9.14.2020

Bad Movie Night: Firecracker (1981)


by robotGEEK

Low-budget maestro Cirio H. Santiago (Equilizer 2000, Naked Vengeance, Wheels of Fire) directs this martial arts flick starring the impossibly sexy Jillian Kesner as a woman who travels to Manila to look for her sister who's gone missing. When she arrives, she soon discovers her sister was mixed up with and killed by the local mafia and illegal underground fighting ring organization. Being a martial artist herself, she immerses herself into this seedy underworld to find out what happened and exact revenge.

Firecracker has a lot going for it, but doesn't quite reach the level of Bad Movie Night classic, except for one glorious sequence that really makes the entire experience worth it. There's a scene where our heroin Susanne Carter (Jillian Kesner) is being chased by 2 thugs. While running for her life, her clothes repeatedly get caught on items that rip them off, where she's left in her bra and panties. And then in a surprising role reversal, she then taunts the thugs into chasing her even further where she attempts to take them on using her martial arts skills. Her bra is ripped off in one of these fights and she's left nude and kicking this guys ass. I have to say, this surprisingly long sequence is fucking amazing and even if you find the rest of the film a bit tedious, this sequence is worth the effort. 

That's not to say the film is uneventfully bad all around. While I did find it dull for good portions of it, Santiago sprinkles enough foot chases and old school kung fu fights to keep you invested. They're not great fights by any means, but really harken back to the old school way they used to shoot and edit these fights (with the exaggerated Enter The Dragon-style sound effects taking center stage), which brought back a lot of good memories for me. Much like a lot of these Philippines movies of the 80's, it's a good mix of Filipino and American actors, with Malibu Expresses mustache'd star Darby Hinton sharing the screen here with Kesner. But while Kesner is a true ass-kicking goddess on the screen, I personally found a minor character of Rey, played by martial artist, director, writer and producer Rey Malonzo, to be the real standout. Only popping in from time to time, he steals the scene every time he shows up. He's like a hybrid of Bruce Lee and Yeun Biao, kicking ass and taking names with such ferocity that aside from the nudity, leaves the biggest impression overall. 



There's also a truly bizarre love scene that will blow your mind because it's unlike anything you've ever seen. I can only imagine what was going on in Kesner and Hinton's heads while this was being filmed, yet it adds to the films overall nuttiness. 

While it won't rank up there with the best of the Bad Movie Night classics, it's definitely worth a watch. 



You can currently watch Firecracker on Amazon Prime and for FREE on TubiTV. 

9.11.2020

The Cult Corner: The Boxer's Omen (1983)


One Of The Best And Strangest "WTF?" Movies I've Ever Seen

by robotGEEK

At this stage in my life, having been a fan of cinema for the entirety of it, you'd think that by now I've seen just about everything that could surprise me. Even more so the fact that it's a Hong Kong production, because I had an intense HK phase back in the early 2000's where I devoured every HK fantasy film I could get my hands on, which honestly was during a time when that wasn't so easy, often relying on bootlegs. But I'm always happy to come across something that blows my mind, especially when I've never even heard of it or knew of it's existence. Enter The Boxer's Omen. A fucked up 1983 horror/thriller/fantasy/action/mystical/martial arts film from the legendary Shaw Brothers Studios


To my surprise, I'd never even heard of this film. It was only brought to my attention when it was mentioned in a film group on Facebook that deals with occult films. A quick search revealed that this film, while possessing rave reviews, is really difficult to get your hands on. But that's another story. The short of it is that I got my hands on a copy, and knowing absolutely nothing about it going in, other than it dealt with witchcraft and the occult, it proceeded to literally blow my mind and melt my brain. 

The best way I can describe it is that it's a mixture of Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain (1973) and Giulio Paradisi's brilliant WTF hybrid The Visitor (1979)......with some Zu: Warriors From The Magic Mountain (1983) and Nicolas Wending Refn thrown in for good measure. It's truly a fantastically bizarre mish-mash of so much random shit that even trying to pin down a narrative won't make you understand what's happening any easier. I can tell you that it begins with a story about revenge when a boxer is permanently paralyzed during a boxing match by the one and only Bolo Yeung, and the paralyzed boxer's brother vows revenge, only to have it veer completely off course into a totally different film about witchcraft, monks, the occult, evil, black magic and a wizard who looks suspiciously like the love child of John Carpenter and Al Leong. Then, only to go back to the story about boxing and revenge in the final act of the film. 



It's this middle part of the film that really throws everything you ever thought about cinema out the window and completely melts your eyes. But in a good way! Filled with so much random fucking imagery (so much of it amazing!) and really insane practical effects work, it's as if they got together, took some acid, and decided to film whatever popped into their heads. That's exactly what it looks and feels like. Being someone who's actually taken a lot of psychedelics in my time, the shit I saw in this film gave me strong flashbacks in the best possible way. Throw in some hot full frontal nudity for no reason, a trippy score, and you've got yourselves the making of a good time. 

In terms of plot and story, it's a fucking mess, with most of it making absolutely zero sense, but in terms of it's visual eye candy, it's superb. Often creative utilizing simple tricks like lens filters to achieve certain effects, and a whole lot of gooey, gory practical effects, there's no mistaking the skilled surreal artistry behind the camera. Nearly every frame of film is a work of pure widescreen cinematic art often reminding me of Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain. You may not know what the whole point of the film was, but you sure as hell can't deny it was one of the most trippy and beautiful things you've ever seen. 



The Boxers Omen has been released on DVD, but is very expensive, going anywhere from $60 to almost $200. It may or may not have been uploaded to YouTube for all I know (I haven't bothered to check), and if you're a much more tech-savy person than I am, you might even find it streaming somewhere on the down-low.  

9.03.2020

90's Action Attack!: The Killing Zone


by robotGEEK

While this particular film had been sitting in my "Amazon Watchlist" for a very long time, it wasn't until watching the Bad Movie Night masterpiece L.A. Wars recently that I finally felt compelled to give this a try. Why you ask? Because this is written and directed by the same guy (Addison Randall) who wrote L.A. Wars, as well as the hilariously awesome Shotgun, and if those films are any indication, I knew I was in for a good time. 

