Uncle Jasper reviews: Def by Temptation (1990)

Def by Temptation (1990)
AKA Black Vampires

Starring James Bond III, Kadeem Hardison, Bill Nunn, Cynthia Bond, Samuel L. Jackson

Directed By James Bond III


While Def by Temptation is relatively tame in comparison to most Troma offerings, it packs a substantial amount of meat behind its kitschy, B-vampire veneer. I was pleasantly surprised by the end of the film, and despite its heavy-handed sexuality vs. morality theme, it ultimately works due to solid, likeable performances and some well-placed humor that doesn’t deter from or belittle itself.

Writer, director, producer, and lead actor James Bond III must have been burned or completely disgusted by his turn in Hollywood though because this film stands alone in his filmography. He literally has not been heard from since its release 20 years ago. That’s a shame because genuine talent is evident here and even though his acting chops could have used a bit more polish, his character is ultimately convincing, so there isn’t much room for complaints.

Joel (James Bond III) is an aspiring minister, who at the end of his schooling in the ministry is haunted by some pretty deep-seated demons and unsettling visions of his dead parents. This is further echoed by his grandmother, who really digs out some of that slow-cooked, homespun, old southern wisdom… constantly warning him that although he is at the end of his spiritual training, he is coming to a crossroads where his faith will come up against the ultimate test.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Def by Temptation (1990) →

Mini-Review: Team America: World Police (2004)

Starring Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Miller, Masasa Moyo, Daran Norris, Maurice LaMarche, Jeremy Shada, Fred Tatasciore

Directed by Trey Parker

Expectations: High.


There’s a lot to like here, but a whole lot more to be bored by. I would have loved this if it was a short film, even a series of shorts. At about 100 minutes, it just seems to never end. The first 30 minutes are great, and honestly the rest of the movie is probably just as good, but there is a fatigue that sets in and I could only laugh at the same basic jokes so much.

My favorite part was a line in one of the songs, “I miss you as much as Michael Bay missed the mark on Pearl Harbor.” If nothing else, I’m glad that somewhere out there a song with this lyric exists. The other songs are also good, especially Kim Jong Il’s I’m So Ronrey but by the point it comes on in the film, I was so sick of the joke about how Asians have a hard time with R’s and L’s that it lessened the impact. The film is also lampooning the action film genre, and while it does a good job, for me it fell into the same traps as the films they were making fun of. For instance, the overly dramatic scenes with swelling music and heart-felt dialogue were just as boring as they are in big-budget action films. These scenes just weren’t funny enough for me and there’s a ton of them. The whole Alec Baldwin and his acting group, F.A.G., wasn’t funny either, bringing my least favorite parts of South Park to puppet form. “Look they’re in a group called Fag, it’s like they’re saying they’re all fags!” C’mon, you can do better than that.

The film is impeccably well made though. The production values are off the chart and the sets are lavish and fantastic. I still love the idea behind the whole thing, but I just wish that the script was smarter. I really should have known better when dealing with Parker & Stone, but hope got the better of me and my expectations were ultimately built up way too high.

If you’d like to read more positive takes on this film, you can click these links here to head over to Cut the Crap or Dan the Man’s website where there is no shortage of love for this one.

Walking the Edge (1983)

Walking the Edge (1983)
AKA The Hard Way

Starring Robert Forster, Nancy Kwan, Joe Spinell, A Martinez, James McIntire, Wayne Woodson, Luis Contreras, Russ Courtney

Directed by Norbert Meisel

Expectations: Moderate. It could have gone both ways, but I love a good revenge film.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


I watched this movie for a couple of reasons. First, when I pulled the filmography of Empire International this was at the top of the list. From what I understand they distributed the film at some level, but seem to have played no part in the actual production. Charles Band is listed as an uncredited executive producer on IMDB as well. I’m not posting this in my Tuesday series, though, as it’s not a true Charles Band picture and it will appeal to a completely different set of viewers. The other reason I watched it was Robert Forster. I must admit that I didn’t know who he was until Tarantino’s Jackie Brown came out, but I was immediately a fan. His subtle nature in that film was so charming and real that I’ve wanted to check out some of his older films ever since. Well, it took 13 years but I’ve finally come around and done just that. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

Walking the Edge is the type of movie that you’d see in the video store and would always walk past. It might catch your eye for a moment, but you never took it home despite thinking about it several times. There’s nothing terribly special about it upon first glance, but it reveals itself to be a very competent and enjoyable revenge film. The setup is incredibly simple. The film opens in a house where a group of thugs, led by the great Joe Spinell, hold a woman (Nancy Kwan) and her son hostage. The thugs tell her that her husband is actually a drug dealer and that they’re gonna kill him. When he arrives home, they do just that, but they also end up killing the son. Kwan runs out an open door in the confusion and escapes to take revenge on these insidious motherfuckers later on in the film.

