Fun Flicks (with Optional Commentary)
Its not often I use this space for naked promotion, so I hope y’all will bear with me being a bit indulgent this week. I found myself in a movie mood, wanting to touch on some of the bizarre, weird, fun gems I’ve stumbled on recently. Actually while we’re plugging, I should probably shout-out the Action Boyz podcast, which led me to several of these. Anyway, upon looking at my selections I realized that to a chunk of my audience, they’d all be familiar, since we covered them on Authors & Dragons At The Movies. So we’re going to turn this into half-discussion of odd cinema offerings, half-plug for one of my favorite side projects we’ve started.
The caveat here is that while I won’t say every one of these is good, they are certainly memorable. Some for better reasons than others, yet they do stick in the brain all the same.
I’m never quite sure how to treat this one, in terms of spreading the word. Sometimes it feels like everyone I bring it up around already got the message, other times people have not heard a single thing about this flick. For those who are in the latter group: Miami Connection was a film made in the 80’s that went over poorly, was shelved for decades, and then rediscovered by Alamo Drafthouse, where it started screening so well they approached the creator about re-releasing it.
To describe it… imagine if The Room attempted an ensemble cast, action sequences, and musical performances, all at about the same talent level as the acting. Now look, I realize that is a pretty specific sell, same as I know while it turned some of you off, others just broke their keyboard by slamming their fists down in excitement. Miami Connection is one definitely meant to be watched with friends, you’ll need someone to look at and say “What the fuck was that?” more times than you’re expecting.
This was a wild card. I’d seen it once, years ago, and was properly drunk for the experience. All I remembered was that it had Goldberg as the lead and silly action sprinkled throughout. But when we needed to do something festive for December, I saw it on a list of holiday flicks and decided to pitch it as an option. Neither I nor any of the others had a clue what we were getting into, and I think that’s for the best.
I’ll skim light on the plot, since the movie did the same (insert sound of rimshot), all you really need to know is that Santa is killing mother fuckers. Like, a lot of them. Everyone he can lay hands on, more or less. Sometimes they’re bad, sometimes they’re just there, but it’s also done so comedic and over-the-top that the film can’t drift into too dark of territory. It knows what it is, and doesn’t try to be more, which kind of… works. Or it works if you can shut off your mind and laugh at Goldberg being insane for a few hours.
Berry Gordy’s: The Last Dragon
This movie is a lot. It bites off so much, goes in so many weird, unexpected, often problematic directions that you really don’t know what to think. It’s also an amazing visual treat in places, has shockingly good character turns, and arguably one of the best villains of this genre, if not the time period as a whole.
I can’t even begin to try breaking down the plot, because as soon as I say it’s the story of Bruce Leeroy (real name Leroy Green) searching New York City for a mythical master of martial arts to teach him “the glow” while protecting a famous VJ from the scheming machinations of an evil arcade game kingpin, you would rightfully wonder if I’d suddenly decide to snort all the cocaine in California. And that is one piece of a much larger overall plot that zips all over.
This movie is a weird one, however it’s also the most readily accessible of the films I’ve listed. Between the rooting in classic martial arts films and the absolute glut of style Berry Gordy brought to the project, there’s a lot to love even among the more confusing parts.
So I tried to strike a good balance on this list, flicks that are weird, yet still pretty coherent overall. Wild as Miami Connection gets, the plot is so simple you can’t get too lost, and The Last Dragon is good about reminding you what’s happening moment to moment. This one, however, is my total batshit indulgence. I’ve seen it twice, and hand-to-gods, I cannot really tell you the story. I remember a lot of individual scenes, like holy shit that bear, yet the actual tale tends to get lost in the spectacle of it all.
But holy damn, is there every spectacle to behold. Lou Ferrigno in his prime, space robots, evil animals, gods, monsters, just everything you would expect from a classic Hercules tale, only made by someone on acid with a budget of $10 per scene. It is madness, the sort I couldn’t look away from. If that sounds like your kind of party, then dive in and give it a shot. Stay until at least the bear, and if not even that hooks you, then this one probably just isn’t for you.