Sudden Impact (1983)

SuddenImpact_B2-1-500x692Country: United States
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Pat Hingle, Bradford Dillman, Albert Popwell
Music: Lalo Schifrin

I am sure that I do not have to introduce the character of Dirty Harry Callahan. Sudden Impact was the fourth film in the Dirty Harry series, preceded by Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, and The Enforcer. And preceding The Dead Pool.

I have very mixed feelings about Sudden Impact. On one hand, it is a sleazy repugnant little film. Easily the worst of the Dirty Harry films. But for me, it represents one of the rites of manhood. The film was released in 1983, with a ‘R’ certificate, which meant that in Australia, no one under the age of 18 years could see the film. I would have been around 15 years old when the film was released, and therefore was too young to go to a screening.

At this time, I still lived in the country, up north on the Murray River. But frequently the family would make trips on the weekend to Melbourne. We would often stay at my aunt and uncle’s place and sleep on the floor, as it was cheaper than hotel accommodation. One of these trips coincided with the release of Sudden Impact. And somehow, I managed to convince my father and my uncle to take me to see the film. My thinking was, that if I was accompanied by two men who were clearly over 18, then the staff at the cinema would not question my age. So it was, the three of us went into the heart of the city to see Sudden Impact on a Saturday night.

I remember walking beside them, proud as punch. I also remember, the sex show spruikers asking us to “step this way gentleman, show starts right away”. With a firm hand on my shoulder, my dad steered me past these temptations, and towards the movie house. There was no trouble at the cinema whatsoever, and we all enjoyed the film. And that is one of the things about Sudden Impact; it is a film, that should be seen on the big screen and with a crowd. The film has quite a few comedic moments, and these play a lot better with a crowd. When the crowd laughs, you laugh. And this comedy balances out the more sleazy aspects of the film.

This is something that I noticed years later when the film became available on video. On television, and without a crowd behind me, my reaction to the film was very different. Initially, at the cinema, I thought the film was fantastic. An exciting blend of blazing Magnum action, and witty dialogue. But on video, with much of the humour diluted, you’re left with a tale of rape and revenge, and even Callahan’s motives are dodgy. At the end of the film, he puts himself above the law, allowing a killer to go free.

But the film reached a level of popularity beyond its story, when Ronald Regan – President of the United States at that time – quoted the ‘Make My Day!’ line from the film. Much like Rambo: First Blood Part II, the film and its loner hero came to epitomize the new America – a country that was regaining its sense of worth after the Iran hostage situation. Many words have already been spent analyzing the political content in the Dirty Harry films – so I’ll move on, leaving that to the experts.

The story is quite simple. Sondra Locke plays a woman who, along with her sister, was gang raped by a bunch of students led by a psychopath. Many years later, she starts seeking revenge shooting the offending members. After the few few deaths, the psychopath cottons on to what’s happening, and decides to strike back. But naturally enough, standing between both parties is Harry Callahan – armed with a new weapon – the .44 Magnum Automag. Gun-porn fans rejoice.

It almost seems funny looking back at it now, and seeing how far Harry Callahan had changed from the original Dirty Harry, to the stylized and somewhat sleazy mayhem in Sudden Impact. It’s only Eastwood’s presence and the .44 magnum that ties it all together.

As I said, I have very mixed feelings about the film. I know it is not very good, but maybe because of the built in affection I have for it, I cut it more slack than most.

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Sudden Impact (1983)

The Bodyguard (1973 / 1976)

bodyguard_1976_poster_01Country: Japan
Starring: Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Shihomi, Aaron Banks, Judy Lee, Bill Louie
Director: Tatsuichi Takamori (1973)
Director: Simon Nuchtern (1976)
Cinematographer: Joel Shapiro
Music: Maurice Sarli
Producer: Susumu Yoshikawa (1973)
Producer: Terry Levene (1976)
AKA: Chiba The Bodyguard, Viva Chiba
Original Title: Karate Kiba

Sometimes in this day and age it is easy to forget how videotapes, DVD and Blu-ray have changed the way we watch movies, especially coupled with the search and buying options available through the internet. As a young boy growing up in rural Australia, I had no inkling of the films of Sonny Chiba. The were certainly not given a drive-in release in my home town, and were never going to turn up on commercial television at that time.

