Archive for June, 2011

Bloodsport 4:The Dark Kumite

I really should do a video review of Bloodsport 4 because every aspect of this movie is just wrong. If this were meant to be a parody of low budget 80’s action films, it would be brilliant. But I’m afraid they were serious about this project.  Bloodsport 4 fails tragically on so many levels, it loops around and because something completely awesome. If you’re a fan of bad movies, this is right up your alley.

We will start with the story. Bloodsport 4 stars Daniel Bernhardt.  Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 might remember him as the star of Future War. He has been in countless direct to video martial arts action movies that Van Damne wouldn’t touch even at the lowest point of his career. Bloodsport 1 starred Jean Claude Van Damne as a secret agent who infiltrates an underground fighting tournament called The Kumite. This movie has nothing to do with that one. Bloodsports 2 and 3 starred Bernhardt as Alex Cardo. I never saw those movies. But I know that this movie has nothing to do with those movies because in Bloodsport 4, Bernhardt plays John Keller. He is a well respected cop. Apparently he wasn’t a cop in the other movies. How do you have a sequel in which the star is now playing a completely different character and the story has no connection to the other movies?

So Keller is a cop. But for some reason the opening scene has him in an underground illegal fight. Instead of busting up the illegal operation, he  decides to go about his business with his partner, Blaire. She is one  of those smart mouthed tough female cops who are typical love interests in action movies. It just so happens that at the same time Schrek, a bad guy that Keller sent to prison, has gotten out and robs a bar. Two other cops already happen to be at the bar and they get killed. One of them gets stabbed in the neck with a pen when Keller shows up on the scene and refuses to shoot Schrek. You see, Keller has a problem killing people. Keller is not a killer. And a theme in this movie is that Keller has to kill because killing is good…. for some reason. In the opening fight scene he doesn’t kill his opponent and scalds the crowd for wanting to see a fight to the death. It doesn’t help that they pronounce his name “killer”  through most of the movie. I can’t explain in how many ways this theme is morally bankrupt. And yes, in the end (spoiler alert) he kills several people and is praised for doing so.

So after not killing the bad guy in the beginning, he beats the crap out of Schrek while in police custody. Schrek completely no sells everything Keller does to him and it ends up being completely hilarious. We find out from the hard scrabbled police Sargent who is always breaking Keller’s ball that Schrek was sentenced to death and execute not long ago. Talk about swift justice. So Schrek is undead and no sells a beating. That makes me wish they had cast The Undertaker in this role. Well, he isn’t really undead, so they find a way to send Keller into prison undercover with Schrek to find out what is going on. So Keller pretends to kill two cops while he beats Schrek in his jail cell apartment. And I do mean apartment. Schrek’s jail cell has a wood door off to the side and ugly plaster walls. It couldn’t look less like a jail cell.

Keller goes to prison and gets into a bunch of fights with prisoners along the way. He gets the attentions of the Warden who’s only rule in his prison is, there are no rules. Seems like his bosses would like to know about how he is running his prison. Or the State. Or Criminal Right’s attorney’s. Apparently, none of these things exists in this movies universe. The Warden is a backwards kind of character. The best words to describe him are goofy sadistic. Those are two completely opposite characteristic and when they are put together, you end up with a big mess.  His dialogue and performance are completely over the top in levels of goofiness. But his actions are completely sadistic. He really isn’t menacing and he sure isn’t funny. This is probably the worst thing you could do with an antagonist. If there is no consistence tone to the character, then how I am suppose to feel anything about him? Other wacky characters he runs into are Winston, who is a weaselly prison snitch and Dr. Rosenblum whom killed his parents. Rosenblum really should be in an insane asylum instead of prison. At least his character is consistent and his performance convincing. Winston is apparently another undercover cop in prison. He becomes more likable when we find out he is a cop.  Then there is a black guy who Keller put in prison so now he wants to kill him. This guy dresses like he converted to Islam while in prison but always says “Praise Jesus.” I wish they had meant for this character to be funny because that actually is a pretty hilarious concept.

