Reviewed by Simon Drake
Inflicted by Albert Pyun
Starring Robert Patrick, Tim Thomerson and Brion James.
On the eve of the take-over of Hong Kong from British
power to Chinese rule a heroically named hitman called erm…Reg kills People's Army General Woo (just to crowbar in the 'John Woo influences.)
Two minutes later we have a sex scene with Reg and his girlfriend until they are rudely interrupted when a bunch of triad gangs burst in (firing their guns before they leap into the room!).
It seems there is a ten million dollar bounty on Reg's head and every faceless mercenary this side of Beijing wants in on the deal; So he, his British boss (Brion James?) and their hapless accountant (Thomerson) go on the run and get involved in a multitude of mundane shootouts.
Albert Pyun. Possibly the Eighth wonder of the world. How
on earth does this guy continue to be employed in Hollywood? Adding endless
woeful attempts at moviemaking to his prolific career of film duds.
But surely even he can't screw up a 'Hitman on the run' storyline involving lots of guys in black jackets firing twin pistols at each other in slow motion ALA John Woo and with a cast of B-listers with the rare talent of being able to act?
Oh curse my optimism!
Pyun manages to make the shoot outs boring (even the ones set in strip clubs) mostly Robert Patrick shooting off camera (Ahh...the old Pyun 'shoot off camera' ploy - The Prophet), cut to a bloke in a balaclava falling down…in slow motion…Add infinitum!
Hong Kong 97 could well take the mantle of 'first film shot entirely in slow motion' from 'Baywatch - The Movie'; even its so-called 'dramatic' scenes seem like it.
Robert Patrick's acting consists of billowing his trenchcoat in slow-mo. Brion James' acting consists of typing on a laptop and plot explanation with a Terry Thomas British accent. And Tim Thomerson's acting consists of swearing and employing his trademark 'pissed off look' (probably due to the fact he's in another Albert Pyun film).
Robert Patrick's Chinese girl is attractive and kicks ass
Bugger all else really.
In terms of Albert Pyun it is at least one of his better efforts. But it is still mind bogglingly bad.
After he and his girlfriend are interrupted mid-shag by a
bunch of gun totting Triads (who somehow appear on the 87th floor balcony
without ropes or a really big ladder) and after they are swiftly dispatched in a
violently bloody battle, the naked Reg proclaims to his girlfriend
"I'm really sorry…I wasn't expecting any of this"
Production values - Better than your usual Pyun film, meaning he has at least pointed the camera at whoever is talking, or firing a gun. Hong Kong looks nice, although whenever there's an exterior crowd scene there is usually some extra waving at the camera. Plus the never-ending supply of Triad mooks all wear the same blue boiler suits and balaclavas (Maybe they bought them as job lot from the goons in Blast? - The Prophet). 12
Dialogue and performance - The script honks, and the acting doesn't fare much better. Robert Patrick giving new definition to the word 'planklike'. And Thomerson and James presumably only took the roles due to their characters excessive amounts of naked female massage scenes.19
Plot and execution - Plot? This is Albert Pyun we are talking about! Blokes in black shoot at other blokes in black. Interspersed with lots of mumbly (and contradictory) plot explanation (in this case courtesy of the 'plot TV newscaster') and naked woman. 18
Randomness - Half the characters show up, spout some banal dialogue and then disappear completely. I think there was lots of double or triple crossing at the end, but I had no idea who half the people were (but many had ridiculous accents) so I gave up trying to follow what was happening. It was all pretty random though, even without my disinterest. 17
Waste of potential - Albert Pyun, doing John Woo lite didn't fill me with hope to start with. However the British/China take-over in the hands of a capable director could have made a decent backdrop for a taut political action/thriller. But instead Pyun, several talentless cameramen and those infamous crack smoking rabid monkey scriptwriters took up the reins.16
Reviewed by Simon Drake
Directed by Herbert Ross
Starring Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Renton (Kevin Bacon) moves from Chicago to a small redneck town where "pop" music and dancing is illegal. Being a maverick free thinking city teen, he inspires all the repressed teens that it's big and clever to dress like David Bowie, dance to Kenny Loggins and rebel against the 'fascist regime' of the book burning Reverend Moore (John Lithgow).
Being an 80's film it is intolerably naff, with some
hilariously embarrassing disco 'boogying' mostly courtesy from the wildly
gyrating Bacon (who comes across like Rain Man on speed) and bizarrely Chris
Penn as the repressed homosexual redneck.
Kevin Bacon wearing a salmon pink sweatshirt.
It has a certain campy charm and the 80's disco tunes are
foot tapping and fun.
John Lighgow's overacting.
Although complete guff it's not terrible, it's like when you watch Top Gun or The Lost Boys you find yourself enjoying and cringing in equal measures.
Kevin Bacon teaches Chris Penn (Yup the one from Reservoir
Dogs!) to 'get down and funky'. The entire 'training montage' has so much
homosexual hidden meaning to it it's hilarious.
