Yes Madam! (1985)

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Hong Kong action cinema has had its share of female warriors from Cheng Pei-Pei in the late 60’s to Angela Mao in the 70’s. With this Corey Yuen-directed action feature, two names became synonymous with action. However, one of the ladies broke the mold and became one of the first foreigners to have a lead role in Hong Kong action cinema. The ladies are none other than former Miss Malaysia Michelle Yeoh and American martial arts champion Cynthia Rothrock.

Inspector Michelle Ng is a Royal Hong Kong police officer who was readying herself for a vacation to Scotland with her longtime boyfriend, Richard. Richard is in possession of a microfilm which contains forged documents for a top business. Wanting to get his hands on the microfilm for a price is crime boss Henry Tin. Tin sends his top hitman, Dick, to make the price. When Richard refuses, Dick kills him and escapes. Michelle gets on the case but soon learns she will have a partner direct from Scotland Yard to assist her. Carrie Morris, played by Rothrock, is a policewoman who resorts to more unorthodox methods while Ng is more by-the-book. Meanwhile, the microfilm has accidentally ended up in the hands of a trio of small time crooks, Panadol, Aspirin, and Stresil. Now, it becomes an all-out war with the microfilm as the prize.

One of the first true “girls with guns” action films from first time producer Dickson Poon and Hong Kong legends Sammo Hung and Corey Yuen, this film provides some ample action thanks to a healthy combination of firepower and martial arts action. Truly following in the vein of the classic Police Story, the film became a breakthrough not only for Michelle Yeoh, but was also the launching pad for Cynthia Rothrock. Poon and director Corey Yuen clearly made a wise choice by casting Yeoh, a ballet dancer, and Rothrock, a five-time martial arts champion, in the lead roles. Their relationship of sorts can be seen as a precursor to some of the great “buddy cop” action films of Hollywood, such as the Lethal Weapon series and the Rush Hour series as they are complete opposites yet join together to take down a common foe.

While most of the drive of the film is brought by Yeoh’s Inspector Ng and Rothrock’s Inspector Morris, more important characters come in the form of the medicine-named trio of crooks. As played by comedian John Shum, martial arts choreographer and longtime Yuen cohort Mang Hoi, and “the Steven Spielberg of Hong Kong” himself, Tsui Hark, the fact these three will do anything to make it to the big time leads to them getting in the worst of times and eventually having to help Ng and Morris with the investigation.

On the side of the bad guys, lead villain James Tien isn’t seen until more near the climatic finale, but it is his two henchmen, played by Dick Wei and Chung Fat, staples of Sammo Hung’s Lucky Stars films, that do most of the action. Wei plays the atypical hitman who has no remorse when it comes to killing while Chung is more of the moustached-looking perhaps ex-military vet that like his cohort, has no remorse or regret. Seeing James Tien in a villain role is a welcome turnaround from his days as a good guy in Bruce Lee’s The Big Boss and Fist of Fury. However, he had been playing villains for most of the mid to late-70’s, mostly in some of Jackie Chan’s early work with schlock director Lo Wei. Bringing the time to modern days, Tien still brings that tenacity that makes him a worthy villain actor, even though he gets no action on screen like the good old days.

Director Yuen and co-star Mang Hoi collaborated as action choreographers and they provide some top notch kickboxing style action mixed in with some heavy duty arsenal. While Yeoh would get her martial arts training from stuntman turned actor Lam Ching-Ying, Rothrock seems to have the upper hand in the martial arts department with her experience. However, both women look impressive when it comes to their fight scenes on screen and while they were doubled for some of the more complicated acrobatic moves, they hold their own when it comes to the more kicking and punching. Yeoh, on the other hand, brings in a value of shock when she performed a very insane stunt herself in which she evades two of Tin’s thugs by flipping through a pane of glass and grabbing the ankles of the thugs. Normally for a novice action star, this type of stunt would require a double but Yeoh proved her mettle here and this is clearly the beginning of what would be at first, a short lived career careening into a major comeback since 1992, beginning with Police Story 3: Supercop.