When a Mexican drug kingpin vows to avenge the death of his drug kingpin brother, it's up to ex-con Garret Bodine (Deron McBee) to help the police and keep his town safe. 

While not nearly as great as L.A. Wars, The Killing Zone did not disappoint. And to be quite honest, it was better than I was expecting. So let's get to it. 

Now this is really low-budget. While it may be under the almighty PM Entertainment's banner, I'm pretty sure it was a film they acquired after the fact and released under their name, because PM has a very specific quality to their action, and sadly, none of that is in here. That's not to say that the action scenes aren't entertaining in their own right, because they are. Just in a totally different way. Meaning, they're entertaining because they're so bad. Filled with random shootouts, it's the reaction shots of the people actually getting shot that are hilarious. I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud as often as I did by the reactions of those getting killed. It's hilarious! 

The fun doesn't stop there! The film looks so cheap that the opening and ending credits look like it's an 80's TV show. And the music, while highly entertaining, sounds like they're taken right out of vintage Nintendo games. Seriously, you can take so much of the music in here and insert them into any old NES game and it would fit. 

If you've had the pleasure of watching L.A. Wars, then you know what kind of hilarious dialogue to expect. Former American Gladiator and wrestler Daron McBee is amazing as the lead. He's so over the top in so many ways (the way he dresses, acts, and just being so goddamn huge in general) that he sells the shit out of it. It's a shame he never made it as an action hero in the DTV market the way Brian Bosworth and even Roddy Piper did for a brief time. He had the goods!

My only real complaint was that the film did a great job building up to a finale that promised to deliver a really big payoff of revenge. But when it was all said and done, the ending fell flat compared to it's promising conclusion. Nothing in the final act measured up to anything that happened leading up to it. And let me tell you, there's some great stuff in this film. One particular scene that stands out is when a mute bodyguard takes on a whole gang. There's so much fancy handwork going on in this fight that you almost don't even notice that none of his punches land, which is hilarious, and a guy who attempts a karate kick ends up losing a shoe in the middle of a kick as it goes flying clear across the screen!

While the ending is a bit weak, The Killing Zone is still a lot of fun. Hilarious action and dialogue, a larger than life lead, and some of the funniest kills I've ever seen in an action film....ever. Do yourself a favor give this a watch. It was the perfect solution to my dead Saturday night. It's not a good action film, but it sure as hell is a fun one. 

The Killing Zone is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

8.20.2020

The Best Film I Never Saw: Enemy Mine (1985)


One Of The Best Examples Of 80's Science Fiction. So Why Doesn't Anybody Talk About It?

by robotGEEK

It blows my mind that this wasn't a film that I grew up on. I think I might have had some preconceived notions about what type of film it was going to be. I guess in my mind I imagined it being a film where the entire running time was spent with a man and an alien talking. And I honestly don't know why I thought that. It could have been that I never (ever) heard anyone mention it, and otherwise prove me wrong. I'm serious. In all my life, I have never heard anyone talk about this movie. How is that even possible? Even as an adult, I never come across posts about it on any of the sites I follow or any of the Instagram pages I follow that should love this movie. Well I finally just decided to give it a try out of the blue, and to my surprise, it's a goddamn masterpiece. 

While my initial summation is partly true in that it is in fact a film about a man and an alien stranded on a planet and have to live together to survive, there is so much more going on here. It's an epic sci-fi adventure that manages to seamlessly throw in many different genre's (drama, thriller, adventure, action, science fiction) and elements into a single film, that it kind of gives you a bit of everything. Not to mention that for such a small cast, the acting is just impeccable. You end up feeling for these 2 characters in a way I was not expecting. 

I am so in love with this film for so many reasons, because there's just so much to love. For starters, the practical effects work, production design and overall aesthetic reminds me so much of The Last Starfighter, Starman and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - all films I love dearly. Then there's Wolfgang Peterson's (Outbreak, Air Force One) visually stunning direction. Coming off the heels of The Neverending Story, he effortlessly dives into science fiction like a pro. The first and last act integrate a lot of visual and practical effects with spaceships, weaponry, battles and space stations that remind us why this era was the best in science fiction filmmaking. 35 years after it's release and what I saw in here STILL looks better than anything put out today with massive budgets.

Even though a good chunk of the film deals with the rocky relationship of these 2 fighters on a desolate and uninhabitable planet, you're invested in it fully. The world that director Peterson and the production team have created is incredible to look at, but Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr.'s performances are what sell it. While full of dramatic moments, there are also moments that are funny, tender, sad and even horrifying. One word that keeps popping in my head when trying to describe it is that it's full of "heart", and the more I think of it, the more it couldn't be more true. We even get the late-great Brion James as a slimy villain, how much more convincing do you need?

Finally having seen it, it blows my mind that this wasn't a hit, only recovering a fraction of its budget. Even more so that it didn't become a hit on home video, which is where it could easily have recovered some of it's loss. Though it seems like a film that probably played on HBO or Cinemax back in the 80's, I never came across it personally. If I had, I can guarantee you that this would have been a lifelong favorite. And I watched a LOT of HBO and Cinemax back then. Hey, I was 9. And this was right before Nintendo took the world by storm. What else are you going to do during the summer?

What's interesting is that nobody turned me onto this. Somehow it just popped in my head that I need to take the time to finally see it. It could have been while I was digging through someones filmography related to this on IMDB for something and realized I never saw it before. I rented it on Amazon instead of purchasing it because I didn't know if I'd actually like it. Well I fucking LOVE it. I love it to death and immediately after finishing it I looked online to see what releases there were available. It looks like Twilight Time is the first company to release this on Blu Ray in the US, but as expected, that limited release goes for upwards of $100. However, Umbrella Entertainment out of Australia released it on Blu Ray for a much more affordable price and Region Free, which is the route I'm going to go because this needs to be in my collection permanently. 

8.10.2020

Revisiting Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice


Ben Affleck Shines As Batman In A Brutally Messy Film

by robotGEEK

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a fan of Zack Snyder's dark superhero universe. I didn't particularly enjoy Man of Steel (even though I was quite excited to see it initially), and once again going into BVS excitedly, I was let down all over again. Not only let down, I hated it. Exiting the film screening with a group of friends I was audibly upset and annoyed by what I had just seen. Needless to say, I avoided revisiting it all these years until now. And to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I even wanted to revisit it. I think it's mainly because I'm going through a Batman phase at the moment, and just wanted to see if my perception had changed any since watching it 4 years ago at the cinema. 