Continue reading Walking the Edge (1983) →

Shock Corridor (1963)

Starring Peter Breck, Constance Towers, Gene Evans, James Best, Hari Rhodes, Larry Tucker, Paul Dubov, Chuck Roberson, Neyle Morrow, John Matthews, Bill Zuckert, John Craig, Philip Ahn

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: High. I’ve seen it before, about nine-ten years back, but now I like Sam Fuller a lot more.


I’ve previously stated my love for Samuel Fuller, so I won’t repeat myself here. I had seen this film about nine years back, and I liked it at the time, but it was the first Sam Fuller film I had seen and it was before I knew anything about him. After watching Shutter Island, I had a burning desire to re-watch Shock Corridor, another film dealing with mental hospitals. Scorsese is on record as being a huge fan of this film, so I figured at some level he was influenced to make Shutter Island out of his love for Shock Corridor. After re-watching this, I can’t say that there’s any specific connection between the two, but it did make for an interesting pair of very different films.

Fuller opens his film with a Euripides quote, “Whom God wishes to destroy, he first turns mad.” It’s a stark way to open a B-picture, but this is Sam Fuller we’re talking about and he is all about putting the truth in our faces and letting us squirm in our seats as we are confronted by it. It is interesting to consider this quote against each character and how they ended up in the mental hospital. The quote exemplifies everything Fuller is trying to say within the film, so unlike a lot of quotes at the beginning of stuff, this one has real weight and power behind it.

Continue reading Shock Corridor (1963) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Future Kick (1991)

Future Kick (1991)
AKA Kickboxer 2025

Starring Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Meg Foster, Chris Penn, Eb Lottimer, Al Ruscio, Jeff Pomerantz

Directed By Damian Klaus


Before Hollywood discovered the Hong Kong film industry in the late ’90s we had to settle for the local stuff like Future Kick. Back then martial arts films were pretty much advertised by how many kickboxing championships or karate tournaments the lead actor had won. Most of the time, these titles were completely fabricated or taken totally out of context, but we didn’t care. Remember those trailers for Bloodsport and Kickboxer heralding the coming of Van Damme to the US as if it was like a visit from the pope? They threw out all kinds of bullshit spiel like “…nine-time reigning karate champion of the world, Jean Claude Van Damme.” We loved it, but once Jackie Chan’s Rumble in the Bronx got its much belated release stateside, it pretty much opened the floodgates to a world of martial arts that America hadn’t seen since the heyday of Bruce Lee. Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and all of those slow white guys we once thought were awesome gradually disappeared from movie screens across America in favor of the new flavor.

Don “The Dragon” Wilson was one of those guys.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Future Kick (1991) →

Invictus (2009)

Starring Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Patrick Mofokeng, Matt Stern

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Expectations: Low.


Another one I had been avoiding. I love Clint Eastwood, but I usually find his directorial efforts to be fairly slow and plodding. There are exceptions, but as a rule, his films are understated and meditative. This is fine, I’m just rarely in that kind of a mood so I tend to avoid his films unless I have a great interest in the subject matter. This was the case with Invictus, but I’m glad I dived in because this is a really good film.

Morgan Freeman is the definite star of the show, inhabiting the role of Nelson Mandela with ease. Freeman is recognizable as both himself and Mandela in the role, skillfully blending the two personas into a memorable screen performance that never feels like one. He gives a powerful speech early in the film on why the team name should remain the Springboks, proving why Freeman received an Oscar nomination for the role. Matt Damon is also great in his scenes, but he tends to fade into the background as a lot of his scenes are without dialogue on the Rugby field. When Damon is on-screen, his subtle performance feels natural and believable. The film is essentially broken into two halves with Freeman leading the charge in the first half of the film, and Damon taking over once the World Cup action begins.

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Ghoulies II (1988)

Starring Damon Martin, Royal Dano, Phil Fondacaro, J. Downing, Kerry Remsen, Dale Wyatt

Directed by Albert Band

Expectations: Low. There’s no way this can live up to the first one.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


Ghoulies II is a film working against the odds. The first Ghoulies is a cult horror/comedy masterpiece (if you go for those sorts of things) and generally sequels to such fare are always inferior. I am happy to report that Ghoulies II is an exception to the rule. When four minutes in there’s a man with a groaning, wriggling sack over his shoulder being chased by three guys in blood-red satanist robes, you know you’re in for something…might be special, might be shit, but it’s definitely not gonna be middle of the road.

Apparently these satanists summoned the Ghoulies and the guy with the sack is making off with them to kill them. He runs into a gas station garage and throws the whole bag into a steaming toxic waste barrel. I’ve never seen a toxic waste barrel spewing fog at my local garage, but this is Ghoulies II so we’re just gonna go with it. Needless to say, the toxic waste has zero effect on the Ghoulies. They jump out and stop-motion their way over to a parked diesel rig. Soon, we’re all on our way to the carnival via the truck carrying the Satan’s Den attraction and our lovable Ghoulies.

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