Movie Review: CYBER TRACKER

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cyber trackerSterling Home Entertainment
1994
R

“I think scars are sexy. I’m divorced, too. My husband said I was too aggressive, so I smacked him.”

Ah, 90s low-budget sci-fi. There’s a certain charm about them. Even the ones that were attempting to have a higher level of quality to them, like Species, or 1996’s The Arrival, juts couldn’t shake the thin film of cheese that stuck to them like bacterial plaque to your teeth.

One of the things I love about these kind of movies from that era was the overabundance of the use of the word “cyber” to describe anything futuristic and shiny. You have a movie set in the near future that features robots running amok? You’ve got yourself a cyber-apocalypse, there. A “cyberpocalypse”, if you will. You get the idea.

So, in 1994, we got the low-budget sci-fi martial arts action hybrid Cyber Tracker. It stars a professional kickboxer with the nickname of “The Dragon”, so we’ve got a clincher right here. There should be at least one person who is refered to as “The Dragon”, or some variation therein, in movies like these. But, I digress.

This is the future. The judiciary system has been replaced by a computerized system. Facts are filled in, the computer determines the verdict and the punishment is extracted by a Cor-Tracker, the newest breed of law enforcers. Cyborg executioners used for search and destroy missions. Eric is a secret agent currently working as the security guard for senator Dilly. The senator is the main advocate for a new kind of police officer: The Tracker, a perfect and nearly invulnerable android. When Eric realizes that senator Dilly is playing dirty games, he does not only have Dilly’s security chief Ross after him, but also those nearly undefeatable Trackers.

So, what we have with Cyber Tracker is a low-budget mash-up of The Terminator and RoboCop, with a lead that has maybe half the personality of a standard Jean Claude Van Dam, who I think would have been a much better pick for this movie, But, I’m thinking JCVD would have been too rich for their budget. This Don “The Dragon” Wilson does have more charisma than Steven Segal, I will give him that. Wish I could say the same about the rest of the cast, though.

The characters lack any sort of interesting development, the effects are shoestring, and the big Twilight Zone twist has been done before, only better. But, you have to admire the spunk and energy going into making this thing. Sure, it can get dull at certain stretches, and this thing just oozes cheese, but I wasn’t too annoyed by this movie, and actually kind of enjoyed it on a certain dumb level. It’s worth a look for anyone who likes to do Bad Movie Nite gatherings.

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Movie Review: MIAMI CONNECTION

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miami connectionDrafthouse Films
1987
R

“They don’t make buns like that down at the bakery.”

In the pantheon of So Bad They’re Good movies that have graced my eyeballs and earholes since I can remember, there are a few that seem to transcend their own ineptitude and become classics merely out of the sheer might of their popularity with the fanbase, languishing in abject obscurity only to be discovered by one person, who helped to bring it to the masses of Cheesy Bad Movie loves everywhere.

Such is the tale of the movie Miami Connection.

Like the other greats in the list of classic bad movies, the making of Miami Connection itself adds to the overall awesomeness. It’s downright inspirational: Co-writer/producer/actor Y.K. Kim arrived here in America in 1976, homeless and not knowing English very goodly. Before that, he grew up in Korea, and received the black belt in Taekwando when he was 13. After hitting American soil, he began opening up Taekwando schools on the East Coast, eventually landing in Orlando with a school that was described by the local paper as “the McDonald’s of martial arts schools.” I think that was meant to describe the franchise nature, and not a dig at the quality. Then, by the mid-80s, he teamed up with Korean director Richard Park and made Miami Connection in 1987. Nifty.

Of course, upon the initial release, the movie was lambasted by critics, and sadly fell into the void of obscurity…that is, until 2009, when a programmer at the Alamo Drafthouse bought a 35mm print of the movie off of eBay and screened it one night. The reaction to the movie was tremendously positive, which lead to the Drafthouse guys to try to buy the licensing to give the movie a proper DVD release. Once Y.K. Kim realized the guys weren’t joking, the world finally got Miami Connection unleashed in all it’s resplendent glory in 2012.

But, enough of the history lesson. Let’s get to the movie, shall we?

The year is 1987. Motorcycle ninjas tighten their grip on Florida’s narcotics trade, viciously annihilating anyone who dares move in on their turf. Multi-national martial arts rock band Dragon Sound have had enough, and embark on a roundhouse wreck-wave of crime-crushing justice. When not chasing beach bunnies or performing their hit song “Against the Ninja,” Mark and the boys are kicking and chopping at the drug world’s smelliest underbelly. It’ll take every ounce of their blood and courage, but Dragon Sound can’t stop until they’ve completely destroyed the dealers, the drunk bikers, the kill-crazy ninjas, the middle-aged thugs, the “stupid cocaine”…and the entire MIAMI CONNECTION!!!

Miami Connection is a revelation of a movie. This transcends the So Bad Its Good label, and ascends into the pantheon of Great Bad Movies by the sheer earnest ridiculousness of it all. The overacting is amazingly over-the-top, plot points are hammered in out of nowhere (one of the band members finds his biological father! and the ensuing scene chewing is jaw-dropping), everyone’s a biker ninja, and I find myself desiring a bootleg tee-shirt of the fake band in this movie.