The movie would be known in territories as the second installment of Hong Kong’s famous In the Line of Duty films, yet it was made before the official first installment, Royal Warriors. Nevertheless, Yes Madam! is definitely not only an action film for men, but women as well as this film alone shows that women can not only be as tough as men, but sometimes, even go as far as being tougher.


A D&B Films Ltd. Production. Director: Corey Yuen. Producer: Sammo Hung. Writer: Barry Wong. Cinematography: Bill Wong. Editing: Sek Chi-Kong, Keung Chuen-Tak, and Peter Cheung.

Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Rothrock, John Shum, Mang Hoi, Tsui Hark, Sammo Hung, Richard Ng, Billy Ching, Chung Fat, Kong Lung, Dick Wei, James Tien, Chan King, Ma Kei, Ka Lee, Tai Bo, Eddie Maher, Melvin Wong, Dennis Chan, Michael Harry.


District B13 (2004)

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Luc Besson, the man behind the films La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element amongst others, wrote the screenplay for this amazing action packed film that highlights the free running art of parkour, and its creator, David Belle.

The title of the film refers to a lowly district outside of Paris, which has been plagued with gang violence. It goes so bad that there is no government, no police, and no schools. However, it is the home of Leito, a loner who only cares about one thing: his sister Lola. When Leito learns that Lola has been kidnapped by local crime lord Taha because Leito refuses to let drug dealers near his place, he intends to take Taha down.

Six months later, a bomb has been placed in District B13 and it is up to Damian Tomaso, a tough as nails Parisian cop, to enter the area and find the bomb. It is no sooner that Damian and Leito find themselves on the same page as the bomb was stolen by none other than Taha. Both Leito and Damian have special skills that enable them to take on the bad guys. This becomes a highlight reel for the amazing art of parkour, a style that involves scaling buildings with no use of wires and jumping from rooftop to rooftop as well as martial arts courtesy of Raffaelli, who gained a following after his impressive performance in Besson’s 2001 thriller Kiss of the Dragon opposite Jet Li.

While Besson is credited with co-writing the screenplay with co-star Larci “Bibi” Naceri and producing the film, the film was directed by Pierre Morel, who got his start as a cinematographer who worked on the first installment of The Transporter trilogy. For his directorial debut, Morel used his expert sense of cinematography with director of photography Manuel Teran to showcase the action sequences, choreographed by Raffaelli. The film made great use of its locales and buildings that were used for Belle’s and Raffaelli’s parkour skills.

As much as many movie viewers may see this as a routine action thriller, Besson has always been known for giving quality entertainment. With the success of The Transporter and Kiss of the Dragon, Besson wrote this film just for Belle and Raffaelli. Belle and Raffaelli both got their starts as stuntmen and bit players, but this film helped put them on the map as worthy lead actors. Both men have the acting skills and the action skills to carry the film and it succeeded. It did so well that a sequel, District B13: Ultimatum was released in 2009 and a U.S. remake, Brick Mansions, which would be the final completed film of late actor Paul Walker, was released in 2014.

The only flaw of the film is that there wasn’t enough villains who had the tendency to match the skills of Belle and Raffaelli. Taha is the sly crime lord who just sits around and lets his men do the work. His number one man, K2, is a big man who relies on two things, his gun and big mouth, to act like the big shot. The other villains are played by parkour artists, but they are there basically to look foolish and get beaten around by Belle and Raffaelli. Another villain comes in the form of a wrestler like guy who absorbs Raffaelli’s kicks and only gets defeated when Belle uses his parkour skills to tie a rope around the big oaf. They needed to have a worthy opponent or two to make some of the action scenes a little more interesting.

Despite the lack of “worthy opponents”, District B13 is still a fun film to watch, especially to see the art of parkour in full effect.


