Posts Tagged ‘Vanity

29
May
17

Never Too Young To Die (1986) From Stargrove With Love

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a Primal Root written Review

If I had a dime for every franchise started that claimed to be “The Next James Bond.” It seems to be a height countless studios have tried to reach since Bond proved so ceaselessly profitable. Classy, violent, misogynistic, and featuring gadgets, over the top improbably action and dynamite opening credit sequences that often times are the highlight of these action and espionage drenched goofball male fantasy spank fests. Bond proved to be a franchise that could carry on indefinitely, changing creative hands, trading out talent, and even continuities and never to the detriment of the fans. Except those who hate Daniel Craig for whatever reason.

The fact is, I’ve never been a huge James Bond fan, but I know the tropes pretty damn well, and every time a wannabe comes along it’s apparent and, in it’s own way, no matter hopeful or interesting it might be, a little pitiful. Why? Because it always feels like these films are trying to “One Up” James Bond. And with a franchise this long standing, there’s hardly a chance. You should probably have some respect for the franchise that inspired your lame wannabe flick. The franchise inspired such unabashed ripoffs as Secret Agent Super Dragon, Operation Kid Brother (starring NEIL Connery), A Man Called Dagger and more recently modern crap that tries to update the formula like XXX starring Vin Diesel, where our new Bond character is an EXTREME Mountain Dew ad of a special agent, and that goofy Kingsman: The Secret Service, where a young parkore kid gets fitted in a nice suite and fucks a princess in the ass. How far we have come, huh? Or should I say, “cum”? Bus, I digress…

Because there IS one James Bond ripoff that I have an immense appreciation for. One that gives it’s nods to the franchise that obviously inspired it, but also blazes it’s own trashy, wonderfully weird and awkward path towards cinematic action glory. It’s Gil Bettman’s 1986 Daddy Issues, terrorist thwarting, action and espionage classic, Never Too Young to Die!

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John Stamos (TV’s Full House) IS Lance Stargrove! A young man attending a prestigious academic academy and happens to be an accomplished gymnast and a straight A student, thanks to his Asian buddy, Cliff (Peter Kwong) who helps him cheat via wristwatch. Lance is also a gloomy gus because his Mom died years ago and he never sees his Father, Drew Stargrove (George Lazenby of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, SEE! That’s respect! Putting an ACTUAL actor who played James Bond in your goofy James Bond wannabe flick!) When Lance’s Pop’s doesn’t show up the Parent’s Day to watch him hang from some rings, he takes it to heart. Old Dad dropped the ball and let him down again. Little does Lance know, his Dad is a hard nosed, wisecracking, badass secret agent who is missing Parent’s Day trying to thwart a terrorist plot to poison California’s entire water supply with toxic waste.  This is the horrifying plan dreamed up by evil hermaphroditic terrorist, sociopath, snazzy dresser, murderer,  night club performer and general madman, Velvet Von Ragner (played by show stealing Gene Simmons from the legendary rock bad KISS). When Lance’s Father is double crossed and puts up a  valiant struggle against Ragner and his goons (who dress in Road Warrior sheik at ALL times which doesn’t help them blend in at all)  in vein, Lance feels somehow feels it in the middle of his gymnastic routine and drops to the floor like a sack of shit.

At his Father’s wake, the official explanation is “car accident”, but lance isn;t buying it. Especially after he lays eyes on the sexy, sultry, mourning, Ms. Danja Deering (Vanity, RIP, of Action Jackson and The Last Dragon Fame) who manages to look good in head to toe black in the sweltering California heat.  Lance tracks her down at his recently inherited farm just in time to watch Danja stomp a warrior of the wasteland’s face into some horse shit before the place gets set on fire, igniting a box labeled “grenades” and blowing the whole damn place sky high. After this harrowing encounter, Lance begins whining and and accuses Danja of banging his Dad as she gets disrobed in the kitchen and grabs a gun from above the oven as an alarm goes off warning of intruders. It happens to be Caruthers, a ginger bearded member of the same nameless agency Danja and the late Drew Stargrove worked for, at least as far I can tell. They have their first of many conversations that repeatedly emphasis that Ragner IS A HERMAPHRODITE, and is almost certainly the person responsible for Drew Stargrove’s brutal murder.

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Danja heads to an avant-garde biker bar called The Incinerator where Ragner, a known terrorist threat and certainly on The FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List,  is performing her strange spoken word rock and roll stage show. Of course, Lance tags along, requests a lube job from a transgendered waitress. Danja tells this idiot to go home, to which he replies, “I don;t have a home!” I suppose the excitement of the day made poor Lance forget about not only his dorm room, but the enormous farm he just inherited. Ragner takes the stage and speaks a diddy about be a hermaphrodite which includes the immortal line “It takes a man like me to be a woman like me!” as Danja reveals to Lance that Ragner is the person who killed his Father. Lance responds by accusing her of fucking his Father again and Danja storms away from the privileged little shrivel dick.

