Monday, August 31, 2009

Bulletproof (1988)

Many attribute Gary Busey's deranged public persona to his 1988 motorcycle accident. He is loud, abrasive, and nonchalant about his obvious mental issues. What Bulletproof teaches us is he never took himself too seriously. Shot just before his brain-altering collision, Bulletproof is what happens when an action film forgoes all pretense of sincerity.
When the top secret super tank THUNDERBLAST is stolen by a conglomeration of "Cubans, Nicaraguans, A-Rabs" and other 1980s strawmen enemies, the United States calls upon psychotic cop Frank "Bulletproof" McBain, who assumed the nickname not from an ability to dodge bullets, but his willingness to absorb every projectile with his pasty white frame. He keeps these bullets as trophies, placing them in a Mason jar under his sink.
Bulletproof begins on a stake-out with McBain and his middle-aged black parter Billy Dunbar (Thulmus Rasulala) who, as previous action films might suggest (some also featuring Busey), he is, in fact, too old for this shit.
Despite Dunbar's insistence that they call for backup, McBain jumps down from the rafters of a warehouse to break up an arms deal involving Mexican druglord Sharkey (played by the most Mexican of all actors, Danny Trejo). When Sharkey inquires as to who he is, McBain declares "your worst nightmare, buttorn!" This is an accurate statement, as I have frequently had nightmares in which Gary Busey jumped down from rafters to kill me. The gang escapes in an ice cream truck armed to the teeth, which McBain pursues.

After a dramatic chase scene, Sharkey lobs a grenade into the pursuing vehicle. McBain has enough time to register the existence of the grenade, freak out Dunbar, throw the grenade back out of the car, land in the back of the ice cream truck, freak out the drug lords, flip the ice cream truck, and finally explode. This gives the grenade about a 320 second fuse.
After the obligatory chewing out by his commanding officer, McBain retreats to his apartment to remove the bullet. He is met by all the amenities of an ideal bachelor pad: old magazines, juke box, and nude French woman (Lydie Denier).
Not long after, McBain is sent to retrieve THUNDERBLAST, which I assume is a Buseyism for Teaching Haphazard Undercover Narcotics Dealers Every Real Basis Left at Starting Totalitarianism. He is given a very brief briefing on the tank, complete with crude blueprint proving that it is a tank. When one of the government lackeys insults his ex-girlfriend (who was kidnapped during THUNDERBLAST's theft), McBain responds by sliding an ashtray across the table into his crotch.
The circumstances needed to achieve such an act--table height, lackey height, table and ashtray friction, wind resistance--make this one of the most wonderful violent happenstances ever conceived.

Once in Mexico, McBain meets up with some local help, assuring their loyalty by giving the password: THUNDERBLAST. Apparently "password" was already taken.

McBain is immediately betrayed, captured, and tied to a giant wheel. One might think the wheel is some elaborate spinning torture device, but alas, it's just a wheel. The villains instead offer vague threats such as "let's see how bulletproof you really are" and then proceed to not shoot him. This gives McBain the perfect opportunity to escape via the wonders of gravity and centrifugal force.
As this is a fine work of 1980s American jingoism, McBain does away with the multinational confederacy of foreign jerkwads, including a gravel-voiced Soviet commander who chose the Mexican desert to show off his ushanka.
As far as deranged American supercops go, Busey is the perfect fit. He is blonde, barrelchested, crazy-eyed, and never closes his mouth even when silent. Of course if he ever did shut his clap trap, his Chiclet teeth would sink halfway into his chin.
McBain even has his own signature catchphrase, calling people "butthorn" on three non-consecutive occassions. All in all Bulletproof is a masturful work of 80s schlock, and a reminder of a time when Gary Busey was considered a marginally bankable leading man. His roles have been subsequently replaced by his son Jake, who retains his big-teethed charm without any risk to the director's endocrine system.

What to drink:

A Butthorn: Pepto-Bismol spiked with bourbon.

Quotable quotes:
Dunbar: When's the last time you saw a guy take a limo to a deserted warehouse for a creamsicle?

Dunbar: Them AKs'll blow a hole through your underwear, not to mention my black ass!

McBain: To subdue or be subdued, that is the question.

Tracy: You may be bulletproof, but you're not love-proof.

Col. Cartiff: Do you find something amusing, Captain Shepard?
Devon Shepard: Yeah, your FACE!

Helicopter Pilot: There's nothing but desert down there.
McBain: And CACTUS!

Col. Cartiff: Take off your clothes.
Devon: Go fuck your camel.

McBain: Bird season's over, butthorn.

McBain: Now back off, Colonel Asshole, before I blow this whole place to Montezuma.
Arbitrary rating system:

(6 Buseyheads)