockets along at such a fast pace you are having so much fun to actually realise it’s complete cod. This realisation comes about ten minutes after the end credits.
    It has its tongue firmly in its cheek so it’s difficult to be too cynical. Everyone seems to be in on the joke. Especially Stallone’s Self parody role as ‘brainiac’ cop Tango who even states that "Rambo is a Pussy!" long before post-modern irony was all the rage. Both he and Kurt Russell employing their trade mark heroic machismo, throwing one-liners (albeit not never good ones) back and forth at each other as they bicker and dive away from the camera as things explode behind them.
    As the film was clearly pitched towards fifteen-year-old boys and middle age action junkies, aiming that low it is hard to fail.
    It does exactly what it says on the box.

How bad is it really?

    It is pretty guff to be sure, but fun too. The movie seems to be endlessly winking at the camera saying "It’s meant to be daft, okay?" Although much of it is just plain badness, sometimes though it is hard to determine between the two.

Best bit?

    It could be argued (depending on how superficial you are) that Teri Hatcher writhing about in a silver bikini in the ‘Cash goes to strip club’ scene is a plus point. Although using a song by ‘Yazoo’ evens the score a little.
    The ‘RV from hell’ is pretty sweet too. It, like most vehicles in the film, gets blown up within five minutes.

What’s up with…?


Production Values – A little too good actually. The film is almost ‘over produced’. Anything to be smashed, shot or blown up is. Smashing glass and those ‘Fu-whack’ punching noises from 80’s action movies almost always drones the score out. But that is probably a good thing. 6

Dialogue and Performance – The dialogue is unremarkable…Why have plot explanation when a wise crack and some mugging from the leads will do? As acting goes everyone acquits themselves unexceptionally…Palance sneering as a bad guy of almost Pantomime proportions (and bizarrely dressed as ‘the man from Del-Monte’). Russell and Stallone doing what they’ve done a thousand times. Teri Hatcher is a little (well a lot) wooden, seeing as she was clearly hired as eye candy and kidnap victim she’s obviously not trying. 12

Plot and execution - The Plot is just a rehash of Lethal Weapon, James Bond and Beverley Hills cop written by committee. It rattles along with churning predictability and huge contrivance. The director Andrei Konchalovsky (who made the superb ‘Runaway Train’) keeps it within its B-movie trash confines. 14

Randomness – Apart from the fact Kurt Russell’s ‘Gun Boots’ are not explained except in passing (in the trailer they were apparently) the rest of the film is pretty much signposted from the beginning. There are several characters who just show up for a quick fight, or plot exposition, then either vanish, or are blown away (or up) without comment. 8

Waste of potential – A fairly tired old formula. Nothing new to say. It does exactly what it sets out to do. And does that moderately well. 5

Overall 45%