A EuropaCorp/TF1 Production in association with Canal+. Director: Pierre Morel. Producer: Luc Besson. Writers: Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri. Cinematography: Manuel Teran. Editing: Stéphanie Gaurier and Frédéric Thoraval.

Cast: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Tony D’Amario, Bibi Naceri, Dany Verissimo, François Chattot, Nicolas Woirion, Patrick Olivier, Samir Guesmi, Jérôme Gadner.

Badsville (2018)

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A gang leader attempts to start a new life but finds major complications in this indie drama from director April Mullen.

For as long as it has been, the Badsville Kings and Aces have been in a major turf war. Always fighting each other, the two gangs have never reached a truce. For Wink, the leader of the Kings, the pressure has surmounted but right before his mother passes away, she asks Wink of one thing. That is, to leave Badsville and out of the gang life forever. Wink makes the decision to leave town and start a new life.

For Wink, the decision is sped up faster after he rescues Susie from the Aces and begins a relationship with her. When Wink announces his decision, it does not bode well with hot-headed member Benny. To make matters worse, the Aces have reignited their war with the Kings. When Benny decides to take charge and orders a rumble. Meanwhile, dissention with the Kings is eminent when Wink learns of a secret involving one of his own. Will Wink be finally able to make his promise to his mother and leave Badsville?

Gang films can be quite an interesting subgenre. There are gangster films, which have been immortalized by films such as The Public Enemy, The Godfather, and as recent as GoodFellas. There are street gang films, immortalized by the classic The Warriors. This film comes in the latter, but where these films tend to glorify the gangster, this film is more about a leader wanting to get out of the life once and for all and finds his life complicated both in positive and negative ways.

The duo of Ian McLaren and Benjamin Barrett co-wrote the film and star respectively as gang leader Wink and hot head Benny. McLaren does pretty well in the role of Wink, who longs to make a promise to his late mother by getting out of the gang life and starting life anew. Barrett’s Benny, on the other hands, thrives on being a King and despite having some loyalty to Wink, lets his nature gets the best of him. Tension rise between the two, threatening their long friendship.

Wink’s relationship with Susie, played by Tamara Duarte, plays an important role as it helps drive Wink’s promise to leave town. However, a highlight performance comes from Robert Knepper as Gavin, the current leader of rival gang the Aces. When he learns his son was humiliated by Wink, which leads to the relationship with Susie, he grabs his belt and thrashes his son. The erupting war just shows the level of tenacity Gavin unleashes towards the Kings as he wages war on a whole new level.

Badsville shows the complicated life of a gang leader just wanting to start his life over, but finds himself in a situation where he may be forced to go back on his word. Some great performances and tension make this a pretty good film.


Epic Pictures presents a Phillm Productions film. Director: April Mullen. Producers: David J. Phillips and Douglas Sloan. Writers: Ian McLaren and Benjamin Barrett. Cinematography: Russ De Jong. Editing: Gordon Antell.

Cast: Ian McLaren, Benjamin Barrett, Tamara Duarte, Robert Knepper, Emilio Rivera, John White, Rene Rosado, Octavio Pizano, David J. Phillips, Paul James Jordan, Saxon Trainor.


Enter “Badsville” Tomorrow

Get ready to enter a turf war in Badsville, coming to Video on Demand platforms tomorrow.

The “Badsville Kings” are the most feared greaser gang in the slum town of Badsville. After promising his dying mother to leave town in the search of a better life, the gang’s leader  “Wink” finds that his attachments to the town are bloodline strong. Searching to fill the void of an insatiable forbidden love, a gang member attempts to stop him from leaving town by any means necessary. In the end, one must learn that Badsville is the town where only few make it out before their time.

Ian McLaren, Benjamin Barrett, Tamara Duarte, and Emilio Rivera star in the film. April Mullen directed the film from a script by co-stars McLaren and Barrett.

Epic Pictures will release Badsville on VOD platforms tomorrow.



