Fantasy Island Recap

Jamie

A group of people arrive on Fantasy Island, a magical island where Mr. Roarke makes your dreams come true. But they soon realize that these aren’t dreams, but rather nightmares and they have to escape the island. Can they stop Mr. Roarke and get off the island before it’s too late? Find out in… Fantasy Island.

How?! Gwen, Melanie, Patrick, Brax, and J. D. show up on Fantasy Island having won the opportunity to have their dreams come true courtesy of Mr. Roarke. Brax and J. D. are codependent bros looking to have fun with each other because family is everything. Patrick wants to be a soldier like his dad, who died a hero. Melanie wants to get revenge on her childhood tormentor. Gwen wants to get past her life full of regrets. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, particularly for Gwen, who having accepted a marriage proposal from the love of her life (who she let get away) is living the fantasy of having a beautiful family… but things feel off and she demands that she get over her real regret: the fact that she never saved a man from a fire she accidentally started years before. Meanwhile, Brax and J. D. are also experiencing some unpleasant side effects of having it all when it turns out they are occupying a drug dealer’s abode and some armed baddies show up to take them hostage. Patrick also is realizing that everything isn’t as it seems when he shows up to help his dad survive his fatal mission only to find that they are instead swarming the house that Brax and J. D. are in. Confused yet? Well we still have Melanie to talk about who gets a chance to torture her childhood bully only to have second thoughts and save her from the demonic torturer. Running away they are found by a journalist living in the jungle who reveals that the island is powered by some magic black liquid and they have to get in contact with his plane so they can get off the island. On the way to getting in contact the journalist sacrifices himself so they can escape. Brax and Patrick barely escape the hostage takers/soldiers who turn into unkillable zombies when shot. They run back to the beach where they meet up with Melanie and Gwen, but before they can escape Mr. Roarke destroys the plane. Turns out he must make sacrifices to the island to keep the fantasy of his dead wife alive. Running back into the jungle they head for the black liquid source, while Gwen explains that they were all connected to the fire in her fantasy. That they must in fact be part of someone else’s revenge fantasy for their roles in the guy’s death. When they reach the liquid it’s revealed that Melanie is the one looking for revenge, but before she can kill everyone Mr. Roarke finally has second thoughts about what he’s doing and helps kill Melanie, with Patrick sacrificing himself in the process like his dad. In the end the survivors leave the island, but Brax decides to stay so that the fantasy of J. D. being alive can continue in the real world. He is doomed to live on the island forever as… Tattoo. Bum bum bum. THE END (or is it?… probably). Wow that’s way more confusing than I remember.

Why?! Well the main motivation is Melanie’s. She was tormented as a child and went through years of low self esteem. As a result she couldn’t believe it when Nick wanted to date her and stood him up for a date so that when Gwen started the fire accidentally, Brax and J. D. didn’t think to look for him before fleeing. Patrick was on the scene as a police officer but didn’t go in to help Nick. So Melanie blamed all of them for his death and set up Fantasy Island to get revenge. The other important motivation is Mr. Roarke, who searched for the island in hopes of saving his wife, but found it too late. So now he sacrifices others in order to keep reliving the fantasy of being with her again.

Who?! There is an imposing character named Dr. Torture that shows up here and there in the film. When he showed up on screen my athlete-turned-actor sense was buzzing and indeed he had a long career as a professional rugby player in Australia. He also was the first high profile professional Australian athlete to come out as gay in 1995.

What?! I’m not really sure what the magic black liquid would be considering in the scope of the film. It has some characteristics of a MacGuffin given that it has unknowable magical properties. In fact if there were a prequel based around Mr. Roarke and his search for the island the liquid would be a MacGuffin. So maybe it is a MacGuffin… just one that most of the characters want to destroy rather than possess.

Where?! Fake setting alert! Patrick and I have bandied about the idea of having a whole cycle set in fake countries and locations, but it’s hard to tell how feasible something like that actually is. Particularly for some genres like romance. Anyway, this takes place on the titular Fantasy Island and is a rare example of an A+ fake setting.

When?! There is a good chance you can find when this takes place in some of the scenes with Melanie where things are posted to social media. I didn’t take a close enough look so I can’t be sure on that, but that would be where I would look first. Otherwise it plays little role in the film considering it takes place on a magical island and time is no object. F.

Patrick and I differed a little on our opinion of this one. I didn’t mind the beginning despite the confusion brought on by launching a million characters onto a magical island which in itself is also confusing. But I’m a sucker for some feel good action and even the kinda fratty characters Brax and J. D. have a sweet backstory about them loving each other unconditionally even though their family disowned Brax when he came out. But we both agreed that the ending was crazy bad. It felt like one twist too many and so Melanie’s behaviour during most of the film is totally nonsensical given that she turns out to be the bad guy. Like she’s acting for an audience of zero. It left a bad taste in my mouth. As for our friend this week, Welcome to Sudden Death is more of a remake than a sequel. Shot for shot until the end where predictably Michael Jai White couldn’t enter a professional basketball game impersonating a player for obvious reasons. Also there isn’t sudden death in basketball so that was jettisoned too. It’s a silly movie and really drags for a while, but it’s got some good fight scenes and there is a character Gus that is hilarious in a wait-is-this-guy-gonna-turn-out-to-be-a-ghost kind of way. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If there ever was a film that deserved the title of That Sweet IP: The Movie, this is it. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This is maybe the only film that definitively hit the market as a for sure 2020 BMT film. That obviously didn’t change as the pandemic wiped out any and all summer competitors. So here we are. A second Lucy Hall Blumhouse horror film almost exactly two years after Truth or Dare is rather impressive I think. What were my expectations? I purposefully didn’t look up things about this movie since I knew I would watch it for BMT. I mostly expected it to be a confounding horror film with few (and bad) scares which would only serve to anger horror fans and Fantasy Island fans alike.

The Good – The conceit of the film, on paper, is actually quite good. Basically, the ceiling of this film was Cabin in the Woods. A movie that purports to reason around the slasher tropes in such a way that you have a fourth wall breaking meta commentary on the genre. You could imagine sequels which play off of different examples of the genre (like Nightmare on Elm Street for example) with characters who are aware of the beats of horror films in general. Lucy Hall, Ryan Hansen, Jimmy Yang, and Michael Pena are also all quite good. Basically, the idea of the film and the cast are all well chosen, it just … well we’ll get to that. Best Bit: Conceit.

The Bad – The writing from two different fronts. As Jamie teased, I thought the beginning of the film was a mess. Unlike Cabin in the Woods there was absolutely no indication of what was actually happening for about an hour of the film. Combine that with the bad decision to split up the cast lead to just way too much being thrown around with no discernible explanation for way too long. The ideas finally gel at the beginning of what seemed poised to be a decent third act right before falling apart with one of the worst twists in horror history (and that is saying something!). My argument is that they should have all been brought to Fantasy Island with the original idea of it being a party island, reveal a behind the scenes operation to run a slasher film (basically) against the group, before a final reveal that they were actually, indeed, fulfilling someone’s ultimate fantasy: to be the killer in a horror film. It would end with, as usual, the slasher being killed, and the warning by Mr. Rourke that some fantasies are far more dangerous than one would perhaps expect. Fatal Flaw: Bad horror and bad twist.

The BMT – Every year we collect the various BMT films that come out. Unfortunately, this year has somewhat escalated the concern about bad theatrical films maybe dying in the future. But for now we are fine, we watched Dolittle and now Fantasy Island, and in the end both would have been the creme de la creme of any year regardless. But 2020 is a shot across the BMT Rulebook’s bow, and research is being conducted to guard against a dwindling number of BMT films being released every year. Did it meet my expectations? Ayup. It was indeed a confounding horror film with terrible scares. There was a nugget of something good though. If I’m being honest I would happily watch a sequel and I wouldn’t be that surprised to find that they figured out the formula the second time around.

Roast-radamus – This actually is literally a Setting as a Character (Where?) for Fantasy Island which appears to be a semi-conscious entity that is controlled by a magic stone and a magic pool of black liquid. Ultimately the storyline does devolve into a classic MacGuffin (Why?) or more precisely it is most like the Keystone Army trope in which all of this madness can just be stopped by destroying the aforementioned magic stone right?! Well kind of, and that’s where the Worst Twist (How?) comes into play in that it all turns out that Lucy Hall was putting on a master class of acting the whole time! This was all her fantasy, but one’s fantasy can, it turns out, be destroyed by another person’s fantasy! Checkmate! This is a quality BMT I think, very much a film that leaves you thinking (about how bad it is) for weeks afterwards.