The interesting thing here, is that if Chiba had been available to me, it most likely would not be in the format I am used to today. Now this is not intended as a product endorsement — more to illustrate the way I am used to seeing Chiba film — down under there is a company called Madman, that has an off-shoot called Eastern Eye which specialises in Asian cinema. There films are gorgeously presented in widescreen and they often plum for the original language audio, with English subtitles for their releases. There are exceptions, such as the Godzilla films where they give you the option of subs or dub. But generally they serve up pretty authentic releases, served up the way the films were originally meant to be seen. Some of their Chiba releases have included Bullet Train, Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment, The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge and two of the Yakuza Deka films. All these films look great; are hip and funky in a ’70s kind of way, and suggested a certain style in a Chiba movie — that being tough crime films with a serve of high impact martial arts.

Bodyguard8Of course there is more to the story of Chiba, and these films only whetted my appetite for more of Chiba’s unique kind of thrills. Next I tracked down a film called Satomi Hakken Den (Legend of the Eight Samurai) directed by the chameleon Kinji Fukasaku. As much as I enjoyed Satomi Hakken Den – especially the giant Muppet centipede – what intrigued me more on the disk were the trailers for other Chiba features. One of these features was G.I. Samurai and the trailer suggests it is the story of a band of modern combat soldiers, led by Chiba, who slip through a crack in time and land in the middle of a turf war between two warring clans in feudal times. My jaw dropped, and I audibly exclaimed “Hell, yeah!” This is a film I need in my life.

Next, independently, Keith at Teleport City reviewed Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope. Once again, that little voice in my head shouted “Hell, yeah — this is a film that I need in my life.” And at that point, I sadly realised I knew nothing about Chiba, and I had to dig deeper. Those pristine, widescreen prints were going to be a thing of the past. All I knew was my viewing was going to consist of murky second generation dupes, and it was going to get bloody. First stop…The Bodyguard (well almost!)

Bodyguard7Before I started watching The Bodyguard there was a not-so-subtle hint that my world of Chiba was going to change. Firstly I went to ‘special features’ on the disk and there was a teaser for Street Fighter’s Last Revenge. As I alluded to earlier, Street Fighter’s Last Revenge was a film that I had already seen on an Eastern Eye disk. I thought that it was a great little action film with an impossibly funky score. But I chose to watch the teaser, and the first thing that struck me was that it was a dub (rather than subbed, as I know the film). The smooth, modulated dialogue was no longer there. Instead Chiba was angry and shouting “Don’t anybody move or I’ll rip this motherf*cker’s head off!” I knew Terry, The Streetfighter as a tough, man-of-action, but here, he was presented as one crazy, wild-eyed, bad-ass motherf*cker. This was a man who makes Maurizio Merli, Steven Segal and Michael Dudikoff or anyone who specialised in ‘revenge flicks’ look like boy scouts.

Next I moved on to The Bodyguard and it appears to be a film released in Japan in 1973, and then reissued in America in 1976 with some extra footage and atrocious dubbing. But first things first. I know it’s no longer cool to like Quentin Tarrantino any more. I know his films are a bunch of stolen moments from other films. But I like his films – I thought Inglourious Basterds was brilliant – and I must admit it still gives me a thrill when I discover the source of another of his in-jokes. The Bodyguard provides a clue to a moment in Pulp Fiction, when Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) explains to Tim Roth, that his is the wallet that says ‘Bad Mother F*cker’. But now I see that maybe Jules wasn’t the aforementioned ‘Bad Mother F*cker’, but Sonny Chiba is. How so? The speech that Jules says to scare his intended victims, Ezekiel 17:25, is presented in the opening credits of The Bodyguard, however where Jules quotes it correctly, The Bodyguard has the cheek to modify the words.