To put it frankly, the answer is no. The film is a giant muddled mess. It's too overly dramatic and depressing. Everyone is constantly pouting. It's way too long for it's own good. This time around I decided to go with the Directors Cut, thinking maybe that would change my mind, but it didn't. If anything, it made things worse. It's a convoluted and an incredibly and overly complicated mess with so many storylines going on that I honestly couldn't tell you what it was even about. At least a good half hour could have been cut and it wouldn't have affected a damn thing because when a movie is so damn nihilistic, dour and full constant dread, the over 3 hour runtime feels more like 6 hours. I felt like it would never end. It took me 3 sittings just to get through it. Did we really need another Batman origin story? And let's just get to the main issue that everyone, including myself, complained about right from the beginning. For a film that's called Batman Versus Superman, and for a film that is literally over 3 hours long, Bat's and Supe's maybe fight for a total of 20 minutes??? I might as well throw in there that I was not a fan of Jesse Eisenberg's whiny, bratty, childish Lex Luther. You could have cast a moody puberty-stricken 13 year old and gotten the same results. 



It's not a total loss though. Wonder Woman steals the show in every scene she's in. And goddamn what an epic fucking entrance. Perfect. Just perfect. But for me personally it's all about Batman here. I'm just going to say it. Ben Affleck is the BEST Batman to hit the screen since Michael Keaton. Of course I know not everyone will agree and not everyone even likes Keaton for that matter, but man I just loved what Affleck did with the character here. I loved the older take on Wayne, the salt and pepper hair, the bigger, broader physique, the always-present stubble, the lower measured voice, and most of all, I loved the Batsuit, one of several homages to Frank Miller's genre-defining The Dark Knight Returns. I admired that they didn't try to go the more realistic "tactical" approach to the design the way Christopher Nolan's films did with the suit (which also seems to be what Matt Reeves is doing with his new Batman film, for better or worse). Here it looks like something you'd see in a comic book, but still distinctly all it's own. While not 100% copying Miller's design, it's close enough to see the inspiration. 

Every moment Batman or Bruce was on screen, the film was good. Even the much-discussed and dissected "dream sequence" was brilliant, even if it didn't make any sense. It just looked fucking cool. Batman played such a large role in this, even though technically it is a sequel to Man of Steel if I remember correctly, that I couldn't help but feel that if they just took every scene that he was in, they could easily have made a standalone Batman film, because I have to admit that while I was no fan of Snyder's work in the directors chair here, I feel he did make Batman look badass, and I think a sliced-together cut of Batmans scenes here would make a dark, brutal and gritty Batman film with Ben Affleck shining as the caped crusader. But that's just my opinion. 

Now off to finally check out Justice League....

8.04.2020

90's Action Attack!: Mission of Justice (1992)

One Of The Best Blow-For-Blow Fight Films To Hit DTV

by robotGEEK

It's so easy to get discouraged with the DTV market when you see so many of these low-budget action films and the majority of them end up being either awful or just plain dull. Hell, I can admit that I didn't really enjoy Jeff Wincott's Martial Outlaw (1993) all that much myself. While Wincott himself was fine, I found the film lacking overall in nearly every department: direction, choreography, fight sequences and it's general overall tone. That film just reeked of cheapness. But I know he can deliver some bangers, because Last Man Standing is a film I still consider one of the best in both PM Entertainment's filmography as well as that specific genre in general. Well, after a few weeks of duds, I found another winner. 

When a ruthless neo-fascist leader is running for mayor, and will do whatever it takes to get there, even if it resorts to murder. When she kills a friend of local cop Kurt Harris (Wincott), he goes undercover to infiltrate her secret underground organization to find out the truth. 


I have to admit that this film really surprised me at every turn. First and foremost, you just know it's going to be a good time when Brigitte Nielsen is the main villain. But that's not all. Her henchman are some real badasses in the world of action such as Matthias Hues, Andrew Lew and a few other stunt performers and martial artists you'll most certainly recognize. But for me, the most impressive person I found in here was Karen Shepard (pictured above), someone I'd never heard of before....surprisingly, but literally blew me away here. She plays Kurt's partner, who wants to believe him and stands up for him any chance she gets, but always ends up finding herself in the thick of it when the shit hits the fan. What I found surprising his how her character is slowly revealed to be a total badass as the film progresses until she has several shining moments where her incredible martial arts skills come into play. How I've never heard of her, or why she's not a better known female action star is beyond me. 

The fight scenes take center stage here, and they are just fucking brutal. In fact, the second I finished watching it, I messaged a buddy of mine and told him this was hands-down one of the best blow-for-blow fighting films I've ever seen in the low-budget action genre. There are no explosions, car chases or even gun fights from what I can recall. While there are plenty of guns and yes there are shootings, they always end up turning into fist fights and they always go on much longer than you're expecting, which is a good thing! Right from the first fight inside a liquor store during a robbery that Harris unfoils while on patrol, you know you're in for with the fights and choreography. Quality. A much higher quality than we're accustomed to with these types of films, and every time I thought they couldn't surprise me, they always did. The film is filled with numerous moments of badassery and an insane number of fights, but there are 3 in particular that stood out for me, one of them being a full on tournament-style underground battle that literally came out of nowhere and ended up being one of the best sequences in the entire film. Again, one of the film's many strengths is in the way that these are better than most fights I see in films that were hitting theaters during this time.


So we've got a pretty killer cast here full of action baddies, the amazonian Brigitte Nielsen, the surprisingly badass Karen Sheperd, and of course the always reliable Jeff Wincott. But I have to give props to director Steve Barnett (Mindwarp, Scanner Cop II), a post-production supervisor on big budget films such as Live Free or Die Hard, with only 9 credits as a film director, and none of them dealing with martial arts or even action for that matter. How he was able to deliver one of the best looking action films I've seen in ages, while others who do it for a living and still turn out turds is really surprising to me. He shoots the fight scenes so well, like he's done it before, and gives the entire a film an upgrade in quality that we usually don't see in these types of films. When someone takes just as much time to set up a slick looking shot that has nothing to do with the action just as much as he does for the action sequences, well that's always something to take notice of. It's a shame he didn't direct more DTV action films, he has a natural gift and he made this film look great. And it's because of this that I'll probably check out Scanner Cop II eventually. 

