In the time it will take you to read this post you can go to the official GOLDEN COB AWARDS site and vote for BULLETFACE to win several well deserved accolades. Take a second and click on the Pyunigilistic indy film maestro Albert Pyun for best director, the sultry and sweet lady with a face worth staring at for 90 minutes Victoria Maurette AND the man with the atmosphere and poptones Tony Riparetti and lets see them all get what they deserve.
Bulletface really struck me head on, a nifty and inexpensive blend of violence, action, sex and spinal fluids... I think it is the best movie indy made and indy distributed in years. You can check my rather lengthy review out here and certainly head on over to AlbertPyunMovies.com for more information.
VOTE or Bulletface is comin' to get ya!
Albert Pyun and Full Moon may seem like a great idea, and Dollman did turn out pretty well, but I think that the Pyun touch relies on him being left alone to his own devices a bit more. Honestly, this is a pretty simple little film that takes a few popular films and squashes them together efficiently enough to be enjoyable. The biggest issue in looking back at Arcade is how outdated the effects look to our eyes, but if you think of this as a visit through 16 bit terror land (and try to pay in artificial game points if possible)...you are in for a pleasant 80 minutes.
So, have you ever wanted to watch a movie that could be called A Nightmare on Tron Terrace, starring Ralphie from A Christmas Story, Seth Green being exactly the same screen persona he always plays and Lucas from Days Of Our Lives (and includes a hectic screen chomping cameo of pure awesome from Norbert Weisser)...then ARCADE is your film!
Alex Manning (Megan Ward) has all kinds of personal problems and loads of stress to deal with, so she is lucky that her boyfriend is a bit of a dolt that hangs with some hip arcade loving pals and a cybermonster game kidnaps him and gives her a mission to play the game, win and save his souuuuuul. ooouuuul. Ol. Our Freddy here is a game that seems to be learning and seeking to conquer Elm Street with his devious addictive gameplay and enjoys threatening the players. I expected this to be a cry against the corporate nature of videogames and a slam on the development process of creative projects-but Arcade eschews all that and plays very straight faced without many of the usual touches of humor or just utter oddballness I enjoy so much.
That is, until Weisser arrives and plays an Arcade programmer that understands the out of control machine and fears it to a degree that I would almost think he was channeling a quivering real worlder in a Lovecraft scenario where Dagon is going to bust up the village! Awesome...Pyuniverse dwellers will not want to miss this.
It all comes together in a cyber showdown that feels much like the games made about 5 years before this movie was released...down the hall, avoid the spikes, clear the room and game over. But...it never gets boring and it is quite short. Heck, I enjoyed it!
Now, we are on the Pyuniverse blog, so lets take a look at the good parts and the stuff that is missing. With Charles Band sitting atop the production it is obvious that things are going to feel more like Puppet Master than Deceit-and they do. As Full Moon movies go, it is very solid (and I'm a Full Moon Fan) and PyunPlayers do get a chance to shine. The leads are all good, but it is damn trippy staring at the screen trying to solve out who the hell is...that is...no! RALPHIE! Yer gonna shoot your eye out with that Arcade popgun!
Yeah, it is terrible and wrong to nail someone in to a role, but he looks exactly the same, just larger. I'm glad to see Billingsley doing well, now he is director A-List films! Awesome. Bryan Datillo has almost 1000 episodes of Days Of Our Lives under his belt, so lets just say that he was so great in Arcade and Albert Pyun drew out such a magnificent performance that he will be an honorary veteran of the Pyun Academy Of Action. John De Lancie is also fun as the oooga booga corporate guy.
Sadly, no groovy game score from Tony Ripparetti for this film, but hey...Alan Howarth is no slouch and he does a solid enough job. But...it ain't Ripparetti. Sorry Alan.
So, a good 80 minutes in a 16 Bit Hell, with a 32 Bit Script by David S. Goyer off an Albert Band story and 64 Bit direction from Albert Pyun. I have to say, there is a line Arcade says that reminds me of the Pyuniverse a lot... "If you won't play the game by my rules then I'll play in your world!"