Outside of prison, rich guy Justin Caeser wants The Warden to pick out the best fighters and have them fight to the death in front of his crowd of rich friends. He lives in a palace and has 20 women in underwear around him at all times. Even though he lives in a snowy mountain castle and that underwear probably doesn’t keep them very warm they are all too happy to be in his harem. Caeser is every low budget 80’s action villain you have ever seen. Except this movie was made in 1999. So to test out Keller to make sure he isn’t a cop, they put him in a fight. Again, he refuses to kill which upsets the Warden in a way that can only because described as a hissy fit. The opponent is given a lead pipe which he uses to hit Keller in the back of the head with. Keller invokes his inner John Cena and completely shrugs off being hit in the head with a lead pipe. Keller still doesn’t kill the guy but he does knock him out. To test Keller further, they put a hooker in his cell and see if he will sleep with her. It’s kind of hard to tell if he did or didn’t have sex with her because she never takes off her underwear. They make all the movements of two people who are having sex but at no point does he take off her bra and you can see her panties in several shots. Please let that sink in for a moment. Bloodsport 4 has a sex scene in which the participants still have their clothes on. Having sex with the hooker proves he isn’t an undercover cop…. somehow, so they carry out his death sentence. Although I’m pretty sure he was given life without parole.

This part really stretches the bounds of realism. He has been in prison less than a week and they are carrying out his execution. Applet Courts? What are those? Did the governor sign his death order? Who cares! The execution scene is so psychedelic, you can’t help but laugh as the main character is supposedly executed. The hero is being executed and all you can do is laugh.But he isn’t executed. His partner is made to think he was executed though. Her part of the story is so idiotic, I won’t waste my time explaining how she figures out he is alive. All I will say is it’s such an unbelievable series of  coincidences, it makes Indiana Jones surviving a nuclear blast in a refrigerator look realistic by comparison.

Keller wakes up in Caeser’s castle. They have picked the top 8 fighters from prison to fight to the death to entertain him and his rich friends. But first we have to open the show with a Russian folk play/musical. Yes, before the death matches, we need some folk music and a little kid running from a lumberjack. So one of Caeser’s ladies tells us about all the different styles of martial arts we will see from the prisoners. We see almost none of these fighting styles. And for some reason Winston the weaselly prison snitch has been chosen. What martial art is he the master of? So Keller is forced to kill some random guy and Weasel congratulates him for it. Weasel gets a bye to the second round when they shoot his opponent for no reason. Now it’s Keller vs Weasel and Weasel begs Keller for death. Because remember the theme of this story, killing is good. Keller refuses and completely gives away that he is an undercover cop. Weasel is shot and the final showdown is Keller and Schrek.

Describing the final fight scene will help me kill a couple birds with one stone. The fight choreography and/or camera work in Bloodsport 4 is absolute crap. It is painfully obvious that many of the kicks and punches in every fight scene miss by at least three feet. The sound editing is so bad that the sound of the kicks hitting the person are often too early or too late, ending up completely off . Hilarity results. The editing is crap. I said it before, if I notice the editing then its a problem. Keller is in a choke hold and fading fast. The Warden gets in his face to taunt Keller and he grabs the Warden’s pen, stabbing Schrek in the head with it. In case you forgot, Schrek stabbed that cop in the beginning with a pen so we flash back to that part. We cut between Schrek grabbing at the pen in the close up to not grabbing at the pen in the medium shot. Often in consecutive cuts. Oh, and blood only spurts from the pen in the close up. Keller’s partner shows up, alone with no backup, and between the two of them takes down a room full of armed goons using only martial arts and a small handgun. With all the bad guys dead, Keller learned that killing is good. And Weasel isn’t dead after all. Apparently getting shot only kind of hurt him. And then the movie just whimpers out and dies. Roll credits.

The acting is truly on a  dreadful level that must be seen to be believed. I don’t know if I can blame the actors though because the dialogue is so clunky and full of action movie cliches, no one could take what they are doing seriously. Action movies aren’t usually known for great acting but this is on a completely different level of bad.

Apparently, they used a real prison in Bulgaria for the location. But it looks like they used an old warehouse most of the time. This location didn’t feel authentic at all. The cinematography was completely uninspired. Again, most of the kicks and punches don’t even come close to looking like they land. The grunts and groans in the sound editing sound like they were done in another universe. The dialogue dubbing, particularly for Caeser, is completely out of sync. I could keep going if I wanted to. The filmmakers did nothing right. I don’t like being that harsh but this movie failed on a fantastic level. I can only recommend this movie to bad movie fans. If you like to watch movies that are incompetent on an amazing level, this movie is definitely good for a laugh. And you can watch it for free down below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KoU_DUSFD8&feature=watch-now-button&wide=1

June 29, 2011 at 2:52 am Leave a comment

Fantastic Four (1994)

It’s kind of hard to criticize a movie that was never released. At least they had to good sense to not put the movie out in the theaters. Apparently, they never wanted to put this movie out in theaters. It was just used as a placeholder to secure the rights to produce future Fantastic Four movies. Still, the 1994 Fantastic Four movie has gained a certain amount of notoriety, first as a bootleg and later on the internet.  I still could argue that this movie is better than the Fantastic Four movies released 2005 and 2007.