Lance follows Danja into the desert and they are both viciously attacked by mutant road warriors and kidnapped. Lance wakes up at home, which is oddly enough where the goons brought him, and they begin to beat him savagely as they demand to know where a disc containing the map of the Los Angeles sewer system is.  After smacking face around the kitchen sink, feeding him a cherry tomato (seriously) and throwing him through  half a dozen book cases, Lance fondles his Father’s family jewels and he feels a stirring! He stops cry and uses all his gymnast powers to flip around the den and throw these greases caked fuck faces out the upstairs window before grabbing a shot bun and blasting it into the air at random while screaming, “I’M STARGROVE! I’M STARGROVE!” Cliff soon arrives, having stashed the super secret disc in his new motorcycle. The two discover where Danja is being held captive, head over, and begin callously, mercilessly , killing people left and right. Sure, they’re all bad guys, but Lance and Cliff show up and just start blowing people to pieces and neither one seems all that affected by the death they are dishing out. Have these two gone on murder sprees in the past? Because for two college boys who have not been established as expert gun wielders or people killers, they sure are efficient and emotionless about it. Lance even shoots several folks who are running away from him. Out hero, ladies and gents!

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As our heroes rescue Danja, we are treated to a scene of Ragner, at his secret headquarters,  slicing the throat of his henchman with her extra long middle finger nail for not retrieving the sewer disc.  Ragner’s top scientist, played by Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger) show Ragner the specs for redirected toxic waste into California’s water supply. Looking at the computer screen Ragner remarks on what a beautiful shade of purple the merging of drinking water and toxic waste makes, only thing is, THERE IS NO SHADE OF PURPLE WHATSOEVER ON THE MONITOR! That Ragner, he truly IS a madman…

Meanwhile, Carruthers comes up with a plan to flush Ragner out of hiding, by putting Lanca and Danja is a little cabin together and spying on it to see if Ragner will attack. This plan, of course, leads to one of the highlights of the film. See, Danja REALLY want to pork Lance for saving her bacon (HA!), but Lance is all shy and hesitant and doesn’t feel it’s right. So she strips down to a bikini and begins pouring oil all over herself, her tits, her thighs, all while Lance tries to resist by drinking Perrier and eating apples. What really does it, is when Danja finally whips here chesticles out and begins doing a dance of seduction with a filthy water hose. Lance tosses his apple asides, picks her up, takes to bed and begins plowing her soy bean field. It is truly one of the most erotic and sensual scenes in all of Trash Cinema and it must be seen to be believed. The score, the performances, the editing all perfectly capture what it is to seduce a Stargrove.

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Before long, the double crosser within the nameless agency is shockingly revealed as Lance and Danja are captured and taken to Ragner’s secret lair which leads to an action packed finale on top of a water dam as Lance Stargrove and Velvet Von Ragner must now battle face to face in a brutal, knock down , drag out, boob biting, bloody battle where one man or one hermaphrodite must perish, and countless lives hang in the balance. It;s breathtaking and truly one of the finest action film finales I’ve ever witnessed. Seriously, it doesn’t get more bizarre, trashy, or unbelievable than this.

It’s difficult to discern whether Never Too Young To Die is trying to be serious, if it’s a parody of the spy genre, or if it’s trying to be a balance of both, because it is hysterical from start to finish. I get the feeling that the creative minds behind this thing really were trying to pay it straight and create a new franchise. But, what the ended up with was a highly entertaining and wholly unintentionally hysterical bit of Trash Cinema Gold. And, as is so often the case, the more unintentionally funny these films are, the better they play. And this is why Never Too Young to Die is a hidden gem of action trash cinema that must be seen to be believed. Unlike most James Bond Cash-ins, Never Too Young to Die works because it doesn’t really work at all. You can see what they were going for, but they miss the mark by such a wide margin, they just about create a different genre altogether. And if you ask me, that’s a remarkable thing.

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Honestly,  the film’s MVP is Gene Simmons he gives a truly phenomenal, over the top, hysterical performance as he ads life and genuine menace to a larger than life villain who I would LOVE to have seen more of in further adventures of Lance Stargrove. Every time Gene Simmons is one screen, his performance is so goddamn balls to wall joyously psychotic, you cannot help but laugh and enjoy every moment of his batshit time on screen. I really wish I could have seen the man in more rolls like this, because he steals the whole damn film.

Never Too Young to Die is as goofy, strange and wonderful as they come. A true tour de force of absolute trash cinema. Chock full of violence, ridiculous action, and a damn fine amount of nekkid breasts, I award Never Too Young to Die FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets! DO NOT MISS!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

11
Nov
11

Action Jackson and The Art of Catching a Cab

a Primal Root written review

“How do you like your ribs?” – Action Jackson

Action has never really been my genre.  I can’t exactly tell you why, but it’s not really one I go out of my way to watch unless it’s got some kind of hook to it like The Road Warrior, Predator or the greatest action film ever made, Robocop. However, I am beginning to change my tune a little bit and give this genre a bit more attention. What changed my mind and get the action film on my Trash Cinema radar? Two words…

Action Jackson.