The path of the righteous man and defender is beset on all sides by the iniquity of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper, and the father of lost children. And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious anger, who poison and destroy my brothers; and they shall know that I am Chiba the Bodyguard when I shall lay my vengeance upon them!

So Jules’ speech in Pulp Fiction is a homage to the Baddest Mother F*cker of them all — Sonny Chiba! Can ya dig it!

BodyguardTCThe film opens in New York, with a scene that could be ripped off from The Godfather. An underworld Don, Salvatore Rocco and his family are gunned down on the steps outside a large church. The newspaper reports suggest the police are now searching for the Rocco’s Japanese mistress who is said to have disappeared.

Then we cut to a far to obvious, new scene that has been shoehorned into the film. It features two martial artists,Aaron Banks and Bill Louie, two real life martial arts champions, who are debating the strengths and weaknesses of Bruce Lee and Sonny Chiba’s fighting styles, including a demonstration of Bruce’s double nung-chuck technique. They round out the conversation by informing the audience that Chiba is on his way back to Tokyo.

The movie skips forward to the flight and a bunch of badasses hijack the flight. They hijack it for one reason, and that’s because Sonny Chiba is on the flight. Sonny, not only is the world’s number one martial artist, but he is also a fierce opponent of drugs and drug trafficking. These goons who have taken control of the flight, want to kill Chiba because of his interference with their drug trade. But even though there are five hijackers with guns, Chiba still kills each one of them with a series of power punches that have the bad guys spitting blood and teeth – that is before they die.

Upon arrival in Japan, Chiba appears on television vowing to stop the flow of drugs into the country, and furthermore offers himself up as a bodyguard to anybody who has information that can put the drug cartels out of action. One girl, Ricoh comes forward and asks for Chiba’s assistance. Before he will help her, he needs to see some proof. She says she has some evidence in the glove box of her car. Chiba sends his sister, Maggie down stairs to collect it, but the bad guys are waiting for her. As Chiba’s sister, Maggie has some fight skills of her own, but up against four men, she is outmatched. They knock her unconscious and strip her naked and lay her out. The shadow from the cross at the top of a church steeple covers her body. It’s actually quite a good visual moment – possibly better than this film deserves. After a while, when Maggie hasn’t returned, Chiba heads down to investigate. He finds her with the words ‘Cosa Nostra’ carved into her arm. Chiba now knows for sure he is up against the mafia.

Bodyguard4Convinced that Ricoh is in danger, Chiba agrees to protect her. They go back to her apartment, and Chiba does a sweep to check that everything is okay. The apartment appears clean and free from danger. Later that night, however, a gang of assassins cut their way out of the furniture (couches and armchairs) where they have been hiding. I guess when you think about it, it is pretty goofy, but this scene represents one of the highlights of the whole movie, so I recommend basking in the ‘goofiness’. Chiba, of course, then fights with the bad guys in his usual rib shattering and arm snapping way.

Of course, as most people would have guessed, Ricoh is the ‘missing’ mistress of Salvatore Rocco (the underworld figure shot down at the start of the film). Therefore she is not really interested in stemming the flow of narcotics into Japan. She simply wants Chiba to protect her form the various gangs — the Mafia and the Yakuza — who are after her and the drug shipment she has arranged to be brought into the country.

Essentially this makes Chiba a stupid dupe and he follows her around Tokyo while she makes arrangements to unload the drugs. When he finally wakes up to what is going on, for some strange reason he still agrees to help her. It is all very silly, sloppy and contrived. Some of this may be due to the American re-editing and dubbing of the film, but I think even the original Japanese version of the film would be low hanging fruit.

Bodyguard3The amazing thing about Chiba, is no matter where he hits an opponent, you can be sure that the guy spits blood. He could punch a Yakuza gang member in the knee cap, and sure enough, the Yakuza would keel over and a bubble of thick, bright red blood would dribble over his lips. It is a unique talent that Chiba has, and a talent that generally makes his films so entertaining. Not so, The Bodyguard. Sure there’s plenty of blood spitting, even a few teeth flying, but on the whole this film is pretty muddled and uninspiring.