StreetCreditReport.com – Looking through the 2020 films is actually quite interesting. We’ve done a 2020 film with a higher Notability (Dolittle and Bloodshot), but this is genuinely the lowest rated 2020 film we’ve watched, so that is serious. In the context of the year it is in the 99th percentile for BMeTric and Rotten Tomatoes score, it just flags a little in Notability, which is expected with Blumhouse. The real cred comes from its very tenuous connection to the 1970s television show Fantasy Island, but it has managed to be, by every proprietary Bad Movie Media Empire metric, a worthy BMT film.

You Just Got Schooled – Initially, I watched the original Sudden Death as a BMT film, just prior to Jamie pointing out that it actually has too many good reviews to technically qualify. If you haven’t seen this film stop reading this email (blog? Futuristic holographic device in the year 2100, year 64 of the Bad Movie Cultural Empire of the New United States of BMT?) and go and watch it right this instant. It is hilarious. It is so hilarious, in fact, that Jamie and I had a very long debate as to whether the entire film is actually a parody film in disguise. Here’s the argument. The film is explicitly a Die Hard in Blank film, the “blank” being game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. But then the first fight is with the team mascot, and later on in the film Van Damme himself plays goalie for a moment! Those are fake storylines for a Die Hard parody film. Go and watch the final helicopter scene and tell me this isn’t a comedy. Maybe the strongest point is that one of the writers of the film was genuinely a parody film writer at the time, so you can definitely see how they maybe wrote the film as a joke, but then got JCVD on board et voila! They accidentally wrote a real film. Anyways, the film is incredibly fun and you should watch it. A, I wish all cheesy 90s action was this fun.

Bring a Friend Analysis – And then of course we watched the sequel (remake? It feels like a remake) to Sudden Death called Welcome to Sudden Death which came out this year. Oh boy. There isn’t really that much to say, it is a remake of the original film almost beat for beat, but with the addition of Gary Owens as the wisecracking sidekick Gus (or was he a figment of Jesse’s imagination? We may never know), and the quality of a film shot in two days in an empty minor league basketball arena. The film is juuuuust aware enough to nod and wink at the camera during the fight scenes, but massively drops the ball with the bad guy played by Michael Eklund. The issue is that he is so gross and smarmy as a mercenary out for revenge against the billionaire owner of a basketball team that it all becomes no fun. You need the silly hamminess of Powers Booth’s crazy (like a fox!) plan to steal millions via secret service machinations for the entire thing to work. It just doesn’t work with some guy who is pissed that he lost his job because he accidentally killed an entire innocent family in a black ops mission. D, the new brand of self-aware bad movies are rarely fun, and this is no exception despite Michael Jai White being quite good in the Van Damme role, and a hilariousness of Gary Owen’s character.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Fantasy Island Quiz

Oh man, so I was invited to this island which promised to fulfill all my dreams, but then all these bad things popped out, chased me, and I fell down and bopped by head. Now I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened on Fantasy Island?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We meet our heroes (?) as they arrive on the island. There is brooding Melanie (Lucy Hale), brothers Brax and JD (Jimmy Yang and Ryan Hansen), businesswoman Gwen (Maggie Q), and police officer Patrick (Austin Stowell). Why are they all there?

2) And what are all of their (apparent) fantasies?

3) Gwen and Patrick both ultimately believe they could change events in the past via the magic of the island, what three events in their past do they almost or want to change?

4) Why and how is Mr. Rourke doing all of this?

5) Ultimately what is the actual fantasy the island is trying to fulfill? And how do they stop it?

Answers

Fantasy Island Preview

“Quick, follow me,” Mr. Big says, pulling Poe through a trapdoor with the gray ninjas close on their heels. “To the plane, the plane,” he says urgently, quickly taking off. Behind them, the gray ninjas have procured a dirigible of some sort and are in hot pursuit. Gunfire crackles around the hull of the small biplane and Poe can tell that Mr. Big is nervous. The little plane can’t take much more heat. He hands the book over to Poe, opens the side window and begins to futilely fire a handgun at the approaching blimp. Finally he sighs and collapses in the pilot’s seat. “We have protected this book for generations. It’s up to you know,” he says somberly, handing Poe the only parachute, “but it’s important to tell you that in reality…” with a whistle, a bullet shatters the side window of the plane and kills Mr. Big. “Noooooo,” Poe screams. His best friend! The blimp sidles up the plane and the gray ninjas reveal themselves as Rich and the gang (duh). “We saved you!” Rich exclaims happily, “and you got the book!” But Poe is not talking to him right now because of the whole killing his best friend business. “What’s that smell?” Rich asks suddenly, wrinkling his nose at the stench. they both look up and see the blimp, sagging sadly, losing air through a small hole in the middle of the giant “G” that spells out its name: The Great Nut. “Huh,” notes Rich before looking down to where they are about to crash land, “looks like we are heading for that island. If we can get across it then it’s just a short trek back to Nic. Should be no prob,” he says cheerily. But that sounds like a fantasy to Poe. That’s right! We’re watching one of the few major 2020 BMT theatrical releases in Fantasy Island. A rare Blumhouse flub, it’s no wonder since they turned a mild 70’s fantasy show into a horror movie for some reason. It should be obvious why we chose the Bring a Friend 2020 nonqualifying film to be paired with Fantasy Island. That’s right, we’re watching the 2020 straight-to-streaming sequel to JCVD’s Sudden Death called Welcome to Sudden Death for some reason. I’m excited. Let’s go!

Fantasy Island (2020) – BMeTric: 64.8; Notability: 25 

(Shockingly low IMDb rating which is surprising. I know horror fans are quite harsh no bad examples of the genre, but it is so close to being a horror comedy I’m a little surprised there weren’t more people some of the silliness. High notability I feel like for a Blumhouse film, but maybe that’s the IP effect.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.0 stars – So yes, “Fantasy Island” is a terrible movie—this probably won’t come as a shock to most people—but more than that, it seems to have been made with absolutely no one in mind. Anyone who might have actually wanted to see a straight-up adaptation of the show will be put off by the way that it lurches into more ostensibly horrific areas. Those in the mood for a horror film will be annoyed by the pedestrian scares and its pilfering from other examples of the genre. Fans of actors like Michael Pena, Maggie Q and Lucy Hale (who is hereby advised to let any further calls from Wadlow go directly to voicemail) will be put out with how thoroughly they are wasted here. Look, I am no “Fantasy Island” fanatic by any means—I’ve only seen two episodes in my life, both of them featuring Michelle Phillips as one of the guest stars, strangely enough—but even it deserved better than this brainless product that’s no sane person’s fantasy of a half-decent movie.

(Yeah, it does seem that it was mostly just incredibly confusing as to why this was chosen to be the adaptation. Once they tacked so far away from the original premise, why not just make it original? It feels like it would have been easy to do. I guess you still want that sweet IP street cred.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6O30nJ02PU/

(Pretty good trailer. Still feels weird that this is the direction they decided to take the property. It feels like an empty sci-fi horror film, and very unlikely to satisfy anyone familiar with the property.)

Directors – Jeff Wadlow – (Future BMT: Cry Wolf; True Memoirs of an International Assassin; Kick-Ass 2; Never Back Down; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Like with a lot of Blumhouse stuff he also is a producer on the film. That is typically by design as his salary is probably largely determined by the box office return.)

Writers – Jeff Wadlow (written by) – (Future BMT: Prey; Cry Wolf; True Memoirs of an International Assassin; Kick-Ass 2; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Bloodshot; Notes: Oh, he wrote two of our 2020 films, that’s impressive. Katie Couric’s nephew, he got his start writing and directing short films.)

Christopher Roach (written by) (as Chris Roach) – (Known For: Non-Stop; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Was an executive producer on multiple series of Big Brother, among other unscripted television series. It is interesting that he’s made the leap to scripted films.)

Jillian Jacobs (written by) – (BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Was a producer on Big Brother, so I imagine she is operating as a writing partner with Roach in some capacity.)