East L.A. Warriors (1989)

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In this early film from the makers of some of the major action B-films of the 90’s, one man prepares to make the wrong things right in the barrios of East Los Angeles.

A drive-by shooting at a birthday party leaves a six-year old boy and a member of the Lobos gang dead. The ones responsible are a rival gang known as the Boppers. The Lobos, led by Hector, wants total retaliation against the Boppers. However, Paolo, the brother of the gang member killed in the shooting, wants real justice to prevail with no course of action.

Meanwhile, the police want to clean up the crime circling around East L.A. Meanwhile, top crime lord Chesare has set up “The Games”, a fight ring where the gangs have the chance to settle the score by competing in a ring. The gang member with the upper hand will be given a gun to kill his opponent. To stop Chesare, the police request the help of Aurelio (Tony Bravo), a former gangster who just wants to lead a normal life. With all the chaos that surrounds them, it will not be long before Paolo and Aurelio will cross paths and will have to do what is right.

An early film from PM Entertainment, this film truly had some potential. However, the film tries to play itself as a cross between The Karate Kid (1984) and in some ways, The Warriors (1979) all set in the crime-ridden area of East Los Angeles. With a cast from Welcome Back Kotter’s Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs to musician and actor Kamar de los Reyes, this should have been better. However, for this being a B-film, the contrived acting is somewhat expected.

Most of the movie plays out like a cheesy Lifetime movie, with the attempt to give the viewer a strong anti-gang message. Granted, the meshing of two character studies would have worked with the right chemistry, but the chemistry between Tony Bravo (as reformed gang member turned mentor Aurelio) and Kamar de los Reyes (as pacifist turned fighter Paolo) seems more forced rather than smooth. As for Hilton-Jacobs, he really hams it up as Chesare, the gang lord in charge of setting up the fight ring, using some kind of awful accent.

There aren’t many fight scenes in the film as opposed to guns blazing. However, when the fight scenes finally do come, are they watchable? While PM would later unleash better quality fight scenes in their films, the result here is not too great. There are shots of PM’s trademark use of double takes used, but it seems more like the actors fighting don’t look to have that great screen experience. Kamar de los Reyes seems to be the best fighter of the cast, but his climactic fight scene just wasn’t exciting as he made his adversary look pretty horrendous.

East L.A. Warriors is what you can call more of an “experiment” from PM Entertainment. They get an A for effort, but this one just was not as exciting as their future films.


A PM Entertainment Production. Director: Addison Randall. Producers: Richard Pepin and Joseph Merhi. Writer: Raymond Martino; story by Addison Randall. Cinematography: F. Smith Martin. Editing: John Dagnen.

Cast: Tony Bravo, Kamar de los Reyes, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Sabino Villa Lobos, Jastereo Coviare, James Dalesandro, Dianne Heyden, Dan Moreau, Debra Lee Giometti, William Smith, Jack Rubio.


TRAILER: The Mason Brothers

A band of brothers get set up and seek revenge in this upcoming action thriller from writer/director Keith Sutliff.

The Mason Brothers revolve around a band of outlaws who attempt to find their brother’s killer from a neighboring gang after a bank heist goes wrong. The cast includes Brandon Pearson, Matthew Webb, Michael Whelan, Julien Cesario, Chris Park, Nazo Bravo and Sutliff himself.

Adler and Associates will be releasing the film on VOD platforms on August 2.


Enemy Territory (1987)

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When a gang takes over a housing project in New York City, who you gonna call? Yeah, this film is an attempt to make Ray Parker Jr. an action hero in this 80’s urban action film.

Barry was once a successful insurance agent who has recently hit a major slump. However, his boss has faith in his and gives him an assignment that could make or break him. He is asked to go to a rundown housing project to meet a kind elderly woman named Elva, who has recently put out a life insurance policy to support her granddaughter. When Barry arrives at the building, he makes the simple mistake of tapping a young man on the shoulder because this young man belongs to a deadly gang called the Vampires.

