Sunday, 27 June 2010

Jungle Rodents Rage War

Battle Rats
(1989/Hong Kong)

‘‘These bastards are ingenious’’

A pernicious Vietcong commander hits at the heart of the American army, using all manner of employs to kill their soldiers on duty in Vietnam. Captain Rosenblatt’s division has one of the worst death rates in ‘Nam. He wants to bring an end to the terror reign, and flush the commander out of his subterranean network of tunnels. Under the commanders leadership the Vietcong have a lethal advantage as they strike and then vanish back beneath the ground. Those that follow in after them soon become just another statistic for the army to write home to their loved ones about !.

An elite force of tunnel rats is headed up by Captain Rosenblatt and they are immediately put through their suitability paces at Battle Rat boot camp. Jack Gilbert stands out as Sergeant Burns, and is soon alongside Captain Rosenblatt and fellow tunnel rats foraging for tunnel activity for real. An insidious entry point is beneath the village of innocent Vietnamese families, and they are as callously taken advantage of by the malicious Vietcong. It’s dark, dank and dangerous beneath the surface with intruder triggers lining the way, as the American soldiers discover to their detriment. Venomous snakes are coiled and poised to strike. Hairline wires are triggered to set off explosive grenades in close proximity. Underfoot traps pressure set to give way unveil a spiked demise, and lurking in the dark are the Vietcong readied to attack with their knives.
Those that fall are either killed or taken to the Vietcong commander, strung up before him and tortured. One particularly nasty scene sees the commander forcefully poke his two fingers into the eye sockets of a squealing soldier, and in a close up shot the eyes pop out with eyebrow raising disbelief. Not even spinach saves this ‘Popeye’ !.

Captain Rosenblatt continues to push his team back into action. Each time his soldiers strike fast and successfully on land where they are the dominant fighting unit, but each course of aggression is met doubly so when the Vietcong vanish back to their jungle holes. Despite the very heavy loses the American soldiers do learn of the commanders outside assistance, as operations aiding his brutal campaign point to fellow communist states Russia and China. These sympathisers and war mongers have a transportation trail that feeds through the intricate tunnel system. Having attained plans, and acquired information during their ill fated tours of duty into the labyrinths, Captain Rosenblatt leads his men on a do or die assault mission. Their objective is to flush out the commander and once inside, under his order, no one leaves until they blow the tunnel systems sky high !.

Captain Rosenblatt goes off on a one man mission to kill whilst Sergeant Burns locks and unloads with bloody abandon in order to just stay alive. It’s another explosive outcome delivering a barnstormer of a bullet ridden, blood and guts conclusion. With the commander and his multitude of loyal Vietcong subordinates well and truly flushed from their lair by the organised assault, the bowel of iniquity gets well and truly rear ended by an offensive enema directed to wipe them all out !. Time then for a rebel rousing Vietcong shish kebab, with spare ribs and plenty of red sauce to satisfy even the most ardent of Action fans.

Movie Rating: 7/10
Review Paul Cooke / Source Japanese NTSC VHS
Battle Rats (1989)
Director Briggs Benjamin, SR.
With Jack Gilbert, Corwyn Paul Sperry,
Mylene Nocum, Paul John,Louie Katana,
Tony Lao, David Geberson & Albert Dominguez

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Filmark Get Set, Tomas Tango ...

Battle For The Treasure
(1988/Hong Kong/Thailand)

‘‘There’s only one way to deal with this situation, and that’s my way !’’

A priceless jade jewel, representing the imperial power of the Kamir Dynasty, is the National Treasure of Kampuchea and is sought by the Vietcong. The treasure must be returned to the Kampuchean Princess Yeung as it represents the life force of the Kampuchean people. An elite team of American special forces retrieve the gem and act to get it safely out of the country until after the war, to then return it to its rightful owner.
After an opening fracas, that sees the American force attacked by the Vietcong, the jade jewel is hidden away by one of the assisting Kampuchean fighters. The loyalist to the princess and the Kampuchean people is however taken prisoner, and tortured for information about the gems hiding place. Back in the urban city the surviving American soldiers seek help in the form of Roger Kane, the number one cop in the Kampuchean force. He is introduced James Bond style, as he assists the local police in staving off a hostage situation, entering the fray by jet pack. He’s a hero with a head for heights and a back pack that is kitted out with quick firing weaponry. The perfect man to assist in procuring the National Treasure and safeguarding the Kampuchean princess.

The Vietcong leader, known as Gibbs, holds prisoner the only man with knowledge of the jades whereabouts, and in order to get him to talk audaciously sends an under cover team to abduct Princess Yeung. Roger Kane and team are soon in the thick of it and find themselves having to immediately act to rescue the princess. Kane takes to the sky in a micro-light aeroplane, giving chase to the kidnappers escaping by train. The thrilling escapade gathers momentum as the chase continues both over land and water. Very well staged Action by the stunt coordinators, setting the stall out early for more of the same to come. The highlight of which is a multiple micro-light sky battle with guns, that extends down into a fully fledged ground battle involving hand combat, sword crossing, and a bullet ballet that includes a bad guy with a rocket launcher. At one point even a harpoon is deployed to stop dead in his tracks one of Gibbs right hand men. Now that really hit’s the spot !.

