Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Special 50th Post: Cannon Chaos!

For post #50, I thought I'd do a brief overview of some of my favorites from Cannon Films plus our main event, the best Cannon movie not available here in the U.S..

We begin with an underrated gem of a movie from Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame.  Lifeforce is a pulpy cheese-fest starring a wonderfully unhinged Steve Railsback as an astronaut who encounters a bunch of space vampires, led by the nearly constantly nude Mathilda May who end up leveling London.  It's a boisterously loud movie with a ton of energy and while the plot isn't exactly the most lucid thing ever written, it;'s certainly worth watching.  It was cut down from 127 minutes to about 100 prior to release but the version you can find these days runs 116 minutes and is one hell of a fun ride providing you like schlocky horror/sci-fi hybrids that aren't especially worried if they're making sense or not.

One of Cannon's best as well as one of Chuck Norris' best, I covered this a few years ago for The Agony Booth, check it out.

I covered this on The Agony Booth as well as the sequel right here on the blog.  It's one of the most gloriously bad movies I have ever seen, right up there with Howling II.

Another Agony Booth subject, this is possibly my favorite ninja movie outside of American Ninja 2 (which I will cover a little more later).  This is over the top, sleazy cheese at its finest.

And now, for the main event.

To finish things off, let's talk a little about one of the best Cannon films not available stateside.  Avenging Force is, unless I am mistaken, meant to be a sequel to Invasion U.S.A.  Michael Dudikoff plays Matt Hunter (Chuck's character in the former) who ends up trying to protect his friend, politician Steve James, and said politician's family from a group of insane white supremacists led by Glastonbury, played by giant ham, and sadly departed, John P. Ryan.

Ryan was one of those actors who could give a subdued and layered oerformance, but it's so much more fun to see him cut loose and overact.  Let me tell you, he does this like few others I have ever seen.  Baring his teeth, snarling, whooping like a nut, shouting madly, the man hams it up in a way that is simply awe inspiring.

In addition to being racists, the bad guys also like to hunt people for sport in the swamps near their hideout so of course we get a little Most Dangerous Game thrown in along with the usual action.  I love this mopvie beyond words.  Itr's simply insane in how over the top it is.

Generally, you would expect the Steve James character to lose maybe a family member before joining up with Hunter to kick butt in the final showdown.  Here?  Not really.  First off, one of the man's three kids is killed in the beginning sending him on the requisite butt-kicking outings with Dudikoff.  About an hour later, the other two kids along with with his wife go down and then, he goes down!

I swear, this is a movie that just does not give a damn about character conventions!

James is his usual; cool self and I've already spoken about Ryan which leads us to our hero for the day.  Michael Dudikoff does pretty well, though his emotional range is somewhere between Chuck Norris and Dolph Lundgren.

Happily, this isn't a movie where you really need to act as we get loads of action and stacks of inventive killings throughout.  If there is a downside to the film (apart from Steve James dying), it would be the rather odd open ending the movie goes with.  Clearly they wanted a franchise out of this thing but for whatever reason, it never happened.

Avenging Force is, sadly, unavailable on Region 1 DVD.  You can get is in Region 2 but unless you have the right equipment or want to splurge for the VHS, you're sort of screwed.  I'd love for this to score a stateside release, it's truly one of the best 80's action flicks and one of Cannon's finest.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.