Friday, January 21, 2011

Hasty Retreat, Quick Surrender

Title provided by Dan over there at The World Of Disgruntled Monkey.

Edit – I was going to review the whole series, but because this film sucks so badly, I will not.

We start, as these things often do, with the first film in the series, which stars a then almost unknown Jean-Claude Van Damme as Ivan Krushensky – because that is the level of witty wordplay we are dealing with here. Of course, when I say unknown, I mean unknown except this

Yes, that is Jean-Claude busting some tasty moves in the immortal Breakin’ (a movie I hope to cover at some point soon). However, that will be then – this is now, back to today’s movie.

If you know the plot of The Karate Kid, then you know the plot of this film. It’s your simple “kid moves to a new town, gets bullied, learns martial arts, kicks everyone in the face until they learn a lesson” plot. Only, with JCVD as a bad guy. And no Pat Morita.

And because it’s simple sounding film, I think a liveblog will be in order.

00:24-00:30 – First things first, this is an absolutely rubbish print that looks like it wouldn’t be out of place in a Mill Creek set.
00:35-01:00 – The quality of the print may have improved, but that is the only thing that has improved. Nothing says cheap-ass 80s more than self-shot stock footage of LA and a cheesy keyboard “rock” riff over the top.
01:40-01:49 – And, over a zoom in on Jason, our hero (who I already want to punch in the face), we get “And Jean-Claude Van Damme as ‘Ivan, The Russian’” –because even they are ashamed of the name Krushensky.
02:14-02:25 – Why is our hero sparring with a young Eli Roth?
02:30-02:45 – Oh, I get it – even though he is a red belt in karate, he still thinks it’s Jeet Kun Do. It seems that our hero is a bit of a showboat. I can’t wait for Van Damme to whup him. Oh, and just so I don’t have to keep touching on it, Jason and Sensei Jason’s Dad don’t agree on things. But they’ll be friends at the end.
02:55-03:10 – That’s how you know they are evil, they have a luxury car, and....HOLY CRAP, VAN DAMME IN A SUIT. Nothing else in this film will be as awesome as that. Oh, and the other body guard has a puffball mullet.
04:00-04:10 – Firstly, Sensei Our Hero’s Dad is an actor of such skill that he’d not be out of place in Troll 2. And secondly, if JCVD in a suit is glowering at you, YOU GIVE THE BAD GUY WHAT HE WANTS.
04:45-04:50 –“Karate is not to be used aggressively, but if I have no other choice...” And that, right there, is your line of the movie. And sums up every martial arts film ever.
05:00-05:40 – It’s just like Obi Wan v Darth Vader in Star Wars. ONLY HOLY SHIT.... VAN DAMME HITS A VAULTING KICK OFF PUFFBALL’S SHOULDER INTO SENSEI’S CHEST!! Then destroys his knee.
06:10-06:15 – “I think my leg is broken”, he says – while the leg in question is bent at the knee. Yes, it’s that sort of film. All I can think of is that line from MST Pod People: “Her back may be broken – quick, let’s fold her!”
06:20-06:30 – “Fighting them is not the answer.” “But, what is the answer?” I don’t know, possibly a script with the most stilted, awkward dialogue ever? But really, the answer is coming – and it is so much worse.
07:00-08:30 – Yes, the answer is: move to Seattle (it sure beats raising cattle), accompanied by the music of Phillip Glass. And wow, I never realised how much Seattle looks like a suburb of LA.
09:50-10:05 – This kid is a freakin’ buffoon.

