Krush Groove (1985)

June 19, 2011

Krush Groove (1985)

Directed by Michael Schultz

Starring: Blair Underwood, Run DMC, Sheila E., The Fat Boys

Available for Streaming on Netflix? Yes.

SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. Krush Groove is based on the early days of Def Jam Records and its cofounder, Russell Simmons. Here Def Jam is “Krush Groove” and Russell Simmons is “Russell Walker.” We follow Russell as he makes several horrible business decisions on his way to establishing Krush Groove Records. I hope Def Jam was not run as badly as Russell runs things in this movie. Also, somewhat inexplicably there is a side-story that follows the Fat Boys as they go from a group of fat rapping high school students into fat rap stars. This one shouldn’t take long to review since it’s basically a long music video for Def Jam.

The movie starts off with an epic montage that introduces us to all of the principal characters. Run DMC are in the studio killing the track “King of Rock” while Russell Walker (played by Blair Underwood) and Rick Rubin, the co-founders of Krush Groove look on in approval. As the track goes on, we see Run DMC at a show rapping it to an enthusiastic crowd and the offices of Krush Groove Records, as boxes of Krush Groove records are being shipped out. It is during this montage that we also get introduced to the characters in the B-story of our movie: The Rise of the Fat Boys. We see each of them get ready for their day at school.

Kool Rock-Ski packs a bunt cake as his lunch.

The Human Beat Box sucks down a soda while he irons suspenders?

Prince Markie Dee goes the pervert route and decides to commit sex crimes.

congrats george a. jackson

These guys are really living up to their name. We learn that the Fat Boys are listening to Run DMC and Prince Markie Dee and the Human Beat Box have dreams of also becoming big rap stars, to Kool Rock-Shi’s consternation: he just wants to eat all day. Also during this montage we find out that Run DMC have a day job at what is probably the coolest car wash ever, where people dance on cars and Jam Master Jay spins records.

seriously, this makes the car wash in "car wash" look like shit

Instead of embracing this awesomeness of a car wash, their boss fires Rum DMC. Rum DMC organizes a labor strike and everyone at the car wash quits. Good luck now, boss. We learn all of this in a 5 minute montage.

Now we are in Krush Groove’s offices and Rick Rubin and their secretary can barely keep up with the phone calls. It turns out they are all orders and angry customers who still haven’t received their records. Russell Walker comes strutting into the office and tells Rick that it’s happening just like he told him it would. Rick informs Russell that they are selling records that they don’t even have and that they don’t have the capital to print them. I guess that is what Russell wanted all along because he tells Rick that this is only a minor problem. Not only that, Russell picks up the phone and makes promises that he will give a customer their order tomorrow. This is the first moment in the movie that we should realize that Russell is a horrible businessman. Taking orders that you can’t fulfill and then lying to your customers is absolutely horrible customer service. There is also an issue of supply and demand economic models. Russell is inflating their actual supply when in theory he could be exploited the low supply and high demand for higher unit costs. Instead, he is taking smaller unit costs (although higher number of units sold) in selling his records. This doesn’t really matter since Russell is probably just ripping these people off anyways.

Now we go back to the B-story of the Fat Boys as they are in biology class. They are dissecting fetal pigs and this obviously makes them hungry. These guys are really fat.

mmmm rotissery fetal pig

The Fat Boys get bored and decide to clown on the teacher and The Human Beat Box does some beatboxing. She notices that it’s him and calls him “the fat one”. After asking the fat one to stand up, they all stand up and she sends them to the principals office and gives them an “F” for the fetal pig assignment (although Kool Rock-Ski deserves an A in cooking). Anyways, the Fat Boys don’t do that and Disco 3 (as they are known as) goes to do an impromptu music video in the hallway.

happened every day at my high school

So Run DMC goes to see Russell’s father at the Church (played by Russell Simmon’s dad) and he admonishes them for quitting their job at the car wash, because car wash employee is a stable and great career. Russell comes in and asks for $5000. Great business decision for asking a church, maybe they can scrape some money out of the donations. Here we find out that Russell has taken 10,000 orders before he knew if he could fill any of them. Anyways, Russell’s dad basically tells him to grow the fuck up and go away.

