The Movie: Wanted: Dead or Alive (1987)
The Perp: Nick Randall (Rutger Hauer)
The Victim: Malak Al Rahim (Gene Simmons)
Gene Simmons made his auspicious cinematic debut in KISS Meets the Phantom of The Park, which was about as good a movie as Hot In The Shade was an album. In 1984, the newly makeup-liberated Demon, believing his acting chops proven, made his bare-faced film introduction as the villainous Dr. Charles Luther in the Tom Selleck travesty, Runaway.
Wanted: Dead or Alive has him essentially reprising this role, this time as scenery-chewing terrorist Malak Al Rahim, the target of Rutger Hauer’s Energizer Bunny bounty-hunter Nick Randall. It’s a sluggishly-paced, ultimately forgettable film and after Gene has officially inflicted your eyeballs with gonorrhea for a burning sensation-inducing 104 minutes, Rutger mercifully pulls the pin on his fathead.
The Movie: Top Dog (1995)
The Perp: Henchman #17
“Hey, Ma. Ma! It’s Terry, Ma. Yeah, you know that movie I’m in? The one with Chuck Norris? Well, the director he liked me so much he gave me a speaking part. So, I been readin’ up, studyin’ - I got this book by this guy Stanislavski. I mean, it’s one line, but you know what they say, ‘There are no small parts, only small actors.’ No, I won’t blow it, Ma! Maybe if you believed in me, I coulda’ been somebody - maybe I coulda’ been the next Chuck Norris. Screw you, Ma! I’ll prove you wrong! I’ll prove everybody wrong! You’ll see. I gotta go, they’re callin’ me back to the set. Bye, Ma.”
Video removed courtesy of the good people at Lions Gate Entertainment.
The Movie: Drop Zone (1994)
The Perp: Ty Moncrief (Gary Busey)
The Victim: Jagger (Luca Bercovici)
Zubaz: the African savanna-inspired fashion travesty that garishly adorned the legs of a legion of Miami Dolphins fans throughout the early Nineties. They would rocket into prominence in 1991 astride the WWF Tag Team Championship ascendancy of the Legion of Doom before stuttering to a blood-gurgling death as the de rigueur leg-wear choice of a certain Long Island auto-mechanic.
Well, as Mary Jo learned, “Never trust a man in Zubaz.” Luca Bercovici would have done well to heed that lesson before going skydiving with Gary Busey.
Actually, he should have thought twice about doing anything with Busey, Zubaz or not.
“If a comedy plays in a movie theater and nobody laughs, is it a comedy?” From Socrates to Smirnoff, this philosophical riddle has puzzled the great minds of their age. By that qualification, is Top Dog a comedy? Well, you be the judge...
The home entertainment market is positively littered with skydiving travelogues. Most of them have ‘extreme’ titles (Freefall Extreme, Adrenaline Rush, Adrenaline Ride) and feature 90 escalatingly mind-numbing minutes of extreme dudes plummeting through the stratosphere to a bargain basement soundtrack of wank-o-rama guitar licks.
And then there’s Drop Zone (1994), which essentially is a skydiving travelogue, except they’ve attached something resembling a ‘plot’ to it. It’s sorta like that increasingly endangered species, the ‘Plot Porn’, where some hapless writer, typing away in his dingy, cold-water flat, has been tasked with writing everything that 85% of the audience is going to fast-forward through anyway.
Well, adrenaline junkies what will you be fast-forwarding through? Namely Wesley Snipes, who looks like he’s being led through this film by a $7,000,000 paycheck tied to a large stick being dangled just off-camera. Wesley plays disgraced U.S. marshall Pete Nessip, who travels down to Florida to investigate the seedy underworld of championship-level skydiving. See, during a Gary Busey-led terrorist takeover of a 747, his brother Theo Huxtable was offed and has been posthumously charged with “endangering the airplane.” Now, Pete’s trying to clear Theo’s (and his own) name through the extreme power of skydiving. Snap on your goggles, kids, the comely, husky-voiced Yancy “Witchblade” Butler will be your guide...