10:15-10:47 – And he’s now befriended the only kid whiter than he is. RJ, the only black kid alive who can make Carlton Banks look like Spike Lee. But he does have a basketball AND a transistor radio on the front of his bike.
11:15-11:25 – And here’s the neighbourhood bully, a fat 40 year old teenager who is introduced to us as he is propped up against a car, shovelling an entire cake into his maw. Well, he’s more smearing it over his lips, like a food based Buffalo Bill. I’m sure he’ll see the error of his ways, and we’ll get the humour of a fat kid doing strenuous exercise.
12:15-13:00 - There are no words for how lame this is, Jason and RJ are combining karate, electro-poplock and bad 80s rap into something far lamer than you and I could ever imagine. Oh hai thar, obvious breakdance double.
13:35-14:30 – Oh, I think Jason might idolise Bruce Lee or something. I’d have never guessed, since it’s been so subtly handled.
15:00-15:40 – So, fatty’s whole character arc seems to be this – he’s fat and doesn’t like doing work. Silly fatty.
16:20-17:00 - But for a fat kid, he sure can run. And has pretty deft balancing skills too. I think he might just end up joining WhiteKids Dojo.
18:00-19:00 – Oh jeez, Jason and RJ have paid a visit to Bruce Lee’s grave and are praying for guidance. We get it.
19:30-22:10 - Oh hai there fat kid eating hamburgers. Why do you hate on RJ so much? Do you want his purple socks? If this doesn’t turn into a breakdance fight, I will be very upset. Oh hai thar Jason to the rescue.

21:42-21:44 – And we have a title.
23:30-25:00 – Meanwhile, in Reno... yeah, I find it best not to ask too many questions either. Noone in this film can act. But at least Jason knows where to go for training now.
27:00-30:00 – Oh fatty. You will get your comeuppance. So, apparently the karate rivalry between Seattle and LA rivals the East Coast/West Coast rap rivaly. And thus ends that training, after Jason gets whupped.

31:00-32:00 – Everyone in this film is a horrific actor, reading the lines as though they were just given them not five minutes before. It’s borderline painful.
Random Film Observation: This film is just like The Karate Kid, if The Karate Kid failed on every level, and was performed by outpatients who recently went through major brain surgery.
34:20-34:21 – Why are you greeting Jason like an old friend? He only just moved to the city and only knows RJ and Fatty. This movie was 100% improvised on the fly, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it?
38:00-38:30 – What is happening to Jason right now is what is happening to my brain watching this film. It’s being assaulted by average karate, awful acting and way too much pastel. I have decided that I’m going to spend the rest of this review badmouthing this film.
39:20-40:00 – Why is there a flashback to what happen in the very last scene? Film, YOU SUCK!

41:00-45:00 – FILM, WHY DO YOU KEEP SUCKING? I am going to come in there and beat you up in a second. At least RJ and Jason have a love nest now. Seriously, the last 50 minutes could be nothing but Van Damme and it couldn’t remove the suck.
45:10-45:12 – And we have a title, again. Fucking catchphrases. Why have I written almost 1400 words on this pile of garbage? I scare myself sometimes.
46:46-47:00 – Aliens?
47:10-48:00 – And playing the role of Mr Miyagi? The ghost of Bruce Lee. Fuck this, movie YOU SUCK ON EVERY LEVEL. I don’t care what happens in the rest of the film. I’m sure it involves Jason kicking the poop out of everyone, including Van Damme.

52:00-54:00 - There’s even a montage, and I don’t give a shit.
54:10-93:00 – Who fucking cares? I’m sure it’s full of bad acting, people learning lessons, at least one more montage that I couldn’t give a shit about and bad guys getting their comeuppance.

Do NOT ever watch this film. Not without booze. Sure, it’s no Hellbreeder, but it’s pretty damn awful. And proof that I don’t just review good films. I really hope that the rest of the series is not this bad. Seriously, the ONLY good part of it is Van Damme as Ivan Drago.
You know what? I was going to do the whole series, but I really couldn’t give a fuck. Thanks a lot movie, you were so bad that you deprived people of movies.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to see it left such a bad taste in your mouth (and unfortunately, not a taste that's so bad it's good.)

    Believe it or not, the franchise got progressively better. Better (but still cliche-ridden) plot, better talent, better fights, and probably a bigger budget.

    If at all, this film really only "works" as a collection of cinematic gaffes and glitches that are so bad as to be laughable. As I mentioned in the Palavr thread, I caught this one at the right age, with the right viewing companion, in the right frame of mind. I can definitely see how this could have fallen flat as a solo viewing experience if these types of movies aren't your bag to begin with.

    Last, I'll also mention that this film is not indicative of what Corey Yuen is capable of and he's far more talented a director than he shows here.