Run DMC and Russell go to a bar and Sheila E. is playing. Both Run and Russell state very politely that they would be in the business of getting nasty with that. Russell meets a gangster/loan shark/professional named JayB who tells him that he likes the record and that if he ever needs help, to let him know. Looks like we solved Russell’s money issue! Russell’s friends tell him to stay away but of course since he hasn’t told them about the poor state of Krush Groove, he isn’t going to listen.

he's the devil

Sheila E. finishes and complains to her manager about the shitty bar when Run comes up to her and steps his game up. Run gets this acting gig presumably since he is a better actor than DMC (neither are very good). Sheila E. sits with Run DMC and tells them that she thinks rap is stupid.

Meanwhile, the Fat boys try to get into the bar with the worst ID’s ever. They get turned away by this guy.

more bouncers should dress like this

they might as well use asian id's while they're at it

The next day, Russell and Rick go to get a loan from the bank and neither of them have any idea what they are doing. Rick is on the right track and starts lying about what they own to make their company sound stronger. When asked what type of  record company they are, Russell and Rick rap the response. The loan officer apparently didn’t like that and rejects their request for a loan. Russell yells at him calling it bullshit and Rick calls the loan officer gay. They leave.

Realizing that they need the money to keep Krush Groove going, Rick implores Russell to work together as a team. Rather than do that, Russell says fuck it and gets a loan from JayB without telling anyone.

Next we are at a concert featuring Krush Groove artists, including Kurtis Blow. Russell gets an offer from a representative at a major label, Galaxy Records. Russell turns him down out of hand without telling anyone. Russell isn’t very good at this whole teamwork/business thing. Run shows up late for the concert and then has a Prince-era, pre-Magic Johnson era Sheila E. perform instead of him singing HollyRock, complete with a band of Prince and the Revolution rejects.

joe dirt with a keytar

Russell is pissed because they are only guaranteed money for one band and Run went and fucked that all up. Run can’t take any criticism and wants to leave instead of doing his commitment to play a show. After a lot of dramatic posturing Run goes out there to play the show. This triangle of Russell-Run-Sheila E is supposed to be dramatic conflict of the movie. Another Run DMC performance (“It’s Like That”).

They go to a club after the show. Run and Russell get into an argument. Sheila E. turns Run down and says that she sees him as a brother. Run promptly gets on another girl. Russell gets on that and makes sure that Sheila gets home safe. Meanwhile, the guy from Galaxy Records talks up Run to sign with them and tells him that Russell turned him down earlier.

The next day, Krush Groove is holding tryouts for their label. After watching a girl perform they say “no more auditions” when LL Cool J walks through the door. Jam Master Jay is PISSED and must hate auditions. He yells “I SAID NO MORE AUDITIONS”, unreasonably upset. It’s a weird characterization since this is really the only screen time he gets in the entire movie.

i fucking HATE auditions

LL Cool J gets his music video in the movie and they love him. Meanwhile, at the Disco Fever there is a talent competition going on that Russell is judging. New Edition gets a music video now. Russell runs into JayB and despite selling tons of records, he does not have the money to give JayB his loan back. Russell pays him a little bit that JayB takes as interest. JayB informs that Russell that he has days to pay it back. Another poor business decision: taking out loans that you can’t pay back.

Up next in the talent competition is the Beastie Boys! They come to the stage and are promptly…booed? The Beastie Boys get booed in this movie while the Fat Boys get their entire story told? I guess I can look at it now with the perspective of history on my side but I think you can figure out which band of the two sold 40 million records world wide. (Although the Beastie Boys didn’t get their own movie.)

needs more fat

Meanwhile, the Fat Boys are on their way to the Disco Fever to perform at the talent show. Kool Rock-Ski decides he can’t do it because they will make fun of them for being fat. He’s right.