Gene Levitt (based upon the television series created by) – (BMT: Fantasy Island; Notes: Created fantasy island, and while he was a writer on a ton of television in the 50s and 60s this was the only one he created and he seemed to have retired right after. He died in 1999.)

Actors – Michael Peña – (Known For: The Martian; The Mule; Fury; American Hustle; Ant-Man; Crash; The Lincoln Lawyer; Dora and the Lost City of Gold; Ant-Man and the Wasp; Million Dollar Baby; Shooter; Tower Heist; End of Watch; 12 Strong; Babel; A Wrinkle in Time; Turbo; The Lego Ninjago Movie; My Little Pony; 30 Minutes or Less; Future BMT: The Vatican Tapes; Extinction; Hell and Back; Vacation; The Calcium Kid; Lions for Lambs; Jexi; Collateral Beauty; Star Maps; Cesar Chavez; The Lucky Ones; The United States of Leland; BMT: Fantasy Island; Battle: Los Angeles; CHIPS; Gone in Sixty Seconds; Gangster Squad; Notes: Born in Chicago, and has starred in character roles in film and on television across the years, like Eastbound & Down. Apparently plays bass guitar, hopefully he starts a band.)

Maggie Q – (Known For: Divergent; Die Hard 4.0; Mission: Impossible III; Rush Hour 2; The Argument; Rogues Gallery; Future BMT: Balls of Fury; The Con Is On; Priest; Allegiant; Slumber; Death of Me; Deception; Insurgent; New York, I Love You; Jekyll Island; BMT: Fantasy Island; Around the World in 80 Days; Notes: Played the lead role in the Nikita remake. Grew up in Hawaii, but ended up becoming a huge star in Hong Kong before breaking out in Hollywood.)

Lucy Hale – (Known For: Scream 4; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2; The Unicorn; TinkerBell and the Secret of the Wings; Future BMT: A Nice Girl Like You; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Was part of the band American Juniors which was assembled on a reality series. Amazingly appeared in The O.C. way back in the day, but most well-known for her leading role in Pretty Little Liars.)

Budget/Gross – $7,000,000 / Domestic: $27,309,289 (Worldwide: $48,811,343)

(Still an incredible return on investment. Blum really can’t lose with these things. I wonder if they’ll think about doing another? I mean, in theory they could do the whole again with a new group. Could be a fun franchise if they fix whatever issues it had.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 7% (8/107): Fantasy Island tries to show audiences the dark side of wish fulfillment, but mainly serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of exhuming long-dead franchises.

(“Who is this film for?” seems to be the common question. Not horror fans. Not Fantasy Island fans … so Blumhouse fans? Probably not that either. Reviewer Highlight: Contrived and loony, it feels like someone planted about a half-dozen different scripts all over this Fantasy Island. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – Fancy Tree Island

(Clever. I think that’s a really good poster. Give me a little more on the font front and it might even be a perfect poster. Really artistic and beautiful. Too bad something so nice isn’t associated with a better film. Despite the font I’ll still give it an A. Just not an A+.)

Tagline(s) – Anything you desire. Everything you fear. (A)

(Blumhouse is good at what they do and despite flubbing a bit with the film as a whole you can still see that they know what’s up. Good poster, good tagline. This has the cadence, the length, and the specificity to the film at hand. I like it.)

Keyword – based on tv series

Top 10: Fantasy Island (2020), Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), Charlie’s Angels (2019), Star Trek (2009), Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), Baywatch (2017), Addams Family Values (1993), Serenity (2005), State of Play (2009)

Future BMT: 83.1 Inspector Gadget (1999), 79.3 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000), 75.9 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), 71.8 Bewitched (2005), 69.4 The Flintstones (1994), 67.3 Scooby-Doo (2002), 66.8 Thunderbirds (2004), 66.4 Yogi Bear (2010), 66.2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), 65.0 Max Steel (2016);

BMT: Fantasy Island (2020), Baywatch (2017), The Last Airbender (2010), Masters of the Universe (1987), CHIPS (2017), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), The Lone Ranger (2013), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), Wild Wild West (1999), Lost in Space (1998), Sex and the City 2 (2010), Æon Flux (2005), The Avengers (1998), Garfield (2004), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), I Spy (2002), Garfield 2 (2006), Marmaduke (2010), Dudley Do-Right (1999), Car 54, Where Are You? (1994)

(My God, we’ve watched so many. And we still have so many to go. And again, no need to remake television series anymore, you can just you know … make the television series again on Netflix or whatever. So it is no wonder it is dying as a mini-genre.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 12) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Michael Rooker is No. 8 billed in Fantasy Island and No. 4 billed in Here on Earth => 8 + 4 = 12. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Jason Blum wanted Nicolas Cage to play Mr. Roarke but Cage passed on the role.

The movie is a reimagining of Fantasy Island (1977) in a horror genre, inspired by The Cabin in the Woods (2011) and Westworld (2016).

Principal photography on the film began in January 2019 in Fiji.In October 2018, Michael Peña, Jimmy O. Yang, Dave Bautista and Lucy Hale joined the cast. In November 2018, during an interview, Jeff Wadlow disclosed that Maggie Q, Portia Doubleday and Ryan Hansen had joined the cast, as well as suggesting Bautista may no longer be able to appear in the film. (Huh … I wonder who Bautista would have been. I guess maybe the Rooker role? Or many the army captain)

Double Impact Recap

Jamie

Alex and Chad are just wee lads when their parents are gunned down in Hong Kong. Years later, Chad’s guardian finds Alex and decides it’s time for them to team up and get back what is rightfully theirs. But can lame-o Chad and rough-around-the-edges Alex really take down the baddies before it’s too late? Find out in… Double Impact.

How?! Alex and Chad are tiny twin babies when their genius daddio builds a smoking hot tunnel in Hong Kong that’ll earn big bucks for days. Unfortunately his skeezy business partner has his eyes on that sweet tunnel action and teams up with the mob to take them out. In the process Chad is saved by their bodyguard, Frank, while Alex is taken to an orphanage by their nanny. Fortunately for the viewer it’s made very clear that they are both taken in by the French so that we wouldn’t spend any brainpower wondering how both Alex and Chad have French accents. Phew. Years later Chad is kind of a lame-o scoping on chicks in LA while impressing them with his splits (they are impressive, though). Frank finds Alex in Hong Kong living as a smuggler and thinks it’s time to take that super money making tunnel back! They fly to Hong Kong where Chad is kinda shocked by how everyone seems to know him. It’s only after a beautiful lady comes onto him, earning him a punch in the mouth from Alex, does he realize that he’s a t-t-t-twin?! Wha?! Alex is not super interested in fighting Griffith, who employs his girlfriend Danielle, but after Alex is beat up by the mobsters Griffith works with he starts to help out. After stealing a big shipment from the mob and then hitting up a party with some explosives, they become targets. They escape to an abandoned resort where Chad gets contacted by Danielle who is in trouble. He heads off to pick her up which makes Alex crazy with jealousy. When Chad finally returns the brothers split up in anger narrowly avoiding the mob who, having followed Chad, have arrived to take them out. Finding out that Frank and Danielle have been taken hostage they track them to a shipyard where they put their martial arts skillz to good use and kill all the bad guys and inherit their drop dead gorgeous money making tunnel. THE END.

Why?! The tunnel baby! They want that gd tunnel and they want it now. I kinda laughed at this idea, but in fact the Cross-Harbour Tunnel was built privately with the contract stating that those that built it would collect tolls for 30 years from the start of construction before the contract went over to the Hong Kong government. So this would mean by killing Griffith (and thus inheriting the bridge… I think? I don’t think that’s how this works) they would have had eight more years of those sweet tolls to gobble up.

Who?! Obviously an important film in the “actors portraying two characters” canon. However, I think the most interesting aspect of the cast is that this was the last film for which JCVD got a “fight coordinator” credit. He got it for Kickboxer and Lionheart in the two years before this as well. I can only assume this was a way he could make more on the film when they were still relatively small time affairs. After this he moved onto things like Universal Soldier.

What?! Is the tunnel a MacGuffin? I would argue no as generally a MacGuffin must hold power and allure in a way where the audience is meant to not care or understand anything more about it. Generally it’s like a staff or machine with a weird name or interesting properties. This is a tunnel. We know its allure (money bags with green dollar signs painted on them) and we know its power (the power over your time, literally the greatest power of them all).

