Karate Girl (2011) Recap

karategirltitleIt is amazing the kinds of things one can discover on the Recommended Videos section of YouTube. For every Let’s Play episode, pop song parody, or pointless list fulfilling a very specific niche, there are genuine gems you would have never discovered in a million years otherwise. For me, one day I was busy scrolling through (which means that I was probably supposed to be doing homework) when suddenly:

Holy shit! I knew the second it was over that I had to watch the whole movie, because miracles like this are destined to be blogged about by losers on the internet. Read More

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Darker than Amber Recap

amberposter

Oh, Robert Clouse. What will people remember you for? They will remember your for Enter the Dragon, which technically wasn’t even really your movie. You’ll be remembered for Game of Death, or in other words, for crapping on Bruce Lee’s legacy by refusing to let a dead project die peacefully. You’ll be remembered for trying to introduce Jackie Chan to the West in the most awkward way possible in Battle Creek Brawl. And you’ll probably be remembered for Gymkata, too, though I doubt you’re too happy about that.

But some may remember you for this movie, the (to my knowledge) only adaptation of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee novels. Basically, Travis McGee is to Batman what James Bond is to Superman (credit to Roger Ebert for the analogy). Basically, he’s a self-described “beach bum” who generally takes cases when he’s running low on funds, and is self-employed, so doesn’t have the luxury of shiny gadgets to get him through tough situations, or a sexy name.

Interesting enough premise, but given this movie’s failure at the box office, not an especially profitable one. Apparently it impressed Bruce Lee enough so that he gave the directing job for Enter the Dragon to Clouse when he saw the production. Most reviews I’ve read about it are pretty positive. So I guess there must be something about this movie that got people excited, right?

I know I’m supposed to answer my rhetorical question with a “Hell no, this movie is way overrated” or something, but I honestly have nothing concrete to say about it, because I don’t remember a thing about it from when I watched it in preparation for this recap. I can’t say if I liked it, if I disliked it, or really anything other than it was a movie, and I just spent 90 minutes of my life watching it. i suppose part of the reason is because I was watching an incredibly shitty VHS rip, and so I couldn’t process anything that was going on.

Fortunately, it turns out that the entire thing is available on Youtube for free, and in much better quality (and without Swedish subtitles; the copy I first saw had those). So, basically, instead of watching the movie again in preparation, I’m going be doing a blind recap, with almost no knowledge of what is going to happen, and see how it holds up. Read More

I Come in Peace/ Dark Angel – Part 1

You’re travelling through another dimension, a dimension not of logic or reason, but of testosterone and beef jerky. A journey into a trash-littered wasteland whose boundaries are that of reality and sense. That’s the Twilight Zone reference that’s been done to death and will continue to be done to death for generations – your next stop, the Dolph Lundgren Movie!darkangel-title
Seriously, though, all joking aside, this guy is a beast! He has a Master’s in Chemical Engineering, and got a frickin’ Fulbright to study at MIT for crying out loud! And he can still kick my ass any day of the week. The point here, is, if I ever go heavy with the “dumb muscle” jokes in the coming paragraphs, please do NOT take that to heart, because Dolph Lundgren gets massive respect points from the 90-pound dumbass that is me. That, and for having the balls to be in Masters of the Universe. See that movie, and you know he’s not afraid of anything.

So that brings us to Dark Angel, or I Come in Peace, depending on where you’re from, a movie sent straight from late-80’s action land, starring Ivan Drago and that dork from Radioland Murders, two cops with opposing personalities who must learn to work together in order to take on a bigger threat. The threat being an alien. An alien who kills people by turning their brains into drugs. With that, I’m fairly certain I have singled out the people who will stay here for the recap.

This movie was directed by Craig Baxley, who would go on to make a buttload of TV movies and direct-to-video projects. So if movies with titles like Chameleon II: Death Match or Raven: Return of the Black Dragons are your thing, then by all means, go for it. In the meantime, I’ve stalled enough, so let’s get started, shall we?

Jessica Alba not included.

Jessica Alba not included.


So the movie begins with a car driving down the dark grimy streets of Lundgrentown, USA. It’s in the middle of this long drive to Expositoryprologueville where the man in the car decides he wants some music in the movie, and so acts accordingly. However, the music doesn’t get to play long before it starts going haywire. This is also a golden opportunity to give the audience the valuable exposition that this man paid $70,000 for the car he is driving, which in this type of movie basically amounts to paying $70,000 to be violently murdered. Sure enough, the CD he’s playing actually ejects from the player, and so this man decides that the logical course of action is to put the CD straight back, leading to narrowly avoiding collision with a bus up ahead, losing control, and landing in a remote area within the woods. And people still have the gall to text while driving!
He sees you when you're sleeping, awake, or when you have to pee because there's no Porta-potty.

He sees you when you’re sleeping, awake, or when you have to pee because there’s no Porta-potty.