Russell runs into the guy from Galaxy who is with Run DMC. Russell tells him that he is open to working with him. The guy informs him that he already signed Run DMC. Turns out Russell never signed Run DMC to an official contract. Poor business decision #1323.

New Edition wins the talent competition. The Fat Boys have serious self esteem issues (probably from years of being fat and ridiculed) and The Human Beat Box breaks down and starts crying. Kurtis Blow feels sorry for them and gets them a spot as the alternate for next week’s even bigger talent show. Kurtis talks to Russell and Russell tells him that Krush Groove is over.

The Human Beat Box is still crying about losing the talent competition. Of course, they see the one thing that can solve all of their problems. Maybe to help explain their weight problems and self-esteem issues, it seems that The Fat Boys have an extreme Solace Eating disorder. What occurs next is an insane music video/commercial for Sbarro that takes up the next four minutes of the movie. Do yourself a favor and watch this. It has to be seen to be believed.

After eating the store out of business, they run back home where they have a heart t0 heart discussion about the future of their band. Prince Markie Dee says that they are afraid to be who they are on stage. That they should rap about things they like such as food. (Because songs such as “Don’t You Love Me” and “Let’s Get Funky” are too pretentious for them) They decide to change their name from Disco 3 to the Fat Boys. Has there ever been a more shallow band in history than the Fat Boys? They only existed to make fat jokes and rap about how much they like to eat food. That’s all they did. The one guy even wears a squirrel hat. Also, this side story is completely disassociated from everything else that is going on in the movie. Why are we following the exploits of the Fat Boys during the movie about the start of Def Jam? Not that I’m complaining or anything, it’s pretty entertaining stuff.

Russell gets the bright idea to record Sheila E. and therefore get the money to pay off JayB’s loan. Russell brings the Sheila E. records to the clubs but Galaxy has blackballed Krush Groove from all the local clubs.

New Edition cancels from the talent show which means that The Fat Boys get a spot on the bill. They perform and everybody loves them. They win the talent show! And with that they win a record contract with Krush Groove! The least fat Fat Boy gets the girl.

there's even a hierarchy with fat people

In the other story, JayB sends some thugs to beat up Russell for not paying the money back that he promised. Feeling threatened, he goes to Sheila E’s place in the middle of the night. Saying that he’s in a tight spot, he asks her if he can stay the night. She lets him in. It’s not long before he’s lighting candles and they are making sweet sweet love to “Tender Love” in full on spectacularly 80s fashion. All the young men out there reading this: go to a ladies house in the middle of the night and pretend that you are distress. You will get laid.

you gon get it

Run goes to see Sheila E and she lets him know about Russell’s problems. Feeling guilty, Run goes to see Russell who is getting beat up again by JayB’s jheri-curled thugs. Run runs in and gets beat up too.

just let your soul glo

Run apologizes to Russell for bailing on him and Russell apologizes as well. They hug and “Tender Love” comes on again and I’m not sure if there gonna have sex or not. It’s only implied.

Russell asks Run for money and Run says okay. Sheila comes and kisses Russell, right in front of Run. In yo face!

i'll take your money and your girl

Run DMC go back to Russell and this time, they sign a contract. The Fat Boys bring their dates to the Disco Fever, all wearing matching satin jackets. Russell takes the money from Run to pay off JayB. The movie ends with them all rapping together.

In conclusion, this movie is a lot of fun for the music. It really is just a long music video featuring Def Jam artists strung together by weak. disjointed plotline. The Fat Boys story and Krush Groove story really are pretty disassociated from each other. Russel truly is a horrible businessman. He makes bad decision after bad decision and is lucky enough to get bailed out by his more successful friends in the end. This shouldn’t be any celebration of the birth of an enterprise. However despite all of this, this really is fun to watch. The Fat Boys are always amusing. The music is entertaining and the soundtrack is pretty solid.


Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)

June 12, 2011

poster

Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)

Directed by Mark L. Lester

Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee, Tia Carrere

SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. Showdown in Little Tokyo is an action film at the tail-end of the shoot-em-up 80s action genre that combines with the martial arts genre. This plot has a cultural twist: the white detective Chris Kenner (played by Dolph Lundgren) was actually raised in Japan and knows little of modern American culture while his new partner Johnny Murata (played by Brandon Lee) who is of Japanese decent (Brandon Lee is Chinese) does not much appreciate traditional Japanese culture. This film was actually credited for breaking down all cultural stereotypes in the world. (citation needed)

The story starts in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. An illegal, underground boxing match is going on in a warehouse with lots of money flowing throughout. Our hero, Chris Kenner, is spying on. Just when we expect Jean-Claude Van Damme to call next fight, Kenner comes in swinging from the ceiling like Tarzan and tells everybody that he’s going to arrest them. Just like that, Kenner becomes the next participant in the fight and goes all Ivan Drago on their ass.

i must break you

All of a sudden a Japanese gang war breaks out in the middle of the warehouse. Bullets spray everywhere as Kenner follows a gang as they leave. Alone, Kenner tries to take out the car full of gansters with his revolver. Out of bullets, the car is coming right towards Kenner to which he fucking HURDLES OVER THE MOVING CAR. He leaps over a moving car, going at least 60 mph with no running start. At this point you should realize that this movie is stupid.

dolph lundren > blake griffin, seriously blake a hood of a car is all you got?

Next we see Kenner in a Japanese restaurant speaking fluent Japanese when the same bad guys from the car walk in to intimidate the poor lady who owns the restaurant into giving them a percentage of her profits (and lunch presumably). We find out that these guys are the Yakuza and are poised to take over Little Tokyo. Dolph ain’t having any of this shit and starts to kick the shit out of all of them without even spilling a drop of his tea. Kenner then proceeds to destroy the  restaurant by throwing bad guys into tables, shelves and plate glass windows, even though he was trying to protect her in the first place. What an asshole.

hope you have insurance, lady

Anyway,  Johnny Murata (Brandon Lee) comes in the restaurant mistaking Kenner for the bad guy. They spar for a bit and then get drive-byed by the Yakuza as they drive away. They both brandish their badges and find out that they have been assigned to be partners. Presumably, Kenner has been working alone since his last partner was killed in the line of duty as Kenner can’t even get a cup of tea without getting shot at. Murata is similarly crazy to take on the task since nobody wants to be Kenner’s partner because they all die (presumably).

They are able to apprehend one of the Yakuza members that was lying on the restaurant floor and bring him to the police station. All of their co-workers at the station wish Johnny good luck when they arrive because they know that he will die shortly. While interrogating the bad guy, Kenner finds tattoos on his chest. This brings up a flashback for Kenner. Apparently, when he was a boy his parents are killed by a man with the same tattoos. Rather than talk, the bad guy breaks his own neck.

Next, we see the man’s boss, a real evil dude as he is about to kill the leader of the underground fighting ring (Tanaka) by crushing him alive.

was crushing the car too really necessary?

After killing him they party. We see a pretty blond girl smoking meth who tells Tia Carrere about the bad guys plot to kill Tanaka. Oh Tia Carrere. She’s the jack-of-all trades for playing any race you want in movies. Apparently, in Hollywood if you are exotic looking you can play any ethnicity. Here she plays Japanese. She’s actually Hawaiian with Chinese, Filipino and Spanish heritage. Anyway the bad guys take the blond girl who smokes meth away to see the main bad guy, Yoshida. They show her video they have of her telling Tanaka (he’s dead already) about their plans to kill him. Probably because she smokes meth, she tries to get out of her upcoming death by attempting to have sex with him in front of all of his henchmen/friends. He’s into it for a little while until he decides to chop her head off.

