REVIEW: The Toxic Avenger Part II (1989)

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1989, Troma Inc.

Directors:
Lloyd Kaufman
Michael Herz
Producers:
Michael Herz
Lloyd Kaufman
Writers:
Lloyd Kaufman (story and screenplay)
Gay Parrington Terry (screenplay)
Cinematography:
James London
Editing:
Michael Schweitzer

Cast:
Ron Fazio (The Toxic Avenger/Apocalypse Inc. Executive)
John Altamura (The Toxic Avenger)
Phoebe Legere (Claire)
Rick Collins (The Chairman)
Lisa Gaye (Malfaire)
Rikiya Yasuoka (Big Mac)
Mayako Katsuragi (Masami)
Tsutomu Sekine (Announcer)
Shinoburyu (Shochikuyama)
Jessica Dublin (Mrs. Junko)

Five years after getting put on the independent film circuit with their trademark style, the Troma Team bring their iconic character back and this time, he’s taking Japan by storm!

After defeating the corruption that had plagued the small town of Tromaville, New Jersey, the monster hero known as The Toxic Avenger doesn’t have any more evil to destroy. He gets a job at a center for the blind where his girlfriend Claire also helps the local blind townsfolk. However, a new evil threat is about to arrive in the form of Apocalypse Inc., a New York City-based chemical company who want to make Tromaville their latest dump site. When they destroy the center for the blind killing almost everyone, they soon learn the Toxic Avenger is not affected and the Chairman watches as his men are dispatched by the monster hero.

Having to come up with a new plan to get rid of the Toxic Avenger, the Chairman’s number one henchwoman Malfaire has discovered that the reason why he has destroyed evil and it is because of a chemical in his body called “Tromatons” and to destroy the monster, they must destroy the Tromatons via Japanese technology. They come up with a plan to send Toxie to Japan to find the one man who’s been missing in his life since childhood: his father. When Toxie gets to Japan, he makes a new ally in Masami, who agrees to help him find his father. However, Toxie also finds himself in one pickle after another and learns the truth while Apocalypse Inc. takes advantage of Toxie’s absence and begins to move in on Tromaville. Will Toxie be able to get back home in time to stop the evil company?

After making the iconic Toxic Avenger in 1984, Troma has worked on other films and after five years, Lloyd Kaufman decided it was time for the monster hero to finally return. Here’s where it gets interesting as Kaufman has decided to make a proper sequel that would not only feature our hero in his hometown of Tromaville, but learning that the original film had a massive Japanese following, bring Toxie to Japan for some action as well. The end result is that Kaufman had shot over four hours of film and it nearly caused a breakdown until his wife, New York City Film Commissioner Patricia Kaufman (who appears in the film as a blind mother) convinced her husband to split the footage to two films.

For some strange reason, the name of Sara is changed to Claire and is played with a lower form of intellect by musician Phoebe Legere, who makes the most of her role here. In another “why” moment, the last name of Melvin has been changed from Ferd to Junko and the names would stick until the fourth installment in 2001.

In another bold move of the film, where Mitch Cohen did not reprise his role of the monster hero in this film, this film has the distinction of having not one but two actors play the Toxic Avenger. John Altamura starts out as the monster in the film’s opening action sequence. However, he would later be fired for complaining about the make-up and even threatening a crew member. One of the thugs in this opening sequence, Ron Fazio, would end up completing the film by taking on the role of the Toxic Avenger (and using his voice) and thus it is Fazio who is seen in the Japanese sequences, which are surprisingly shot in a V-Cinema style that looks like it could be its own Japanese action film in respect to perhaps a tokukatsu or something of that nature, minus the giant robots.

The film also makes good use of Japanese talents Rikiya Yasuoka and Mayako Katsuragi as Big Mac and Melvin’s ally Masami. If you see the film and notice that their voices sound very different, it is because the actors’ English didn’t bode well enough for Kaufman so during post, Michael Herz dubbed Yasuoka, Patricia Kaufman dubbed Katsuragi, and Lloyd Kaufman dubbed the sumo wrestler Shinoburyu, whose character helps nurse Toxie after a near-fatal incident. The highlight of the Japanese sequences come in the form of the hilarious Tsutomu Sekine, who appears randomly as a news announcer.

The film would also mark the film debut of another well-known actor in Hollywood today. In this case, it is martial artist and actor Michael Jai White, who plays a member of Apocalypse Inc. who has a brief fight against Toxie in the film’s opening action scene before running off and then has a few lines and more fight scenes. White and Kariim Ratliff (who also plays an Apocalypse thug) served as the fight choreographers for the Tromaville sequences while Hitoshi Genma choreographed the action scenes for the Japanese segments. You can clearly see a notable difference in the styles of combat seen in the film.

The Toxic Avenger Part II is truly an action-filled sequence with a nice combination of action, bits of horror, comedy, and all out fun in both Tromaville and Japan. If only they kept the original names, it would have bode so much better!

WFG RATING: B+

DVD/BLU-RAY

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