Where?! Hong Kong quite literally for days. We get a brief scene in LA, but otherwise the city gets to shine in all its glory as we see Victoria Harbour in a lot of detail. Much like JCVD’s Knock Off we get a sense that the mob/smuggling/underworld aspect of the city holds particular interest for these east meets west martial arts mash ups. A. 

When?! I do think this takes place in modern day. The beginning of the film would take place August 2, 1972, when the tunnel opened, and it makes sense that they are about 19/20 years old when we see them attempting their big comeback. Chad in particular played it like an early 20-something just wanting to teach aerobics and woo the ladies with his splits.

I found the film to be a little boring as it dived into the murky waters of private tunnel ownership. In a lot of ways it felt like a 60’s film like an old James Bond or something. Didn’t feel particularly modern and so the story kinda dragged. But JCVD was surprisingly good in the dual role. He really acted his buns off (and his buns did their fair share of acting as well) to the point where I think it overcame some of the faults to at least be interesting from a JCVD point of view. I also really appreciated the fact that they didn’t play a bunch of games when it came to the dual role. One of the twins didn’t die early or have an accident requiring them to wear gauze on their face the whole time or anything. Lots of split screens, lots of body doubles, lots of fun (that’s the tagline for this review). As for Twisted Pair, I’ll let Patrick tell most of the story, but given our first taste of Niel Breen I have to say that it tasted very Breen. The movie makes no sense and at times you wonder if perhaps you are doing something unsavory by taking such a glimpse into the mind of a madman. But still, if you can get your hands on the film it’s a wild ride. I can certainly see the fascination people have with him and it’s actually pretty impressive that he’s made more than a few films with similar bad movie qualities. Usually bad movies of The Room kind are one hit wonders. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Am I seeing double? Double … impact?! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – If I’m being honest I’m still not really very familiar with Van Damme’s filmography. That might seem like sacrilege, but I just never was very into martial arts films in general. I once went to a Van Damme movie marathon which is fun. But obviously you stick to the classics there: Hard Target, Time Cop, and Sudden Death. I’ve seen a bunch of them, but the early films and anything past 1999 are still mostly a mystery. But obviously “the one where he plays his own twin” was always an eventual must watch for the Bad Movie Twins. What were my expectations? I suppose I expected it to be a silly half-assed garbage film? I don’t know. Sudden Death is an incredibly hilarious film, especially the final helicopter scene. So why can’t this be the same?

The Good – The split screen and movie magic moments are actually halfway decent. If this was a kids’ movie or something I would say it actually is a pretty effective gimmick. I also just mostly like this style. Much like Knock Off it feels very much like a Hong Kong crime film of the time. Unlike Knock Off I assume the crew filming in Hong Kong spoke english which possibly explains why the film felt of higher quality. And while the acting was pretty dire top to bottom I want to give a shoutout to both Bolo Yeung and Corinna Everson who were some very fun body builder bad guys. Yeung is amazing. His body-builder-martial-artist body is really just a sight to behold. Best Bit: Two Van Dammes.

The Bad – The film is kind of boring and, indeed, kind of just feels like a pretty silly Hong Kong crime film of the time. That isn’t a terrible thing on its own, it is just a tad bit more self-serious that you might expect from a “Van Damme Is a Twin!!” film. As mentioned the acting is particularly bad. It is too bad Van Damme could never really get a handle on his accent in the 90s. If he could have pulled off the American accent (and I think they did try for a scene or two in the beginning) and got himself into a more mainstream film as the bad guy, I think he would have had a bit more longevity in his career. Fatal Flaw: Too self-serious.

The BMT – It’s probably one of the quintessential bad twin films ever made. The one where Van Damme plays his own twin. Getting a fuller picture of Van Damme’s career is always fun, as is getting introduced to the world of Hong Kong cinema (even through what is ostensibly an American version of it). I don’t think it’ll really be remembered alongside The Quest and other great-bad Van Damme films, but it is still an interesting turning point in his career as Ebert astutely noted in his review at the time.

Roast-radamus – There is for real an odd number of Johnnie Walker bottles strewn around this film, so it does feel like a Product Placement (What?), although maybe the crew just really like Johnnie Walker. Loving the Setting as a Character (Where?) for Hong Kong, the seedy underworld of smuggling once again playing a major role in a Van Damme film. Is Vengeance a MacGuffin? I don’t think so. And I’ll toss this out as probably closest to Good, although I do think it is a rare film where you could argue for any of the three superlatives.

StreetCreditReport.com – I can’t really speak to any official cred (beyond being a twin film, and according to IMDb directly inspiring the film Twin Dragons which is amusing), but unofficially it was listed on an Over the Top Action Film list and a Guilty Pleasure Action Film list on IMDb, which I think is a fairly accurate description of the film. Although I’d argue there are multiple bad Van Damme films which are more entertaining than this one.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This was a very special week at BMTHQ. For this week we watched our very first Neil Breen film, Twisted Pair. Breen is the relatively new kid on the bad movie block. A real estate agent (or something) from Las Vegas, his films are notable in that he typically stars as a messianic figure. This is his latest film, and I have a hard time with it. Mostly the film is spectacular trash. The kind of thing only a delusional weirdo could produce and release to the world unironically. But is it ironic? It might be, he certainly has made enough films to know people are watching them ironically. Is Breen a bad person? Impossible to tell. Much like Tommy Wiseau, he seems to enjoy his notoriety while also keeping his personal life and business much to himself. The film is insanity, pure and simple, and was mostly fun to watch in order to speculate on Breen’s relationship with the actors on set and Nevada State University. The storyline is almost impossible to parse, though, and mostly dull. I would say that the only kind of Room-ish bit of the film is the fake rape scene in the beginning, which genuinely makes one wonder about Breen’s mental state. The rest is just an exercise in seeing what happens when a probable narcissist gets hold of a quality film camera. B+. If the film was more readily available I would say the Breen filmography is probably worth a watch just to see the current state of the art bad movie production in action. But at the moment this one in particular is a little too hard to get, so I have to dock it points.

Twin Analysis – Oh boy, as far as Double Impact is concerned this might be one of the best twin films ever. It’s got it all. The harsh brooding twin, the fun loving happy twin, twins separated at birth creating a real fish out of water scenario combined with a real odd couple scenario. The entire film revolves around the twins and avenging their parents. And complete with twin fighting twin and multiple split screens throughout the film creating two Jean Claude Van Dammes. Never have there been twins so adept at side splits! I’m giving it an A+. Boom done it. Then as for Twisted Pair you have the opposite problem in a way. At first blush it would appear to be the perfect twin film. Good/evil twin dynamics for days. Twins all over the place including a very bad split screen. And perhaps a twin-centric story with the good twin battling the bad twin … or is it? Is the storyline actually about the twins? I mean, they were both inexplicably granted magic abilities, just one of them fell out of Messiah Academy / Spy School and became a vigilante drug addict … or something like that. And in the end the story seems to be much much more about Good Breen laying waste to some international deep state conspiracy (or something, again, the storyline is impossible to parse). I feel obligated to give this an A- … but is the story actually about twins? Or is the movie just two twin brothers’ mostly disjointed stories smushed together? Scientists maintain we may never know.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Double Impact Quiz

Oh man, as an aging action star I have taken some serious blows to the head in my day. Which is to say, I don’t remember why I’m in Hong Kong and who this person who looks exactly like me is! Do you remember what happened in Double Impact?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We open on a beautiful British family living in Hong Kong and clearly killing it financially. And there is a reason to celebrate on this particular day. What is it?

2) In the end our heroes are separated and each inexplicably grow up either in France or among French nuns (odd coincidence that). Chad lives in California with his adoptive father Frank. What do they do in Los Angeles?

3) And why do Frank and Alex go to Hong Kong?

4) Throughout the film we see a fairly significant keepsake that the bad guys now own. This item is a physical representation of their betrayal of Alex and Chad’s parents. What is it?

5) Finally our heroes kill everyone and the world rejoices. How do the two main villains die? Bonus point for noting how Bolo Yeung dies as well.