Mission of Justice is currently streaming on Amazon Prime

8.01.2020

90's Thriller Throwback: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)


One Of The Best Batman Films Period

by robotGEEK

It blows my mind that it's taken me this long to finally get to this. Mind you, I was obsessed with the landmark Animated Series when it first came out. I remember being in middle school, and running home to catch it every day after school. I bought the toys religiously, and was a bigger fan than your average nerdy kid who just liked the show. Hell, I even have a blanket that I used every single day of my life from the day I bought it back in the 90's. Yet for some reason I never took the time to watch this movie. And we all know the whole story behind this by now; how or why it came to be, and why it did not do well at the box office. If you need a refresher, here's a great video about the whole history behind it and it's reception by Toy Galaxy, one of my favorite YouTuber's who really make great videos geared towards vintage toys and cartoons. You can check that video out HERE



Well I finally made time (thank you Netflix!), and I have to say, it's easily one of the BEST Batman films ever made. This isn't just a longer version of one of the Animated Series episodes. Right from the start you can clearly see a huge upgrade in quality in the animation. So much so that you wish they had put that amount of effort into the episodes, but I understand why they couldn't. And while I will admit that the big reveal was already spoiled for me before going in, it didn't take away any of my enjoyment. 

What surprised me was how "mature" this film was, and after having finally seen it, I could see how it could have turned some of the younger audience off who were used to the oftentimes silliness of the animated show. And while the series was always known for it's Art Deco aesthetics, which is beautifully captured here in glorious widescreen, I loved how they pushed it even further in both that area as well as the old film noir genre, making it feel like an old gangster film from time to time, with hints of the feeling of Burton's first Batman film. And if you go in expecting wall to wall action, you're going to be disappointed, because another one of it's many surprises is that it plays out more like a character study set in the world of film noir than anything else. Yes there's action, and boy is it amazing, but the film doesn't try to rely strictly on that to keep you entertained. Instead the focus is on story, and it makes you think. It makes you pay attention. 



I've been in somewhat of a Batman kick lately, having revisited Burton's Batman  (my favorite film of all time) a few times in the last week alone, and finally revisited Snyder's Batman V Superman for the first time since I saw it in theaters. At this point, I would have to say this is my second favorite Batman film, followed by Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. I'm looking to revisit the animated Dark Knight Returns Double-Feature soon, as well as finally getting to the live action Justice League, something I've avoided until now, if only to see if Ben Affleck's pitch-perfect Batman performance from BVS carries over to that film. But I loved this. It was better than I was expecting and such a different experience than I imagined going in with plenty of surprises in store.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is currently streaming on Netflix in the U.S.. It's also included in the Blu-Ray set of the Animated Series or as a standalone Blu-Ray release. 

Exploring The Black Hole - The Movie That Changed Disney Forever





The Black Hole Documentary We've All Been Waiting For

If you're as big a fan of Disney's The Black Hole like I am, the you've probably wondered why we still haven't gotten any kind of "behind the scenes" featurette on any of their physical releases, a "Making Of" book (which is honestly really surprising since they release these things for even the most awful movies), much less a definitive feature length documentary. It's been 41 years since the release of this science fiction masterpiece and I would have thought that when we hit the 40 year mark, Disney would have invested in "something", but no. They didn't even put anything on their Black Hole Blu Ray release when they "finally" made that happen, albeit for Disney Club members only. 

Well I've got good news for you. I happened to come across this amazing retrospective on YouTube while casually browsing and I'm here to tell you, it's everything we wanted in a Black Hole documentary and more. While clocking in at just under an hour, the information is thrown at us at a fast and furious pace. If you're like me, you're probably going to have to watch this a few times just to retain all the information. 

Exploring The Black Hole - The Movie That Changed Disney Forever comes to us courtesy of the fine folks over at GoodBadFlicks on YouTube and let me tell you, they do their homework. There is so much vital information in here that will want you craving more, and after watching it, and learning of how important this film was to not only Disney, but to special effects in general, I'm still shocked that there isn't an official documentary. That title is no lie. This film, while a box office bomb, forever changed Disney for a number of different reasons in many different ways and this excellent video touches on all of that, as well as the making of the film itself. 

It still blows my mind that this film still doesn't get the love and respect it deserves. I'm glad to know that there are people out there like this guy, who love it just as much as I do. While it's certainly developed a cult following in the decades since it's disastrous release, it's still nowhere near the beloved classic it deserves to be, and that's such a shame. Anyway, enjoy! 

7.29.2020

The Toy Box: Tron SDCC 2020 Exclusive in VHS Packaging!!

Easily The Coolest Tron Action Figure Release EVER

by robotGEEK

Your first thought is probably "but we didn't have a Comic Con this year", and you would be correct. Though they still held something of a "virtual" Comic Con, I have no idea how that even worked out in the grande scheme of things, but the initial reports are that it was a mixed bag. But you know, they tried with what they had in a time when things were rapidly changing with the pandemic and they didn't know whether it was going to happen at all or not. But moving on.

A lot of the reveals weren't all that interesting to me personally, but this certainly was. This is a Tron action figure, in his red neon (later changed to blue for the movie) costume based on the promotional poster before the film was released. As we all know, they decided to change it to blue for the movie. This figure comes in a sick and SLICK VHS-style clamshell packaging and maaaaaan, I am all about this! He also comes with 5 different discs and a Tron stand for the figure. This figure is set to release in August of this year (just around the corner!!) and once again comes from the mighty folks at Diamond Select, who did the previous Tron Walgreens Exclusive figures from earlier this year.....which are amazing!

Before you get excited, I have to tell you that from what I could tell, all pre-orders are already generally SOLD OUT on every online marketplace I would normally order these from like Entertainment Earth and Big Bad Toy Store. Diamond Select Toys official website looks like they actually have them in stock, but I don't know if their site is currently updated or if that changes once you sign in. You'd have to try ordering and see what happens. You can do that HERE. There is however eBay, which is really a place a lot of us don't like to buy these from because the sellers always ask far more than what you should have to pay for them.