Visually, the camera shots are tightly focused and there is an over abundance of hand held cinematography.Some of the fight scenes are so dimly lit and jerkily edited, it is hard to tell if they are well choreographed or not. Which is what you really watch a Chiba picture for – the stylised fight scenes. But when they are stylised and filmed in such a fashioned, it renders the film physically impotent.
Co-starring with Chiba is Etsuko Shihomi, who also starred with Chiba in a whole swag of films including; The Legend of the Eight Samurai, Shogun Ninja, Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment, Bullet Train, The Streetfighter, The Streetfighter’s Last Revenge, Sister Streetfighter and many others.

The Bodyguard is not great Chiba, and I think I’ll keep searching for a copy of G.I. Samurai to slake my thirst for Chiba’s unique style of mayhem, and I’d suggest that other Chibafiles look elsewhere too.

The Bodyguard (1973 / 1976)

Payback

PaybackDirector: Brian Helgeland (and reshoots by John Myhre)
Starring: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, James Coburn, Kris Kristoferson, Willaim Devane, Bill Duke, Lucy Liu, David Paymer, Deborah Kara Unger, Jack Conley
Music: Chris Boardman
Based on the novel ‘The Hunter’ by Donald E. Westlake (under the pseudonym Richard Stark).

The book, The Hunter on which this film is based, was previously filmed as John Boorman’s classic sixties crime film, Point Blank, which starred Lee Marvin. When I first heard that they were remaking it, I was pretty disgusted. There is certainly nothing wrong with the original. Why remake it? I saw it as another example of Hollywood’s lack of imagination.

When I finally saw Payback I wasn’t too impressed. To begin with, it’s opening scene features a bullet riddled Mel Gibson lying on a table. The dodgy doctor, who is about to patch him up, takes a long, long swallow from a glass of scotch, then refills the glass. This time he drops his operating tools (scalpels and the like) into the glass. At the time of viewing I had just finished reading Mickey Spillane’s The Black Alley. In the book, Mike Hammer has been shot up (again), and has to be patched up by an alcoholic ex-doctor. You know the kind, the ones you have been crossed off the medical register, because they botched an operation and the patient died. Now they drink to forget. Added to that, the next book I started reading was Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity, in which Jason Bourne is patched by a drunken doctor. Clichés are a funny thing. Sometimes you don’t notice them until you are hit over the head two or three times in a row.

For me, at that time, another ‘drunken doctor’ story device was an unwelcome cliché. And let’s face it, it’s a hoary old chestnut to begin with, featured in numerous crime films from the 1940’s (the Humphrey Bogart movie, Dark Passage springs to mind).

Then I thought back to Point Blank and tried what recall how Lee Marvin had recovered from the bullet wounds. Actually we don’t see how Marvin got patched up. In fact we don’t see how he got off Alcatraz Island (for those who haven’t seen Point Blank, that’s where Marvin’s character is double-crossed and shot). Naturally for a tough guy like Lee Marvin, no explanation is necessary. It’s a given that he will survive.

That brings us back to Payback. On my first viewing my vision was cloudy by the crap clichéd opening. Added to that Gregg Henry and Lucy Liu’s characters have a very weird, violent sexual relationship going on. It added an element of sleaze to the film that wasn’t necessary. Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy the film too much.

But years have passed, and I sat down to watch Payback again. This time, I just let the film wash right over me. It’s been a few years since I have seen Point Blank, so Lee Marvin’s long shadow has diminished somewhat, and I know the film is a clichéd mess, so all that’s left to do is to enjoy the film for what it is…a piece of B-grade trash, with an A-grade budget. And I must confess I did enjoy the film, but I looked at it more as a quasi film-noir, rather than a remake. And hey, maybe appropriating ‘noir’ elements like the drunken doctor were in keeping with the type of film they were making.