Answers

Cyborg Recap

Jamie

In a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by plague, hope comes in the form of a cyborg carrying a possible cure. A psychotic monster wants to control this cure, while a Slinger, a mercenary hired to protect people, is the only thing that stands in his way. Can he stop the monster and possibly save the world before it’s too late? Find out in… Cyborg.

How?! The world has been ravaged by a plague. All hope has been lost… almost. A cyborg named Pearl has been sent from the CDC in Atlanta to NYC to get information for a cure. On her way back, she is being tracked by Fender, a psycho monster who hopes to control the cure and thus control the world. After losing her bodyguard, Pearl finds Gibson, a slinger, and gets him to help her. Unfortunately Fender catches up and takes Pearl and leaves for Atlanta. Fender and a trailing girl, Nady, go after them. They track them down the coast and reminisce about Gibson’s brief happiness with a woman and her two daughters. They were killed by Fender and the younger daughter taken captive in his gang. When they do finally meet up they do battle and Gibson is able to kill a bunch of people, but just barely escapes with his life. He and Nady are tracked down and Fender crucifies Gibson on a ship. Left for dead he is able to knock down the cross and Nady helps free him. In Atlanta, Gibson again confronts Fender and they battle. Nady is killed and ultimately Gibson is able to kill Fender by impaling him on a meat hook a la Cobra. Indeed, Fender was the disease and Gibson was the cure. JK, the plague was the disease and Pearl, the cyborg, is the cure. Or at least hopefully. THE END. 

Why?! Hope. Humanity. Love. Life. Cyborg. The classics. Obviously, Fender wants power and control in a world dominated by chaos. Pearl wants to help save the world. Gibson, on the other hand, is partly just doing his job, but also wants revenge against Fender for what he did to Gibson’s family.

Who?! Probably one of the more fun athletes-turned-actors. Vincent Klyn, who played Fender, was a professional surfer. From what I can tell, he was a high prospect when he was young in the early 80’s and by the time Cyborg rolled around he was working more as a model and was discovered for the role when he was out surfing one day (if the director Pyun is to be believed). 

What?! I would say the cure for the plague is a reasonable MacGuffin, given the fact that we really don’t know much about the plague or the cure or anything. I mean, apparently there is a plague and the world is in ruins, and continues to be in ruins, because of it and… everyone just walks around no big deal? So what’s the cure for? Is Fender immune? No answers. As for props, JCVD’s necklace is listed here but specifically “is not for sale.” Yeah, wouldn’t want to give up that really cool looking prop from Cyborg. That’s a priceless gem.

Where?! Actually not a setting film. We start somewhere south of NYC heading towards Atlanta, but then get more specific as Gibson attempts to head off Fender in South Carolina where he docks to start inland towards Atlanta. The climactic fight scene takes place in Atlanta, which is even plot appropriate given the CDC’s role in the film. B+.

When?! And weirdly not a very good temporal setting film. Just generally and vaguely set in the future. It’s certainly post-apocalyptic. Can’t you tell because of all the… uh… graffiti, I guess? And the boat they have is all clunky. That’s bad right? Oh and Fender wears chainmail… I mean… right? That means it’s either really old or really in the future. Like, for sure. C.

There are aspects of the film that I was digging. I liked the bad guy and some of the quotes that he was laying down. His whole look was kinda rad too. But that’s more or less where it stopped. The film is ultra silly and looks like garbage. The film studio was basically already out of business and threw this stuff together. Let’s just say, it shows. I will give it some credit in saying that I somewhat understand why they made sequels to the film. The film made money and you can see intriguing angles to the plot to build on. Like some horror franchises where even if the first entry is awful there is sometimes enough momentum to the monster or something to carry into a few more films. As for the sequel (I only watched Cyborg 2), it is fascinating but for an entirely different reason. Angelina Jolie is front and center in her first film role and she is so raw it’s nuts. Also Jack Palance shows why he is a Tango and Cash legend and Billy Drago consumes entire sets. It’s a bit of a fun watch if only for the acting performances. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We got all kinds of robotronic up in here this week. I watched not one, not two, but three Cyborg films! Weep not for me … Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – If I’m being honest, considering how early in his career this was, this looked like just another Van Damme film. The notes somewhat corroborated this, with a troubled production and Van Damme himself re-editing the film prior to release. I was intrigued by the director (a big non-theatrical director) and the bad guy (a professional surfer), so there was some potential. What were my expectations? The usual for post-apocalyptic nonsense from the late-80s: depressing, dreary, and boring. But I would be pretty pleased if we saw some splits and buns from Van Damme, because that’s really all the people want. Give the people what they want!

The Good – There are indeed some splits in the film. Van Damme is, as usual, as good as one would expect, with some fun action sequences. Especially the sequences near the end of the film in Atlanta. The final fight with Vincent Klyn was almost definitely the major bit that Van Damme himself recut, and it indeed is quite effective. And as bad of an actor as Klyn is, he does have a striking look and thus is an decent foe for Van Damme … even if he does kind of look like Bananas from Ghosts of Mars. The stop-motion effects for the cyborg are very Robocop-esque and look pretty cool. Best Bit: Them Splits.

The Bad – The acting is pretty dire, even from Van Damme. It ends up sinking the movie in the beginning because there is nothing to hold the audience’s attention during the first half hour of the film which is just standard boring post-apocalyptic garbage. The entire structure of the film was thrown off by the sheer number of flashbacks. We get it, Van Damme fell in love once, and Vincent Klyn killed his lady love and left him for dead. It is a tale as old as time, and it feels like it was shoehorned in just to pad the run time. The titular cyborg is barely in the film, and the motivation as to why she is a cyborg is non-existent … it makes you wish Van Damme was the cyborg instead. Fatal Flaw: Flashbacks.

The BMT – I think as a whole the series is interesting from a BMT perspective in that I watched the entire trilogy in a very short amount of time. Also the trilogy manages to be three totally different things: a late-80s martial arts film, an early-90s straight-to-video sci-fi knock off, and a truly dire 90s trash apocalypse film. Unfortunately I don’t think any of them are really that entertaining, with the first being the most interesting as an early Van Damme vehicle. I think in the future we’ll have watched more Albert Pyun films and Cyborg will become very relevant to certain Bring a Friend analyses, so it has that going for it. Did it meet my expectations? I’m going to go with no. We did get a sweet split, but I also wish the Van Damme film was a bit more like Timecop in that they trusted JCVD to execute peak JCVD-ness. And I wish the sequel was more of a wild ride as well, but it was pretty boring.

Roast-radamus – I’m liking the Setting as a Character (Where?) for both New York City, Atlanta, and heck, the whole eastern seaboard. Also Boring Post-Apocalypse Hellscape (When?) for a United States which has been destroyed by a plague at some point … I assume in the 90s, it is hard to tell. I love it for the titular MacGuffin (Why?) in that Van Damme is indeed trying to save / protect a cyborg who is attempting to cure the plague using information in her cybernetic brain. I think this is closest to BMT as far as superlatives.

StreetCreditReport.com – There is surprisingly little. I think most of the cred comes from the fact that this film is, in fact, a Masters of the Universe sequel that was adapted into a vague post-apocalyptic film and recast with Van Damme. That’s pretty fun. I also think the connection to Cannon and the insanity that was the bankruptcy of that minor production house gives some interest to the events surrounding the production. Other than that it is probably like top 10 worst wide-release cyborg films ever, so that’s something.

Bring a Friend Analysis – And with any viewing of Cyborg you obviously might as well pop in your VHS copy of Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow starring a very young Angelina Jolie and none other than Jack Palance! This. Film. Is. Bonkers. Is has karate, and cyborgs, and it looks like shit, but then has Billy Drago running around like a lunatic. It dares us to ask: what if the cybernetic beings we create can know love? Anyways, the film is pretty silly with an absolutely atrocious score. There is also the most tenuous of connections with the original Cyborg. Consider: In Cyborg the entire world is plunged into dystopian madness due to a plague that kills off most of the world. By 2074 however (people from the original film could still be alive at this point!!) we’ve not only built society back up, but we’ve managed to perfectly reconstruct the smarmy corporations of late-80s / early-90s America, and we are still (somehow) competing with Japan in the technology sector?! Now that’s a non-sequel if I’ve ever heard it. Jolie and Koteas are pretty fun in their roles, and I love Palance’s weirdo mouth screen nonsense. But the film is sunk just by looking like crap and sagging a ton in the middle. B-. It is only kind of fun as a non-sequel to Van Damme’s Cyborg. Otherwise it is mostly sad. But guess what? I would probably watch it again, just to make sure I genuinely didn’t like it.