Carl Weathers (Predator, Happy Gilmore) plays a badass police Sergeant, Jericho Jackson. Better known as…ACTION JACKSON. The man’s exploits are legendary and purse snatchers simply faint when the man simply looks into their greedy, thieving eyes. However, Action Jackson was demoted from the rank of Lieutenant some time early after a scandal involving a local big wig car magnate named Peter Dellaplane (Craig T. Nelson-Poltergeist, TV’s Coach). See, Jackson nearly tore the arm off this rich, therefore, important member of Detroit’s 1% during an investigation. Don’t garner too much sympathy for Delleplane, see, hie a sexual deviant, sociopath who own a nightclub, kills his competition, enslaves women with heroine and knows kung-fu.  Yeah, the guy’s a major league asshole.

Whenever I think "master of martial arts" I instantly think of Craig T. Nelson.

One such enslaved dope head is his club’s band’s spastic lead singer and sex pot, Sydney Ash, played by none other than 80’s pop star and and ex-Prince fuck buddy, Vanity (The Last Dragon, Tanya’s Island), who bring much believability to her role (*ahem*) and is surprisingly fun to watch on screen as she gets all naked with Criag T. Nelson and ends up having to be saved by Action Jackson as she is targeted for death by Delleplane. These two unlikely allies bond as Jackson is framed for the murder of Delleplane’s ignorant wife, Patrice (played by a pre-stardom Sharon Stone who they still manage to get totally naked for the flick)  and Sydney begins going through what seem to be pretty mild withdrawal symptoms for someone who is supposed to be totally reliant on the drug…

Delleplane's "Boobs for Smack" program in action.

Action Jackson ends up being a balls to the wall, cheese-ball, action flick. The film doesn’t take itself seriously at all and neither should the audience. The cast does a fantastic job of playing off one another , especially Weathers and Nelson who try to steal every scene they have together from one another. Carl Weathers is such an insanely likable actor who exudes a kind spirit as well as a very serious “don’t duck with me or I will crush your bones into powder” aura that you can;t help but like the guy. The character of Action Jackson is reasonable, intelligent, and honorable. Not only that but he forgoes his car during a car chase sequence which was easily one of the highlights of the film for me. That’s right, he RUNS DOWN a cab hurtling full speed down a busy Detroit city street. No, really, he even manages to jump on top of it, punch through the windshield and send the damn thing hurtling into a building…and walks away totally unscathed.

That’s Action Jackson.

Craig T. Nelson…you know, I will never get used to him playing a villain. I thought it was weird in The Devil’s Advocate, and here he’s and out and out psychopath which is even stranger to me. I grew up on Poltergeist so I will always see T. Nelson as a father figure.Still, to my surprise, he managed to pull off the sociopath kung-fu expert, Delleplane, commendably well and you can tell he’s having a blast playing such a scuzzy, irredeemable character. He plays the part with gusto and, in the end, might even steal the show…

Now that's a 200 dollar stunt, right there!

It’s not excessively exploitative, never gets too nasty, and all the elements that need to work do! There are some mind blowing stunts in Action Jackson and some full body burns that are so epic in scale it’s kind of astonishing. Especially early on when a man explodes into flames and goes sailing out an upper level high rise window in slow motion. And that shit happens about 5 minutes into the film! From that moment I was hooked.The fight scenes are really well done, expertly choreographed and edited together and shot very well. Never too choppy that you can’t tell what going on, but just quick enough to make us feel each and every skull cracking blow.

The critics pretty much turned this movie into their bitch and even garnered a  Razzie Award Nomination for Vanity as Worst Actress, which is a real shame, because I really enjoyed her time onscreen. And, no, not just because she shows her tits and runs around with bouncing cleavage for most of the run time. I really felt she did a decent job with the material and played her part pretty damn well.

I'll catch Vanity, you catch Carl, okay?

I think most critics missed the boat with Action Jackson. This flick is supposed to be a fun, B-Movie, action. This isn’t Platoon, gang, this is Action Jackson! Just look at the title! the whole film’s a blast to sit through and I dare you to walk away from this flick without a smile on your face. The action is great, the TnA is plentiful, and the fun is non-stop. There’s electrocution with Christmas lights, a car chase inside a mansion, hilarious one liners, jars of cut off testicles, barbecued ribs, Biff from Back to the Future getting a foot-job, the of the stars of Predator reunited, and the greatest cab catching scene ever committed to film.

In L.A., you don't catch the Christmas Spirit, the Christmas Spirit catches you.

So, if you are in the mood for some fun, non-pretentious, over the top, action fun accept no substitutes. Action Jackson is the real deal.

“There ain’t been any pussy at your pad since your mother helped you move in. They oughta call your place the House of Wax.” – Officer Lack




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