Saturday, June 20, 2015

Podcast: 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up (1995)

Your Stupid Minds continues its unofficial ninja theme with a film that, despite having “Ninja” in the title, essentially has karate action masquerading as ninjutsu. 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up is the third film in the 3 Ninjas franchise and contains all of the original cast members! Shot almost concurrently with the first film, before a legal dispute forced the producers to shelve it and recast two of the kids in 3 Ninjas Kick Back, Knuckle Up was finally released three years after the original with mostly unaged child heroes Rocky (Michael Treanor), Colt (Max Elliott Slade), and Tum Tum (Chad Power).

The trio and its elderly grandfather (Victor Wong) travel somewhere close to an Indian reservation during summer break, and find themselves volunteering ninja services to local Native Americans terrorized by an evil garbage dump owner Jack (Charles Napier), who pollutes their land and kills their children. The boys use their karate ninja skills to rescue the father of little girl Jo (Crystle Lightning), and fight full grown adult goons who are constantly humiliated and physically bested by children.

Some Notes:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Podcast: Miami Connection (1987)

It’s a long time coming for this Your Stupid Minds Essential Viewing List (YSMEVL), but we finally got around to reviewing 1987’s resurrected martial arts masterpiece, Miami Connection starring Orlando’s own native-by-transplant son, taekwondo master instructor Y.K. Kim. The film received a second life when Alamo Drafthouse programmer Zack Carlson made a $50 eBay bid on a lark for the 35mm print. It was such a hit that the Drafthouse began distributing it, and it quickly became a cult classic.

In the mean streets of Orlando, Mark (Y.K. Kim) and his contingent of best friends forever taewkondo students/orphans create Dragon Sound, a band with a positive message taking the local metropolitan area by storm. A rival band does not take too kindly to this, and after an unsuccessful martial arts fight with the club owner, decides to take its frustrations out on Dragon Sound. This does not go well, and the confrontation quickly escalates to gang warfare, biker involvement, kidnapping, and ninjas.

Essential Viewing: Dragon Sound's hit song "Friends."

Some Notes:
  • Purchase and rental options available on Drafthouse Films's website.
  • Essential Viewing 2: The biographical clip Who is Y.K. Kim, which outlines how Kim saved the world through a combination of grit and taekwondo skills.
  • Essential Viewing 3: Against the Ninja - Dragon Sound.
  • If you have trouble keeping track of the main characters, here's a guide:
    • Mark: Korean guy. Taekwondo Skill: Excellent.
    • John: Gangly tall guy. Taekwondo Skill: Great.
    • Jack: Redneck Rufus Sewell (and the screenwriter). Doesn't like stupid cocaine. Taekwondo Skill: Adequate.
    • Jim: Black American. Taekwondo Skill: Adequate.
    • Tom: Musical talent. Looks like John Oates. Taekwondo Skill: Poor.
    • Jane: Girl. Sister of Jeff. Lead singer of Dragon Sound. Taekwondo Skill: Poor.
    • Jeff: Bad guy. Worst actor in Miami Connection. Beard. Taekwondo Skill: Good.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Podcast: Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)

Your Stupids Minds attempts to right the wrongs of the past by finally reviewing one of our favorite bad movies, 1991’s macho martial arts masterpiece Showdown in Little Tokyo. Running at a brisk 79 minutes and starring YSM favorite Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV, Masters of the Universe, In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds), as well as Brandon Lee (The Crow), Tia Carrere (Wayne’s World) and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Elektra, Mortal Kombat), Showdown is about a giant blonde Swede Nipponophile who teams up with a half Japanese partner who doesn’t even like sushi!

An evil yakuza boss (Tagawa) overpowers all of the LA gangs with brutal and stereotypically Japanese violence, so it’s up to Chris Kenner (Lundgren) to use his superior Japanese-ness to take him down. Along the way he rescues a lounge singer mid-seppuku (Carrere) and literally carries her to his Epcot-style Japanese house. It all leads up to a “showdown,” if you will, in Little Tokyo’s big parade, complete with dangerous fireworks wheels and horsemen with sharpened period-accurate katanas.

Some Notes:
  • There are a lot of homoerotic elements to this film, including multiple shirt rippings, Dolph's leather jacket, and lines like "You were too busy whackin' on each other," and "I'd like to cut off some parts of Yoshida's anatomy."
  • Directed by Commando's Mark Lester and cinematography by Mark Irwin.
  • Available to rent on YouTube, but this version omits the dummy scene, so watch the old DVD without any special features.
Direct download.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Podcast: Elektra (2005)

On the heels of Free Comic Book Day and the release of the new Avengers movie, here's a comic movie most people barely remember: Elektra! When fearless assassin Elektra (Jennifer Garner) is tasked with assassinating a hunky father and his middle-school-aged daughter, will she be able to carry out the assignment, or will she wuss out? And what will she do when the Hand calls in a hit squad led by Kirigi (Torque's Will Yun Lee) to finish off the father/daughter? Probably engage them in karate fights!

