poachers

Woody Woodpecker (2017)

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The latest in a classic cartoon going to live-action form, the lovable but mischievous woodpecker’s adventure has its moments.

Lance Walters is a lawyer who just lost his job because of an interview he made going viral. He has learned that his grandfather left him a major piece of property among the Canadian border. He decides to build an estate and flip it for a profit. He takes his gold-digging fiancé Vanessa and his son Tommy, only after Lance’s ex-wife must visit her dad in the hospital. Lance and Tommy do not get along and Vanessa can’t stand Tommy as well.

When Lance begins his project, Woody Woodpecker learns of what has happened and decides to try to stop Lance at all costs. However, Woody also befriends Tommy, who feels like he doesn’t belong. That is, until he meets local teens Jill and Lyle and the trio decide to form a band. However, Lance is the least of Woody’s problems as two brothers, who have been poaching animals in the area, want Woody, who is the last of an endangered species.

The first announcement of this live-action adaptation of the classic Walter Lantz novel was a Brazilian trailer, due to the fact that the film was marketed to Brazil. The character, a mischievous woodpecker who has a distinct laugh (made famous by Lantz’s wife Grace Stafford, who voiced the character for a whopping 4 decades before her passing in 1992), is huge in the South American country. So how does the film fare out in terms of American family films? It’s what one would normally expect.

The film seems to have taken a page from the Furry Vengeance book of rules in terms of “don’t mess with mother nature”. Galavant star Timothy Omundson plays the former lawyer who still looks for a good deal and decides to make an estate on land left to him by his grandfather. Of course, he’s the one who “has to learn a lesson” and changes himself in the process. He goes from being quite overbearing to someone who learns the true relationship not just with nature, but especially with his son Tommy, played by Graham Verchere.

As mentioned the Brazilian market was key for this film so what better way than to bring a Brazilian actress to the mix. Thaila Ayala is that actress, who plays the gold-digging Vanessa, who goes to admit she never liked kids especially when she was one, this causing loads of friction between herself and Tommy. However, it is Vanessa who gets more of the hijinks caused by Woody not so much Lance. While Lance may get the occasional hit, it is Vanessa who truly gets the brunt of it. Scott McNeil, a respected voice actor, and Adrian Glynn McMorran play the hillbilly poachers who play the typical stereotypes and like Vanessa, get a brunt of Woody.

The major issue is that Woody’s voice, done by voice actor Eric Bauza, is not so much as high-pitched as Stafford’s. It is was one of those things one would have to get used to when it comes to going through the film. It’s not that Bauza is a good voice actor, because he is. It is just that he just didn’t seem to mesh when it came to voicing Woody Woodpecker at first and it does improve very little as the film runs.

Woody Woodpecker has its moments, and it is what you would expect in a family film based on a classic. Just try getting used to the new voice of Woody and you just may end up really enjoying it with the kids.

WFG RATING: C

A Universal 1440 Entertainment production. Director: Alex Zamm. Producer: Mike Elliott. Writers: William Robertson and Alex Zamm; story by Robertson, Zamm, Daniel Altiere, and Steven Altiere; based on the character created by Walter Lantz. Cinematography: Barry Donlevy. Editing: Heath Ryan.

Cast: Timothy Omundson, Thaila Ayala, Graham Verchere, Jordana Largy, Scott McNeil, Adrian Glynn McMorran, voice of Eric Bauza.

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Dragon Hunt (1990)

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Canada’s “Twin Dragons” are back in this action packed sequel to their film debut as they go from being hunters to being the hunted.

Mercenary leader Jake is seeking revenge against the Twin Dragons, martial artist brothers who had stopped him from taking over a small island. Jake lost his hand as a result of their last encounter and has hired an arms dealer to give him the firepower to deal with the brothers. He comes up with a plan to get the brothers back on the island and hires his goons to lure the Dragons back to the island where they had their last battle.

Mic and Martin are knocked out, drugged, and captured by Jake. Jake comes up with the idea to make the twins the hunted in a sick and twisted game called “Kill the Twins”. As Mic and Martin find themselves hunted down by not only Jake and his men, but anyone on the island. Mic and Martin must use both their martial arts and survival skills to take on all comers. With nowhere left to turn, the twins must now become the hunters once again and stop Jake and his men once and for all.

Martial arts twins Michael and Martin McNamara return for what would be their current final film, self-produced and financed through their Twin Dragon Film Production. The film is a direct sequel to their 1986 debut film Twin Dragon Encounter and once again pits the twins against the army led by Jake, played by the marvelously named B.Bob, who now sports a metal hand due to his previous encounter. If Bob overdid it with his performance in the original film, he amps it up in the sequel, even having two female accomplices along with his usual goons.

While the original film had sporadic action pitting the brothers against various opponents, the sequel amps up the action allowing the brothers to once again unleash their kung fu skills as well as using survival skills to take on not only the army goons, but other types of opponents including ninjas and even poachers. Look out for former world kickboxing champion Curtis Bush in two roles, one as a poacher and one as a ninja. The finale truly is fun even though it is clear we have a B-movie level of the home video market glory days. It does end with a twist that one may never expect but still fun nevertheless.

Dragon Hunt brings more action from the McNamara Twins as they once again showcase their martial arts skills in a survival setting. The villains amps up him over the top performance but let’s face it. It’s a fun Canuxploitation action film that must be seen from cult film fans.

WFG RATING: B-

A Twin Dragon Film Production. Director: Charles Wiener. Producer: Michael McNamara. Writer: Michael McNamara. Cinematography: Paul Dunlop. Editing: Charles Wiener.

Cast: Michael McNamara, Martin McNamara, B. Bob, Sheryl Foster, Heidi Romano, Charles Ambrose, Karl Adhihetty, Curtis Bush, Goran Kazelic, Daniel McNamara, Frank Sasso, Tony Shar.

The film is available to purchase through the Twin Dragons website store but be aware it is Canadian Dollars.