After the excellent release of the limited edition 2018 print, Code Red delivers a wider and more broadly available upgrade for the highly deserving “Savage Streets.” The 1984 cult classic is still a marvelous gem of eighties exploitation. It channels the classic Youths Gone Wild films of the fifties, and is filled with gorgeous women, roughneck teenagers, and an insanely sexy Linda Blair wreaking pure vengeance against the men that victimized her sister. She does it all with a bitchin’ crossbow, to boot.
1996 was a big year for me. I was thirteen in middle school and my English teacher introduced me and my classmates to the work of William Shakespeare. Although we spent the year working on a project that explored the various works from the playwright, we were primarily focused on “Romeo & Juliet.” We spent most of the year reading the play in class and before the school year let up, my teacher staged her contemporary version of “Romeo & Juliet” for the school that everyone took part in. It was called “Ronnie & Julie.” I loved art but was way too shy to act, so naturally I was in the poster department.
With “A Clockwork Orange,” Stanley Kubrick set forth a high bar and standard upon which all future gang warfare films would be based on. It’s a surprising fact considering “A Clockwork Orange” is not entirely about gang warfare at all. It’s a science fiction, dystopic, thriller about a predator of humanity who gets a taste of his own medicine a hundred fold once he is rehabilitated into a docile animal of society. Or so that’s what we’re led to believe up until the very ambiguous climax where Alex reverts to his classic recurring orgy fantasy.
This year Warner Bros and DC Entertainment has unleashed a flurry of their banner television shows which should help ease the boredom of folks still in quarantine. With a lot of what’s been released, there are long awaited releases, and of course big releases of some of the biggest events of the year. COVID may have ground everything to a halt, but DC is still delivering on animated movies and season sets.
Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s “Karate Warriors” (aka “Killing Fist and Child”) is a solid action film mainly because of Sonny Chiba, and because Chiba’s charisma makes up for the overall plot’s shortcomings. His mystique is often entertaining and there are also the pre-requisite great fight sequences. Chiba is a force of nature here, and like “Yojimbo” he plays the rival gangs against one another for his own personal sake.
Yutaka Kohira’s “Sonny Chiba’s Dragon Princess” (Or “Dragon Princess,” or “Lady Karate,” or “Assassin Woman’s Fist”) is a misleading title often being boasted as a Sonny Chiba film, even though he has nothing more than a glorified cameo. The actual star, Etsuko Shiomi headlines as a girl whose father Agaki (Chiba) is confronted by two martial arts masters who challenge him to a fight, intent on taking his position as top karate master.
Even though I was born in the eighties, I don’t have a particular connection with “The Goonies” as while it’s mostly considered a masterpiece, I’ve only ever considered it just pretty good. Director Richard Donner’s adventure film is the Hardy Boys Meets Indiana Jones and for the most part it’s an entertaining call back to fodder like “The East Side Kids,” which keeps in line with Spielberg’s ode to his childhood cinema.
The visceral raw energy and violence of Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen’s “For the sake of Vicious” is bound to be compared to the masterpieces like “The Green Room” very soon. The set up at least conjures up memories of “Assault on Precinct 13” except in a smaller scale. In either case, it’s a classic white knuckle home invasion siege thriller that spares no one, even when it successfully builds on empathetic and fascinating protagonists.