Monday, March 8, 2010

Gary Daniels/PM collaborations

Firepower (1993) * 1/2

Cast:Chad McQueen, Gary Daniels, The Ultimate Warrior (Jim Hellwig), Alisha Das

Directed by Richard Pepin

Gary Daniels plays second fiddle to Chad McQueen, in a futuristic hellhole in which two cops go to a lawless part of the U.S and compete in to the death cage matches, there is also some nonsense about a fake AIDs vaccine and so forth but it’s all a bunch of gibberish. The fight sequences are sometimes enjoyable and The Ultimate Warrior makes for a great villain but aside from that Firepower is a disappointment. Despite the laborious set up of a wasteland future the movie doesn’t take advantage of its futuristic premise (probably out of budget restrictions) and the film is so half hearted and underwritten that McQueen’s family is completely forgotten about until the final reel which provides convenient vengeance motivation and a way to have McQueen get the new love interest. Firepower is very sloppily made, once again the story is utterly nonsensical as you wonder how the bad guys would make much profit of a false vaccine and why the cops would care enough to stop the bad guys. Firepower isn’t then written to be science fiction but rather as a kung fu flick which is jampacked full fight sequences and gladiator fights and in this regard Firepower is even more disappointing because the fight sequences while adequate are completely unexciting. The climax in particular is a letdown as Daniels is far more polished than McQueen and therefore the big fight between the Ultimate Warrior and Daniels is more exciting than the fight sequence between McQueen/Ultimate Warrior showdown despite the vengeance angle. Indeed only some unexpected gore and an admittedly cool decapitation sequence keeps this one from being a total waste. Indeed a far better title for dud would’ve been backfire.

Deadly Target (1994) * 1/2

Cast:Gary Daniels, Ken McLeod, Byron Mann

Directed by Charla Driver

Sort of semi-remake of Showdown In Little Tokyo in concept, in which a Caucasian cop from Hong Kong comes to the U.S to battle triads and avenge his brother while teaming up with a Eurasian partner (McLeod who looks uncannily like Brandon Lee) and in the mean time falls in love with an Asian casino worker. Showdown In Little Tokyo was a pretty stupid movie with some good action but a film that felt incredibly disappointing due to the talent involved. Deadly Target is even worse as the bad guys lack any menace, the heroes are even more invincible and the love angle is horrendously dull. (At least Showdown didn’t waste time with subplots.) What makes matters even worse is that the film doesn’t even work as guilty pleasure kung fu, because these fight sequences are poorly staged and are derivative of better movies. For instance I counted numerous steals from American Ninja, Double Impact, Tango And Cash and numerous others. Indeed the only entertainment in this brain-dead martial arts time waster is picking out what movie it’s ripping off. Deadly Target then is as uninspired as its title and unless you’re a serious Gary Daniels or PM fan, one would do well to steer clear of this dud.

Epicenter (2000) * * *

Cast: Gary Daniels, Traci Lords, Jeff Fahey

Directed by Richard Pepin

Daniels and Lords face natural disasters as well as a slew of Russian mobsters trying to wipe them both out, as Daniels knows a code for some type of stealth bombers that he sells for 15 million dollars and Lords knows this and changes a code to keep him from getting access to his account, along the way Daniels and Lords have to save her daughter who is wandering around the earthquake devastated L.A with the bad guys in hot pursuit. Epicenter doesn’t really work as an action flick, indeed there is stock footage used (though disguised fairly well) but for some reason where as stock footage tends to bother me, I didn’t care this time. In fact the film works in spite of itself. There is a lot of energy and while Daniels and Lords are pretty terrible (as is the story) this works as a campy disaster flick. Indeed you pretty much know what you’re getting and the film is about what you would expect. The film is still fairly entertaining in a brain dead kind of way, I don’t know it’s hard to review a movie like this, especially one of such little quality but the movie is so entertaining for the wrong reasons. Indeed take the casting of Gary Daniels playing a computer expert, also take the ineptitude of how Daniels doesn’t even do any martial arts. Yet the film looks pretty good, in fact I wasn’t bored and for low budget disaster schlock Epicenter hits the same right notes that those 70s disaster flicks camp classics hit and for those with low expectations, one can find a lot to enjoy here.

Retrograde (2004) *

Cast:Dolph Lundgren, Gary Daniels, Silvia De Santis

Directed by Christopher Kulikowski

Dolph Lundgren stars as a soldier from the future who goes back in time to contain a plague that will destroy mankind in the future, in the mean time he has to find such virus, explain to scientists what it is and defend it against bad guys from the future wanting to keep the future the way it is? Retrograde is easily one of the dullest films Dolph Lundgren has ever made. The production values are low (though the film is somewhat well photographed) the action sequences are lame, Dolph Lundgren and Gary Daniels seem bored and the film is utterly lifeless. Indeed to express how disappointing this movie is, note how Dolph Lundgren and Gary Daniels don’t even fight each other in this movie, even worse is that Daniels doesn’t have but one fight sequence and Dolph only has maybe 3 or 4. These fight sequences couldn’t be more flatly choreographed as Lundgren stands and shoots at things with stuntmen occasionally pretending to get hit and fall a couple feet in length. What is all the more disappointing is that this is produced by Joesph Merhi the guy behind all the PM movies including such greats as The Sweeper, Last Man Standing and Rage three films that worked because everyone involved wanted to make it good. However Retrograde is a disaster by comparison, indeed Dolph Lundgren cannot hide his contempt for the film and Daniels meanwhile barely has much of a character. Retrograde is a truly abominable action flick in that it combined the efforts of PM producer Joseph Merhi, Dolph Lundgren and Gary Daniels and yet all they could come up with, was this embarrassment.


  1. The only one of these four I've seen is Retrograde, and I agree about it totally, though I have come around slightly in that it's a good one to watch with a group and make fun of. What was the biggest disappointment was like you said, Daniels and Lundgren never fight, and really, Daniels barely fights at all.

    I'm very curious about Epicenter now, after reading your review. I have Deadly Target and Hawk's Vengeance next on my list for Daniels by request, but I'll definitely make Epicenter the one after those.

  2. Epicenter is a weird movie. If you say i'm totally crazy i'll see where you're coming from.

    Retrograde was painful. Dolph should've known better.

  3. Yeah, Retrograde felt like an Asylum picture in its quality.

  4. Hello fire power is a good action movie so i really recommend you to check it out as well as tobuy viagra reall nice bye

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