Despite that, Barry has a successful meeting with Elva but his life is about to change as he leaves her apartment. The Vampires show up, led by The Count, and they proceed to kill the building’s security guard but not before phone company worker Will shows up and saves Barry. Will and Barry soon learn the Vampires run the building and they are not a threat. With help from Elva’s granddaughter Toni, the duo soon learn of a Vietnam War vet in the building named Parker, someone the Vampires do not want to cross. Will Barry and Will be able to escape the building or will the Vampires get to them?

This 80’s urban action thriller may seem like a run-of-the-mill film and that it is, but its interesting twist is that the lead actor in the film is far from the action hero type and instead relies on a famous pop singer to take charge in the action department, something that is a little familiar when musicians attempt to work on the big screen. However, it ultimately works well and may be seen as a precursor to future buddy action films.

Gary Frank’s Barry is a man with a constant struggle. First, his slump at work has caused him to turn to alcoholism and thus, not only gives him problems at work but with his family. However, when he makes a simple mistake of tapping the wrong shoulder, one can only see that this is one character who will put himself in an even worse situation. However, one would think this is one character who will learn to fight back and play the vigilante but in a surprising move, that is not the case.

That honor goes to pop star Ray Parker Jr., the one responsible for the theme song of some movie called Ghostbusters. As phone company worker Will, who is in the building to see his girlfriend, he knows the situation and ends up helping our lowly insurance agent. For an 80’s B-movie, Parker Jr. could have made for an action star based on his performance here. Jan-Michael Vincent makes the most of his role as Parker, a Vietnam veteran who attempts to help our unlikely heroes take on the Vampires. As for the leader of the Vampires, appropriately named The Count, it is clear why Tony Todd is meant to play villain roles, including his 90’s iconic role of horror villain Candyman and that of Bludworth in the Final Destination films. The film also has appearances from a pre-fame Clueless star Stacey Dash and a pre-fame Different World and Drive star Kadeem Hardison in supporting roles, one major and one minor.

Enemy Territory is a typical 80’s B-movie action film set in an urban area and makes good use of an unlikely pair of heroes and a great performance from Tony Todd as the lead villain with the theme of “fighting back”.


A Taryn Productions/Empire Pictures production. Director: Peter Manoogian. Producers: Cynthia De Paula and Tim Kincaid. Writers: Stuart Kaminski and Bobby Liddell. Cinematography: Ernest Dickerson. Editing: Peter Teschner.

Cast: Gary Frank, Ray Parker Jr., Tony Todd, Jan-Michael Vincent, Frances Foster, Stacey Dash, Deon Richmond, Tiger Haynes, Kadeem Hardison.


3:15: The Moment of Truth (1986)

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In the 80’s trend of high school violence movies, Adam Baldwin is forced to face his past when he faces his old gang in this action thriller.

At Lincoln High, the Cobras were the toughest gang that took over the school. Dealing with everything including drug dealing, the muscle of the group was Jeff Hanna. However, after a confrontation with Cinco, the leader of the gang, Jeff has decided to go straight and forget his past once and for all. A year has passed by and Jeff has found a new love in the respectable Sherry Havilland, who is aware of Jeff’s past but sees him as the man he is now. However, Cinco has not forgotten the altercation and still has ill-will towards Jeff.

While Cinco constantly threatens Jeff to some extent, Jeff has always turned the other way. However, things are about to explode when a drug raid at the school, led by Detective Horner, occurs. Cinco, in a moment of desperation, turns to Jeff to act as the scapegoat. However, Jeff makes it clear he wants no part of his past. This causes Cinco to go over the edge and decides if Jeff really is not with him, then he is against him. When he leads the gang on an assault of Sherry, Jeff finally has no choice but to confront his past and it will occur after school…at 3:15.

