Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bad Movies Rule!

Picasso Trigger - 1988 - Dir. Andy Sidaris
Location: Marcus' House
B-Movie Bonanza

Inspired by everyone's, at least in my circle of friends, love of a bad movie Marcus decided to host a double feature night of fun and ridiculousity (made-up word). His pick for the first feature is one from a master of the action film. This is a sequel to the infamous Hard Ticket to Hawaii and follows a group of agents who work for the agency. What agency? I have no freakin' clue but they are all awesome. A double agent is gunned down in Paris and because of this agents are being killed all over. Those left alive must spring to action and take out this bad dude while wearing Body Glove water wear, Speedos and having plenty of romances.

Though I have heard of Sidaris and his films this is the first one I've ever seen. I am now definitely a fan and must celebrate this man's entire catalog. Everything is bad, but hilarious and there are plenty of former Playmates shedding wardrobe. One of my personal favorite cast members is Jade (Harold Diamond) who is not only super fit but has a ponytail over his shoulder, wears tight clothes and works with dolphins! There's not much I can tell about this movie other than it needs to be seen and copious amounts of beer are suggested as well. Unfortunately it's not currently available but there are ways to find this particular cinematic treasure. Check out the trailer below, sorry for the poor quality.

No Retreat, No Surrender - 1986 - Dir. Corey Yuen
Location: Marcus' House
B-Movie Bonanza

The second film of the night was my pick. A treasured film from my childhood which I described to everyone as a more ridiculous and low-budget Karate Kid. Except there is no Miyagi and no waxing off/on. But in place you are treated with Jean-Claude Van Damme and the ghost of Bruce Lee! Jason's father moves the family out to Seattle after getting run out of his karate studio by the mob and gives up martial arts, but his son's obsession with Bruce Lee continues. After his dad trashes his makeshift dojo Jason's buddy R.J. takes him to an abandoned house where he sets everything back up and is trained by Lee's ghost. Awesome!

I think this went over rather well and it was even more fun than I remembered. What makes this really cool is that some of the fight scenes, especially at the end, are really entertaining. This movie really has everything including multiple scenes of breakdancing and a fat guy karate student/bad guy. One thing I didn't remember about the film is how much is montage. The 80s are known for the musical montage of the hero training but this movie takes it to a whole other level. It might not be half of the film but it has to be more than a third of the overall runtime. This is 80s fun for the whole family! I knew there were two sequels with the NRNS moniker but it turns out there are also two others, The King of the Kickboxers (1990) and American Shaolin (1991), which I will have to hunt down right away. Hopefully they will release a DVD of this sometime, especially considering it's one of JCVD's first films.

It's not available but you can watch it on YouTube. There are a couple versions but the one in eleven parts has the best quality, even though there are hardcoded foreign subtitles. Start with Part One right here!

Alternate Titles
Karate Tiger
American Champion

Don't You Forget About Me - 2009 - Dir. Matt Austin
Location: My Couch

I love the films of John Hughes. Can't really pick my favorite because they're all so great. He really put the teen flick on the map in the 80s and changed the course of cinema. Anyone who has made a teen targeted movie since then owes a debt of gratitude to the voice Hughes lent a generation. I was really sad to hear that he died so young, as were many, but luckily he left behind some great films to cherish forever. In fact, kids today even watch Ferris skip school, a girl whose parents forgot her birthday and an eclectic group of kids spend a Saturday at school. Since the 90s he was rather reclusive and only did some writing under the Count of Monte Cristo homage pen name Edmond Dantes. A group of filmmakers in Canada set out to find the man and interview people who knew him and kids of today to see the impact this man had on so many lives and a whole genre of films.

The documentary isn't perfect and there are some odd choices made in the edit room but it's nice to hear some of Hughes' former colleagues or actors talk about their experiences with him. Just when I think kids watch only crap I hear them on this doc gushing over the Hughes flicks and saying how true they still ring while current movies are just stupid. No one gets real high school students like Hughes did and it's great to see that his glimpses which rang true in the 80s and did the same for me in the 90s, still capture the teens of today. Other filmmakers were also interviewed and they had nothing but nice things to say, though they spent a little too much time with Kevin Smith. I like the guy and all, but he's not the end all on hip film.