Kenner and Johnny go to the crime scene of the girl’s death. They find out she had meth ampthetamines in her system, the kind that come from Japan and haven’t been seen around here. Johnny and Kenner talk about their upbringings and get to know each other better. Turns out Johnny was raised in the valley, has a white dentist for a dad and doesn’t give a shit about Japanese culture. This joke is made again in some shape or form about 50 more times in this movie.

Kenner and Johnny bust their way into an adult-themed Japanese Sushi bar where they take turns beating up bad guys. As they enter the bar, the Pointer Sister’s “Slow Hand” sung by Tia Carrere delicately sets the scene. Here we see what must be one of the world’s worst jobs, lay still on your back while wealthy businessmen and gangsters eat raw fish from your genitals.

i hope it pays well

Kenner and Johnny question an employee who tells them that Tanaka no longer runs the club, but rather the owner of the Red Dragon Brewery. Then, Kenner and Johnny question Tia Carrere about the blond girl who smokes(d) meth. Tia Carrere is uncomfortable talking to them since it means she will probably be killed. The bouncers don’t want Kenner and Johnny there any longer and Kenner and Johnny proceed to beat some more people up. Eventually they are overpowered and Yoshida’s main henchman takes them at gunpoint to see Yoshida. Kenner tells Johnny to be respectful and polite and play by their rules so as not to get killed. Almost immediately, Kenner says fuck that (to his own advice) and pulls a gun on Yoshida. Everybody then pulls a gun on them.

what an asshole

It turns out Yoshida is the douchebag who killed Kenner’s parents. As a child, Kenner gave Yoshida the scar that’s on his face by hitting him with a sword after seeing him kill his parents. Instead of keeping this to himself, Kenner tells Yoshida everything. Probably not so smart. Johnny talks Kenner out of killing Yoshida and they are miraculously allowed to leave.

Johnny calls Kenner out on his bullshit for almost getting them killed. When Johnny, understandably, gets pissed off, Kenner doesn’t tell him shit. Finally after a lot of prodding, Kenner tells Johnny that Yoshida killed his parents. Instead of getting off the case, like any rationale human being would do, Johnny decides that they are gonna take down Yoshida by the books and then celebrate by eating raw fish off of naked chicks.

fuck yeah

Kenner and Johnny go to Red Dragon Brewery, which just so happens to the meth manufacturing lab, and stake it out. Inside, they are giving a tour of the facilities to local drug dealers. The local drug dealers don’t like the terms of the new agreement.

they took our jerbs!

One guy in particular complains. He gets his arm chopped off. A deal is made between Yoshida and the drug dealers.

Yoshida goes to the sushi bar. He knows that Tia Carrere talked to Kenner. He takes her back to his house and rapes her. He puts on his home video of the death of the meth smoking blond girl to set the mood. Yoshida leaves for the day to do the dastardly errands of a gangster. He orders that Tia Carrere not leave and no one enter.

Kenner and Johnny are staking out the house when Yoshida leaves. Johnny finds Tia Carrere through binoculars inside of the house. Hoping to see nakedness, they instead see her setting up to perform ritual suicide. Bummer.

Kenner goes in the house and kills a bunch of people. So much for playing it by the books. Kenner makes it in time to stop Tia Carrere from killing herself and again she gets kidnapped, this time it’s by the good guys. To get a way, Kenner fucking lifts a car on its side and while driving away at 40 mph hits the gas tank in one shot as the car explodes and they drive away unscathed.

where are the cops when you need them? oh...

Kenner takes Tia Carerre to her apartment. He gives her a gun for her protection in case anyone breaks in. Kenner tells her to shoot anything she sees move, to which she asks what if it is him. He says “you won’t see me coming.” This also sets up one of the worst one-liners ever later in the movie.

don't worry, you'll experience every second of your imminent death if the bad guys break in

Kenner and Johnny beat up more people and break into a bathhouse to arrest Yoshida. I don’t think they’ve had a warrant to do anything this entire movie. Also, never once do they call for backup, go to the station or let anyone know about their bust. They just leave bodies. I guess it’s just accepted at the LAPD that Kenner kills a lot of people. Anyways, lots of fighting and killing happens. Yoshida gets away, again. Finally the police show up and Kenner and Johnny decide to flee instead of do their job. Worst cops ever.

