Saturday, June 22, 2019

Snake Eater III... His Law (1992)

Synopsis: It’s the fight you’ve all been waiting for: Lorenzo Lamas as “Soldier” Kelly takes on “Bam Bam Bigelow”….and they never even exchange a punch. 
Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “The SnakeEater gets justice….at whatever cost.” 
What Did I Learn?: 1) Outlaw bikers stick out in a small town like balls on a greyhound [I love that line!] 2) Parents, if your young and attractive daughter ever decides to base her Master’s thesis on her observations of living with a motorcycle gang, you might want to put your foot down. 
You Might Like This Movie If: You're a Bam Bam Bigelow completist. 
Really?: 1) Snake Eater III isn’t meant to be taken too seriously, so maybe I overlook certain questions such as how Soldier managed to get released from the insane asylum, or why he’s still on the police force even though he has a nasty habit of torturing/killing suspects, or why the police force does such a half-assed job of investigating serious crimes, or just how many blows to the head can this guy take, but come on – Bam Bam Bigelow makes a cameo appearance as a villain, and we never get to see him fight anyone? (see: “Synopsis”). Soldier points a shotgun at his head and then shoots him in the foot? 2) Speaking of Bigelow, why couldn’t Soldier simply take him out with a high-powered rifle? Why the elaborate death trap involving urine and electrocution? 3) Wait, we don’t actually meet any members of the motorcycle gang until the movie is almost one-third finished? 
Rating: Snake Eater III is a cheesy, occasionally-funny, but completely unnecessary sequel to the low-budget Snake Eater franchise. 4.5/10 stars
Would it Work for a Bad Movie Night?: Hell yes! Take a drink any time Soldier gets into a fight that does nothing to advance the plot. 

Snake Eater II: the Drug Buster (1989)

Synopsis: Drug kingpin learns an important lesson the hard way: deliberately killing off your customers by poisoning the cocaine you sell may encourage a homicidal lunatic to exact some payback. 
Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “SnakeEater is about to clean up the streets. No matter how dirty he has to get.” [So, wait…is the protagonist nicknamed “Soldier” or “SnakeEater”? And is it “SnakeEater” or “Snake Eater?”]
What Did I Learn?: Apparently, it’s extremely easy to break into and out of a New York hospital for the criminally insane. 
You Might Like This Movie If: you've always wanted to find out if "shit stinks." [Just quoting, folks] 
Really?: 1) See: “Synopsis” and “What did I Learn?” Seriously, I can understand some low-level street dealer lacing his product with rat poison because he’s super-cheap, but why would the leader of a criminal organization enact such a policy? And why would he keep cartons of the poison in his mansion, conveniently above his sealed-off panic room? 2) Wait, we learned at the end of Snake Eater that Soldier busted Torchy (Ron Pallilo, best remembered as Horshack, from Welcome Back Kotter), yet this fact is never mentioned or touched upon even though the two of them are locked in the same asylum. 3) So, Dr. Pierce (Michelle Scarabelli) clearly likes Soldier enough to help him fool the state’s psychiatric examiner (who we don’t get to meet, even though the examination is billed as a big deal early on), they share some on-screen heat, and then…this budding romance doesn’t get a chance to develop. 4) “Speedboat?” Haha!! 5) Hold on – one of Soldier’s fellow patients is a computer expert who created a virus that wiped out his employer’s major project, and his skills are never once used? 6) It’s strange – except for a couple of minutes near the end when he’s held at gunpoint, Solder never seems to be in any real danger, so there isn’t much tension. 
Rating: I have vague recollections of watching Snake Eater II in 1990/91 when my family subscribed to pay-TV, so this film provided a sense of nostalgia when I sat down and saw it again for the first time almost 30 years. I can’t say that Snake Eater II is a great film by any stretch of the imagination, and it certainly suffers from some serious credibility issues (see: “Synopsis,” “What Did I Learn?” and “Really?”), but the film never takes itself too seriously, and it’s better than its predecessor….which isn’t saying much. 5/10 stars. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Snake Eater (1989)

Dang – I could have used this film, as well as Snake Eater III for my Terrible Biker Movie theme last month! 
Synopsis: Just imagine Stone Cold meets First Blood, except Rambo ices the inbred hillbillies from Deliverance instead of sheriff’s deputies and Lorenzo Lamas doesn’t have Stallone’s acting range. 
What Did I Learn?: Rural America is teeming with murderous, psychopathic martial arts experts, good ole boys, and tooth-collecting bikers, and the place is best avoided altogether. 
Really?: 1) See: “What Did I Learn?” Holy cow…where do I begin with this movie? I could deconstruct dozens of head-scratching moments, but maybe I’ll ask a few questions….2) who are these incest-loving yokels, and why do they feel the need to brutally murder outsiders? This is never explained. 3) Why does this movie end with an extremely anti-climactic sequence of Soldier (Lamas) catching a would-be arsonist (Ron Pallilo, best remembered as Arnold Horshack on Welcome Back Kotter) on a stakeout? 4) Why wouldn’t the hillbillies take “The Kid” (a grown-up and very attractive Josie Bell) back to their hideout, if they’re rape-happy weirdos? 5) How do Soldier’s pants and boots suddenly reappear when the gangsters enter his shithole apartment – and dude isn’t all that angry at Soldier for banging his girlfriend! 6) How much punishment can Soldier take? Assuming he doesn’t have a concussion from getting knocked out by the villains the night before his assault on their compound, he gets his foot caught in a bear trap and even takes a bullet, but he’s still able to engage in hand-to-hand combat. 
Rating: Wow… Snake Eater is one of the most atrocious action movies I’ve ever seen. The writing, special effects, stunts, and sets are all God-awful, but the acting is just laughably bad; I mean, the murderous hillbillies reminded me of a Kids in the Hall sketch, while Lamas himself just mugs his way from one implausible fight scene to another. Much like The Room, this film is so bad it’s almost hilarious, so check it out if you’re feeling masochistic. 3/10 stars.  
Would it Work for a Bad Movie Night?: Hell yes! Take a drink any time one of Soldier’s wisecracks fall flat. 

