Directed by: Jerome Gary
I remember coming across this tape many, many times as I regularly frequented the video stores back in the day. To be honest, I always thought the guy on the cover was David Rasche. And I continued to think that until recently, decades later. It wasn't until a fellow VHS Instagramer posted this tape and said something along the lines of "Holy shit, this is my new favorite movie". That kind of surprised me, so I did some digging and found that there are a whole lot of people who love this movie too. In fact, I didn't find a negative thing said about it. I also learned that it's not a cheap film to come by on tape, and since it's never gotten an official DVD or Blu Ray release here in the states as of yet, it would seem that the prices for this tape would be justified, according to the sellers. I secured a copy for about what they go for these days, so let's dig in.
One of the most important things I discovered about this film is that it doesn't star David Rasche after all, rather a radio disc jockey, and a highly famous one at that, by the name of Shadoe Stevens, making his film debut. It also stars Robert Davi as the bad guy, so I was pretty much sold with that alone. I have to admit though that the idea of it being an action/comedy, rather than an action film that's also funny, or a comedy that has some great action, had me a bit nervous. I hoped for the best, because with these low-budget action films, you never know. There are lots of hidden gems found in this genre, some of which have become all-time personal favorites, so I'm not ready to rule anything out just yet.
I wish I could say I loved this as much as most others do, but I just found it to be okay. It's good, and certainly entertaining for sure. Shadoe Stevens is a natural in front of the camera, and an even bigger badass as an ex-mercenary who wants to break into the cookie business, who decides to clean up a crime-ridden town for a big payday so he can fund this new venture. It's a silly premise, and an even sillier movie, which works in most area's, and doesn't quite hit the mark in others. And that's really my biggest complaint about this one. It never really hits the mark 100%, often narrowly missing it by a single beat. It's these moments that leave you a bit frustrated, because in all honesty, this very well could have easily been a home run. All the right ingredients are here, they're just not put together well.
I think the problem comes from the fact that it wants to be a comedy more than an action film, so the action is treated secondary, and it looks like it too. Only, there is a ton of action in here, right from the opening frames, yet it's just not handled very well, so it never comes off as good looking action, and it really puts a big damper on these sequences, of which there are a plethora of. I feel that had the film been treated more like an action film that was also funny, rather than a comedy that just happened to have some acion, and hired someone experienced in shooting action sequences, it could have really been great. It's painfully obvious this director has never handled action before, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he never did again after this. He's terrible at it. There's just too much action in this film for it to have been handled by an amateur, but that's exactly what we have here. About halfway through, the concept starts to wear itself thin, and you keep hoping that either the comedy will start to hit the right notes, or the action will step up, but sadly, neither happens, resulting in a film that always feels like it's one step off.
It's a pity really, because Shadoe Stevens is great, a natural, as is Robert Davi, and I have to admit, Priscilla Barnes is sexy as hell. If only it wasn't severely lacking in the action department, the forced comedy and absurd silliness of it could easily have been overlooked. As it stands, it's always just a single step away from being awesome. It's always missing that one beat or one ingredient that really could have made this shine. For my money, if they had had an actual action director, better editor or better second unit director, it would have fixed any number of it's pacing issues. But you know, I have to give them credit for doing something unique. It does work part of the time, and you can see what they were trying to do. I guess it goes without saying that I respect the effort if anything else.
How to see it:
You can watch it in it's entirety on YouTube. It's never been released on DVD here in the U.S. and it's currently not available to stream anywhere, not even to rent on Amazon. The VHS tape will run you anywhere from $10-$20, and frankly, that's a little too high for a film that's just alright.
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