After this whole fiasco, the man’s first words are, “Merry fucking Christmas!” thus confirming that if you get tired of Die Hard or Lethal Weapon, then you have another option to get your explosive Christmas fix. After some confusing editing involving some alien explody thing falling on the unfortunately priced car, we discover to our horror that the CD has been burnt to a crisp! Great, now an actual composer is needed for the movie! Emerging from the wreckage is Christopher Lambert’s deformed half brother, declaring, “I come in peace!”
Um, now's not the time to be making fun of stroke victims, buddy.

Um, now’s not the time to be making fun of stroke victims, buddy.


Cut to yet another Hollywood bank, where a robbery is about taking place, in claustrophobic air-vent locations that serve to remind the viewer that he’s not watching Die Hard. Also cutting in between these scenes are other scenes of a cop who looks suspiciously like Billy Secord from Ninja III: the Domination. And I’ll just leave it at that, as I’ve said more than enough about that guy. Secord is called to room J-38 by the intercom, but it’s actually the robber using technology to corner and kill him, in order to complete his disguise. One that will probably be a little less effective once the dead body is discovered, but okay.
A symbolic representation of just how cool ol' Dolph really is.

A symbolic representation of just how cool ol’ Dolph really is.


The next two minutes are spent with this guy joining up with his partner and waling out of the police station, at which no one bats an eye, because no one here really knows each other as anything more than extras hired by Craig Baxley. I’d like to think that this whole charade was some weird fourth wall joke, but I know such subtlety is not to found in this movie. As the two guys leave with their designated driver, the smug one reveals that he rigged the building to explode, so as to get rid of potential witnesses. So far there have been two major scenes in this movie, and they both ended with explosions. Did Michael Bay ever see this movie as a kid? Just for the record, all of this was to steal some weed. Where else do you think the writers got it?
Quite an informative place to include your production design credit.

Quite an informative place to include your production design credit.


Finally, Dolph enters the picture! He’s outside in his car, listening to an undercover operation being carried out by his partner. Great, the guy we came to see and he’s not even involved in the action. The guys from earlier soon enter the picture, having gotten the weed that their boss had asked for. It turns out that this operation involves exposing a crime boss by pretending to be an underground buyer. Hilariously, said crime boss wastes a lot of time talking about his education, and when he asks Dolph’s Black Partner (the only thing you need to know about him) where he was educated, he responds, “The University of Suck My Dick!”
This crime is interrupting my Pearl Jam!

This crime is interrupting my Pearl Jam!


Meanwhile, yet another robbery is taking place at a convenience store right across the street, though this one carried out with significantly less grace and finesse. Unable to ignore the chance to show off some kicks on camera, ol’ Dolph leaves his post to go layeth the smackdown on these losers. Well, one loser anyway, before taking his gun to intimidate the other guy. Meanwhile, Evil McBusinessman reveals that he is well aware that the current deal going on is a charade, and he proceeds to shoot Detective Ray Turner, just as Dolph is done laying the other thief full of lead. Oh, and the drug he was selling was heroin. Not that I’d stop calling it weed, anyway.
Gah! Is this guy the Joker's long lost brother or what?

Gah! Is this guy the Joker’s long lost brother or what?


As the mobster group disbands, the Lambertian comes on the scene (in “peace”, of course), shooting out his compact disc of death, leading to some pretty cool POV shots from the view of the flying disk as it slices the throats of these rich lowlifes. Just as Dolph is done clearing out the other bad guys, the Lambertian finishes taking the “weed” for himself and blows up the last guy to oblivion. Dolph sees the explosion and dives in to investigate. He sees all the dead bodies scattered around, leading directly to Dolph Lundgren trying to act sad at the loss of his friend. It’s not Reb Brown laugh out loud hilarious, but it’s pretty funny nevertheless.
It occurs to me that pretty much all of my screenshots so far have been of creepy faces.

It occurs to me that pretty much all of my screenshots so far have been of creepy faces.


As the cops appear on the scene, Dolph’s superior briefly consoles him, before launching into an expository tirade about how Dolph has disappeared for the past eight days. And plus, he kinda fucked up the whole “expose Victor Manning (the asshole businessman)” thing. For all this, Dolph is forced into taking an eight-week vacation. So his punishment for not showing up for work is being forced to no show up for work?
Jonathan Tydor's script, not mine!

Jonathan Tydor’s script, not mine!


A certain Detective Switzer wants to talk to Dolph in private, so they go into the bathroom, where they force a fellow cop to leave after his piss without even washing his hands! Is this private matter really worth the potential spread of germs and disease? It turns out Switzer believes (correctly) that the men were not killed by conventional weaponry, and tries to work with Dolph, but Dolph just brushes him aside with the excuse that he’s on vacation anyway, so he can’t help. Cue cutting to Switzer forcing the chief to give Dolph’s job back. Exactly what made Switzer interested in Dolph’s help anyway? I guess this means Dolph is good at his job, but whatever, Dolph Lundgren, need him to kick ass, go with it.
He's turning into Christopher Walken!

He’s turning into Christopher Walken!