Cue the awesome aerial footage! Cue Hans Zimmer burnin’ up the fretboards with some monster riffage!
Director John Badham (Another Stakeout, Bird On a Wire) imbues the the whole affair with a schizophrenic inconsistency of pacing as the movie ping-pongs wildly from photogenic IMAX production to tepid action thriller and back again. Really, if you don’t give two shits about skydiving, you won’t find much of interest here - unless you’re that fringe type who’s been fervently sending forged petitions to Ted Turner to bring back Witchblade. And if that is you, Yancy Butler says to stop going through her garbage.
The Movie: Future Kick (1991)
The Perp(s): Walker (Don 'The Dragon Wilson), Nancy (Meg Foster)
The Victim: Hynes (Eb Lottimor)
A few weeks back, we here at the Actioneer learned the grisly pleasures of Laserblade, the future's exciting, high-stakes alternative to going to the Greyhound Races. Well, it's baaa-aaaaack! You see, Actionettes, it seems Eb Lottimor just didn't listen to the wisdom of the idioms of his day, namely, "He who lives by the Laserblade, dies by the Laserblade." Note here how director Damian Klaus displays the sort of cinematic technique that should serve him well in the field of gonzo pornography. Look how long he hovers on the money shot after Meg Foster and The Dragon get a faceful of Eb.
EXT. AARON NORRIS’ BEACH HOUSE -- DAY
June, 1994. AARON NORRIS, producer/director/stunt coordinator/Chuck Norris’ brother, sits poolside sipping banana daiquiris with his pal, character actor, TIM GRAYEM. The afternoon sun simmers through the brown haze of LA smog on yet another mercury boiling summer day.
So, I was thinkin’.
What was you thinkin’?
My brother Chuck, we should put ‘em in a comedy.
Is he funny?
Sure he’s funny. Just the other day he was doin’ this Jack Nicholson impression. He was like, “You can’t handle the truth.” (laughs)
Oh yeah, the Joker. That’s pretty funny. Batman was a cool movie.
I don’t think that’s from Batman. It think it’s from the movie where he plays the werewolf.
Oh yeah, that movie.
Well, what should this comedy be about?
I dunno. What if he were like this black guy, a cop from Detroit and he comes to some ritzy neighborhood like Beverly Hills and then he causes all kinds of trouble, but you know, “funny trouble.” He could also have a laugh that’s funny too.
That sounds funny, but I don’t know if Chuck can play black.
Um okay, so the other I went down to video store and I rented this movie called K-9. It had that guy, you know, Belushi, the dead guy’s brother and he’s a cop but his partner, get this, is a DOG.
A dog, that’s funny. Then what happens?
Well, then the dog, you know, does funny stuff.
“A dog doing funny stuff.” I like it. But we can’t just rip it off. Somebody might sue us. What’s different about our movie?
Oh! I know! I know! Instead of that Belushi guy, you put Chuck Norris in it!
My brother, Chuck Norris?
Yeah, that guy.
High five, man, you just earned a Story Credit!
I did? High five!
April, 1995. It’s a slow Friday night at a typical small-town cineplex. In a largely unoccupied theater, Top Dog starring Chuck Norris plays imperviously on the screen.
This movie sucks!
The Movie: Future Kick (1991)
The Perp: Walker (Don "The Dragon" Wilson)
The Victim: Bang (Chris Penn)
In spite of his considerable charm, Chris Penn - like Don Swayze and Frank Stallone before him - had the misfortune always to dwell in the shadow of his superstar brother (Michael Penn). He also had the misfortune to appear in this film, where he plays second banana to Eb Lottimor, a man best known for being the ex-husband of the chick who played J.R.'s would-be assassin on Dallas. Here, he's "future kicked" into a live wire by Don Wilson. And then his head explodes. And then some sort of green, bile-like substance come pouring out of his mouth.