Some Notes:
  • The movie has a lot in common with the Netflix Daredevil show, which we both recommend. Like the show, it's full of karate fights in the dark and ninjas. And Stick shows up.
  • Only Elektra, Stick, and Kirigi are recognizable from their comics counterpart; an assassin named Typhoid the same first name as Daredevil love interest/villain Typhoid Mary, but is completely different in looks, powers, and personality. Wikipedia also thinks "Tattoo" is a reference to a Grant Morrison character created in 2001, but it is wrong.
  • After getting zero writing credit for 2003's Daredevil, Frank Miller was given a "based on the characters by" writing credit. When you take into account his influence on films like Daredevil and Batman Begins, it becomes apparent he's had more comics he created turned into film than anyone not named Jack Kirby.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Podcast: Theodore Rex (1995)

This week, YSM tackles the truly bizarre buddy cop/talking dinosaur movie Theodore Rex. Join us as we wonder whether writer/director Jonathan Betuel got an uncredited plot assist from his four-year-old nephew Tommy and whether Theodore Rex is the most annoying 90s “poochie” protagonist we’ve ever covered.

In the near-future, human-sized dinosaurs have been brought back by an eccentric German scientist just to see if he can. Now, the scientist is planning to start another ice age in order to bring in a new society. In the wake of a dino-murder, police officer/publicity stunt diversity hire Theodore Rex is given permission to investigate, along with new partner Katie Coltrane (Goldberg), a tough cop with computer enhancements. Together, they deal with the evil scientist and his henchmen “Edge,” (Stephen McHattie), “Spinner,” (Bud Cort), and “The Toymaker” (Peter Kwong).

Some Notes:
  • Drinking game guaranteed to kill you: drink when Theodore Rex knocks something over with his tail.
  • Jonathan Betuel never wrote/directed anything after this, apparently blaming the studio for improperly marketing the film.
  • ABC canceled the hit(?) show Dinosaurs in 1994. This film was released in 1995. “You’re not just going to throw all those costumes away, are you?” –costume designer, Theodore Rex.
  • Theo Rex claims to be a “recovering carnivore,” as though this was a choice he made and not a physical fact of nature that his dino body needs to eat animal flesh to survive. Instead, he appears to subsist mostly on cookies.
  • We sincerely hope that our comments about the gay and/or drag queen dinosaur community do not offend any alternative lifestyle dinosaurs that may be listening.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Podcast: Maniac Cop 2 (1990)

Though we didn't know when we picked this movie that an actual maniac cop would dominate the recent news, it's apropos enough that our episode this time around is Maniac Cop 2 starring the late, great Robert Z'Dar.

After hero cop Matthew Cordell (Z'Dar) is murdered by some corrupt police officers, he comes back as a super strong brain dead zombie cop who kills other cops. When Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Teresa Mallory (Laurene Landon) drop him into water in the first movie, Maniac Cop returns to finish what he started. He finishes what he started, and then just kind of meanders around with a serial killer while Detective Sean McKinney (Robert Davi) and police psychologist Susan Riley (Claudia Christian) lackadaisically look for him.

Some Notes:
  • No matter what you think about the movie, it is 100% worth it for the Maniac Cop rap over the end credits.
  • Nick watched this movie on VHS, which contained trailers for The Long Walk Home and Terminator 2, as well as an anti-drug PSA Always Chasing Rainbows.
  • Maniac Cop never actually kills anyone in a Jacuzzi.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Podcast: How I Saved the President (1996)

Your Stupid Minds continues its series on "children's movies no one has ever seen involving talking/hyper intelligent pets" with the somewhat Wishbone ripoff How I Saved the President (or The Undercover Kid). Precocious kid Max Anderson (Bradley Pierce) is in a stifling home environment, which he copes with by talking to his cat Nellie (Victoria Jackson) and Jack Russell Terrier Bo (played by Robert Knepper and Barkley the Dog, respectively).

When a foreign-sounding German Shepherd at the park tips them off about a presidential assassination plot, Max must use his four-legged friends to stop the terrorists! But first he must convince his oppressive dad and clueless mom that the plot is afoot, and he can indeed talk to animals. Join Chris, Nick, and special guest Nico Mesa on this bizarre family romp through high-stakes international intrigue.

Some Notes:
  • Per discussion, here are the hard and fast rules on which animals can talk.
    • Dogs and Cats (canon): Yes. Unless they're super dumb or have experienced some sort of life-altering trauma.
    • Crows (canon): Yes. But apparently if you call them smart they won't shut up.
    • Raccoons (canon): Yes but they're jerks.
    • Dolphins (non-canon): We assume.
    • Horses (non-canon): Yes, but only if there is peanut butter on the roofs of their mouths. And they can count by stamping their hooves.
    • Rats and Mice (non-canon): Maybe.
    • Bats (non-canon): Yes, but only in the Batman voice.
    • Chinchillas (non-canon): Yes (with an accent).
    • Spiders (non-canon): Yes, but only to pigs.
  • Some probably have noticed that Terrorist #1 is played by none other than Sven-Ole Thorsen, a.k.a. Secundus from Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe.
  • Nico has a new podcast coming out soon called Whiskey Flicks, about movies and drinking. Keep on eye on the Facebook page for its release.
Direct download.