So what’s it all about? Mel Gibson is Porter (no first name). Porter is a career criminal who steals things. He teams up with Val Resnick (Gregg Henry) to steal a suitcase full of money from the members of a Chinese numbers racket. Porter and Resnick’s plan works to perfection and they get away clean with $140,000. Porter is expecting a half share totalling $70,000. This is where things go wrong for Porter. Porter’s wife, Lynn (Deborah Kara Unger), who had been driving the getaway car, shoots her husband in the back a few times (talk about a messy divorce!) Porter is left for dead, and Lynn drives of with Resnick who had pre-arranged the whole double cross. It seems Resnick needed all the money to pay off a local crime syndicate.

Six months later, Porter has healed and wants his money back – all $70,000, which he feels he had earned. And Porter is prepared to intimidate, beat or kill anyone to get it. The rest of the film is devoted to Porter’s dogged determination in retrieving his money.

As I mentioned at the top, I haven’t seen the Director’s Cut, but all reports indicate that it is a very different beast to the one we have here. Here we have a quasi film noir revenge movie. The Director’s Cut apparently draws it’s inspiration from the early seventies crime dramas that featured tough anti-heroes. Apparently the decision was made to re-shoot and re-edit the film in 1999, because it was believed that the viewing public weren’t ready to see Mel’s nasty side. I’d love to see it, but so far it hasn’t made it to this part of the world. But until then, I guess this isn’t as bad as I first thought. It’s a serviceable crime thriller, with Mad Mel being a little bit nastier than usual.

Payback

Le Doulos

LeDoulosLike any film fanatic I have a huge mountain of films that I need to watch. I have a stack of Spaghetti Westerns that I haven’t even gotten close to, along with piles of Eurocrime, Eurospy and Eurosleaze films that are all crying out to be reviewed. I try, but a man can only squeeze so much into a day – and I have to squeeze a full days work into my hectic schedule too. Day after day, it’s only natural that I should feel jaded – a tad worn out.

But then along comes a film like Le Doulos. It is the perfect tonic for the jaded film goer. It has revitalised me. It has made me enjoy cinema again – not that I was hating it – but sometimes it’s easy to forget the joy of a great film particularly if you aren’t expecting it.

Over the years everyone has told me that I must watch the films of Jean-Pierre Melville. I was told that Tarantino said ‘Melville did for the Crime film what Leone did for the Western’. So I watched some Melville. Le Cercle Rouge – hey it’s a good film, but there’s nothing in it that I hadn’t seen in Riffifi. Next Le Samurai – again a good film, but a bit detached. While both these films are good, I was starting to think that Melville was over-rated. At times I think some people see a French movie and ‘have to’ like it, because it’s art.

So with a belief that Melville is over-rated, I tentatively started Le Doulos. I’ll admit that I was enjoying it from the beginning, but by the 25 minute mark, I was hooked. Sure it’s a noir style crime story, that I have seen one hundred times before, but this one grabs you by the scruff of the neck, gives you a good shake, and then throws you down onto the rug. And just as you’re getting settled on the rug, it rips that right out from under you, with one of the best endings to a movie that I have ever seen.

You may notice, I am not writing any of my usual plot description. I do not want to spoil any of the surprises this film has in store. They say writing a review for a good film, is a lot harder than writing one for a bad film. In that case, this may well be one of my shortest reviews.

I’ll briefly mention that Serge Reggiani plays Maurice Faugel, a career criminal who has just been released from jail after a four year stint. His best friend is Silien, played by Jean-Paul Belmondo. Silien is a two-bit gangster and police informer.

Now if you love crime films and you’re fond of French cinema, then I beseech you to track down a copy of this film and watch it. I want to ‘infect’ as many people as I can with this film’s brilliance. Watch it, enjoy it, then drop me a line with your thoughts.

Le Doulos

McGrave

Author: Lee Goldberg
Publisher: Adventures in Television
Published: February 2012

McGrave is a quick fire novella from Lee Goldberg, based on a pilot script for a television show, which never eventuated. And its humble beginnings are very evident as you read it. It is written in present tense as a script would be, and the action scenes are described, rather than lived, if that makes sense. If that simple framework doesn’t appeal to you, then you’d probably find McGrave a rather annoying book.