During the 1980’s, the world of high school violence, which began with films such as The Blackboard Jungle in the 1950’s, hit a major resurgence when 1982’s Class of 1984 was released. While there have been films revolving around vigilantism (Dangerously Close) and administration fighting back (The Principal) would be released, this pretty underrated film was actually filmed in 1984 but would be released in 1986 after a distributor picked it up.

The film’s assets are that of its two main leads, Adam Baldwin and Deborah Foreman, as the high school couple who couldn’t be more opposite. Baldwin, at the time coming off his fame from My Bodyguard and D.C. Cab, plays the former muscle of a high school gang who just wants to be left alone and not want to re-enter the world he once was a part of. Foreman, who had come off her breakout role in the comedy Valley Girl in 1983, plays Baldwin’s new girlfriend who comes from a respectable family who are not too thrilled with her dating Baldwin. Look out for 80’s B-movie icon Wings Hauser in a cameo as Foreman’s father.

The gang themselves are led by the grudge-holding Cinco, played by Danny De La Paz, whose performance is somewhat reminiscent of Timothy Van Patten’s iconic Peter Stegman from Class of 1984. However, instead of making a teacher’s life miserable, he spends the film attempting to make Baldwin’s Jeff miserable to the breaking point of Jeff’s refusal of taking the fall for the drug bust. This leads to the final confrontation where Jeff must take on his old gang, with the predictable results of this genre of film. Rene Auberjonois and Ed Lauter make for some good ample support respectively as the high school principal and the detective in charge of the drug bust. Look out for a pre-fame Gina Gershon as one of the Cobrettes, the female gang members of the Cobras and a future movie producer named Dean Devlin in a brief role as well as a fellow high school student.

3:15 is an underrated 80’s high school action film that makes good use of Adam Baldwin as someone who wants to forget his past but learns the only way to move on is to confront the past once and for all. The film also has ample support from the likes of Deborah Foreman and Danny De La Paz as the love interest and villain respectively.


A Romax Productions/Wescom Productions film. Director: Larry Gross. Producers: Robert Kenner and Dennis Brody. Writers: Sam Bernard and Michael Jacobs. Cinematography: Misha Suslov. Editing: Steven Kemper

Cast: Adam Baldwin, Deborah Foreman, John Scott Clough, Bradford Bancroft, Rene Auberjonois, Danny De La Paz, Lori Eastside, Mario Van Peebles, Panchito Gomez, Ed Lauter, Nancy Locke,
Wings Hauser.


REVIEW: Exterminator 2 (1984)

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1984, Cannon Films

Mark Buntzman
Mark Buntzman
William Sachs
Mark Buntzman
William Sachs
Bob Baldwin
George Norris
Marcus Manton

Robert Ginty (John Eastland)
Mario Van Peebles (X)
Deborah Geffner (Caroline)
Frankie Faison (P.D.)
Scott Randolf (Eyes)
Reggie Rock Bythewood (Spider)
Bruce Smolanoff (Red Rat)
David Buntzman (Head Mafioso)
Kenny Marino (Tony)
Derek Evans (Squealer)
Irwin Keyes (Monster)
Robert Louis Keyes (Philo)
Arye Gross (Turbo)

Four years after beginning his one-man assault on the thugs on New York City, Vietnam vet turned vigilante John Eastland is back with his trusty flame thrower in this Cannon-made sequel.

New York City. A group of local goons have robbed a local convenience store and have shot the owners, an elderly couple. When the cops arrive, the goons attempt to run in the alleys. They are soon met by a mysterious figure wearing a welder’s helmet, military gear, and armed with a flame thrower. The figure is the Exterminator, who has returned after a four-year self-imposed exile. The Exterminator is former Vietnam War veteran John Eastland, who once began a one-man assault on New York City’s seedy underworld.

John attempts to live a quiet life outside of being the Exterminator. He reunites with old war buddy P.D. and has started up a romance with aspiring dancer Caroline. However, his actions as the Exterminator have drawn the wrath of gang leader X, whose brother was one of the thugs the Exterminator had taken out at the convenience store. X decides not only to avenge his brother, but decides to wage war on the city with the intent on taking over for himself. When during their date, Caroline is paralyzed from X’s men, John decides to begin retaliating as himself until things go too far and must once again become the Exterminator.