So it’s not safe at Tia Carrere’s apartment anymore so they move over to Kenner’s place, which is completely decorated in traditional Japanese style and he built with his bare fucking hands. Dolph is chilling in his hot tub when Tia Carrere comes out. A body double gets naked and she gets in the hot tub with Kenner. It’s obvious she wants to get it on because later on, she leaves her room to sleep in his bed. And because Chris Kenner is an honorable man and cop, he refuses to have sex with a recent rape victim that is in his custody. Just kidding! He taps that ass in an 80s style sex scene (complete with woodwind instruments). This leads to the worst one-liner in maybe all of film. Dolph must be a groaner because after they finish, she turns to him and says “That time, I heard you coming.” End scene.

sex was like this in the 80s

Anyways, immediately after finishing doing the deed the bad guys surround the house. Johnny and Kenner meet in the den. This is when things get really weird. Apparently knowing that their death is imminent, Johnny basically confesses to Kenner his homosexuality.

You got a big dick dude. Now that the air is cleared it’s time to kill bad guys. Kenner throws daggers at them to kill the first wave of them. Then they start shooting them. But the bad guys come in and capture Tia Carrere. Kenner stops shooting. The bad guys set fire to Kenner’s apartment and lead them away. Kenner and Johnny begin to get tortured with electro-shock.

this time, i heard you coming

Kenner and Johnny die. I’m kidding! Of course, Kenner and Johnny break loose. Thought to be dead, we get the treat of having a short training montage in preparation of the final battle. Now, Kenner and Johnny are on the pursuit of Yoshida. But not before Kenner can put on this outfit.

hold on, i gotta change first

Kenner and Johnny steal a truck and drive it into the drug facility/brewery. They kill a lot of people. One of the best lines in all of film history happens.

You have the right to be dead!

Yoshida has Tia Carrere set up to be set on fire and Kenner saves her just in time. Kenner goes running after Yoshida. They just so happen to run into a Japanese parade in the streets of Little Tokyo. Apparently everybody mistook all of the explosions nearby as just firecrackers. The parade realizes now that people are shooting each other and it’s a shit show. Kenner challenges Yoshida to a sword battle. All of the bystanders are really into it.

Kenner kills Yoshida in front of everyone as he gets attached to a spinning wheel with fireworks. It’s a rousing conclusion to an eventful parade.

the big finale

The End.

In conclusion, this movie is actually a lot of fun. It is fully aware of how campy it is so most of the plot and humor is tongue-in-cheek. Yet it is stupid but whatever. I’d rather watch this than Babel any day. You get a chance to see Dolph Lundgren in one of his few mainstream releases and Brandon Lee in one of his few roles. There is heaps of bloody action and most of it is good. It fills all of the action stereotypes to a T. If you like stupid action movies, this is definitely worth the 80 minute run time. I give it 7.5 out of 10 throat stabs.

Available for streaming on Netflix: Yes

Next week on Shitflicks:

Krush Groove (1985)


Lionheart (1990)

June 5, 2011

van damme's right bicept

Lionheart (1990)

Directed by Sheldon Lettich

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, other people, Billy Blanks shows up

SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. This movie falls firmly in the JCVD tradition of our hero, Jean-Claude, being a French (and sometimes Canadian) man who must use his martial art skills to fight in an underground fighting competition (sometimes he’s in prison). This time, Van Damme competes in the world of underground streetfighting to raise money for his brother’s family. Oh yeah, Jean-Claude was credited with coming up with the story for this one.

The movie starts off with bang. Saxophones highlight the score. A french man gets lit on fire after a drug deal gone bad. The movie is already off to a promising start.

another one down...