After watching the "Directors Cut" version of NEMESIS I have found that I"m ready to really put forth the effort to find the last bit of the puzzle of this particular film. I found one listing for this Laserdisc for $199.00 which is out of my grasp right now, but I'm sure that someone has a copy of this...somewhere!
You can read about the alternate footage and scenes right here!
Talk about nerd nirvana...I remember finding this one in Chinatown buried under a stack of Category 3 films very well. Odd that it is rated 1 really-but what can you say. Small children love Adrenelin!! Here is every bit of the art on this tiny little release.
Buried in the detritus of my collection are a stack of VCDs, including the IVL release of NEMESIS. I had high hopes this would be the same version released to the Japanese market, but it is not. The most interesting item on the packaging is that it was licensed to Hong Kong via Scanbox in Denmark. That just seems odd...
Kevin Sorbo is feasting on this deal...and so should you. Damn, that is one big leg o' lamb!
If you have been following along at the official director's blog you have seen the images from Tales and heard some of the score-if not, you really should check it out. But wait, there is more!!! Tales slices, Bulletface punches and between these two sets Albert Pyun practically* *imagination required* makes you dinner, cleans your house and massages your tired tootsies as you watch the films.
First up, the package for Tales includes a lot of interesting material!
"Tales of an Ancient Empire" Feature Film (of course) Commentary by Director, Albert Pyun (this should be very interesting, Pyun does great, and really honest, commentary tracks) Behind the Scenes: The Making of Tales Video Footage (the clips on the blog reveal just how much digital artistry is on show and really puts the scale of the film in perspective) Soundtrack by Composer: Tony Riparetti (BoooooYah! Riparetti CDs, I want 'em all.) Free Bonus: Albert Pyun's CYBORG Commentary (Very exciting, no studio cutting and I bet there are some fun tales of JCVD to be heard.)
Well, that sure is a lot, and the final packaging for the special edition should be very cool as well.
Now, I'm already happy with my order, but you want more? How about the 30 dollar release of Bulletface with 5 discs as a bonus?? I reviewed the items here.... BULLETFACE and LEFT FOR DEAD: INFERNO and the two CDs are worth the price of admission. Oh yeah, and you get killer commentary as well.
This is a great LD sleeve from Hong Kong for Kickboxer 4-The Aggressor (reviewed in maximum Pyunomatic fashion here)... First, it is directed by Albert Pynn and then it stars JCVD (in a groovy Breakin' 2 singlet!). Classic!!
Sometimes you put a disc in the player and know what you are going to get. Sometimes you put a disc in the player and you don't get what you expected at all. With Albert Pyun movies this is usually a good thing. The artwork makes this look like another Kickboxing Tournament of Doom film-and I love those... but Bloodmatch is not exactly that. Well, it isn't that at all.
Brick Bardo is pissed off. Really pissed off. Good thing he is played by Thom Matthews, who gets to put his Friday The 13th gained skills in to action as the damn near psychopathic fist n' foot flinging nutjob who is on a trail of vengeance. After his brother is killed for not fixing a kickboxing match he is out to find those responsible. After torturing a guy in the middle of nowhere for the opening 10 minutes of the film he gets a short list of names. All kickboxers, all champions and all ready to participate in a Bloodmatch...well, they better be, because Brick and his lady friend are setting them up and kidnapping them all. Some get sexed and snatched, others have family threatened and some are just damn curious as to why the hell a guy named BRICK is so pissed off.
This takes about 45 minutes to play out, but it is sort of fascinating as the action quotient is down to nil so far, minus one nifty fight that includes Vincent Klyn as a bad guy. But it isn't the action (in a kickboxing film??) that sold me on this one. Thom Matthews is excellent as we watch Brick Bardo's mind unravel in his quest for vengeance, blinded to the reality that he is now far worse than the people he is punishing he just devours up the script and spits it out with total commitment. Oh, and he rivals the best pro-wrestlers out there for putting on his "rrrrrrrrrr...I dislike you very strongly!!" face.