Bridge to Nowhere (2009)

Synopsis: It’s a bit like a very low-budget remake of Scarface… starring the Backstreet Boys. 
Blurb From the DVD Jacket: 
What Did I Learn?: Drug dealers aren’t that keen on giving out volume discounts. 
You Might Like This Movie If: You figure it must be a nice little travelogue
Really?: 1) So, Ving Rhames is in this movie for what – 20 minutes of screen time, and he gets top billing? 2) Funny how Nate (Rhames) warns the boys about some of the troubles associated with pimping hookers (ex. Not receiving all of the cash afterwards, Johns who decide not to pay, STDs, etc…) and they encounter none of these issues during their meteoric rise. 3) Sure….appoint the goofiest, wimpiest and least-threatening member of the gang to protect the girls when they go out on calls. 4) I can understand Brian (Ben Crowley) reluctantly going along with killing his murdering his old pal Eddie (who is in jail, and getting ready to sing like a canary), but why would he feel the need to bump off Darick and Chris? All they want to do is leave the business before Eddie tells the cops what they want to hear. 5) Hmm….Nate informs Brian that the mob will soon start to tax his enterprise by significantly raising the price of the drugs he purchases, and this plot point is never addressed again. 
Rating: Bridge to Nowhere is a slow-moving, predictable, badly-written, poorly-acted, and ultimately disappointing crime drama that features some nice shots of Pittsburgh and a few interesting scenes (I enjoyed watching Nate’s first encounter with the four goofballs), but not much else. I cannot recommend this movie. 3/10 stars. 
Would it Work for a Bad Movie Night?: No, but take a drink any time you realize you don’t give a flying crap what happens to the four main characters. 

Blue Thunder (1983)

Synopsis: It’s basically Airwolf without the awesome theme music.
Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Roy Schneider stars in this intense action thriller as a courageous police officer-pilot battling government fanatics planning to misuse an experimental attack helicopter.” 
What Did I Learn?: “JAFO” stands for Just Another Fucking Observer. 
You Might Like This Movie If: You really want to see the mediocre movie that inspired the mediocre TV series which featured a young, and completely miscast Dana Carvey
Really?: 1) Gee, those heat-seeking missiles seem to take a LONG time to hit their targets, don’t they? 2) Doesn’t Murphy (Roy Scheider) ever sleep? Are we supposed to believe that he pulled an entire shift in his helicopter and then fought with his girlfriend at home, trespassed around the grounds of the McNeely residence, and then checked out Blue Thunder all in the course of one night? 2a) So, wait – Murphy is suspended from active duty, yet his boss nevertheless calls him in to inspect Blue Thunder at what – 5AM, after he pulled a night shift? 3) I’m curious – why doesn’t Murphy land Blue Thunder the minute he knows that Kate (Candy Clark) has delivered the tape to the TV station? Isn’t he simply making himself a target – and potentially endangering civilians – at that point? 4) Even if he’s exposing some major-league corruption, I had a hard time believing a veteran cop would fire a helicopter gunship cannon at police helicopters, patrol cars, or an F-16! (And how in the world is he able to inflict non-fatal injuries on those poor cops/pilots?) 5) Ok, I realize Murphy’s boss, Captain Braddock (Warren Oates) is a bit of a cover-my-ass kind of guy, but holy shit, does it ever occur to Murphy to tell him about the tape, or the conversation he overheard? If not Braddock, does Murphy trust anyone else in the police department? He’s a cop, for crying out loud! 6) Let me see…. Murphy is asked to test pilot Blue Thunder by the very people who committed the murder he’s investigating? And on a whim, he looks up Cochrane (Malcolm MacDowell) on the database, follows him, and manages to record a conversation that incriminates everyone involved? Coinky-dinks! 7) Why would Blue Thunder’s engineers place the super-sensitive microphones between the helicopter’s engines and rotors? How could it possibly pick up any ground-level noises? 8) Hold on…..Cochrane decides to murder Murphy and Lymangood (is that a real name) by removing a cotter pin and loosening a bolt on their helicopter just because Lymangood doesn’t like the guy, and Murphy doesn’t actually know anything?  9) So, just how screwed-up is Murphy? At one point we see him paralyzed by a Vietnam flashback, so I have to wonder why he’s still on the police force. 
Rating: Blue Thunder is a rather ho-hum thriller that’s fine for an evening’s entertainment, but it suffers from a script that doesn’t make a lot of sense (the movie was originally conceived as the story of a Vietnam vet police chopper pilot who goes nuts during a patrol, and later re-jigged as a government conspiracy flick) and a second act that really drags. 5.5/10 stars.