The Cannonball Run (1981)

cannonballrun_1Starring Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Jack Elam, Adrienne Barbeau, Terry Bradshaw, Jackie Chan, Michael Hui, Bert Convy, Jamie Farr

Directed by Hal Needham

Expectations: Moderate.

twostar


I haven’t seen The Cannonball Run since I was about five or six years old, and I remember it being hilarious. As you might imagine, a person’s sense of humor changes a bit after 25 or so years, so I unfortunately can’t list The Cannonball Run as a film that holds up very well. On top of that, I’m watching the film as part of my Jackie Chan series, which is not the best way to approach this film AT ALL. Jackie probably has less than five minutes total screentime throughout the film, and every one of his short appearances is heralded with the most stereotypical Asian music imaginable. He’s also supposed to be Japanese in the film, even though Chan and his co-driver Michael Hui (also a huge star in Hong Kong at the time) clearly speak their native Chinese throughout. Sigh.

But I should try to focus on the bulk of The Cannonball Run instead of Jackie’s glorified, dumb cameo. The story here is as loose as the pants that Jared from Subway used to wear. There’s a cross-country race called the Cannonball Run, and all kinds of drivers show up to take part in it. That’s it. I don’t recall there being a prize to be had (other than side bets and bragging rights), and there’s no actual plot running alongside the race. The Cannonball Run is just that, a wacky race across country. Also the race doesn’t really matter, it’s just a means to put crazy characters into crazy situations along the way. There’s never any tension or sense of time as the race is on; it’s all freewheelin’ fun!

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Escape from New York (1981)

escape-from-new-yorkStarring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Season Hubley, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers

Directed by John Carpenter

Expectations: High. I love John Carpenter movies.

fourstar


In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once-great city of New York becomes the one maximum-security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem river, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards inside the prison: only prisoners and the worlds they have made. The rules are simple. Once you go in, you don’t come out.

1997. Now.

John Carpenter’s Escape from New York has what is perhaps one of the greatest premises in movie history. When terrorists hijack Air Force One and crash-land it in the middle of the Manhattan Island Prison, Lee Van Cleef makes a deal with hero-turned-criminal Snake Plissken. For the safe return of the president, Plissken will get a full pardon. But he’s only got 24 hours to get the job done or else two capsules in his neck will explode. See, I told you it was awesome.

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Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989)

Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989)
AKA Piranha Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, Jungle Heat

Starring Shannon Tweed, Bill Maher, Karen M. Waldron, Adrienne Barbeau, Brett Stimely, Barry Primus, Jim McKrell, Paul Ross, Vicky Varner, Alan David Gelman

Directed by J.F. Lawton (as J.D. Athens)

Expectations: Low, but I hope it lives up to the comedy of its name.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


With a name like Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, you pretty much know what you’re getting. The film delivers everything it promises except the death, but that’s ok because there’s always the ever-present threat just looming around the corner. What I didn’t expect was a satire of political and pop culture of the late ’80s, or a comedy remake of Apocalypse Now with elements of Indiana Jones and 2001 thrown in for good measure. It’s a wild concoction to be sure, and one that only a select crowd will be able to enjoy.

Feminism professor Shannon Tweed is recruited by a couple of Army men to venture into the uncharted avocado jungle that covers a good portion of California’s east side. Her mission is to find out what happened to Dr. Kurtz, a noted feminist author and thinker who was sent into the jungle to make contact with the Piranha tribe of cannibal women and stop them from killing and eating anyone who comes to pick an avocado. Why is this important, you ask? Well these days the avocado isn’t such a big deal, but in 1989 the world hinged on avocados, and with a shortage in America, the Soviet Union was quickly broadening the avocado gap.

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