The frequent full on battles are the sustenance of the movie, as bazooka bearing baddies slug it out with kick ass girls with guns as well as the unflappable Roger Kane and crew, stealing thunder and striking like lightening against Gibbs and his organised bandits. This is most definitely your typical Action laden Tomas Tang produced shebang !.
Kane and his team align with the Special Action Group in order to rescue the princess and regain the National Treasure which has been uncovered by Gibbs dastardly means. The team set about infiltrating, and ultimately storming the Vietcong jungle base in order to achieve their objectives.
The inevitable all out final battle ensues, resulting in more crowd pleasing entertainment filled with gun Action, stunts aplenty, and some stylish slow motion sequences that showcase the on screen conflicts and mass destruction majestically. Jaws will drop and smiles will ensue as Roger Kane once again takes to the sky via a jet propulsion pack, kitted up with ammunition to spare as he strikes from above.
This is explosive entertainment all the way, and just when you are left breathless at all the on screen Action there’s a double dose to surprise at the end. It’s yet another highly enjoyable, silly excursion from the Filmark studio, and to top it all this one has a ‘‘You’ve got to be kidding’’ showdown, with an elephant against a helicopter !.
The names Tang, Tomas Tang !.

Movie Rating: 8/10
Review: Paul Cooke / Source Japanese NTSC VHS
Battle For The Treasure (1988)
Directed by Burt Peterson
With Joey Ryan, Randy Donner, Bert Brooks,
Stephene Mitchell, Norman Linn, Pat Carver,
Ted Evans & Tom Richards

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Korea Killer

Zzikhimyeon jukneunda
aka The Record

When a final grade teenage student is constantly picked upon in class, due to his allergies, an attractive female class mate stands up for him, and later invites him along with her friend for the weekend at a secluded summer house retreat.
Their break is disturbed in violent fashion as they are attacked by a group of fellow class mates, who break into the residence and stab the poor young man whilst video taping the events.
What appears to be an unprovoked and vicious attack by the group of males is soon revealed to be an elaborate hoax that the girl was in on, but when the victim of the hi-jinks is discovered to be dead the group of friends are left in a state of shock, and the body along with the taped video evidence has to be disposed of.
There is an incredibly well done visual effect as a coin is thrown into the air to decide upon where it lands, in a pre designated pattern of chosen methods of getting rid of the body, before it hits the ground revealing the course of cremation. The body is laid to rest in a freshly dug open grave, and the video tape is slipped into the trouser pocket of the teenager. Gasoline is poured over the inert form and then set fire to, but in true The Burning (1981) fashion the boy leaps out of the grave, clearly still alive, and runs past the screaming group only to fall off a cliff face, plummeting ablaze into the river below.
In classic horror folklore a year goes by and the sister of the unaccounted for teenager is asking around the school for information, when one of the females responsible for his disappearance evades an attack by a mysterious knife wielding figure, sporting an orange cagoule, a note is left which details a web site that plays the film from the tragic night.
The themes of many western horror stories are played out to recognisable celluloid notables such as, I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) & Friday The Thirteenth (1980) but it is with a pleasing variation in recognition in finding a Korean made outing which doesn’t just plagiarize its predecessors, but actually emulates them as well as injecting several elements of conceptual identity all of its own.
When the almost self advertising near fluorescent orange garbed stalker seeks revenge these teenagers aren’t the normal sit back and be picked off one by one variety, as they go about finding the oppressor in the manner of attack being the best form of defence. This leads to several encounters that actually do not culminate as you might expect. With a juicy smattering of bloody moments and some genuinely well set up sequences, along with the young array of down to earth and non irritating actors on display, as well as several shapely and attractive Korean hotties, The Record is actually an enjoyably rewarding viewing investment worthy of your time.
The expected finale with double end sequence is typically silly, yet in a fun way as the killer is unmasked, but it is the closing moment that delivers the true fan reward in delightfully over the top nonsensical fashion, leaving you with that corny self satisfying sigh of non committed appreciation for such audaciousness. Just for The Record go discover this disc for yourselves, and don’t be discouraged by the so called groovy brigade who dismiss this as just another stalk and slash film, because beneath its obvious veneer is another low budget Korean Killer movie that dares to be a cut above.

Movie Rating: 6/10

The Record (2000)
Review: Paul Cooke / Source NTSC Region Free DVD
Director Gi Hun-Kim & Jong-seok Kim
With Seong-min Kang, Eun-hye Park, Jae-hwan Ahn,
Min Jung, Dal Bae, Jun-Hyeong Bae & Chae-young Han