The producer of the original Exterminator, Mark Buntzman, took over for this sequel but when he presented his film to Cannon Films’ Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, they were appalled by what they saw. It seems like according to sources, Buntzman took an approach that was similar to James Glickenhaus’ original effort in terms of tone. However, Golan and Globus brought in William Sachs to shoot additional footage and add more of the flame thrower that would be the Exterminator’s trademark weapon. Nevertheless, the version we all ended up seeing remains one of Cannon Films’ 80’s action gems.

Returning to the role of John Eastland is Robert Ginty. Here, it is clear that while he has once again donned the military gear as the Exterminator, we see John beginning to adjust somewhat to a normal life once again. In the original film, he had such pent up anger that he basically took it out on all scum and seems to be somewhat of a recluse as we were led to believe Michael was his only way out of being humdrum. However, this sequel does have John adjusting well when he finally finds love with an aspiring dancer, played by Deborah Geffner, and finds another old war friend in P.D., played by Frankie Faison only to once again have his life shattered and once again, goes into full explosion (no pun intended) mode as the Exterminator.

Mario Van Peebles definitely looks like he is enjoying himself playing the film’s central villain, X. He and his street gang resort to nefarious methods to get what they want and even resort to tactics similar to what one would expect from someone like the Exterminator. Like John in the original, X is fueled by revenge when it is revealed that one of the thugs set ablaze by our hero in the opening sequence is X’s brother, and like John, X doesn’t just want revenge on John, he wants to be the biggest gang boss in all of New York City. It is safe to see that X is a reverse version of John in the original Exterminator.

What makes the film very exciting are its action filled sequences, especially when the Exterminator unloads setting thugs on fire with his flame thrower. David Spear’s score goes perfectly with the slow motion shots of the goons running as they are set on fire. The third act takes an approach using military tactics, gunfire, and a supped-up garbage truck complete with guns coming out of the top and sides in which John controls using the various levers inside the truck.

While Cannon’s Exterminator 2 is quite the 80’s action gem, one can only hope someday we could see the original vision Mark Buntzman had with this vigilante film.



REVIEW: Tokyo Tribe (2014)



2014, Nikkatsu/Django Film/From First Production Co.

Sion Sono
Yoshinori Chiba
Nobuhiro Iizuka
Sion Sono (screenplay)
Santa Inoue (original manga)
Daisuke Sôma
Junichi Itô

Ryohei Suzuki (Mera)
Young Dais (Kai Deguchi)
Riki Takeuchi (Buppa)
Nana Seino (Sunmi/Erika)
Shunsuke Daito (Iwao)
Shota Sometani (MC Show)
Yosuke Kubozuka (Nkoi)
Shoko Nakagawa (Kesha)
Yui Ichikawa (Norichan)
Denden (The High Priest)
Takuya Ishida (Kim)
Ryuta Sato (Tera)
Joey Beni (Kemekachi)

Director Sion Sono has come up with his most ingenious film yet: a Warriors-esque action film done as a rap action musical that has so many insane moments that you will not want to take your eyes off the screen.

Tokyo has split into many areas, each run by a different gang. The gangs that control the areas are the Shinjuku Hands, the Shibuya Saru, the Kabuchicho Gira Gira Girls, the Nerima Muthaf**kaz, the Bukuro Wu-Ronz, and the peaceful Musashino Saru. The Bukuno Wu-Ronz are led by the insane Mera, who has joined forces with the insane Buppa, a sadistic gangster whose family is practically as insane as he is. The reason for this alliance? To wage war on the Musashino Gang, who are considered the “peacekeepers” of the Tokyo Tribes.