You Just Got Schooled – Uh oh, guess what? I watched Cyborg 3: The Recycler! Remember how I said Cyborg 2 was a bit odd because they posit a complete reconstruction of corporate America a mere 75 years after society completely dissolved? Well, turns out that is too expensive for a direct-to-video sequel and we’ve been plunged into a desert-like apocalyptic wasteland again for the final entry in the Cyborg trilogy. Now starring Khrystyne Haje in the Jolie role the film is … well, it really is just kind of about how abortion is wrong? You think I’m joking, but there is a pretty not-so-low-key anti-choice message in this film. Haje learns she’s pregnant with a human child fairly early in the film, but insists that she wants an abortion. Everyone though knows that she should reconsider and that she doesn’t know how much of a miracle this situation is! But luckily, once she sees the face of her child, that motherly instinct kicks in and she chooses to have the child, hoooooooray! Anyhoo, beyond that the film looks like shit and is mostly just boring. Malcolm McDowell is fifth billed but in the film for, no joke, five minutes. Richard Lynch is a fine actor, but his face looks weird and he’s a bit too hammy for my taste. It only really starts once they meet the guy from Gremlins. Even then I just felt like I was wasting my time, both of the previous entries are loads better. C-

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Cyborg Quiz

Man, so last thing I remember I was a Slinger, sneaking people out of post-apocalyptic NYC like a badass. I was doing splits and spin kicks. I was rad. And then this psycho surfer guy popped up and bopped me on the head. I don’t remember anything else. Do you remember what happened in Cyborg?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning we see the cyborg Pearl attempting to escape New York City as her and her bodyguard are attacked by pirates. Why are they in New York City?

2) Where is Pearl trying to get to?

3) In the multiple unending flashbacks peppered throughout the film we see our hero Van Damme helping a family escape to a farm. What city were they escaping from and where did they escape to?

4) Someone from Van Damme’s past is hanging out with the enemies though! Oh nooooooooo, say it ain’t so!!!!!! Who is it? And what traumatic event happened to them in the past?

5) You might think there are other things that happen in this film, but spoiler alert, after getting captured and left for dead by the bad guys Van Damme escapes and defeats all the bad guys in Atlanta the end. After getting captured what do the bad guys do to Van Damme?

Answers

Cyborg Preview

As Poe peers into the blinding light of the puzzle box supernova he glimpses Rich fighting for his life against the robot gals. They are pulling him towards the Hell that resides within and as they do he’s becoming younger and younger. Poe stares into the eyes of 12-year-old Rich, who is now barely able to fend off their robot strength. Young Rich, that dope tween who so many years ago in the bayou professed his love for B*Witched. Who wore the shit out of a jean jacket and helped Jellyroll out of every jam. Who taught Ernie how to dance and was… was Poe’s best friend. His best friend, whose eyes now pleaded with him for help. Together they could defeat them, but Poe’s love prevented that. “Think!” Poe screams in agony. “Why must love hurt so much?!” he shouts, pounding his fists against the puzzle box. It closes slightly under the force and suddenly Poe knows what he must do. Love won’t let him destroy his lady (robot) loves, but perhaps… perhaps their love could be preserved. And with that he reaches out to Rich. The power within Rich reaches out in response and together they make the impossible possible. Rich is ripped out of the box and back into the ghost ship with the most ship. He looks away and Poe asks what he saw. “You… you were an old man,” Poe nods in understanding. He saw a Young Rich, while Rich saw Old Poe. Make sense. But Rich stops him and continues, “you weren’t just an old man. You were the old man… from the Six Flags commercial.” And they both shudder in horror, the spell only broken by a cough from the robot ladies. “You ready for a cyborg fight?” they ask. That’s right. We’re watching the JCVD classic (?) Cyborg. It’s set in a far apocalyptic future and presumably has cyborgs in it. That’s enough for us. Let’s go!

“You’re a cyborg, too,” the guard whispers in fear, his eyes darting wildly around the room. “Yes,” the two disfigured men say, “but this ain’t no nightmare. And soon the… twins,” one spits in disgust, “will know what we are capable of. Once we possess their… power.” And with that they enter the portal. That’s right! We’re watching Cyborg 2, the straight-to-video sequel to Cyborg that starred Angelina Jolie in her first film role. A whole two years before Hackers! Let’s go!

Cyborg (1989) – BMeTric: 57.8; Notability: 18 

(I’m a bit surprised that a film produced by a studio which had basically already went bankrupt managed to get 18 well known people involved. The ratings they are arising, but it is still close to being in the fours which is very very low. Sweet 2011 inflection as well.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.0 stars – I am not sure I remember the opening words of “Cyborg” exactly, but I believe they were, “After the plague, things really got bad.” I do remember laughing heartily at that point, about 30 seconds into the movie. Few genres amuse me more than post-apocalyptic fantasies about supermen fighting for survival. “Cyborg” is one of the funniest examples of this category, which crosses “Escape from New York” with “The Road Warrior” but cheats on the budget.

(Haha, yeah that sounds about right. It is a totally earnest knock-off of other better films while trying to make it all on a sub-$1 millon budget. Ebert shouldn’t have pulled the punch though, give it the full thumbs down.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BeaSdMxehg/

(Man I love Cannon. They made just insane films! “Take him out!” The cyborg-vision looks suspiciously like the interface in Universal Soldier. And oh shit, he’s doing the splits!!! I am amped for Cyborg!!!!)

Directors – Albert Pyun – (Known For: The Sword and the Sorcerer; Future BMT: Captain America; Kickboxer 2: The Road Back; Alien from L.A.; Adrenalin: Fear the Rush; Dangerously Close; BMT: Cyborg; Notes: Inducted into the B-movie Hall of Fame in 2011. He thrived in the 90s straight-to-video era. Released a Director’s Cut of this film in 2011.)

Writers – Albert Pyun (written by) (as Kitty Chalmers) – (Known For: The Sword and the Sorcerer; Future BMT: Alien from L.A.; Adrenalin: Fear the Rush; BMT: Cyborg; Notes: Apparently actually filmed a Cyborg sequel, but due to health issues it remains stuck in post-production.)

Actors – Jean-Claude Van Damme – (Known For: Bloodsport; Kung Fu Panda 3; The Expendables 2; Kung Fu Panda 2; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Kickboxer; Hard Target; Timecop; Kickboxer: Vengeance; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; Sudden Death; Lukas; JCVD; Enemies Closer; Future BMT: Street Fighter; Derailed; Welcome to the Jungle; The Order; Legionnaire; Double Impact; Maximum Risk; Inferno; Replicant; The Quest; Black Water; Missing in Action; Pound of Flesh; Nowhere to Run; A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave; Breakin’; Last Action Hero; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Double Team; Cyborg; Knock Off; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Double Team in 1998; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Bloodsport in 1989; Notes: Y’all know JCVD. He used to re-edit his early films to make the action scenes better, and this film is no exception. He apparently re-edited the film for two months prior to its release.)

Deborah Richter – (Known For: One on One; Promised Land; Future BMT: Square Dance; BMT: Cyborg; Notes: Was married to Charles Haid who was on Hill Street Blues (she played his wife in that show on occasion as well).)

Vincent Klyn – (Known For: Point Break; Future BMT: Kickboxer 2: The Road Back; In God’s Hands; BMT: Double Dragon; Cyborg; Notes: A professional surfer, he was at one point a top five surfer in the world. Pyun saw him at a tournament and then chose him as the antagonist of Cyborg based on his intimidating look.)

