Sunday, December 30, 2007


Slogan: Explosive!

Muscle-headed ex-footballer Howie Long's fire movie played in D.C. theaters, but this Dolph Lundgren vehicle—directed by John Woo, no less—went right to video. Is there a God? I mean, Dolph is twice the muscle-head that Long is. And as a high-priced bodyguard, he shows range, depth, and fashion sense. This is a contemplative Dolph, who adopts an orphan girl and helps a pill-popping model kick her habit. "There's nothing harder than being a good father," he tells us, and later admits, "I cry sometimes." So do I, Dolph, so do I. But I laugh at what is absolutely the most insane plot complication ever: Dolph must struggle to overcome his fear of...white. Yes, the color. Or absence of color. Whenever there is too much white, Dolph goes gaga. Maybe, wonders the beautiful psychiatrist, he is "afraid of something white represents." I was a little afraid during the fight in the milk warehouse. But I didn't cry. PLAY.

Hollywood Pictures
Slogan: They Trained Him to Kill...Now They Want Him Dead.

Muscle-headed ex-footballer Howie Long's fire movie played in D.C. theaters, but this Dolph Lundgren vehicle—directed by Russell Mulcahy, no less—went right to video. Is there a God? Dolph continues his pensive ways, this time as a conscience-plagued sniper. The sets are right out of the video game Quake—perfect, since the androidish Lundgren resembles Duke Nukem. As in a good video game, all the politics of assassination and most of the exposition are tossed so that we may concentrate on the pure process of killing, the intricate pre-snipe rituals. "Do you remember your first kill?" asks co-sniper Gina Bellman. "They're not people—they're targets," corrects Dolph. As in a good video game, there is heavy philosophy underneath: "I started to doubt," says Dolph. "The face of every target was the face in the mirror." The real question is: Can snipers fall in love? I won't spoil it. See this with someone who's packing. The fine soundtrack is obviously the result of this credit: "Music consultant for Shiro Records: Shiro." PLAY.

Slogan: Dead on Target

The real fallout from the Persian Gulf War is that it has extended Michael Dudikoff's career. Here the star of American Ninja 1 through 197 heads a "special U.N. strike force" that must stop a Middle East madman from launching nuclear weapons. The filmmakers don't hide behind some fake country; they spell it out clearly: It's Syria, and we hate their Arabian guts. Speaking of guts, Mike is starting to resemble Ryan O'Neal. But Tone Loc, even with the snappy uniform, does not resemble an Army officer. Most of the action in this "A Jerry P. Jacobs Film" involves guys getting shot and falling off tall buildings. Stock military footage is used effectively, of course; this project had the cooperation of the Defense Department. I'm not sure that the State Department would approve of this much Arab-bashing, but, hey, there's a very nice spit-take. And America is No. 1 when it comes to spit-takes. EJECT.

Live Entertainment
Slogan: Negotiations Are Over.

I was expecting Arabs, but it's racist Afrikaners this time as Jeff Fahey and Ernie (the Other Ghostbuster) Hudson lead a "special military unit" across the dark continent to prevent a madman from unleashing an extra-strength Ebola virus in this "A Film by Sam Firstenberg." We know Fahey is serious because he has a very bad haircut. And when the script remembers he's there, Hudson brings a certain dignity to the proceedings, most of which involve guys getting shot and falling off tall buildings. No spit-takes, and the military stock footage is not that convincing, but Hal Holbrook, Frank Zagarino, and the evil Joe Lara are. PAUSE.

Slogan: I Want You...Dead

P.J. Soles, so perky in Rock and Roll High School, has barely one line in this "A George G. Braunstein Production" of "A William Lustig Picture." The same folks who brought us Jack Frost now turn to another icon, but it is never clear why the monster must wear the Uncle Sam suit. Or how he's become a monster. (Something about the Gulf War.) Or why he's out for revenge. What begins as a fairly measured debate on heroism and war becomes typical random slasher fare, squandering the goodwill built on lines like, "Not now, Ralph, there's a dead body in the house." Isaac Hayes makes an effort, but it is creepy William Smith who closes the film, reciting a poem of his own devising over the credits. It is titled "Desert Storm," and this is the haunting refrain: "I am the marine on the border of Kuwait." I cry sometimes. EJECT.