And ends with Chris Penn doing 'the robot'.
Production values - Fine. The camera work is uninspiring, and the entire film has an 80's misty lens feel to it, but other than that it is okay. 9
Dialogue and performance - The dialogue is a little bland and its over the top portrayal of small town bigotry grates, Reverend Moore comes across as some quasi Nazi (but then hiring John Lithgow for the role what do you expect). 9
Plot and execution - Maverick idealist fights small town bigotry, wow it's like To Kill a Mockingbird only with Kenny Loggins and towelling sweatbands. 6
Randomness - Everything sort of makes sense, although the fact that Kevin Bacon on his first day of school in a red neck town doesn't get beaten up despite dressing like David Bowie doesn't make much sense. 4
Waste of potential - A big slice of 80's nostalgia cheese. As a campy disco rock semi musical I guess it works. 3
Reviewed by Simon Drake
Directed by Mic Rodgers
Starring Jean Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White and Bill Goldberg.
Set ten years after the original, Van Damme who, reprising
his role as Luc Devereux, refuses to be a mindless drone for the government
accepting orders without question, instead Luc is now a soldier for the US Army…
Working for 'Unisol' the top secret government agency that reanimated his corpse in Vietnam, turned him into a cyborg, and were the reason his parents were killed. Luc, presumably not the kind of guy to hold a grudge, is training a new breed of superstrong genetically enhanced 'Universal Soldier's' (with new 'receding hairline' optional extra).
When Luc isn't teaching cyborgs how to kill for their country, he's ogling over his female partner's cleavage when she's nearly raped by a cyborg, taking his ten year old daughter to top secret government research labs and pining for his dead wife.
Turning up for work one morning (at 10:57 with his daughter no less!) Luc senses something isn't right on the planet Unisol when a nerdy computer programmer is attacked twice and another one is killed and the siren is ringing the 'a bunch of cyber-soldiers are killing people' noise.
In the mean time 'Seth' the A.I computer with Pinocchio pretensions wants to become a real boy, and luckily there is a dead (but super strong) black killer dude kept in stock for such a purpose and who programmed all the Universal Soldiers to go on the kill crazy rampage.
Now that Seth is a muscle bound loony and is in control, the base is 'locked-down' with Van Damme inside accompanied by 'Erin' a sexy female reporter and a bunch of killer cyborgs. Luckily for them 'locked-down' actually means 'no doors or windows actually close or lock'. So Luc and Erin are able to escape, and while he's spying on her getting changed tells her they need to break into a strip club to use the Internet access (!); mourning his dead wife presumably excusing his lecherous behaviour.
Anyway after a brief interlude of breasts and internet hacking Luc decides they need to bust back into the 'Unisol' base as Seth has kidnapped his daughter who's fallen into a coma after tripping on a loose paving slab.
Luc and Seth have a big punch up and the super strong black psycho killer gets frozen with liquid nitrogen and smashed apart (Demolition Man anyone?)
Clearly made for the lowest I.Q audiences this side of Alabama, everything is signposted it's actually insulting to anyone with the ability to talk without dribbling. For example, "Superstrong Unisol on-line" chimes the computer.
Cut to: - Shot of computer screen 'Unisol on-line'
It really is that bad.
Van-Damme attempting and ultimately failing to string together a simple sentence, he looks as if he'd have problems presenting 'Crime watch' but luckily to take the acting crapness responsibility from his shoulders they have hired a wrestler (Goldberg) and the bloke from Spawn (Jai White).
The direction and script are woeful, with terrible misuse of stock footage and some terrible continuity gaffs. There is also a pounding death metal soundtrack that blares whenever there is a fight or a shoot-out…Or more gratuitous breasts.
Bugger all, unless you are Beavis or Butthead then everything is right with it.
Universal Soldier was hardly Shakespeare but had enough comic book cheese to keep you entertained. The sequel is really really bad and actually takes the 'worst Van-Damme film ever' award from under the nose of 'Streetfighter'.
The slogan for 'Unisol' is 'Dying to serve'.
Production values - Crummy. Two basic sets, terrible lighting. Especially bad continuity errors and silicone breasts. 17
Dialogue and performance - Not much of either. Van-Damme sadly doesn't have much in the way of bon mots other than shouting 'Fuck you' after killing someone. Everyone is uniformly bad. The script involves either characters explaining the plot to each other or blagging scenes from other sci-fi movies. 19
Plot and execution - What plot? Killer robots plod along as Van-Damme beats one up at a time. And it all ends in a big explosion and a frozen bad guy. The narrative involves showing an action scene, then some cleavage, and then a punch up…About eight times. 19
Randomness - Pretty damn bad, mostly due to the cackhanded-ness of the crew and the ineptness of the script trying to rip off other far better films. And the grey balding 60-year-old Universal Soldier isn't explained at all! 19
Waste of potential - Never likely to be any great shakes admittedly, however even I wasn't prepared for this level of crapness. Come back Dolph Lundgren, all is forgiven. 18