And how are there some already available on eBay? A lot of them are from comic shops or businesses who were set to actually be set up at Comic Con this year, so they were able to get their hands on a certain amount that were allowed to be sold at the event. Since there was no convention, they then go to eBay. And really, this situation is different. Unlike flippers who buy them and resell them for double or triple the price, they're actually close to the original retail cost last I checked. And that's where I purchased mine. Now there are flippers on there, those who got their "pre-orders" in before they sold out everywhere and those are the ones who will be providing their "pre-order" confirmations to prove that they do in fact have one arriving when they are officially released next month. For your information, the regular retail price for these is $40.

If I were you, I'd grab one ASAP as they're already a hot item and hard to get officially. The prices on eBay are not bad at all right now. You can find them ranging anywhere from $40 (retail) to around $55. Some offer FREE Shipping and some don't, but even with shipping, it's not too bad.

It still blows my mind that as big a collector as I am today for these things, I am so out of the loop. I don't know where everyone gets their information on all these upcoming releases, but as far as this figure goes, I only found out about it because I was looking up something else entirely on eBay one night and this strangely showed up in the listings. When I saw "Tron SDCC 2020" in the title, I did a quick search and that's how I discovered this was even in existence. Otherwise I don't think I would have even known. Nobody ever thinks to tell me or keep me in the loop! I discovered this by accident! It just so happened to be on the same weekend it was actually released virtually as part of SDCC's Virtual Con, so I got lucky.


7.26.2020

The Cult Corner: Ninja Assassin (2009)

The Best Ninja Film You Haven't Seen (or maybe it's just me?)

by robotGEEK

Why hasn't anyone told me this movie was so badass?! If you had told me when this came out that it would go on to be one of the best ninja movies ever made, I would have told you you were crazy. Given the fact that I actually haven't seen it until now, even though "ninja" films is one of my favorite genre's, it just goes to show you that I had no trust in this. Boy was I wrong.

Doing some research, I found that one of the films biggest criticisms was it's simple story. But I actually found that it works in its favor, allowing the action, choreography and incredible stuntwork to take center stage, because really, that's where Ninja Assassin shines. Yet at the same time I don't agree 100% with the criticism, because unlike a lot of other ninja films, this one really digs deep into the whole mysticism angle of the ninja mythology. There were things done in here that I've never seen in a ninja film before, and combined with it's incredible ninja action, makes this one a standout in the genre.



Ever since I was a little kid, I've always been a fan of ninja films. I'm not going to say I've seen them all, because I haven't. In fact, I still haven't seen some important ones in the genre, or even some of the better known shitty cult classics from Godfrey Ho, but I've always had a love for this genre for as long as I can remember, going all the way back to the early 80's when Sho Kosugi was literally known as the ultimate ninja. So imagine my surprise to discover that not only does he appear in this film, but that he plays such a big integral part in how everything plays out. Not only that, I dare say that this is hands-down his best performance on screen. Listen, I love the guy. I grew up idolizing him, and discovered an all-new appreciation for him all over again well into my 40's, but he was never a good actor. Competent...yes. But he will be the first to tell you (which he's done in countless new interviews), that he doesn't consider himself an actor. He was and is a martial artist first and foremost and does realize his shortcomings when it comes to acting, which he never claimed to be. He'll flat out tell you he's not an actor. But here, he shines in a way I'd never seen before. Not only with his acting ability, but in the way he delivers his lines. Even today, I always find it hard to make out what he says without subtitles because of his thick accent, but that's not even an issue here. And I found his villain role to be far more suited to his special set of skills.

The main star here is an actor by the name of Rain, who is also a world famous South Korean actor, singer, songwriter and producer. I guess in today's era, you'd call him a K-Pop star. He does a good job here as the super fit, super lethal and super mysterious ninja Raizo who doesn't say a whole lot, but can kick a whole lot of ninja ass.

Director James McTeigue, who cut his teeth as an assistant director on films like The Matrix Trilogy and Dark City, and eventually became a director with his first film V for Vendetta, does an outstanding job here. One of the reasons I avoided this for so long was because given the era when it was released, I assumed it would be another shaky-cam/quick-edit choppy mess a la films like Taken. But this was not that. McTeigue does an outstanding job giving the films a slick aesthetic, while also reminding you why you loved ninja films in the first place. While there is some CGI implored here, I'm here to tell you that it's not only flawlessly integrated into the action, but this is one of those rare moments in a modern action film where it actually enhances everything, instead of doing the opposite and actually ruining an action scene like so many films seem to still do today.

Ninja Assassin instantly became one of my Top 3 Ninja films of all time, right along side Pray for Death (1985) and Revenge of the Ninja (1983), all which coincidentally star Sho Kosugi. Yes, do it's that good, and if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out pronto.

Ninja Assassin is currently streaming on Netflix in the United States

7.14.2020

Documentary Roundup: Batman, Apes and Roller Skates

Starring Adam West (2013)

While Adam West isn't really "my" Batman (I grew up obsessed with Michael Keaton's Batman, being 13 when Tim Burton's landmark superhero film was released), I've always enjoyed his ability to poke fun at himself. I mean, his stint on Family Guy is fucking legendary now. But I guess I never really knew just how weird he really was, because this delightful documentary showcases his odd sense of humor front and center as he details his life growing up on a farm, moving his way up the Hollywood chain until becoming the character that would ultimately define his entire life and career.

You also get to hear a lot about his personal life firsthand, including many rough patches both professionally and personally from the man himself, which just goes to show you that no matter how much you're loved and no matter how successful you are, none of us are perfect.

Browsing Amazon one day this popped up on my radar, and I intended to throw it on as background noise while I did some other things, but lo and behold, it sucks you in from the beginning and ultimately we sat there and watched the entire thing and it was entertaining as hell.

"Starring Adam West" is currently streaming on Amazon Prime

Making Apes (2019)

Here's another documentary I was completely unaware of until it just randomly showed up on Amazon while browsing. Though I will admit I had this one sitting in my Watchlist for a little while before I finally decided to give it a go, once I threw it on I was instantly captivated by it's impeccable storytelling, a lot of which centers around the personal (and ultimately tumultuous) relationship between a master effects artist and his protege, and plethora of behind the scenes information revolving around this significant series of films.