However, if you have no qualms about how your thrills are served up, then McGrave is a balls-to-the wall action adventure that doesn’t let up. John ‘Tidal Wave’ McGrave is a no-nonsense old-school L.A. cop. He gets results, no matter what the cost. He the type of fellow who would destroy $250,000 worth of property to capture a criminal stealing $100 worth of goods.

After such an incident (although more was at stake than $100), McGrave is booted off the force. But like any cop worth his salt, he doesn’t give up the case and follows his leads to Berlin. Then you’ve got you classic fish-out-of-water story. Much mayhem and property damage ensues.

Maybe it’s just my age, and growing up watching material such as this, but I found McGrave to be an absolute hoot. There’s no message beyond ‘enjoy the ride’ and that’s just the way it should be.

Here’s Lee’s promo spiel:

Los Angeles cop John “Tidal Wave” McGrave is an unstoppable force of nature who always gets his man…even if it means laying waste to everything around him, including his own career…which is exactly what happens in his pursuit of Sebastian Richter, the ruthless leader of an international gang of violent thieves. When Richter flees to Berlin, McGrave chases after him…even though the cop doesn’t know the language, the laws, or the culture. But McGrave doesn’t care…he speaks the universal language of knee in the groin and fist in the face…and he won’t let anything get in his way.

What follows is, I hope, a wild, action-adventure novella that captures all of the fun, excitement, humor and pure escapist pleasure of the Dirty Harry, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard movies…

McGrave is an experiment for me. I set out to write something specifically for the Kindle that would take advantage of the way people read on the device…but that would also capture the pure, escapist fun of watching an action movie. I thought these were very compatible goals.

McGrave

Hurricane Smith (1992)

Country: Australia / United States
Director: Colin Budds
Starring: Carl Weathers, Jürgen Prochnow, Cassandra Delaney, Tony Bonner, David Argue, John Ewart
Music: Brian May

When Hurricane Smith was released in the early 1990s, I didn’t realise it was an Australian film – so I didn’t bother with it – figuring I would catch it at some stage on video. I never did. The poster certainly doesn’t give anything away, and the casting of Carl Weathers as the hero, and Jürgen Prochnow as the villain, suggest it is an international action thriller. And I guess it is, but if you were to compare it to the other ass-kicking action blockbusters of the time, such as Lethal Weapon, Die Hard (and even the Beverly Hills Cop films – as Prochnow starred in the second), then this film comes up short. It doesn’t have the budget to compete with Hollywood action extravaganzas.

However, if you were to look at Hurricane Smith as a late entry in the Ozploitation cycle, then there’s a lot of fun to be had over its meager 85 minute running time.

Billy ‘Hurricane’ Smith (Carl Weathers) is given a warm Aussie welcome by Shanks (David Argue).

Carl Weathers, plays Billy ‘Hurricane’ Smith, a Texan whose mother has just died. To settle affairs, he needs to find his sister Sally Mae, who he has not seen in years. Her last known whereabouts, was in Surfers Paradise, on the Gold Coast, in Northern Australia.

With only a few postcards to go by, Billy flies to Australia, and begins tracking his sister down. His first port of call is a fancy high-priced brothel, where he meets Julie (Cassandra Delaney – for those curious, Delaney was the naked, car hood ornament in the Ozploitation thriller, Fair Game).
Julie explains she used to share a flat with Sally Mae, but it was said she went back to the US.

‘Hurricane’ and Shanks, chased by Dowd’s minions in speedboats.

Billy knows this is not true and investigates further. This puts him into contact with two shady organised crime figures. The first is Howard Fenton, played by Tony Bonner. The second is Charlie Dowd, played by Jürgen Prochnow. Both are keen for Billy to return to the US, and express this desire, by having Billy beaten up, and then tossed from a moving car. Of course, Billy is not the type to turn tail – especially without knowing his sisters whereabouts.

The film is fairly professionally put together, but I suspect hastily filmed. Throughout the movie, there is barely one close up. Nearly everything is filmed in a medium shot – which is fine for the action sequences. But for the more dramatic scenes, it would be nice to be able to see the actors faces, and know what the characters are feeling. Secondly, I have seen a few production stills, which feature sequences not in the film. Of course, the shots could have been staged simply for publicity – but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the film was chopped and changed around as it was being made.