This Fantastic Four movie is widely called “Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four” although Roger wasn’t the director, only a producer. I reviewed one of his movies earlier. If you don’t know who Roger Corman is, he has produced nearly 400 movies over 50 years. Some of them turned out better than others. But to his credit, he got this movie made with a month of principal photography. That’s actually kind of impressive, even for how poor The Fantastic Four is. It was also made for $1.5 million, again, impressive. Even though it was a low budget film that had a lot wrong with it, they really got the best they could out of what they had to work with.

The first thing you will noticed that is wrong with this movie is the special effects. It was made in 1994. These effects would be laughable in 1984. They might have been passable for 1974. No doubt they would have been cutting edge in 1964. 1994 was the same year that saw Jurassic Park come to theaters. I can’t imagine putting out this movie at the same time as that one. The Things costume is obviously foam rubber and more poorly done than the ones in Ninja Turtles 3. You can clearly see where the head piece is suppose to go on. The texture of the costume just doesn’t work for orange rock. Chances are if you see even a clip of this costume in the movie you will end up laughing so hard you’ll have difficulty breathing. Mr. Fantastic’s stretch effects are equably laughable and really must be seen to be believed. The Human Torch’s effects are ok, considering the budget they had to work with. And the Invisible Woman’s effects probably end up better than most, only because there isn’t much difficulty making a woman disappear on camera. Some of the other visual effects are hit and miss. Again, considering the budget it’s a miracle any of the effects work at all. Although would it have been asking too much to give The Thing blue eyes?

Another noticeable failure of the movie is the performances. Since this movie was never meant for release, they didn’t bother to go back and redo some of the dialogue for The Thing and Dr. Doom. So what you get is muffled dialogue from guys in suits who aren’t taking their performance too seriously, probably because they though the dialogue would be ADRed later. Sometimes I think they had William Shatner playing Dr. Doom. The guy they have playing Reed Richard’s is all over the place with his performance. Sometimes he is ok, sometimes he is convincing, and the rest of the time he is hammy. His inflection is all over the place. The woman playing Sue Storm was better than Jessica Alba but that’s not saying much.

I can give some credit to the writing. Unlike the newer Fantastic Four movies, this one stays almost faithful to the source material.  The difference being that they get their powers from some kind of cosmic energy event known as Collasus. I thought he was the Russian guy in the X Men who could turn his skin into steel. Maybe they meant Galactus, eater of world’s. That wouldn’t be the only character they got wrong. The Jeweler looks for all the world to be Mole Man, except they don’t call him Mole Man. The dialogue has some noticeable flaws. It feels like they borrowed as much as possible for the comics and filled in the rest quickly in order to rush the script into production. Probably because that’s exactly what happened.  I will give them credit of staying faithful to the comics,mostly.

The 1994 Fantastic Four is a joke. Even if the filmmaker in me admires how they completed the movie quickly and on a limited budget, I just can’t ignore the giant flaws the movie has. It takes nearly an hour for the character to become the Fantastic Four and even longer for them to start working together as a team, using their powers to fight Dr. Doom and what not. Dr. Doom acts somewhat out of character. Although this movie did have Doom Bots which the newer movies lacked. With a little more time, effort, and money, they might have had a movie suitable for a direct to video release. Perhaps that’s what annoys me most about this movie. It was a wasted opportunity to tell a good story. The people working on it seemed to want to make a good Fantastic Four movie but the limitations were too much to deal with. The new movies didn’t the same kind of heart. Those movies just seemed to be cash cows without a care in the world for what the audience wanted to see from a movie called The Fantastic Four.  That’s irony for you. The movie that the producer’s didn’t give a crap about cared more about getting it right than the movie that cost a few $100 million to make.

June 25, 2011 at 3:31 am Leave a comment

Theater of Blood

Vincent Pricent is a Shakespearean serial killer. This is all kinds of awesome.

Continue Reading June 10, 2011 at 3:30 am Leave a comment