The man survives but is badly burned. The setup: He’s got a wife and young daughter who do not have insurance. Without money what options are they left with? Will this be a movie about the horrors of a nation without Universal Healthcare where a family without insurance must make severe sacrifices to keep one of their own alive? Hell no! I want to see Van Damme kick people. The badly burned man turns out to be Jean-Claude’s brother who calls out for “Leon” (JCVD’s character).

Unfortunately for him, Leon is all the way over in North Africa. You see, Leon is part of the French Foreign Legion. And “you give up your family when you join the Legion.” The head douchbag keeps the news of Leon’s brother secret and when Leon finds out, refuses to let him see his brother. Not only that, he orders Leon to two weeks of hard labor in the desert for even asking.

nice pitstains asshole

Leon does not take this well. He then proceeds to kick everybody in sight (including Billy Blanks). And because this movie doesn’t take place in North Africa, Leon steals a jeep and deserts the station. After wandering around the desert for a while, Leon is able to join a fishing boat where he spends his time shoveling coal. Proceed with four minute montage of JCVD shoveling coal shirtless.

customary action montage of shirtless hard labor

Just one problem: instead of going to his brother in Los Angeles, the ship is headed for New York. Also a problem: douchebag legion guy is sending two men after Leon in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Leon is broke, lost, foreign and immediately goes a very desolate homeless section of New York. It is here that Leon sees what looks like an early version of Bumfights.

definitely worth the 10 dollar victory money

Leon is also homeless and broke now, so he figures what is there to lose?  Because Leon is actually Jean-Claude Van Damme and the rest of the participants are probably actually homeless, Leon makes short work of them all. Things are on the upswing for Leon. He’s got a manager who is going to help him get to Los Angeles to see his brother. Unfortunately bigger and better things means more fights for Leon. Through his manager Joshua, he gets introduced to “the Lady” who runs the high-stakes underground streetfighting ring.

(Left to Right) douchebag, lady, joshua, leon

It’s interesting to note that this movie was made about 15 years before the MMA/UFC explosion. Director Sheldon Lettich thought that this would be the sort of crowd that would be into no-holds barred hand to hand combat.

rich white people

He was a little off since your average UFC fan looks like this. Ooops.

 thanks tapout

Thank you Tapout, Affliction, etc. It’s so much easier now to identify assholes. Anyways, the rich white people are really enjoying the fighting while Leon watches them. One attractive young blond gets the blood of the fighters sprayed on her. She immediately then tastes the blood with no regard for AIDS or any other disease that gets transferred through blood.

enjoy your aids

I know it was 1990 and everything but if I were you young lady, I’d be worried about having AIDS and all other sorts diseases now. You know I don’t want to stereotype groups or anything but maybe it isn’t the best idea to taste the blood of men who fight for money. On the streets. I don’t think there is any licensing committee that moderates this. Just men who fight to make 50 dollars. Again I don’t want to stereotype about groups but just look at them.

at least has hep c

Anyways, it’s Leon’s time to fight. And because nobody can understand him or because they are retarded Leon is dubbed with the nickname “Lionheart” (probably retarded). Now it’s time to fight the guy in the previous picture and Leon is reminded “the only rules are there are no rules.” Leon’s opponent says to him as the square off: “You’re kind of pretty, I don’t know if I want to fight you or fuck you.”

definitely has aids

Leon ends the fight quickly with a punch to the balls. This angers the crowd greatly as they paid good money to watch somebody die. This especially upsets one guy (played by Pulp Fiction producer and frequent Tarantino collaborator Lawrence Bender) who says he could kick Leon’s ass. This all stems from the fact that he is probably upset because his girlfriend has AIDS now.

come on, put JCVD in the next Tarantino movie

The Lady is impressed and wants to keep Leon employed in her stable of fighters.  However, Leon wants to go to California to his brother. The Lady wants Leon but Leon decides to be let out of the Limo is the worst possible part of town possible, with Joshua following. While attempting to use a payphone they run into the least intimating gang ever.

you don't like my payphone cuz?