The thing is, personally speaking, I had no idea just how important or significant the original Planet of the Apes film was in the world of makeup effects. Sure we can look back on them now and kind of smirk at how limited the makeup and effects are, but at the time, it was a huge deal and major milestone in practical makeup effects, a term that wasn't even a thing for many more years to come as you'll soon discover in the documentary.

Even if you're just a casual fan of the franchise, this is an excellent documentary that showcases how the first film came about, it's legendary status in the world of science fiction, and the people who brought them to life, forever changing the world of makeup effects.

"Making Apes: The Artists Who Changed Film" is now streaming on Amazon Prime

Roller Dreams (2017)

Having grown up in the 80's, I'm always down for any type of nostalgic trip, and this one offers that in spades. Documenting the rise and fall of the rollerskating scene in Venice Beach, CA circa 1984, Roller Dreams takes a look at the lives (then and now) of a handful of local celebrities that turned what was virtually unheard of into something of an Olympic sport, dedicating every aspect of their lives into becoming the best, most original skaters anywhere.

And I'm not just talking about skating. These people were dancing and doing moves that you never knew were possible wearing skates, churning out choreographed numbers to radio hits. They became something of a celebrity, spending countless hours in the blazing sun entertaining massive crowds until the local police and the city decided that they just didn't want them to anymore. Here you get to here from those who lived that dream firsthand and how it all unfolded, changing their lives in many different ways.

While the personal stories are touching, and the way it's all put together is done really well by the filmmakers, the real star of this immersive documentary is the vintage footage of Venice Beach in 1984, of which there is plenty. You're thrown in a time capsule to a time when short shorts, roller skates and headbands ruled and it's such a fun nostalgic trip.

"Roller Dreams is currently streaming on Hulu

7.10.2020

90's Thriller Throwback: Run (1991)


A Superb Action Thriller That Showcases Patrick Dempsey's Ability to Run, Quite Literally, For His Life

by robotGEEK

I have a very distinct memory of the marketing of this film. I remember the trailers showing a young and skinny Patrick Dempsey (after a series of popular 80's chick flicks) running for his life, car crashes, gun shots and a cool looking font for the simple title. I also remember it just sort of coming and going with little to no attention, which surprises me because as I finally sit down to watch it for the first time, it's quite an excellent little thriller.

A cocky young law student is transporting a Porsche to a client long distance when it breaks down in a city he's not familiar with. Through a series of events, he gets into a fight with a local mob boss's son, accidentally killing him. Now he's running for his life with a bounty on his head as both the mob and a corrupt police force are after him. 

Run is pretty much exactly what I want when I sit down for a thriller, and literally represents the best of what this genre has to offer. It hits the ground running, literally wasting no time in throwing you into the crazy ride that you're about to take. Written by veteran screenwriter Dennis Shryack (The Gauntlet, Pale Rider, Code of Silence, Turner & Hooch and a personal favorite of mine Fifty/Fifty), Run is a nonstop series of death-defying sequences full of car chases, shootouts, and so many near-death close calls that you start to chuckle a little bit because Patrick Dempsey's Charlie Farrow would have died in any one of those sequences. But that lack of realism doesn't make a damn bit of difference because it's an exceptionally fun ride from start to finish.



Dempsey's characters is so overly arrogant right off the bat that you just know some bad shit is going to put him in his place rather quickly, and boy does he get run through the paces. When he's not being shot at or chased by cars, he gets the shit physically beat out of him pretty regularly throughout the film and somehow manages to remain upbeat, snarky and rarely ever gets a scratch on him. And I have to give it to Dempsey, this is a physically demanding role and its shocking apparent he did a lot of the stunts himself, which honestly makes it more badass. This one sequence involving a police car in a 5 story parking garage in particular sticks out. But even with the little stuff, like being thrown against a wall clear across a room, stack of tables, chairs or on the hood of a car by men twice his size, and clearly seeing it's him and not a double, is impressive.

Despite it's clever and fast-paced script, a lot of what makes Run so good is director Geoff Burrow's impeccable direction and cinematographer Bruce Surtees' camerawork. For a guy who'd only directed a single film before this, 1988's Return to Snowy River, Burrowes displays a natural talent behind the camera. Seriously, after watching this you'd just assume he'd done this many, many times before because he's so goddamn good at it, but nope. Run carries a slick, straightforward approach that lets the stunts and action take center stage. But even then, you sense an aesthetic sheen that makes it all look so good. I mean, we're not talking Black Rain level of visuals, but for something that easily could have looked like a Made-for-TV movie, Run is brilliantly visual and looks and feels much larger than it actually is. And that's all thanks to director Geoff Burrowes and Cinematographer Bruce Surtees (Sudden Impact, Pale Rider, License to Drive, Beverly Hills Cop). Now that I think about it, I'm sure it's more Surtees who deserves the accolades here.

Run is a quick, exhilarating and fun hour and a half that will surprise you with how much they can squeeze out of a decent little budget. Run is currently streaming on Amazon Prime right now, but be warned, there are a handful of other films with the same title. Be sure to pick the one with that poster art, or the 1991 date attached to it.

The Toy Corner: Transformers Blaster Walmart G1 Re-Issue Coming in August

by robotGEEK

I feel bad because I always forget to give you all a heads up with some of these releases. The truth is, I get so caught up in trying to personally snag any one particular limited edition release for myself that I often forget to let others know any potential awesome news. I'll try to be better about that. For someone who continues to collect vintage and commemorative releases of vintage toys to this day, I'm almost always out of the loop. I don't know how some of y'all keep tabs on these things. I'm usually either told by a friend, or just happen to randomly come across them by accident, like with the Black Hole Walgreens Exclusives

Walmart's successful line of Generation 1 Transformers continues with this new entry, the retro cool Blaster. He wasn't a Transformer I had as a kid, but I always wanted one. I do remember having Soundwave, but even as an adult, I'll randomly look for a used vintage Blaster and either he's just too expensive, or he's missing his original gun, or his tape deck button and door are broken. But good news! This re-issue is an exact replica of the original, right down to the box art we all love so much and is currently available for pre-order on Walmart's website for $29.99. It is set to arrive August 6th.