I’ll go ahead and get to the point: Not only does everyone need to watch this, everyone needs to¬†own their own copy of Miami Connection and watch it at least once a year.

Movie Review: SAMURAI COP

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samurai copCinema Epoch
1991
NR

“Why did you go under?”
“Because I’m an undercover cop.”

In case you’re wondering, yes…it was the title of this movie alone that sunk its hooks into me and made me watch this exercise in bad cinema. Fortunately, the level of cheeseball this manages to attain is amazing.

The Katana Gang is out of control in Los Angeles. They’re involved in everything from gambling and extortion to drugs. They’ve bullied their way to the top of the underworld through their unmatched brutality. The police are stymied in their efforts to take the Japanese mob down. The Yakuza’s code of silence is unbreakable and the police can’t bring any charges against them. So they’ve brought in an expert. Joe Marshal, nicknamed “The Samurai”, is an expert in Japanese culture and martial arts and if it takes a blood drenched street brawl to bring the mobsters to their knees, then Samurai Joe is ready to RUMBLE!

Samurai Cop is, in a word, amazeballs. It tries to be a Lethal Weapon-style buddy cop movie with a martial arts angle — predating Rush Hour by seven years. But, by shear incompetence and unintentional hilarity levels alone, Samurai Cop manages to become that kind of action movie that’s entertaining for all the wrong reasons. From the bug-eyed overacting from the lead actor, to the groan-worthy dialogue, to the hilarious martial arts action scenes, and using a wig at one point due to miscommunication with the lead actor…Samurai Cop must be seen to be believed. This is truly a So Bad It’s Good gem, people.

Movie Review: KUNG FU HUSTLE

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KUNG FU HUSTLEColumbia Pictures
2004
R

“You may know kung fu… but you’re still a fairy.”

Due to the shenanigans of a couple of street miscreants, the small slum town of Pig Sty is descended upon by the deadly- but stylin’- Axe Gang. Shortly after their arrival, though, the axe-wielding Scorsese knock-offs discover that being poor doesn’t necessarily mean being timid, as their collective butts are systematically and methodically handed to them by a trio of the slum’s merchants. To gain revenge on the simple townsfolk, they enlist a couple of deadly kung-fu assassins, including the insane Beast, a man who is so dedicated to the martial arts that he lost his mind. How can the Landlady and her husband protect their slum? Can you believe the miscreant who inadvertently brought all this trouble to begin with?

After viewing Kung Fu Hustle with Nex and my visiting cousin, and after having a couple of days to digest this experience in foreign cinematic wackiness, I would liken this flick to a multi-layered parfait- it has the basic but tasty Kung Fu movie base, and is topped with several different but equally tasty layers that borrow heavily from different genre pics: The Seven Samurai, Gangs Of New York, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (which comes naturally because of the director / writer / star), The Matrix: Revolutions…and some not-so-expected layers from old Laurel And Hardy flicks, and especially a heavy dose of classic Chuck Jones cartoons, mainly the Coyote and Roadrunner classics. All of which are served up into a damn fun concoction.

And by “fun”, I mean wacky, over-the-top, cartoony-in-a-good-way fun, where the acting is ham-fisted, the humor is goofy, the characters are eccentric, and the situations are zany. Add in the esophagus-crushing kung-fu action, and you’ve got 90 minutes of pure escapist fun. Imagine, if you will, the final big fight scene at the end of Matrix: Revolutions between Neo and all o’ them Agent Smiths, only with pinball machine sounds chiming every time contact is made, and you have a very small idea of the wackiness ensuing. You also got a Kung Fu master that takes on the attributes of a frog to fight, a couple of assassins that look like they stepped out of the Mortal Kombat game to battle with…music, a chain-smoking landlady who sucks down her cancer stick to the butt while preparing to unleash her Lion’s Roar on unsuspecting gang members, tons of Looney Tunes-style slapstick (the scene where the landlady hits a billboard after running about 1000 MPH, and “SCREEEEEEEEEEE!”‘s down slowly…I just about died)…just a nice balance of extreme action and extreme belly laughs from yours truly…which is rare in a “Kung Fu Comedy”…then again, thus far the only offerings in that department have been Jackie Chan’s one-trick-pony flicks. And Kung Pow doesn’t really count, as it’s an American movie made from an older, “serious” Kung Fu movie…

The things that work against this movie, though…would be the same things that made it such a great wacky ride for me. Let’s face it, there’s going to be people going to this expecting Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, with a couple of gags in the fight scenes. These are probably the same people who don’t get Monty Python’s Search For The Holy Grail, so they don’t concern me really. Basically, if you ever seen that movie and shook your head in confusion as to why they were skipping around hitting coconut shells together instead of riding actual horses…um, you might want to stay away from Kung Fu Hustle. Trust me. You’re head will blow up. That, and personally, I didn’t like the English subtitles, as I know I missed a few things just trying to read and keep with the narrative. What could have worked, if there was an actual overdubbing of this movie, is to use gangsta rappers for the voices. I mean, gangsta rap is already cheesy and unintentionally funny while trying to portray a “thug” persona, so it’ll work well with the Axe Gang members…think about that…

Enough said. I enjoyed this movie. And if you’re a fan of the wacky, over-the-top action comedies, hitch up your pants (INSIDE REFERENCE ALERT!!!) and check this foreign flick out.