Leon and Joshua beat up the gang in what is one of the funniest scenes in the movie. After beating up a gang, Leon and Joshua bond over their shared history of fighting. Here, Joshua vows to help Leon get to Los Angeles and help him out. Leon gets to Los Angeles to find out his brother has passed away. We still have over an hour left of the movie. Leon learns that his brother’s family is left with no money and lots of unpaid medical bills. What do you think Jean-Claude will do?

Leon goes to see his sister-in-law where he sees his niece and the poor situation his brother’s family is in. His brother’s wife, Helene, gives him a guilt trip about her husband and wants nothing to do with him. We get this great line of dialogue from Jean-Claude: “he was not enough strong to go to jail!” Joshua sees that Leon is upset and gets him wasted.

The next morning Leon wakes up naked in a bed. Across from him is The Lady, whose name is Cynthia, working out in full on 80s Jane Fonda aerobic workout gear. The saxophones in the score make it very clear that this is supposed to be a very sexy scene. Turns out she has operations in LA as well and this is her apartment.

80s boobs

She makes it very obvious that she wants to fuck him. And despite being in the desert for God know’s how long and probably not seeing a woman in just as long, Leon won’t do it. Why? Maybe he doesn’t like being used, maybe he doesn’t like leotard, maybe he doesn’t want to screw his boss. Whatever the reason, we get a treat of a montage of Leon and The Lady going shopping for new outfits!

After spying on his family for a bit, Leon decides that he will fight to help support them.He sets up a bank account and sends Joshua as an insurance representative to Helene saying her diseased husband set up a a secret insurance plan. So now to fund this, Leon must fight a variety of characters and stereotypes, all of which he wins.

He fights a Scot:

always smart to bring your $100,000 car to an underground streetfight

A methhead redneck:

just stand there and wait to be kicked

Some sort of jungle stereotype:

from The Lady's leotard collection

All of which Leon wins. The Lady is now suspicious of Leon trying to help his family and orders her man-servant to spy on him. While talking to his niece, Leon gets spotted by the men from the French Legion. After a valiant 2 on 1 fight, Leon is able to get away with the help of The Lady’s man-servant who is spying on him. In the process of the fight, Leon breaks one of his ribs. He pays the most unscrupulous doctor in the world to keep it a secret. Look at this guy. I’m pretty sure he was the inspiration for The Simpson’s Dr. Nick character.

money all the time

Leon and Joshua go over to Helene’s and tell her about the source of the money and the danger that they are in. Meanwhile, we see The Lady and her man-servant watch Leon’s next opponent, Atilla, on the TV. Supposedly he’s killed 8 people. With them are the two goons from the French Legion. The Lady tells them that they can’t have Leon just yet, but they can get him after his fight with Atilla. They can also get front row seats! This is Atilla.

bolo yeung wasn't available

The  Lady takes Leon and Joshua to some investors who are looking to put down a lot of money on the big fight. The Lady tells them to bet on Leon, hoping to scam them. Big mistake Lady. Leon is in a lot of pain from his broken rib right before the biggest and last fight of his underground streetfighting career. Leon is determined and puts all of his money on himself to win.

Looking for one last payday to get out of the game and move his family and Joshua away from it all, can Leon fight against all odds and win the fight? Will the French Legion let Leon go and let him live his life with his family? I think you know the answer to these questions.

In conclusion, this is an enjoyable JCVD action movie. While this is not Van Damme’s best movie, it’s definitely worth a watch if you like to see him kick people. Van Damme shows a high ability to kick people, a strong amount of charisma and underrated and (at the time) developing acting skills. As an action star, you’ve done your job if you can make us believe that you can kick some ass. Van Damme does that. There are a lot of humorous scenes (both intentional and unintentional) and the action is overall believable and well-done.

Available for streaming on Netlifx? Yes.

Next on Shitflicks: Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)


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