So Dolph is introduced to his “partner”, Larry Smith. He introduces himself with, “I’m the youngest man ever to reach my rank at the bureau, I make twice as much you do and it’s for good reason, so don’t even start that shit with me.” Well, with that statement, you kinda just started “that shit” yourself already, so shit’s gonna happen anyway. Larry continues to be a massive dick when explaining what the parameters of the case are (both actually explaining the parameters and telling Dolph what “parameters” means. Ugh!). Meanwhile Dolph’s girlfriend brings us the incredibly useful information that the weapon used to murder the men before is “razor thin and razor sharp”. Such technical terms, too!
Still a better Two-Face than Tommy Lee Jones.

Still a better Two-Face than Tommy Lee Jones.


Dolph tries to make up with Diane, who was worried about his eight-day disappearance, but she’s having none of it, because this is an 80’s movie (actually, it was released in 1990, but it’s essentially an 80’s movie), and women live to antagonize men. Anyway, we finally to get the buddy-cop stage when Dolph and Larry’s personalities and work styles start to clash. Which consists of Larry being annoying while Dolph kinda just stands there, occasionally making some witty comebacks. Basically, Brian Benben is there to make Dolph look likable in comparison. Tough job.
If you lived here, you'd be John Belushi.

If you lived here, you’d be John Belushi.


Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated location, a shithole full of poverty and disease (okay, so maybe not entirely unrelated), an explosion leaves various holes in several walls of a rundown building. It’s another Lambertian, this one apparently NOT having come in peace. Not that there’s been a difference so far. Back with our dynamic(ally inactive) duo, Brian Benben is busy measuring the length of the chairs in the scene of the crime, because that will most certainly reveal the weapon and culprit responsible for the murders. He goes on a tirade about how he does not believe in instinct, and every one of his actions is a learned reaction. Dolph, of course, asks what would happen if something completely new comes up, to which Benben admits he would be stuck. This whole conversation makes me marvel at how much Dolph Lundgren looks and sounds like Nathan Fillion in this movie.
She may not have the cleanest clothes, but dammit if she disappoints her dentist!

She may not have the cleanest clothes, but dammit if she disappoints her dentist!


Cut to a man watching It’s a Wonderful Life, only to be interrupted by his “goddamn worthles leg-humpin’ piece o’ shit dog”. Hey, I know it’s a good movie and everything, but your dog has feelings too, you know! He tries calling the dog in, but when he receives no response, his first action is to grab his shotgun and shoot at anything that moves. Immediately following the previous scene where Dolph was talking about instinct, this is pretty funny. He goes chasing after the supposed “fuckin’ greedy asshole burglar shithead” (seriously, does this guy ever refer to anything using two words or less?), only to find that it’s a bit more extraterrestrial than expected. The Lambertian (the one who “comes in peace”) uses some alien syringe to inject some fluid in the old geezer.
And no, it's not a date rape drug! At least, I don't think it is...

And no, it’s not a date rape drug! At least, I don’t think it is…


Meanwhile, Dolph takes Benben to a nightclub, where he meets up with his “old pal” in between gratuitous shots of female partial nudity. Dolph asks the git where Victor Manning is by holding his gun up to his crotch. This doesn’t really lead anywhere, because the thugs all believe that the cops were the ones who killed the men earlier. Benben sarcastically remarks how much was gained from this exchange, but Dolph just shrugs, saying he came here to think anyway, before sumbolically rolling a cue ball into a pool table pocket. Because that helps him think.
The Daniel Stern stare. It works every time.

The Daniel Stern stare. It works every time.


Actually, the cue ball helps as an analogy for Dolph to explain that he thinks the weapon used may be a projectile rather than a blade. He goes through a hypothetical scenario in which the supposed projectile travels around, ricocheting off people and walls, until it lands on the stereo, which is exactly where the compact disc of destruction is. Benben, initially skeptical of a CD’s murder capacity, tries to get it out, only for the disc to fly around and cause more destuction. Dolph’s action one-liner? “Now that’s a murder weapon!” Eh… okay.
Dammit, DJ! You had one job!

Dammit, DJ! You had one job!


So we cut to a parking garage, where another bystander is listening to some pretty awful rap music describing some ugly woman, doing whatever it is that city management does this late at night. Needless to say, he quickly gets killed by the peace-loving Lambertian, who after injecting the fluid, is shown extracting some other liquid from the man’s head. The other Lambertian comes in, too, after this is done, and shoots at the first Lambertian, who starts running, an action which is predictably uninterrupted by a fairly decently sized explosion taking place RIGHT BEHIND HIM. The ensuing chase through the garage is really putting me in a Highlander mood. Basically, it’s shooting, and lots of cars blowing up. It’s pretty fun.
Pleased to meet you, Houston City Management! I'm Yan! How are you!?

Pleased to meet you, Houston City Management! I’m Yan! How are you!?


The second Lambertian leaves, as it apparently understands the concept that attempted murder is pretty frowned upon in human society. That’s a step towards getting the gist of what “peace” is, I guess.

So what is the Lambertian’s motive for destroying people’s brains? Will Dolph and Benben finally figure out what the audience has already known basically from the beginning? Will Betsy Brantley ever get more than two lines in a movie? All of these questions are answered next time, in the Dolph Lundgren Movie.