The promised Bloodmatch section of the film fills up the second half of the running time and is a mixed bag. On the plus side we have a great bit of screen kicking and battling as Brick faces off against Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez, and each fight actually carries the story momentum that Pyun and crew have built up to be satisfying. Brick becomes more repugnant than the four "guilty" parties-which has a screwy twist in the end to boot. Honestly, it all gets a little unclear before leading up to a final battle. But, you can salvage a plot twist that goes awry with a good fight. It isn't a great final battle, but again-the kickboxin' berserker that Matthews portrays is so demented by the end you can't help but root for the "wrong" side! I'm sure this was the intention and it really plays in to my "Familiar Tropes, Strange Takes" theory of Pyunotronic Cinema-viewers looking for a fight flick to pass the time with may be surprised by what they have here. Disappointed? Possibly. But if you are in the Pyuniverse you might be going in the opposite direction-avoiding it because it appears to be just another fight film. That would be like calling Deceit a Trancers style film-sure you have cops from odd places and fights, but they are nothing alike.
The upsides consist of Matthews as Brick Bardo, one of the more memorable characters in 90s kickboxing cinema, some cool Riparetti cues, cameos by Klyn, Qissi (ain't no Faux Po here baby!) and the always welcome Benny The Jet. Also, I've begun to see that Albert Pyun really seems to shoot most of his sex scenes from the same angles and finds women with bodies that look good from behind. Hey, here in the Pyuniverse we get in to minutia. Marianne Taylor may not have done a heck of a lot, but George Mooradian and Albert Pyun could light and film her ass(ets) with great skill. Overall, I'd call this a film that has enough strength to overcome the weaknesses. But there are one or two parts that erode the complete success of the film.
I'm not going to pick on Hope Marie Carlton too much, she looks good and handles most of the dialog well enough. That final fight though...kickboxing champion is a tough sell when you look like you are lining up to play with a beach ball in a battle to the death. Bonus though for not being shy in front of the camera. What definitely bugged me however was the editing. I get very itchy when the CHOP/EDIT/CHOP/EDIT school of kung fu fighting is employed, but Bloodmatch has a very unique spin on that. Very unique. In most of the fights almost EVERY move is shown 2 to 4 times from different angles. Uh...once in a while to punctuate something cool, I get it. I actually like it. Low kick (x4), Low kick (x4), punch (x2) and fall (x3) should be input for a Street Fighter game and not in the editing suite in my opinion. Most of the fighters look way more proficient than this and if it had only been used to cover up the Carlton Fu I would be good... Somehow the Urquidez fight overcomes it however...maybe I'm just a big fan of The Jet and was missing seeing him in action.
Overall, Bloodmatch is not the greatest kickboxing movie you could find, but it is funky and odd and unique and ambiguous and well acted for the most part. It has nudity. It has fights. It has you wondering what the heck is going on! I recommend it if you want something totally strange that also has kickboxing scenes. Hell, it is worth watching just to see Thom Matthews grit his teeth...and then kick other guys teeth out!
Heatseeker is my favorite cyborg kickboxing tournament film. Now, that may not be a huge genre, but it should be! Could there be anything better than a bunch of fight scenes, well staged ones at that, which end with head stompings that reveal smooshed up cyberfaces? Nope? Heatseeker gives you exactly what you want if you are watching it, and as a piece of the Pyuniverse it delivers in spades!
Keith Cooke stars as Chance O'Brien, kickboxing champion. When we first meet him he is delivering a beat down to Xao, played by the always welcome Gary Daniels-the only guy that could play a Wing Chun practicing CyberFighter that wears white hi-top sneakers! With his gal pal / trainer Jo (the beautiful Pyun regular Tina Cote) looking on, Chance is on top of the world of ass kickers. Too bad for him the Sianon Corporation wants to make an example of him in their big Cyborg Enhanced Kickboxing Challenge Of The Century For All The Money In The CyberEnhancedCyborgKickBoxer Market DeathMatch Battle. The creepy Tsui Tung, played with massive screen devouring presence by Norbert Weisser, puts his life on the line with the even creepier board of directors of his MegaCorp-and that includes a red haired and long fingernailed Tim Thomerson as Fu Man Pyun! Tung captures Jo, implants her with a chip that makes her passive enough for him to use the Tung Tongue on her-and forces her to work with Xao to not only train him, but show him LOVE!!!