Shanks blasts away at Dowd’s minions – albeit with his eyes closed

Two local character actors, David Argue and John Ewart almost steal the movie from their international co-stars. Argue plays Shanks, a small time pimp, and loyal friend to Julie. He starts off against Billy, but as the film goes on, he comes around to the side of good and virtue. He also has a good line (well, it would have been good in 1990). In a moment of danger, as bullets rain down on his position, he says ‘he is too young for this shit’… obviously riffing off the popular ‘too old for this shit’ line in the Lethal Weapon films.

John Ewart plays Griffo, a crotchety old publican, who hates ‘septics’. For those who don’t know, us Aussies call Americans ‘septic tanks’, which is rhyming slang with ‘Yanks’. Ewart chews up every scene he is in, with his ‘ocker’ than ‘ocker’ performance. He’s great fun to watch.

The villainous Charlie Dowd (Jürgen Prochnow) holds a gun on Julie (Cassandra Delaney) – the tart with a heart

I am pretty sure, Hurricane Smith, was not a hit. But it is not a stinker. It is just a lower-tier, 80’s action film. It has a likeable cast, and enough mayhem to satisfy most action junkies. It’s strange that appears to have almost disappeared off the face of the earth.

Hurricane Smith (1992)

Oasis of Fear (1971)

Country: Italy
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Starring: Ray Lovelock. Ornella Muti, Irene Papas, Michel Bardinet, Jacques Stany, Umberto Raho, Antonio Mellino
Music: Bruno Lauzi, Claudio Fabi
AKA: Dirty Pictures, An Ideal Place to Kill
Original Title: Un posto ideale per uccidere

On multiple occasions I have extolled the virtues of the movie Flash Gordon, starring Sam J. Jones as Flash.. As such, I also am a fan of the actors in the movie – not so much Sam, himself, but Timothy Dalton, Peter Wyngarde, Max Von Sydow, Brian Blessed, and Ornella Muti.

Oasis of Fear features a very young Ornella Muti, which makes it compulsory viewing for an old degenerate such as myself. But before those who have an interest in seeing Miss Muti cavort around topless, I have to let you know, a body-double was used for this movie.

The film starts with a young couple, Richard Butler (Ray Lovelock) and Ingrid Sherman (Ornella Muti) holidaying in London. As London is more liberated than where they come from, they go to a sex-shop to buy two dozen porn magazines, which they intend to sell, to cover the expenses of their holiday. They also buy some 45rpm recordings of people having sex.

If I may interrupt the synopsis at this stage – and maybe it’s because I live in an age where pornography is so rampant, and easy to access, especially on the internet, I find nothing remotely erotic about listening to another couple have sex. I am sure those who have lived in share-houses will agree with me. Who would buy a record of sex sounds? Maybe those crazy ’70s Italians?

Anyway, these kids have bought this porn which they intend to sell from town to town as they trek through Europe. They sell it all – and indulge in wild hedonistic holiday hi-jinx. That is, until they run out of money. To refill their coffers, they decide to take a ‘Do It Yourself’ approach with a Polaroid camera.

They try pass some of their homemade porn to a cop and get busted. For there crime they are forced to leave Italy. But before they can leave, they are robbed by gypsies. Richard and Ingrid try to leave, but have no money for fares. It gets worse, as they run out of petrol. They plan to rectify this by stealing petrol from the nearest villa. They are caught in the act, by the lady of the house, Barbara Slater (Irene Papas).

From here, the story does a u-turn from a swift moving Euro crime thriller to a quasi Gothic chiller with a hint of Giallo thrown in. Ultimately, the film is entertaining, but somewhat of a dog’s breakfast – not really sure what it wanted to be. But, if you a fan of Umberto Lenzi, then you’ll find a lot to enjoy here – and the performances from the cast, especially Papas, are quite good.

Oasis of Fear (1971)