Here are the details via Walmart's website:

Transformers Toys Vintage G1 Autobot Blaster Collectible Action Figure - Adults and Kids Ages 8 and Up, 4.5-inch
  • RE-CREATION OF THE ORIGINAL G1 DESIGN: This vintage G1 Autobot Blaster figure is inspired by the original 1985 G1 release
  • CLASSIC CONVERSION: Autobot Blaster features classic conversion from boombox (non-working) to robot modes in 4 steps
  • VINTAGE DECORATION AND STICKER DECALS: Autobot Blaster figure comes with a sheet of foil decals so fans can detail the toy.
  • RETRO PACKAGING: Inspired by the original G1 packaging, this pack features the original G1 Transformers logo, character art, and classic Autobots versus Decepticon battle scene
  • TECH SPECS: Complete tech specs for Autobot Blaster are included on the pack in the classic G1 style fans know and love. Compare figures’ strength, speed, firepower, and more
Experience the figures that started it all. This Transformers: Vintage G1 Autobot Blaster figure is designed like the original G1 version -- including figure styling, packaging, and art inspired by the 1985 G1 releases, plus classic tech specs and accessories. (Re)start a vintage Transformers collection with this Autobot Blaster figure.
Autobot Blaster loves to crank the volume on good, hard rock ‘n roll music. Can switch from robot to radio to receive and transmit radio frequencies. At the forefront of any situation. Carries electro-scrambler gun.
Autobot Blaster figure comes with Electro-Scrambler Gun accessory and converts from boombox (non-working) to robot mode in 4 steps.
Clip out and save the on-box tech specs to share, then see how this figure stacks up against other heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons (each sold separately).
Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.
  • Includes: figure, weapon accessory, label sheet, and instructions.
  • Figure scale: 4.5-inch
  • Ages 8 and up
  • WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD - Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.
© 2019 Hasbro. All rights reserved.

Pre-Order yours today directly from Walmart's website, or follow the link HERE.

6.25.2020

Watching HBO's Watchmen

This Landmark Take on The Superhero Genre Will Be a Benchmark For Things to Come

by robotGEEK

With all the streaming apps that we currently pay for, HBO is not one of them. So when they announced the release of Watchmen as a series, we knew we were just going to have to wait until it hit Blu Ray to finally dig into it. But then the pandemic happened, and a lot of these "pay for" streaming sites began offering free trials to entice us. Hell, it worked with Shudder. We tried their free trial and ended up signing up for a membership. And with Watchmen in particular, as of this writing, they are currently offering it for free on both Amazon Prime and Hulu if you already have subscriptions for either of them. So this past weekend we jumped on it and literally binged the entire 9-Episode season in just a few days, something we never do. On one hand we did it because we wanted to watch it all before they removed the free trial offer, but on the other hand because it was so fucking good that we couldn't stop.



I am a Watchmen fan. I was 10 when the comic was released, and it would be just a few years later when I myself would get deep into comic book collecting and ultimately when I discovered this dark tale. But of course, like most of us, it wasn't until we were adults that we truly appreciated what Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons were doing with this comic series. But anyway, we all know that story now. And while I was a general fan of Zack Snyder's 2009 film, I wasn't blown away by it. For a film with such a long runtime, it still felt surprisingly tedious and long, when it should have felt the other way around. I can't really put my finger on it, but ultimately, while it was a nice looking film, it didn't always work. Which brings us to HBO's series.

Upon completion of this series, my first impression is that it is hands-down one of the best written shows I've ever seen, right up there with Hannibal and Breaking Bad. Created for television and written by Lost creator/writer Damon Lindelof, Watchmen takes a different approach than a straight-up adaptation of the well-beloved comic. Instead, Lindelof uses it as a jumping off point, instead shifting the story to a sort of alternate reality, 30 years later. In this new take, we see only a fraction of the original characters and what they've become since, as well as new masked vigilantes and an entirely new version where racism is front and center. Considering this was made before the recent riots and injustices towards people of color coming to light front and center, it's a bit surreal to watch this now because it comes across so much more relevant and important.

One of the shows may strengths is in it's casting. Some of them are pretty spot-on, like Jeremy Irons as Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias, while others like the incredible Regina King as the series lead and all around badass Angela Abar aka Sister Night just surprised the hell out of me in the best possible way. I mean, for all the times I've seen her in a supporting role in dramas, seeing her kicking ass and taking names was such a pleasant surprise. I'm not going to bore you with a complete rundown of every cast member, but some personal notable standouts for me were Jean Smart, Louis Gossett Jr. and Tim Blake Nelson respectively.

It's a rare thing when every single episode hits you like a ton of bricks. Each hour long journey was met with excitement, shock, surprise and total awe. The number of twists this thing took were brilliant and wild, but none more incredible than the now legendary episode 6 titled "This Extraordinary Being". I mean, goddamn was that a huge emotional punch to the gut and just brilliant. While there was not a single bad episode in the bunch, Episode 6 seems to be the all-around favorite for most people, and with good reason.



What Lindelof and his team of writers and directors have created will go down in history as one of the greatest, most brilliant series ever produced. While it's already become an instant hit, just wait. It will be a series that others will try to repeat, but will probably not come anywhere near trying to achieve its brilliance. It will be a benchmark for how other creators will try to approach popular comic book titles in the future when adapting them to TV. Because lets face it, TV was and is the only way to go with something as vast as the Watchmen mythology. The fact that they tried so hard to condense it into a nearly 3 hour film back in 2009 is still surprising to me. I mean, some of it works, and some of it doesn't. There were some creative and artistic choices (did we really need so much slo-mo???) that really hampered would could have been a great epic film, but that was 11 years ago and there's nothing we can do about that now. Back in the late 80's or early 90's (before the internet), I remember reading in a Comics Magazine that Terry Gilliam was attached to direct Watchmen, but ultimately backed out when he realized that there was really no way to do it justice unless he was able to make it into a Mini-Series or something. Making it into a single film was impossible. Thankfully Damon Lindelof and the folks over at HBO recognized the need for more time to flesh out these characters and story arcs, because it all worked splendidly. And while the series ended nicely all wrapped up in a pretty bow, there's definitely room for expansion. But I for one am glad Lindelof has gone on the record as saying that he has no intention of continuing with the series, and I am thankful for that. It's perfect just the way it is. Let's let it stay perfect.