What is really sad is to see how much those who loved and worked with Hughes don't understand why he's so reclusive. They understand why he ran from the Hollywood scene but why did he leave them behind. I guess they could be the same L.A. douchebags he wanted to escape and just don't realize. Evidently one reason he shot his films on location is so the young actors would not be able to go out and party every night like usual and they could concentrate on their performances. Smart. This doc is recommended to fans of Hughes, others might not care too much but it could always make you want to watch his films. It has me wanting to revisit Hughes' work. Currently the film is available on Netflix Instant Watch and a DVD is due out soon.

I suggest you take the time to read THIS BLOG ENTRY from a girl who was pen pals with John Hughes for quite some time. It's a bit long but quite touching and well worth the read.

CJ7 - 2008 - Dir. Stephen Chow
Location: My Couch

I'll admit that I'm not that much of a Stephen Chow connoisseur. I've seen the two biggies that everyone else has, Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, but I haven't watched his older stuff. I will, I promise! When I saw that he had a family film coming out I knew I wanted to see it, especially after I saw the cute alien dog from the trailer. The story involves a young boy (though played by a girl) who is very poor and his father (Chow) uses what little money he has to send him to a private school. Everyone makes fun of him because he doesn't have nice things and he really wants high tech toys like his classmates. His father finds a weird green ball in the dump and brings it home to and unhappy kid. That is until he realizes the ball is actually a dog-like creature from space.

There are plenty of laughs in this movie and it's all thanks to the wonderful child actors. They are absolutely hilarious throughout and the "bad kid" has the best look to any child villain EVER. Just take a look at him.

(click to enlarge)

Surprisingly the film is not all laughs, and takes a very sad turn. This is not a sad twist, it's just more of a sad tone throughout but it's much darker than I expected. This is a good film, but not as good as the two other Chow films I've seen. Still, kids will love it and I want a space dog pronto. Pick up the
Blu-Ray here or the
DVD here.

Moving - 1988 - Dir. Alan Metter
Location: My House (is a very, very, very fine house)

Who doesn't love Richard Pryor? He was a master comedian and made some great flicks. Ok, so he also made some shit, but this is not one of them. I have seen this quite a few times but it always pulls plenty of laughs out of me. Pryor plays a mass transit engineer named Arlo Pear who loses his job and is forced to take his only offer which requires him to relocate the whole family from New Jersey to Idaho. As much as he tries to plan out the perfect, stress free move everything goes wrong with hilarious results for the audience.

Not only is Pryor brilliant as usual but the supporting cast kicks some serious ass. Randy Quaid is the neighbor from hell with the largest lawn mower ever used in a residential area. My personal favorite small role belongs to Dana Carvey who is hired to drive Arlo's prized Saab to Idaho, but after he leaves they learn that he has multiple personality disorder and things go bad for the Saab. This is an 80s comedy that is not to be missed, pick up the
DVD right here.

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession - 2004 - Dir. Alexandra Cassavetes
Location: Home, Sweet Home

I hate it when I watch a film that has been out for quite sometime and I feel like I really missed out. Somehow this documentary completely escaped me and I finally got around to checking it out seeing that is is right up my alley. For some reason I never really knew anything about this magical channel in the Los Angeles area from the 80s but I really wish I would have been able to take advantage of its glories. In attempt to expand cinematic knowledge this pay channel would show films uncut and uninterrupted at all hours, but not the normal cable fare of today. Z Channel would show foreign films, classics, cult and all the great stuff most people don't see. The man behind the programming was Jerry Harvey, who ended up murdering his wife and killing himself.

Interviews with friends, family and filmmakers paint the picture of the man's cinematic obsession which turned so many others on to new, and sometimes strange, films. Young movie watchers were shaped by this programming and turned their love of the craft into making films themselves. For those filmmakers who were not given theatrical distribution, this was there place. There was no home video when this started so Z Channel gave their work an outlet. Harvey and company were also known to reach out to director's and let them show their version of the film instead of the chopped up cuts studios make. Harvey helped so many people, gave inspiration to tons more and broadened the horizons of everyone who subscribed. It's a shame his life met such a tragic end.

Anyone with an interest in film must
get the DVD now! My "to watch" list has certainly expanded after this and I can't wait to delve into some new things.


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