Chance fights, tournament battles of varying awesomeness occur, and Xao rips through his competition as Chance seeks to find his way back to Jo and out of the cyberfisticuffs alive. Lucky for him, the always cool Thom Matthews is around as a CyberCEO / Fighter working for the bad guys who helps him along. A fight is about to happen, and we know what it is...who will survive, what percentage will be left of them, and could we get one additional nude scene with Jo? Well, I'm hopeful...
Heatseeker is a fun film in a little sub genre of martial arts that benefits from some really strong fight choreography by Burton Richardson-so if you want low budget ass kicking with a little cybertwist than you should already be satisfied by this film. But for Pyuniversal Soldiers this film is total paydirt! Every bit as eccentric as an Albert Pyun film should be, it takes that familiar tourney trope and twists it all over the place by adding odd detail upon weird visual in every scene. Heatseeker isn't looking to revolutionize science fiction fight flicks, but I doubt you'll see another one like it.
First off, we have the Pyun Players in full effect. Keith Cooke, who I always associate with China O'Brien (for better or worse) is really game to be earnest at times and then run around naked through the Phillipines at others. This scene is hysterical as it takes the serious "Will I be able to save my lady love" moment of Dudley Do-Rightism and slings a real bit of what in the Sam Hill are the people on the streets thinking as they cower from the cameras and the naked white guy surrealism. Also, Cooke may not be a master thespian, but he does great cinematic kung fu kicks and facial expressions. I'm ready for Heatseeker 2 Mr. Pyun...today. Kathy Long and Keith Cooke would make a great pair of Mutated MMA Fighters...but I digress. Thom Matthews is funny and does all his fight scenes proud-but it isn't his acting or fighting I'll remember, it is his clothes. The guy looks like a giant Kung Fu Christmas Tree in weird suits and strange hypnofashions that you can laugh at, but not in front of Big Brandon! He'd kick your head to a mess of circuits and pseudoflesh! I love Tina Cote's look in this film, she has a great face and can rock the short and spiked up hair cut with great aplomb-and manages to keep a mostly straight face as she acts frozen and gets munched like 25 pages of script in one reading by Norbert Weisser.
And speaking of the man...Norbert Weisser may have his best scene of all Pyuntime here as he explains that his cyborg friend just needs LOOOOOVE!!! I'm going to try and get that clip for preservation on the Pyuniverse. I can't stress it enough-Weisser is great and he puts everything out there in this film. Watch as he rubs Thom Matthews leg a little bit closer to the epicenter of his chi than was probably in the script...I don't know how anyone works across from him when he is in the zone. Truly awesome. Norbert Weisser...you are the maximum Pyunamatic Performer!
And what the hell...you have to see Tim Thomerson all CyberGothPulpCrazy...yikes.
And that brings us to Gary Daniels. He can go either way for me...he does great screen kung fu, but many of his non-HK films don't really use him very well. Not so here, his fights as Xao are excellent, if not a bit brief because he is putting over how powerful the character is. Maybe less personality and more fist flinging suits him. He was the same way in Fist of the North Star and that turned out great.
Pyun pulls out the stops, using the weird lighting effects and letting the fight scenes work for themselves without a ton of additional editing. The man knows Cyborg Kickboxing, sit back and let him drive... Joined by the boopdadeeboopchakkachakkaPYUNPUMPINchakaboom score by Tony Riparetti-the two are an audio visual Cerebrus (the third head is George Mooradian) and Heatseeker delivers what was expected and as happens in the best corners of the Pyuniverse, much much more for those wearing the proper tuning gear in their teeth!