Budget/Gross – $500,000 / Domestic: $10,166,459 (Worldwide: $10,166,459)

(That is an incredible return! See, this is how Cannon made its dough back in the day. Well … Actually this was their last release before going bankrupt. They would come back for a bit in the early 90s, but they completely collapsed by 1994.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 20% (3/15)

(I get to make a consensus: Just another martial arts film, and just another post-apocalyptic film with a main character which requires no acting ability to play. Reviewer Highlight: Mr. Van Damme’s Gibson is so opaque that he makes Mel Gibson’s Mad Max seem weepy by comparison. – Stephen Holden, New York Times)

Poster – Sklogborg

(I was trying to make the hardest to pronounce fake film name and I think I succeeded. Half sklog, half robot, all rock-and-roll. Sklogborg. Oh right, the poster. Uh, that’s crazy. But also just crazy enough that if I saw that in a theater I’d probably be intrigued. C+)

Tagline(s) – He’s the First Hero of the 21st Century…And He’s Our Only Hope. (D)

(Those seem like two random sentences smashed together into a cyborg of a tagline. It’s simply terrible. But not so terrible that I’m embarrassed for it.)

Keyword – cyborg

Top 10: Avengers: Endgame (2019), Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), Bloodshot (2020), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Deadpool 2 (2018), Alita: Battle Angel (2019), Mortal Engines (2018), Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Future BMT: 55.9 The Stepford Wives (2004), 50.1 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), 46.6 Solo (1996), 30.0 Mortal Engines (2018), 29.2 Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), 25.0 Teen Agent (1991), 23.4 Impostor (2001), 22.0 Terminator Genisys (2015), 19.4 Terminator Salvation (2009);

BMT: Bloodshot (2020), Sucker Punch (2011), Jupiter Ascending (2015), Masters of the Universe (1987), Universal Soldier (1992), Judge Dredd (1995), RoboCop 2 (1990), Jason X (2001), RoboCop 3 (1993), Cyborg (1989), Universal Soldier: The Return (1999)

(The later uptick is clearly because of Marvel and DC films … but it does seem like cyborgs are having a moment doesn’t it? Ooooo I really want to watch Solo, it seems like an insane film.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 19) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Jean-Claude Van Damme is No. 1 billed in Cyborg and No. 1 billed in Double Team, which also stars Mickey Rourke (No. 3 billed) who is in Get Carter (2000) (No. 4 billed), which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 1 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 19. If we were to watch Maximum Risk we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – Jean-Claude Van Damme accidentally wounded Jackson ‘Rock’ Pinckney’s eye during a swordfight scene, permanently blinding him in that eye. He took Van Damme to court, and eventually won a settlement.

This was the last official theatrical release for Cannon Films after going bankrupt in 1987. (Wow! That is fun)

Jean-Claude Van Damme re-edited the film, much as he did with Bloodsport (1988), to make the fight scenes more exciting and trim down the drama. Van Damme spent two months editing the film. He would do the same on Hard Target (1993) (WTF?!)

This film was conceived to use the costumes and sets built for a Masters of the Universe (1987) sequel and a live action ‘Spider-Man’ film. Albert Pyun planned to shoot both projects simultaneously. Cannon Films had to cancel deals with Mattel and Marvel because of their financial troubles, and they needed to recoup the money spent on both projects. Pyun created the film’s script, under the pseudonym of Kitty Chalmers, using two previous scripts, “Johnny Guitar” and “Alex Rain”. Some network television channels still give the film’s title as ‘Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg,’ leading people to think it’s a sequel. (WHAT IS HAPPENING! That is a crazy story. I want to read both Johnny Guitar and Alex Rain!)

The MPAA originally gave the film an “X” rating. Numerous cuts got it rated “R”, including a good deal of blood in the village massacre and one character’s death scene. (What? The film isn’t even that violent)

The test screening was a disaster. Only one out of 100 people surveyed liked the film. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus tried to convince Jean-Claude Van Damme to allow them to release the movie as it was. Instead, Van Damme convinced both producers to let him edit the film, as he had done with Bloodsport (1988), and asked them for 2 months. Cyborg was finally released 2 months later. (Jeez)

The budget, including Jean-Claude Van Damme’s salary, was $500,000. The studio had already spent $2 million on production design, costumes, and miscellaneous prep work on the aborted projects “Masters of the Universe 2” and “Spider-Man.” (Ah, so with the box office take of about $10 million it was probably not that far from a wash in the end)

Matthias Hues turned down a role in the film. Years later, he claims to regret the decision. (But why would he regret it?)

The chain mail and forearm guards worn by Fender were part of the costume for the character “Blade” in Masters of the Universe (1987). (Ahhhhhh right!)

After the success of Bloodsport (1988), Cannon films offered Jean-Claude Van Damme the lead in Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection (1990), American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1989), or this film. He chose the latter, and later admitted “I didn’t like the film so much.” (Neither of the other two were very good though.)

Albert Pyun originally envisioned the film as a heavy opera without dialogue, shot in granulated black and white. The producers rejected the idea. (How much cocaine was Pyun doing when he pitched that idea?)

Albert Pyun is currently developing a prequel to this film, which was originally titled “Cyborg: Rise of the Slingers”, before the title was changed to “Cyborg Nemesis”. The film which takes place before “Cyborg”, details the formation of the Slingers, after the plague brought about the fall of civilization and the Pirates begin terrorizing the survivors and the Slingers are organized to deal with them. (Yeah it isn’t happening because Pyun retired after being diagnosed with MS)

In 2011, Curnan Pictures got hold of the missing tapes of the original cut of the film through Tony Riparetti, Albert Pyun’s original choice for score artist. This director’s cut features Pyun’s editing and previously unreleased scenes. It is commercially available through the director himself. Pyun’s director’s cut was released in 2014 in Germany with the film’s original title, “Slinger”. (What? Wait …. What? I can watch the Director’s Cut of Cyborg?)

The original theatrical version does not explain what Slingers are. In the director’s cut, the opening crawl defines Slingers as hired warriors who safely escort people out of cities and protect them from pirates.

When the film was first released on VHS in Germany, so many violent scenes were cut out that it ran only around 58 minutes, not even reaching feature length.

The film is included on the film critic Roger Ebert’s “Most Hated” list.

The film is believed to be a remake of Fist of the North Star (1986).

Whiteout Recap

Jamie

Carrie Stetko is a US Marshall assigned to an Antarctic scientific base. She’s ready to retire after serving out her time in the remote outpost, but just before the base closes for the winter she is confronted by a murder. Soon everyone is a suspect and a storm is closing in. Can she solve the case and take down the bad guy before it’s too late? Find out in… Whiteout.

How?! Carrie Stetko is a US Marshall whose heart is just not in it since a tragic incident earlier in her career. She has isolated herself by taking an assignment in Antarctica, but with another dark winter (and inopportune major storm) on the horizon, she’s decided to retire. That is until a dead body (literally) falls out of the sky. Tracking down where this body came from she starts to piece together a crazy situation involving a remote research outpost and long missing Soviet diamonds. As she gets closer, with the help of a dashing UN security agent and a pilot, a killer starts after her trying to make sure the diamonds get on the last plane out of Antarctica and she doesn’t! She’s nearly stabbed, shot, and trapped in a plane buried in the snow, but this all only brings out the best in Carrie. It may be freezing outside, but suddenly she’s got the burning desire to solve crimes and take down the baddies. This all culminates in the capture and killing of one of the other pilots. But something doesn’t sit right when it turns out that that pilot unknowingly was trying to escape with a jar full of jellybeans instead of diamonds. Saboteur! There must be a co-conspirator. Look no further than Carrie’s own friend, Dr. Fury. He admits to the crime and decides to end his own life by walking into the storm rather than be arrested. Flash forward to where Carrie has rescinded her resignation and is ready for some new assignments. Am I smelling a sequel? (hint: I’m not). THE END.

Why?! There is a little juice to Carrie’s motivation (besides crushing crime and subduing criminals left and right). That’s because she lacks confidence and belief in herself ever since her partner betrayed her and she was forced to shoot him in the line of duty. So really she’s searching for herself and solving this crime is a way to prove to herself that she’s still got it. As for Dr. Fury, well he has a classic bad guy motivation. After years of low pay and a shit assignment in Antarctica he sees the diamonds as a way to finally get his in this unjust world. Unfortunately he didn’t account for the mega-sleuthing abilities of Carrie Stetko.

Who?! There really isn’t much to note for this so I will mostly just note my surprise that Gabriel Macht played a UN security agent in the film. Back in the 80’s and 90’s the UN showed up in a lot of action films as a global body of incredible power, often dictating exactly how the world is to respond to an international disaster. Which is funny. Case in point, Street Fighter where JCVD plays Guile, no longer in the Air Force but rather part of the U.N… OK, fine, he’s part of the A.N., but it’s the same thing. Get off my back.