Home Video Films LLC

William Smith does not recite verse in this "A Film by Maximo T. Bird"—he just harasses the comely Heather Baker. Of course, there is nothing remotely poetic about this sadistic women-in-prison film, and besides, the box says this murky mess was directed by Donald G. Jackson. I wouldn't claim credit, either. In somebody's concrete basement, Julie Strain is "the tyrannical interrogator who commands the dark forces of the future," and the women look as if they were run over by Courtney Love's tour bus—except the "big sister," who appears clumsily to cheer the ladies with helpful comments like, "Keep your faith and the light will shine on you." Lights weren't in the budget. Neither were costumes or makeup. This future's so nude, I've got to wear protection. EJECT.

Columbia Tristar
Slogan: In Hollywood, Sex Sells and Money Talks. Any Questions?

Dudley Moore returns to the screen! Playing "Dudley Moore," we see the pixieish funnyman tinkling the piano and reminiscing about the mysterious title character. Likewise, Pierce Brosnan and James Coburn gamely play along with this "A Francis Megahy Film," which is a fake "British documentary" about a Hollywood scandal involving call girls. There's already been a real British documentary about a real Hollywood scandal involving real call girls, which proved that reality is always more entertaining than the fiction Tinseltown cooks up. But the real documentary had Heidi Fleiss yammering on the phone, and this one has Kari Wuhrer lounging around a pool in a very flattering bathing suit. Perception? Reality? FREEZE-FRAME.

Slogan: Two guys. A sexy girl. A stash of gold. Sounds like trouble.

Of course Paul Bartel is in this flick. The sad infatuation that the urban hipoisie have with poor white trash must stop. You just know that after thrifting all the can-you-believe-it set decorations, the filmmakers repaired to their SoHo loft to argue over which restaurant was truly of-the-moment and therefore deserving of their presence. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Mr. "A Film by Rod McCall," who substitutes easy, cynical attitude for comedy. Or maybe drama. It's hard to tell anymore. The Ben Vaughn soundtrack is nice, but the photo of Rose McGowan (George) on the box is the same one as on the cover of the excellent Henry Mancini tribute CD, Shots in the Dark. Confused, I turned to "Richard's Rose McGowan Page" on the World Wide Web: "Rose McGowan is one of the most talented young actresses in films today. Her acting seems to cut through any status-quo, pretentious tendencies that actors young and old tend to emulate. Because of her unique talent, Rose McGowan has been cast in many independant [sic] films." Well, that settles it, but Rose's taste in projects needs to become a bit more unique. EJECT.

98.7 WMZQ
Slogan: You May Already Have Won!

I'm in a select crowd! That's one message I got from this tape that arrived unexpectedly in my mailbox. Taking a break from freeze-framing Kari Wuhrer, I was also informed by the frightening DJ team of Murphy & Cash that country music is not "that twangy old stuff" (thank gosh!) and heard the creepy pair joyfully admit that "we don't actually choose the music" (thank gosh!). Tragically, I did not win $10,000 instantly, but this video proved invaluable nonetheless. Now when the soulless undead rise and walk the Earth, I will be able to recognize them—for I have seen Murphy & Cash. BULK-ERASE.

JUST SO YOU KNOW: From the liner notes to SHADOW DANCER (New Horizons. Slogan: Dancing Away With Murder): "At a Los Angeles strip club, provocative Narina is the undisputed star. But when Narina and her friend, Dee, are performing a daringly erotic routine, the lights go out and Dee is stabbed to death. All the evidence points to Narina, and Narina herself feels she may be guilty because of her own dark secret—she has killed before." I like that "daringly erotic routine" bit. Not enough to watch, though.

Next month: Sheentastic!

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