Mera has a personal grudge against Musashino member Kai, this really giving him the motivation to start a war. Buppa sends his gang, the Waru, to wreak havoc on the Tokyo Tribes when they learn that Buppa’s boss, the High Priest, has warned Buppa that Erika, the priest’s daughter, is missing and is somewhere in Tokyo. The High Priest wants to sacrifice her to become the “Devil of Asia” because she is a virgin. However, Erika disguises herself as Sunmi, a call girl who plans to destroy Buppa. When Kai saves her from Mera, whose attempt to kill him results in the death of best friend Tera, the other Tribes decide the only way to stop Mera and Buppa is to unite all the other tribes in a showdown to end all showdowns.

Sion Sono is definitely a filmmaker whose work can be said to be quite interesting. One must respect him for not caring what the haters say and make the movies he wants to make. Perhaps more known for horror films and films filled with teen angst perhaps, this film truly takes the cake as to what he wanted to do. Based on a popular manga by Santa Inoue (who appears in the film, showing his support to the filmmakers), Sono came up with something ingenious to appeal to not only his audiences of his work, but perhaps those who are looking for something different.

The idea in mind? Make the film a rap action musical with throwing in virtually so much madness that it will make you not want to keep your eyes off the screen. That’s right. Most of the dialogue in the film is performed in rap form. While there have been strange musicals such as the 1975 cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show and the introduction of South Park‘s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Cannibal! The Musical, the rap approach in this film is something fresh and inviting. Even more surprising, it works? We even get a bit of some narration from the character of MC Show, played by Shota Sometani, who is introduced in a five-minute long take that opens the film. This film truly has it all: human furniture (not in the way you would think either), random places to see the main villain in a thong, swordfighting, capoeira, exciting martial arts action, shots of excessive nudity, and a literal wheel of death! One seriously needs to just not take anything serious when seeing this film and just enjoy the ride.

The cast truly embraces the craziness of the film. A combination of actors and musicians make up this eclectic cast. The main villain Mera is played by Ryohei Suzuki, who played Ryu Nakagawa in the live action adaptation of Gatchaman. Suzuki truly absorbs the madness as the sex-crazed, manically violent Mera, leader of the Bukuro Wu-Ronz. When you hear why he has this personal grudge with our hero Kai, you will ask one simple little question: Are you really (censored) serious? The answer is a resounding yes! As for the hero Kai, who unites all the other tribes, musician Young Dais makes a very good film debut performance as someone who just wants to keep the peace like his fellow Saru member Tera, who can be compared to perhaps the character of Cyrus in The Warriors, a respectable gangster who was the peacekeeper who all the other tribes befriended. Riki Takeuchi shows perhaps the most demented he ever displayed on screen as warlord gangster Buppa, who pretty much can be compared to Scarface. There is even a reference to the famous film where he has a globe where instead of the saying “The World is Yours”, it’s a retaliatory statement: F**k Da World!

The final half-hour is the all out showdown, but even before that, the film has some exciting action and stunt sequences that are in a word, wild! The high priest’s two henchman are a trickster martial artist named Kemakachi and a very burly African-American who feels no pain and just can send his adversary flying with even just a flick. One of Buppa’s enforcers is played by Japanese wrestler Yoshihiro Takeyama. Nana Seino pulls off some pretty nifty kicks as Erika, but it’s her sidekick Yon who really steals the fight scenes with his amazing capoeira skills. The action choreographer, Toshirô Takuma, did a great job with the action. And for those who will want to know, Takuma goes by another name familiar with Japanese action films: Tak Sakaguchi of Versus and the upcoming Re:Born.

In conclusion, Tokyo Tribe is perhaps the wackiest film this reviewer has ever seen, but that is meant in the best way possible. The combination of rap dialogue, Japanese madness, and insane action truly makes this a more than worthy viewing! As a matter of fact, this is definitely worth buying for one’s collection! Sion Sono really did it this time and as a film geek, I am proud to have seen this!


Xlrator Media will release the film in limited theaters, iTunes, and Video on Demand platforms on October 23, 2015.