6.24.2020

The Toy Corner: The Black Hole Walgreens Exclusive Action Figures

Diamond Select Kills It Once Again With Another Disney Piece of Cinema Glold

by robotGEEK

When we recently signed up for Disney+, one of the first things I did was introduce my wife to the glorious 70's gem The Black Hole. Being that the limited edition Blu Ray sells for a lot higher than I'm comfortable spending on the secondhand market right now, this is the next best option. Whats more, it's in HD, which is really the only way to see it.

Of course she went in skeptical, but of course she ended up loving because like I told her before we started, this is not a kids film. A dark, brooding and outstanding visual spectacle that kickstarted a very brief period in Walt Disney's history where they attempted to make darker, more mature films. This was a time when their animated films weren't making the money they used to, and it's hard to imagine today, but Walt Disney was struggling. What resulted were some classics that while were not technical hits upon their releases, are considered genuine cult classics today such as The Black Hole, Tron and Flight of the Navigator.

After this latest revisit, I decided to jump on eBay to see if there were any Black Hole collectibles I could find, and while there are a number of products that were released during the film's run in 1979, most of them highly sought after, what really shocked me was that apparently some new Black Hole figures were released fairly recently, and I had no idea. How did this slip through the cracks for me? I can't tell you, but here's the rundown. They are released through Diamond Select, and are Walgreens exclusives, meaning you won't find them in any other store other than Walgreens. Of course there's online, which would generally mean that they were purchased from Walgreens and are being resold. Whatever the case, they're out there and they're beautiful.

There are two figures, V.I.N.Cent and Maximilian. They come in a nice sturdy box with a big display window and run $19.99 each if you can find them in a store. I searched every Walgreens in my area and did not find a single one. Though they still had plenty of Tron figures. But ultimately I had to resort to eBay for the best deal and factoring in shipping, I pretty much paid what I would have paid had I found them in the store myself for a set. And they're worth every penny, because both the figure and the packaging is just beautiful.

Flippers have made this Diamond Select release a really hard one to find in person, so your best bet is to just probably go through them to get your hands on them, which is ironically sad, but worth the effort.

New Movie Spotlight: I See You (2019)


by robotGEEK

Now here's an under the radar gem if there ever was one. I See You is a film I came upon solely through word of mouth. And whats interesting is that while it was a film casually mentioned to me a few times by different people, it wasn't a film that was "strongly" recommended, which honestly shocks me because ultimately, it was one of the best, most well written thrillers we've seen in a long time.

I See You is such a paradox, and a fucking brilliant one at that. On the surface it looks like any number of low-budget Direct-to-Video (DTV) thrillers you see on any streaming platform. And I'm going to be honest, that poster art doesn't help. In fact, that poster art makes it look more like an episode of some by-the-numbers cop drama on TV. But let me tell you, you're in for a real treat, because not only is it not anything like that, but the ride you'll take will lead you in directions you never saw coming.

I'm a bit torn to really tell you any more than that for fear of giving too much away. We went in fairly cold, having not even bothered looking at a trailer. So do yourself a favor and DO NOT watch the trailer. What I will tell you is that the tone, and hell even it's genre, shifts several times, which kind of blew my mind. The casting across the board is really solid, with Helen Hunt really turning in a killer performance. The cinematography is really impressive, with director Adam Randall delivering some truly stunning visuals, especially for a film this small. And the script, by first-time writer Devon Graye will blow you away. For a guy who hasn't written a film before, you'd be hard pressed to find one this tight, taut and filled with ingenious plot twists. One interesting thing to note is that he's also an actor with a wide range of roles in both film and television, but who I will always remember as being the teenage version of Dexter Morgan on Dexter. If this film is any indication, Graye has a great career ahead of him as a screenwriter and I for one can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

I think one of the best thing this little gem has going for it are the constant surprises. With so many "Whaaaaaaat???" moments, I was never able to figure any of them out beforehand. I just remember both of us kept looking at each other quite often and blurting out "whaaaaat?", or "nooooo way, are you kidding me?!".

I See You is currently streaming on Amazon Prime right now. Do yourself a favor and check this out ASAP

6.18.2020

90's Action Attack!: White Tiger (1996)


Gary Daniels Kicks Ass In This Highly Impressive Gem

by robotGEEK

Released in 1996, this Gary Daniels actioner is quite frankly one of the best low-budget action films I've seen in a while. Now I know I've said it before, but again, when I watch a ridiculous amount of low-budget action films and most of them are not worth mentioning, it's so refreshing to come across a true little gem.

Daniels plays DEA agent Mike Ryan who's partner is killed during a drug raid. When it's made clear that the killer, an up and coming drug dealer named Chow (the always amazing Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) is responsible and has the force in his pocket, Ryan goes all out for revenge. 

Let's start with the obvious. This has really strong Showdown in Little Tokyo vibes, and honestly, that's a blessing because come on, who doesn't love SiLT?? And right off the bat, you're going to notice a much higher quality of action film here than you're used to with Gary Daniels. Not only does it sport an impressive cast of familiar faces, but I'll be damned if this isn't one of the best looking DTV action films I've ever seen. I mean, how often do you really get to say that? Believe me, it's rare. Director Richard Martin gives this film such a professional sheen, had it had some tighter editing and a better score, it very well could have been a theatrical release.



Legendary bad guy Carey-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat, Showdown in Little Tokyo) is just having a blast here. Nowhere near as restrained or refined as some of the other villains he's portrayed, instead playing him a little funny, loose and over the top, yet highly entertaining. Some of his one-liners and quips are fucking hilarious. Gary Daniels is great, showing off both his acting chops, emotional range and his martial arts.



White Tiger hits all the right beats, throwing enough action, fights and visual eye candy our way to make us forget the plethora of lame and uninspired trite that we often find ourselves watching in our search for these underrated gems. If there was ever a DTV action flick deserving of the title "underrated gem", it's this one.

White Tiger is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and TubiTV for FREE.