Monday, July 6, 2009
Leo Fong does Film Noir
D. Frank Harris
Part of the MAXIMUM ACTION DVD set(Out Of Print)
Two years before the double team of Director Frank Harris and star/Producer extraordinaire Leo Fong would deliver their strong arm punch LOW BLOW on the world they delivered this nasty San Diego based Neo Noir. Basically the polar opposite to that tongue in cheek karate slug fest, this one is lean, mean, bloody as hell and filled with bullet ridden corpses to the max. Where as LOW BLOW focuses on Leo Fong beating the snot out of people, here the spotlight is on shootouts and CHINATOWN styled intrigue, on a fifty cent budget, with a side of ham and eggs.
The confusing story begins with the always reliable character actor Stack Pierce robbing a military armory with his group of thugs stealing a truck full of M-16's and killing everyone in their way. they immediately drive to the nearest Chinese restaurant and on command of their chief, a scenery chewing Cameron Mitchell (even more over the top than normal, and that is saying something!) kill EVERYONE in the place. Men, women, little kids, and every single bottle and dish sitting on a shelf. NOTHING is left standing. Enter Richard Rountree as a cop investigating the case who brings in his best man for the job, our hero, Leo Fong. But seems he is a bit unstable because his wife had been raped and killed recently and he has not totally recovered from the trauma. we get this from a training montage where he ALMOST cries while beating up various gym equipment. that Leo is an emotional guy who keeps it close to the chest. Leo gets his commands from a cop named Skimore, but they keep saying his name so fast you'll swear his name is Skidmark and another cop who we only see in close up sitting at a desk who mumbles and apparently has a mouthful of chaw and was only hired for a few hours to repeat other people's lines.
Meanwhile Stack Pierce kills pretty much anyone he meets. He has a grumpy ass disposition, especially if people are in big groups, preferring to rub out entire rooms full of people now that he has an arsenal at his disposal. Cameron Mitchell gets a tiny tiny little black poodle from a local madam who becomes his sidekick that he mumbles too for the rest of the movie, often ignoring other actors in the scene altogether in favor of talking to the dog. Leo Fong is surprisingly not in it that much, at least for the first half, as we watch the bad guys kill people and each other, crossing and double crossing, with plenty of people messily shot in the head for their trouble. Finally about midway through a bunch of Mexican kids try to jump Leo and he finally gets to kick some ass, and still ends up shooting one of them Dirty Harry style. Eventually Leo ends up trying to infiltrate Mitchell's camp to buy the guns and catch him in the act, but there is dissent among the villains with double crosses galore.
One highlight has Leo meeting a connection at a local hillbilly bar, were the two sit and drink without talking while an entire white trash country ballad plays out in its entirety and we watch seriously REAL scrawny trailer park skanks dance. The song is called "So yer cheating on yer Daddy" and is seemly about just what it sounds like. When the song is finally over there is two lines of dialogue and the scene is over! The scene was edited and built around stuffing that damn pro-hillbilly incest tune into the movie!
The movie climaxes with Mitchell having a voice over about getting revenge for the death of the poodle, though we never saw it die, a brutal throat slitting, some extended karate fights so Leo can show off, lots of nameless cops and bad guys shooting each other and falling off buildings, and a surprise turn of events in a the tail. From what I understand at some point during production the rest of financing never materialized so the script was totally thrown out the window and much of the movie was improvised daily. That schizophrenic nature of production shows on screen. But that remains a large part of it's charm as well.
I don't know when the Leo Fong team of players was initiated, but there are all present and accounted for here, with Stack Pierce, Cameron Mitchell, and Diana Leigh making an appearance as an ill fated hooker. He seems to have a solid repertory company that he uses and works well with. There is also about a dozen or so background players that are here and also in LOW BLOW as well.
All in all, not as over the top or goofy as LOW BLOW but still very entertaining and fun in it's own right. There is still lots of weird little asides to keep your attention here.
and a great over the top Cameron Mitchell Killpoint Moment...