What?! There is a lot of food talk in this film given that the people at the base can’t ever leave, so variety seems limited. I’m sure there are some interesting products throughout the film along those lines, but the only one I remember is the fact that when they crack open the case that’s supposed to contain the diamonds they just find a bunch of what are clearly Jelly Belly’s. They really should have had one of the characters pick one up, pop it in their mouth and then spit it out and say with a grimace “black licorice.” Would have really brought it home.

Where?! Antarctica, baby, with a little flashback to Miami. If we were to make a mapl.de.map for BMT films that truly embodied a location then I think this might beat out AvP. AvP being set in Antarctica is just some weird shit. This, though, is ‘Artica (as the kids call it) through and through. In fact… this probably should have been called Antarctica and gotten the full A+. Missed opportunity. A.When?! Interesting exact date on this guy. Kate Beckinsale hacks into the mainframe and checks some flight logs for the day she thinks the original body would have been dumped (which have been *gasp* erased). The day in question? Right around Valentine’s Day! Is this a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert? Seems so. Although a previous scene suggests that it might be early March (which kinda makes more sense for when the researchers would have to leave the base for the winter) so methinks that not everyone was on the same page for this one. B.

When?! Interesting exact date on this guy. Kate Beckinsale hacks into the mainframe and checks some flight logs for the day she thinks the original body would have been dumped (which have been *gasp* erased). The day in question? Right around Valentine’s Day! Is this a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert? Seems so. Although a previous scene suggests that it might be early March (which kinda makes more sense for when the researchers would have to leave the base for the winter) so methinks that not everyone was on the same page for this one. B.

I swear when I started this film my mind began to chant “It’s not that bad” in hot anticipation. I was digging the vibe and I was ready for them to bring it home in a freezing hot climax that would knock the socks off of BMT. Unfortunately they couldn’t do it and it fell apart in the face of a ludicrously predictable ending. I was ready to forgive the consistently terrible acting as long as it could land the finale. Alas, it was not to be. That stumble alone kinda took it right into nomansland when it comes to BMT. It’s good enough to imagine throwing on the TV, but bad enough that I would never recommend it to someone. And not really BMT in any way (unless people find it funny to know who the killer is about 1/6th of the way through a film). As for Black Eagle, I was really surprised at how competent the otherwise poorly regarded martial arts film was. Usually those types of films can end up quite boring when they fall flat. And the IMDb score certainly made me think that it would. But I really didn’t mind watching it at all. Add in a genuinely interesting (and dare I say good?) bad guy role for Jean Claude Van Damme and I think I actually would recommend the film to people. JCVD should have been a bad guy more often. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! When you want those thrillz, but you also need those chillz, but like, in a cooooool Antarctica way, who you gonna call? That’s right, super cool (literally) U.S. Marshal Kate Beckinsale. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – As a rare film set in Antarctica this was always on our radar. Otherwise I literally knew nothing about it going in which was fun. I could have guessed it was about thrills and chills as a murderer strikes in Antarctica, but I couldn’t have named anything about it. As a matter of fact I was pretty shocked to learn they were legit at the actual South Pole! That’s fun. What were my expectations? Thrillz. In reality my expectations were that it was going to be a generic thriller. It turns out that screenwriters exhausted all possibilities for thrillers by 2002 … that’s a joke, but sometimes it feels that way.

The Good – The setting does, in fact, work wonders for the film. Ends up being super spooky, and allows for real danger in the simple act of investigation. That is something taken for granted in a normal crime thriller, the hero who has enough brains and gumption to solve the case. Here, you have to have brains, gumption, and a healthy dose of self-preservation. That’s pretty cool. Spoilies, but it is also rather excellent that they took the risk to have the protagonist lose two of her fingers to frostbite in the film. It left a solid sense of the consequences hanging over the murders that Beckinsale gets saddled with on her last day at the South Pole (she’s about to retire! Amazing that that trope is actually used here). Best Bit – Antarctica setting.

The Bad – This film is an incredibly generic thriller. If not for that I think I might have gone with it being a true It’s-Not-That-Bad BMT film. A psychologically broken woman about to quit the force catches one last case, the masked murderer hunts her in an effort to hide his crimes, it turns out a good friend was involved the whole time. Yeah, that might be the storyline in about a dozen major films, and countless cheesy police procedurals by 2004. It completely sinks the film since understandably the entire thing becomes hopelessly predictable. There are only ever two possible suspects! At least some of this is likely because it is based on a graphic novel, but that isn’t really an excuse. Fatal Flaw – Generic.

The BMT – I think the only real record this will have in the history of BMT is that it is set in Antarctica. But to be honest, if this ended up being on randomly when I was chilling with some friends on a lazy Saturday afternoon or something? Yeah, maybe I leave it on? It is pretty fun in the end, kind of like the first Alex Cross film (Kiss the Girls), the performances and setting is just good enough to be really fun I think. Did it meet my expectations? Sadly I suppose, yes. It was as generic as one would have expected. Which is too bad because it isn’t nearly as bad as one might think, a normal generic thriller.

Roast-radamus – Definitely a strong Product Placement (What?) with the cold weather gear being used. In particular there are plenty of Northface all over this film. Huuuuuuuge Setting as a Character (Where?) for Antarctica. In some ways you could argue the real murderer was Mother Nature and the continent of Antarctica … one could argue that. Great Super Secret Holiday Film (When?) for Valentine’s Day! There is a shot where it pretty clearly indicates that it is either February 14th or 15th in 2007 (if the days are to be believed). Had to be intentional. Solid MacGuffin (Why?) in that there is a whole preamble set during the Cold War concerning a mysterious downed Russian airplane, which ultimately results in a bounty of diamonds that kicks off the murders. And finally a very bad Worst Twist (How?) for the “reveal” that the murderer’s accomplice is none other (and inevitably) Beckinsale’s doctor friend played by Tom Skerritt. That is an incredible set of superlatives, and I think it has an okay shot at the Good award as well in my opinion.

StreetCreditReport.com – Interesting this is very much not the worst film set in Antarctica as I would say Alien vs. Predator takes that crown … while looking that up it has occurred to be that Alien vs. Predator also came out in 2004. That’s pretty weird. Antarctica ended up having a major thriller and horror film set there in 2004. I wonder if that was the moment that people realized they could do an entire film in CGI for the backgrounds, and thus setting a film in Antarctica became feasible. Also weird because both were based on graphic novels, although it seems like the Alien vs. Predator comics weren’t set in Antarctica. Anyways, not much cred, just an amazing coincidence.

Bring a Friend Analysis – In a white/black motif, we watched Black Eagle alongside Whiteout this week. One of the first Van Damme films. So early in his career he was still playing the bad guy (Bloodsport was released about a month prior to this which obviously made him into a leading man). I’m genuinely shocked at the reception for this film. It isn’t good by any measure, but it has like a 3.8 on IMDb which is incredibly low. I thought Van Damme was actually really good in the film. And the storyline, in real James Bond spy convolution, is complicated, and yet this terrible direct-to-video film manages to keep the events relatively coherent. The cons for the film are basically that Shō Kosugi has a lot of trouble with English. It could have used a dub I think. I don’t think it is a good film, but I think for a martial arts spy film … it’s better than Gymkata right?! So I don’t really get the rating. The film is a bit too boring to recommend beyond for those looking to complete Van Damme’s filmography. C+, a bit too boring, but is a fine martial arts spy film I think.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Whiteout Quiz

Uh oh. I was a down and out U.S. Marshal stationed at the South Pole and I am ready for a holiday (I tell you what). Unfortunately there’s a killer on the loose, and he bopped me on the head with an ice ax (how am I not dead?) and I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Whiteout?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We open with our hero Carrie taking a shower and talking to her best bud Dr. Fury. Why is this a very very special day for Carrie and Fury?

2) What is the reason Carrie came to the South Pole? Bonus points if you can explain vaguely why Dr. Fury is there.

3) They soon meet up with Robert Pryce while investigating (spoilees) missing diamonds from a crashed Russian Cold War aircraft. Who does Robert Pryce work for?

4) How did Carrie lose two fingers during the film?

5) Ultimately who is the culprits and what were their motivations and plan and what happens to them?

Answers